As many of us look to reconnect with our family and friends after months of separation, the option of ultra-private experiences that allow groups to travel within their ‘bubbles’ is very enticing. More now than ever, travellers are turning to hotels that offer groups the privacy of self-contained villas and cottages, whilst still retaining access to the facilities and level of service of a luxury hotels.
Marbella Club, Spain
Inspired by the characterful bungalows that original owner Prince Alfonso came across during his travels through California, much-loved and iconic beachfront resort Marbella Club is home to a whopping 17 individually designed private villas, ranging from two to six bedrooms. Just a stone’s throw from the sea, each villa is seeped with Andalusian charm and encapsulates the Marbella Club’s ‘perfectly imperfect’ approach to design, with white-washed Andalusian style facades and terracotta-floored patios blooming with citrus trees and bougainvillea. Spacious kitchens allow for feasting at home, whilst open-air dining and living areas, manicured gardens and private swimming pools celebrate the traditional Andalusian way of indoor-outdoor living with dedicated Villa Hosts are on hand to organise an array of unforgettable experiences that allow guests to enjoy the magic of the Marbella Club without needing to leave the comfort of their own villa.
Families hoping to make the most of the Marbella Club’s innovative children’s offering will love three-bedroom Villa Casabel which comes with a dedicated children’s play area and backs directly onto the expansive Kid’s Club, or Villa Anil – complete with five bedrooms, a cinema room and pool table for little ones, and in-villa sauna and fitness facilities for the adults. Wellness warriors should opt for Rincon del Mar, which boasts immersive wellbeing facilities, direct access to the hotel’s Holistic Studio and five bedrooms which can be converted to treatment rooms. Beyond their villas, guests can explore the Marbella Club’s seven restaurants and bars, Thalasso Spa and Holistic Studio, two outdoor swimming pools and iconic Beach Club, all set within 50,000sqm of spacious sub-tropical gardens.
São Lourenço do Barrocal, Portugal
Sitting amongst 1,930 acres of wildlflower-strewn meadows, olive groves and vineyards in Portugal’s wild Alentejo region, São Lourenço do Barrocal is a recently restored farmstead hotel, winery and spa. The family estate offers 16 one, two and three-bedroom cottages, housed within original farm buildings along a central cobbled street. Each of the cottages draw upon local craftsmanship and heritage features, with soaring vaulted ceilings, traditional terracotta floors and beautifully handcrafted furnishings. Open-plan kitchen and living areas offer ample space for communal living, whilst large open-air terraces and dining tables allow guests to make the most of the estate’s tranquil surroundings.
Embracing the estate’s farm-to-fork ethos, small groups and families will receive fresh Alentejo bread delivered to their cottage each morning, and can choose to receive a hamper of Barrocal’s own olive oil, fruit jams and sweet treats, alongside other locally sourced produce on arrival in order to prepare their own meals. For those not wanting to cook, the hotel can arrange for one of the talented chefs to host in-cottage cooking demonstrations and baking masterclasses , or guests can simply order from the two farm-to-table restaurants. Days are spent exploring the spacious estate on foot, bicycle or horseback, or by joining one of Barrocal’s many local experts for completely private experiences: from archaeological or ethnobotanical walks where guests can learn about the estate’s storied history and unique ecology, to pottery classes with local artisans and night-time stargazing with expert astronomers from a nearby observatory, with special learning experiences available for children.
With many around the world finding themselves in more flexible working conditions than ever before, São Lourenço do Barrocal has just introduced specific programmes for two-week and month-long stays, including daily food deliveries and spa credit, for those wanting to escape for just a little bit longer.
Reschio Estate, Italy
Reschio is a 3,700-acre ancient Estate in the Umbrian hills, currently being brought back to life by three generations of the Bolza family. Scattered across the wild expanse are 27 one-of-a-kind private homes, nine of which are available to rent, all once crumbling farmhouses that have been meticulously restored into modern-day masterpieces by architect Count Benedikt Bolza and his dedicated team. Keeping to the original footprint of the farmhouse, the architecture respects traditional Italian building techniques, all laid, built and handcrafted by a remarkable team of local artisans. From custom-made mosaics and intricate stucco work to luxurious Italian linens, antique artworks and bespoke furniture designed by Count Benedikt via his BB for Reschio studio, the result is a collection of some of Europe’s most exquisite private homes.
Ranging from three to six bedrooms, each house is complete with intricately landscaped gardens, private swimming pools and a dedicated Concierge service, meaning guests’ every need will be taken care of. Expansive kitchens and open-plan living areas lead onto generous terraces, some with outdoor kitchens and bread ovens. Reschio’s team of chefs will happily take residence to create the perfect dinner party, with dishes celebrating produce from the organic kitchen garden, olive oil from the estate’s groves and truffles from the surrounding forest. Over the course of their stay, guests are free to roam and immerse in nature, spending time exploring ancient forests and wild meadows on one of Reschio’s 40 purebred Spanish horses; foraging to source ingredients to cook at Reschio’s cookery school; truffle hunting with a renowned local expert; or fishing and swimming at the tranquil lake.