When it comes to villas and residential-style accommodations, hotels and resorts around the world are finding that they just can’t have enough product.
“There is huge demand for villa products,” said Limor Decter, a luxury travel advisor with New York-based Embark Collective. “And villas are the room categories getting booked the fastest these days, because everyone wants that exclusivity.”
Demand for villas and residences certainly heightened during Covid-19, but even as the pandemic ebbs, travel advisors are finding that requests for multi-bedroom units that can comfortably accommodate families and large groups are still rolling in at a healthy pace.
What has changed, Decter said, is that more of her clients are requesting villas with access to a full-service property rather than a standard high-end vacation rental.
“The big benefit they see in having a villa at a resort versus a standalone rental is the fact that they just have access to so much more, like golf and tennis, a spa and dining options,” she said. She added that villas have proven particularly popular for milestone celebrations, family and friend reunions, and other special occasions.
Christy Menzies, owner of Connecticut-based Menzies Luxe Retreats, has seen a similar preference emerge among her clientele.
“People find that they get bored in a standalone home that they can rent,” Menzies said. “But with a villa that’s part of a larger resort, you can have separate bedrooms, space for the kids and maybe your own pool, but you still have a resort with a beach club, kids club, restaurants and more. When people are taking a luxury vacation, they still want those things.”
Meeting the demand for multigenerational travel
In an effort to keep up with the demand, properties are making major investments in expanding and enhancing their villa and residential-style offerings.
Jon Makhmaltchi, founder of J.Mak Hospitality, cited examples like the Edgewood Tahoe, a lakefront golf resort in Nevada that recently added two-bedroom, three-bedroom and five-plus-bedroom “villa suites” to its accommodations mix.
“They found that people were asking for connecting rooms, multiple suites or three-bedroom suites,” Makhmaltchi said. “But they just didn’t have a lot of inventory that [fit that bill]. And so, they responded by building new villas.”
Other J.Mak hotel partners that have expanded their villa product include the Saint James Paris, Villa Marie Saint-Barth and Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa.
“This is happening everywhere,” said Makhmaltchi, who added that he’s seen a shift toward larger villas with high bedroom counts in much of the new inventory.
“Many travelers are doing multi-generational travel, but it’s 10 people going, not four or five,” Makhmaltchi said. “And everybody’s working remote. So, they’re looking for an office space. They’re asking for a den or library, or they want an extra bedroom.”
Those seeking room to spread out will soon find it at Sandals Resorts International’s family-friendly Beaches Negril all-inclusive in Jamaica, which is launching six new Firesky Reserve Villas later this spring.
The three-story, four-bedroom villas, which span 3,700 square feet, will accommodate up to 10 guests and mark the company’s largest villas by square footage to date, Sandals said.
The Beaches Negril will concurrently unveil six Eventide Penthouse Collection suites ranging in size from three to four bedrooms and accommodating up to 18.
Sandals executive vice president of sales and industry relations Gary Sadler said the rollout of the villas and suites “stemmed from a strong and ongoing demand from extended families and multi-gen guests booking vacations together.”
Both categories are available for stays starting April 6, with Firesky villas starting at $2,123 per person, per night and the Eventide units starting at $1,959 for a three-bedroom balcony suite.
“Bookings just opened in December, and [we] expect these exclusive villa concepts to sell out very quickly,” Sadler said.
At the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel on the French Riviera, two new villas will join the property’s fold this summer: the two-bedroom Villa Clair Soleil, with a private terrace, pool and private gym, and the five-bedroom Villa Beauchamp, which has a private pool, cinema, sauna, hammam, fitness center and even a separate guesthouse.
The Clair Soleil will start at around $19,390 per night and the Villa Beauchamp at $37,700 per night.
Likewise, on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Four Seasons Hualalai revamped the floor plans of its top-tier villa offerings, adding second levels, indoor-outdoor living space and private plunge pools to its 5,500-square-foot Hawaii Loa Presidential Villa and 4,605-square-foot Makaloa Villa, which each start at $25,000 per night, and its 2,600-square-foot Ho’onanea Villa, which starts at $10,000 per night.
The resort’s general manager, Charlie Parker, cited “increased demand for accommodation choices of this caliber” and strong family travel trends as driving factors behind the extensive updates.
Just north of Tulum in Mexico, the luxury boutique property Hotel Esencia is similarly luring large families and other groups with a new 10,000-square-foot, four-bedroom villa, fittingly called the Esencia Mansion.
The residential-style unit, which also features three pools, a cinema, a private fitness studio and access to a helicopter pad and private tennis court, began welcoming guests last month.
The villa’s starting price is $21,000 per night, inclusive of airport transportation, a 24/7 butler, daily breakfast prepared by an in-villa chef and other perks. Esencia Mansion guests also have access to all of Hotel Esencia’s facilities.
“I see it as the best of both worlds for [our] high-level guests,” said Sean Murphy, Hotel Esencia’s vice president and managing director. “Our guests want options.”