As well as its 580 hotels and restaurants worldwide, Relais & Châteaux offers a meticulously-curated collection of 600 villas. Each blends the privacy and seclusion of a private home with access to all the services guests can expect from a hotel.
Today’s travelers favor longer stays on trips away. The trend, confirmed by multiple travel operators, is driven by people making up for lost time and seeking quality reconnections with friends and family. In turn, that is shaping demand for private vacation homes, as is the working from home trend – over 60 per cent of employees work remotely at least occasionally now, according to recent studies.
It’s little surprise that a new kind of getaway has evolved to meet the confluence of these trends: long-term, private stays for large groups of family or friends. For these travelers, a hotel room is not sufficient, but nor does a random rental quite deliver what they crave while on vacation.
While other hotel groups have begun to offer private villas and homes, the Relais & Chateaux collection of standalone villas goes one better, with homes that adhere to the association’s renowned values – having been subjected to a rigorous selection criteria – and guests able to access hotel services too. That’s the ethos of a personal hideaway, with hospitality included.
The collection encompasses every possible kind of stay – countryside or seaside, desert or mountain. Rather than a quick trip, these properties offer more of a lifestyle reset – allowing one to seamlessly transition between work, leisure, and family time.
A high standard of excellence is a given. Each villa has its own entrance, facilities such as kitchens, private gardens, and many come with their own pools or other unique features. Any villa in the collection is guaranteed to be breathtaking – in keeping with Relais & Châteaux hotels, guests will instantly feel an authentic sense of place, reflecting local architecture, history and heritage. Often, they are completely enveloped by lush outdoor spaces, from unspoiled wilderness to meticulously cared-for gardens, for a restorative dose of nature.
Add in that guests can take advantage of many of the same services as those staying within hotels and the choice of a private vacation home no longer means sacrificing that feeling of being looked after. Access to housekeeping services, personal chefs, sommeliers and the property’s wine cellar, concierges and cultural excursions whenever you want, are just some of the options available.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Windermere, UK
Combining country-house comfort and five-star services, the six-room Gilpin Lake House, located just a mile away from Gilpin Hotel in England's dreamy Lake District, is an ideal setting fort those who wish to combine work and leisure. “Now that remote working is the norm, setting up shop anywhere in the world is feasible for many people.” says owner Zoë Cunliffe. "Our location in the Lake District leads to guests escaping into the great outdoors with family and friends before returning to their work in a more refreshed and creative state of mind. The beautiful surroundings and pure air of the Lake District is inspirational.”
The deliciously tranquil property is set on a private lake within 100 acres (40 hectares) of gorgeous grounds. Many villas come with exclusive amenities, and Gilpin Lake House is no exception: it has a heated indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tubs and saunas, and Michelin trained chefs provide every meal. Guests can also book treatments in the Jetty Spa, "raised three meters into the tree canopy, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a stunningly beautiful small private lake - perfect to wind down from work.” says Zoë.
The Heart of the Vineyard
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, Beja, Portugal
Four villas are available at Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, situated in Portugal’s magical Alentejo region. All offer delightful privacy, says the property’s Rita Soares. “The demand for secluded spaces is bigger than ever,” she says. “Land, space, and nature are more and more appreciated.”
As with all properties in the portfolio, Rita says that those who book villas have full access to hotel services, from spa treatments to dining options. “We can arrange massages in the villa, or private experiences such as painting and cooking workshops,” she says. “The exclusivity of being only with your family and having all the same services in a hotel, in a natural environment, is priceless.”
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay, New-Zealand
The four private residences at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in coastal Northland, New Zealand have been a runaway hit since the pandemic. “They’ve been most popular with family groups traveling together, and quite often multi-generational,” says Kauri Cliff’s Callum Farnell.
For working guests, it has invested significantly in internet infrastructure, recognizing guests’ needs for high-speed and reliable Wifi. For those in need of relaxation, private swimming pools, expansive verandas for spreading out, and in-villa dining via chefs who can finesse a BBQ or family pasta night is guaranteed to please everyone in the group.
11 Cadogan Gardens, London, UK
The Apartments by 11 Cadogan Gardens in the heart of Chelsea, comprise six newly-renovated residences. Each of them is on its own floor and have views over the beautiful and private Cadogan Gardens. They are perfect for a longer stay – and, like all the properties in the portfolio, provide a deep and authentic dive into local culture.
“Our apartments reflect the gorgeous architecture and style of our local neighborhood,” says the property’s General Manger Ian Richardson. “Our guests tell us that one of the main reasons they appreciate a longer stay in the apartments is that they enjoy the opportunity to become part of our neighborhood – to live it, to breathe it, to immerse themselves in it.”
A Butler by the Sea
Hôtel Le Toiny, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint-Barthélémy
Perched on a hillside overlooking the impossibly blue waves of the Caribbean, Le Toiny in St. Barth offers two stunning villas: Villa Ocean, and Villa Nureyev, where storied dancer Rudolf Nureyev spent the happiest years of his life.
“Guests booking these properties fall into two categories,” says Le Toiny’s Damien Bastiat. “One is groups of friends celebrating birthdays. The other is families in which one or both parents work part-time, but can take time out to enjoy meals and experiences with the rest of the family.” For those guests, each villa has rooms that can be easily converted to an office, and all offer incredible ocean views.
Another distinct bonus: the services of a private butler is included with every villa.
Cavas Wine Lodge, Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza, Argentina
Nestled at the foot of the Andes in the verdant wine country of Mendoza, Argentina, Cavas Wine Lodge has three capacious villas on offer, including the four-bedroom Grand Villa.
“Sometimes we have family reunions so families will take several hotel rooms and add the Grand Villa as a place of gathering,” says owner Cecilia Diaz-Chuit. “The private terrace can take up to 25 people sitting down for dinner.”
The lodge can arrange private wine tastings in the living room, or a massage on the secluded patio – perhaps with a dip afterwards in the private plunge pool or a rinse in one of the individual outdoor showers. “The upper terrace is the perfect place to watch the sunset with a 360-degree view of the vineyards,” says Cecilia. “There are fireplaces in the terraces so families can stay up and watch the stars at night, as Mendoza has one of the clearest skies in Argentina.”
In the Mountains
Post Hotel & Spa, Lake Louise, Canada
Peace of mind is assured at the four-bedroom Watson House at Post Hotel & Spa on the banks of the breathtaking Pipestone River in Alberta, Canada.
This villa is truly a home away from home, says the hotel’s Michael Schwarz. It includes a large common space, a garden area, and a fully equipped kitchen with marble countertops and a commercial stove for lavish ‘home-cooked’ meals. “The villa offers all the hotel’s amenities and experiences, but provides more than a hotel room can offer,” says Michael. “When guests step into the villa and see how life just got a bit better, they know they’ve made the right choice.”