The villa aficionado
villa (n) – a large and luxurious residence
aficionado (n) – a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime.
In fact, I see it more as a job. And believe me, like all jobs it has its high and low lights. However, I’m a certain sort of traveller, the sort that doesn’t consider a hotel room (regardless of pool size 14 stories below, or is that up?) a holiday. Sure, hotel rooms have their place – fine for a business trip, great for a quick shop-a-thon, a clandestine affair if you must, but definitely not what constitutes a holiday.
A holiday in a villa, ah, quelle joie, now we’re talking!
For a week or more a year live like a star, a sheikh, royalty or a trust fund child, it’s escapism at its ultimate best, it’s also totally affordable and even legal.
Bali is my current taste destination du jour, so after typing in Bali luxury villa rentals Google did its thing, and I found a full to the brim with villas website: Elite Havens.
This is where the real work part begins as being a villa aficionado by trade, it is now my duty to trial their products. However, before I delve into the individual merits (and not) of certain villas that I’ve stayed in, I decided as a newcomer to blogging that I would follow some rules.
The rule of lists and points, 10 points in fact.
- Price. You may think at a glance renting a villa is miles more expensive than any 5-star luxury hotel, well think again (calculator if you must). A five-bedroom multi-million-dollar villa in the heart of uber-trendy Seminyak, Bali, with all the bells and whistles, staff, chefs, drivers, private pool, gardens costs approximately $900 per night. So, that’s only $180 per room p.n. (gargantuan, individually styled room). Go figure?
- You’ll be met at the airport, not by some contractor but by one of their full-time drivers. These guys know way in advance exactly how many of you in your group, where you are staying and how to get there. They will carry your bags, secure the kids in a car seat (yes, they have those) provide you with an ice-cold towel (believe me it was a nice touch) and a bottle of re-hydrating water just before you expire from the heat.
- All villas are fully staffed. That’s not just someone to make the bed and clean the bedroom for an hour in the morning, that’s someone to make you a drink, grab your suntan cream from the bedroom, someone to make you a reservation in that great restaurant, someone to watch the kids while you have a massage. There’s also someone who watches over the property while you sleep day and night. And there’s another someone (in fact quite a few someones) in the kitchen all day preparing your meals, and yes those someones have already done all the shopping and remembered to get the right tonic water you requested.
- You can see, or not see the staff as much or as little as you want. It’s your holiday and you decide how much pampering and attention you can possibly manage. Personally, for me, there is no max and every one of those someones becomes a somebody and friend before I go home.
- All the amenities in the villa are for your exclusive use, you are free to use as often as you choose, though I don’t recommend more than 10 hours a day of sunbathing, table tennis, massage and eating if you want to wear the same jeans on the return flight home.
- This is my personal favourite. The ownership of my own personal space. No wretched early riser kicking down to the pool hours before you and ‘claiming’ the best position poolside. It’s your sun-lounger. In fact, they are all your sun-loungers. Share as you see fit.
- Meals are served at times to suit you. So, if champagne breakfast at 11 AM, lunch at 3, cocktails at 9 and dinner at 10 is what you feel like, then that’s what you’ll have.
- Getting nude. Not that I suggest you do it all the time, but if a midnight, moonlit skinny dip is on your bucket list, then go ahead, you won’t get arrested. There is also no one (who you don’t already know) on the next balcony peering into your room or starting up a conversation over the railing and the bougainvillaea.
- Entertain like in your own home without any of the work ( I also really, really like this bit). Dream up the dinner menu, give the shopping list to the chef, and then pop back to the pool, have a massage and then get ready to ‘receive’ your guests. When it’s all done and dusted, fall into bed in the knowledge that every last dish, glass and napkin will have been spirited away before you awake the next day. Heaven huh?
- You may never view the scenery destination because you may just decide, like me, to stay locked in the surrounds of your villa. This one could be slightly tricky, but my advice is to buy postcards of tourist attractions and photoshop yourself in if necessary. My friends fall for it every time. You also may decide that you never ever want to leave your villa and go home, but you MUST. Trust me, they insist.
Explore the complete line-up of Elite Havens and become a villa aficionado.