Self-catering villas are an excellent option for families, groups of friends or simply couples looking for plenty of space and privacy, not to mention a sense of independence. You could base your entire trip around any one of these holiday home-from-homes, or opt for a villa stay at the end of your itinerary for the perfect wind down.
1. Casa Cairuçu, Parati
The perfect place to get away from it all, this lovely ocean-front house offers an independent and private base for you to explore the bays and colonial settlements of Brazil’s historic Emerald Coast. Built in a chic Brazilian summer house style, with plenty of light and space, Casa Cairuçu sits on a rocky cliff smothered in tropical vegetation in a protected, vehicle-free area dotted with golden beaches, time-resistant fishing villages and forest trails. The beautifully yet simply decorated home, full of the colours of the sea and sky, can sleep six to eight guests. There is a daily maid service and a ‘remote concierge’ on call to ensure that while you get all the benefits of self-sufficiency you are spared the burdens that usually go with them!
We love: Swimming of the villa’s private jetty, kayaking around the bays at dawn for amazing wildlife and falling asleep to the sounds of the rainforest.
When to go: April and May are the optimal months to visit. June to August is also dry and pleasant, though cooler.
Each of the self-contained and stylish villas at this peaceful and secluded Caribbean resort has a living area, a veranda with hammocks, and a kitchenette: really all you need in the sun-kissed climes of Honduras’s Bay Islands. Some have just one bedroom and bathroom, while others offer the perfect set-up for a family or large group. The resort, which is set within beautiful tropical gardens and faces a one-kilometre beach with endless other stretches of white sand beyond, also has a very inviting swimming pool and kayaks available free to all guests.
We love: Spectacular snorkelling followed by a lunch of lobster and grilled octopus caught that very morning.
When to go: December to May.
With its lower altitude, milder climate and beautiful location amidst fertile countryside, it should come as no surprise that the scenic and historic Sacred Valley of the Incas is increasingly seen as an attractive alternative to staying in Cusco. Indeed, as it is the kind of place that tempts you to stay for several days, it is an ideal place to make yourself at home in a convenient self-catering villa from which you can make numerous forays to the surrounding attractions. Deep sofas, beamed ceilings, log fires and subtle Inca-inspired décor create a homely atmosphere, while the setting amidst pretty gardens at the foot of the mountains is the epitome of tranquility. There’s an option to have home-cooked meals prepared for you in your own kitchen to allow you uncompromised rest and relaxation – very welcome when there is so much to see and do by day.
We love: Visiting the nearby Inca ruins, bustling markets and glistening salt pans on foot or by bike.
When to go: April to September.
4. Domus, Pipa
The spacious 2- and 3-bedroom villas at Domus Residence are a good choice for those seeking a little more autonomy during their stay in the northeast Brazilian beach village of Pipa. The complex is about 1km from town, perched on a striking red-earth promontory overlooking the appealingly wild beach of Cancela. Each villa comes equipped with its own kitchen, spacious living room, terrace and hammock, while within the gardens is a network of swimming pools leading to the beach.
We love: Swimming with wild dolphins at the Bahia dos Golfinhos, 30-degree heat and the laidback feel of Brazilian beach town life.
When to go: September to early April.
Elegant Victoria House, located on the blissful Belizean isle of Ambergris Caye, is primarily a hotel, and its handful of stylish villas retain the luxurious feel of the rest of the resort – certainly not the stereotype of self-catering. While a whitewashed former mansion house contains the suites, the detached, thatch-roofed villas are found in the hotel’s tropical gardens, a stone’s throw from the beach and pool. And just in case the eminently restful Caribbean setting leaves you feeling less than self-sufficient, you have the reassurance of an excellent hotel restaurant to fall back on!
We love: The outstanding snorkelling and diving in the nearby Holchan Marine Reserve.
When to go: December to May.