Following a year of flux in the travel industry, one of the trends we’ve seen prevail is the demand for self-catered accommodation. A beautiful house in the Mediterranean to take over as your own will be the most sought-after booking for next year. And The Thinking Traveller has held its spot at the top of Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards – as the best villa rental company in the world – for the past five years. With exclusive access to some of Europe’s most spectacular villas, as well as unrivalled local knowledge on destinations including Sicily, Puglia, Corsica and the Greek islands (adding new Mallorcan properties for 2021), it’s easy to see why it should be your first port of call for a smart, secluded villa holiday. Here are five reasons to book a villa now with The Thinking Traveller for 2021.
1. The villas really are next level
All of the properties in The Thinking Traveller’s collection are out of the ordinary with approximately one per cent of the villas offered to the company actually making it into the final portfolio (you won’t find any of them on any other sites). Each one has passed a series of stringent tests, taking in aspects such as design, location and facilities, and has been vetted by the company’s founders Huw and Rossella Beaugié (these rigorous quality audits continue even after a property is on the books). When it comes to design and location, there’s something for everyone – from dreamy barefoot beachfront villas such as Kolokithi Bay on the little Sporadean island of Alonissos in Greece, with direct access to the sea and bedrooms worthy of a boutique hotel, to super-sleek, architect-designed villas including Trullo Pinnacolo in Puglia and majestic, out-of-this-world conversions such as Forte San Giorgio on Capraia, a tiny island in the Tuscan archipelago.
2. Its experts have the best local knowledge in the business
The Thinking Traveller’s villas are only found in destinations the team know and love, including Sicily where the brand was born just under 20 years ago and Mallorca, its latest addition. The London-based team visit and stay at the villas regularly and as a result can help with every query, including advice on the emptiest beaches nearby, the best spot for a sundowner and the ultimate gelato. Whether guests are booking a holiday villa for two or a summer family gathering for 24, there’s always a local concierge (real insiders) on hand to help with the best restaurant bookings, excursions and experiences, factoring in everything from local etiquette to the weather. For example, guests at the seven-bedroom Masseria Canali are encouraged not to miss out on dinner at a local farm and foodie hotspot, where practically all the ingredients are produced on the land.
3. Experiences go way beyond the villa
The team can help with every aspect of your holiday, if you want them to – which could mean arranging private skippered boat charters, archaeological and vineyard tours, in-villa cooking or yoga classes. And whether guests want to learn how to make cheese in Alberobello or cruise below the historic Corsican clifftop town of Bonifacio, The Thinking Traveller aims to leave you with memories beyond that of a week sunbathing in a spectacular location (though, of course, that’s lovely too). Take Don Arcangelo all’Olmo in Sicily: guests staying here could take a helicopter trip to skim over the craters of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, or an off-the-beaten-track four-wheel-drive tour to explore areas of the great volcano that most people will never see. They will then have the opportunity to spend their afternoon on a relaxed tour of the Benanti and Barone di Villagrande wineries – the former has an awe-inspiring lava-stone vinification hall dating back to the 18th century and is one of the best preserved on Etna. And at the end of a busy day, they will return for a locally sourced Sicilian supper prepared by the in-villa chef.
4. It has an eco-friendly approach to travel
As a small-scale villa operator, The Thinking Traveller insists on protecting the equilibrium of its host destinations, while actively supporting and partnering with a variety of initiatives and conservation projects. As a result, The Thinking Traveller is a proud partner of the Conservation Collective, a network of local philanthropic funds focused on protecting, preserving and restoring the natural environment. Investing directly and indirectly in local economies, the company also sponsors cultural events, for example partnering with the organisers of the Paxos Contemporary Art Project. By bringing discerning clients to its villas, it also supports professionals and artisans – whether cooks, caretakers or building contractors – who are all part of the local community and depend on the tourist industry. Many of The Thinking Traveller’s villas are eco-friendly too, with solar panels for hot water and electricity, and organic kitchen gardens, orchards and olive groves. Rocca delle Tre Contrade in Sicily has its own bounteous vegetable garden and a seven-acre lemon grove, reducing food mileage to zero. On top of this, 30 per cent of the house’s energy is generated from photovoltaic panels and its water is filtered and treated, removing the need to transport and consume mineral water in plastic water bottles.
5. The entire experience is totally personal
The Thinking Traveller’s team works with all guests to find the dream property for every style of holiday, from multi-generational family get-togethers to romantic villas for two. They will always advise with the client in mind. What’s more, their thoughtful and proactive approach ensures that no two holidays to one property are the same. Many of the company’s staff are parents, so they have a deep understanding of family needs for children of all ages, and they will always be upfront about any pros and cons of a particular villa with a view to safety first. There are also out-of-season opportunities to stay as a small group at some of the larger villas when they are available at both a reduced occupancy and rate. That could mean staying at the superbly spacious six-bedroom I Bruzzi in Corsica at a significantly reduced three-bedroom price.
So whether you’re after a restorative, go-slow Mediterranean holiday or an extraordinary action-packed adventure in 2021, we recommend booking a villa early. Given 2020’s cancellation rollover, there has never been a greater case for planning ahead. Explore more of the properties on offer from our Readers’ Choice Award winner for best villa rental company in the world: The Thinking Traveller.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7377 8518
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