Wealthy Americans are vacationing in style this summer and shunning luxury hotels for $20,000-a-week villas.
Industry professionals say people are heading to Europe in droves, but more are choosing to rent out large estates.
Wealthy tourists now choose to book entire residences when they travel because they don’t want to share pools, restaurants or other amenities with strangers.
They crave complete privacy not offered at the five-star hotels and resorts they once went to.
The pandemic is credited with spurring growth in the luxury home rental industry, as those who can afford it don’t want to mingle with strangers.
Wealthy Americans are vacationing in style this summer, skipping luxury hotels for $20,000-a-week villas
David Bell, from Chicago, enjoys traveling to Europe and hosting a full house of guests of around 15 people.
He paid for a $20,200-a-week villa in July in a multi-building complex in Languedoc, southwestern France, for his friends to join him.
The luxury residence has 11 bedrooms and eight bathrooms and a stone house is the center of the 630-acre estate.
Bell, 74, is a retired theater professional and he invites people from the industry as well as friends, including celebrity Chicago chef Rick Bayless.
“We do day trips and invite a local chef to cook,” he told the The Wall Street Journal.
He added that “being captive” in a villa instead of a hotel allows him to disconnect from the tech world and reset with his close friends.
Bell pays the cost of the rental while its guests pay for the extras, including restaurant meals.
Antonio Bertone and Alexandra Drane, from Boston, have rented a contemporary villa in northwest Sicily for the past few years.
She added that another reason for the surge in rental bookings is due to the use of luxury villas in popular TV shows, like this one from HBO’s The White Lotus.
The White Lotus villa contains this remarkable billiard room
The Villa Centinale, located in Italy, has also proven popular with American tourists
Wealthy Americans are shunning luxury European hotels for $20,000-a-week villas because they no longer want to share pools or other amenities with strangers
They own a natural wine business and end up spending about $27,450 a week on a five-bedroom coastal property that Antonio says “now feels like our home.”
Richard and Roberta Terapak, from Columbus, Ohio, have booked a villa in Greece to enjoy with their large group of friends.
The eight-bedroom property on the island of Syros includes an infinity pool, two private beaches, and two tennis courts.
The couple in their 60s and a total of 28 couples will stay there for four weeks at a cost of just under $110,000.
Richard, a retired solicitor, said: ‘The bedrooms are all en-suite which is essential as older people don’t like to share.
New Jersey couple Evans Gebhardt and Tanya Tuccillo, who are in their 60s, have booked a villa vacation on the French island of Corsica.
They paid $15,600 a week for the property which has seven bedrooms, a multi-level infinity, stunning sea views and an array of terraces.
The couple have been reviewing holiday properties since the 1980s and now use a UK-based agency called Thinking Traveler to help choose the perfect home.
Richard and Roberta Terapak, from Columbus, Ohio, booked a villa in Greece to enjoy with their large group of friends
Chicagoan David Bell loves to travel to Europe and host a host of guests, and he likes to do it in style. For him, that means finding a bragging-worthy luxury rental.
Industry professionals say people are heading to Europe in droves, but more are choosing to rent out sprawling properties
Experts say travelers are looking for complete privacy not offered with the five-star hotels and resorts they once stayed at.
The pandemic is credited with spurring growth in the luxury home rental industry, as those who can afford it now don’t want to mingle with strangers
Oliver Bell, who co-founded Oliver’s Travels, said his businesses had doubled in size since 2019.
He thinks the privacy of not sharing a pool or restaurants is the main factor why more people are choosing villas.
Luxury rentals, organized trips by concierge services and advice from local experts are also added benefits.
There was high demand this summer, and his agency rented three dozen villas with peak prices exceeding $130,000 a week.
Fischer Travel Enterprises customers in New York pay a $150,000 membership fee and $25,000 annual fee.
The travel consultancy has booked clients into a Paris apartment that costs $60,600 a night this summer.
The most popular destinations have been Italy, France, Greece, but Portugal is now attracting more interest.
Guests usually fly to Europe in private planes or use helicopters to get to the villa.
New Jersey couple Evan Gebhardt and Tanya Tuccillo, who are in their early 60s, have booked a villa stay on the French island of Corsica
Cala d’Istria in Corsica is highlighted for its breathtaking views
The most popular destinations were those like this in Italy, but also in France, Greece and Portugal
There has been high demand this summer and his agency has rented three dozen villas with peak prices exceeding $130,000 per week
The privacy of not sharing a pool or restaurants is the main factor why more people choose villas
“Having a helicopter land near a villa is pretty typical,” said Dee Branciforte, executive vice president of Fischer Travel Enterprises.
For security, guests can either use the special services provided with the villa, use their own security personnel or ask their agency to hire them.
She added that another reason for the surge in rental bookings is due to the use of luxury villas on popular TV shows such as HBO’s The White Lotus and Succession.
“Some clients come to us and say, ‘I saw this villa on TV,’ and then we start checking out,” Branciforte said.
UK-based Abercrombie & Kent Villas has a 17th-century Tuscan villa near Siena that was listed on Estate in its portfolio for around $69,600 a week.
It is accompanied by a garden embellished with ancient statues and pergolas covered with vines.
While a 16th-century palace in Palermo that was used in The White Lotus is available for $46,500 per week.
The luxury residence has reception rooms with fanciful trompe l’oeil frescoes.