Abercrombie & Kent Villas
Five decades of experience as a luxury travel operator has given A&K a healthy head start with its 200-property villa-rental offshoot, which launched in 2009.
Best For: Excursions; local staff; user-friendly website
What We Love: Rentals can include the on-point services that have helped make A&K famous: customized itineraries; wine tastings; cooking classes.
Properties From: $3,000 a week
Standout Rental: C’Awanui, a four-bedroom villa in Majorca whose 32-foot-long swimming pool has views of cypress-lined hilltops ($8,765 a week). 800/652-8413; akvillas.com.
While the Sonoma, California–based agency is known for its far-flung properties, its current agenda is to offer more value-oriented options.
Best For: Flexible minimum stays; special events
What We Love: The events the company can create or access: Ferrari race-car driving, costume balls in French châteaux, even a party where guests blend their own barrels of Bordeaux wine (later shipped back to the States).
Properties From: $5,925 a week
Standout Rental: A restored six-bedroom stone farmhouse just 40 minutes’ drive from the Tuscan wine capital, Montepulciano ($11,250 a week). 800/495-9961; beautiful-places.com.
Carpe Diem Luxury Travel
The 25 properties Marina Gratsos represents all belong to people in her social network. After a telephone interview or brief e-mail exchange, you’ll receive password-protected links to suitable properties’ websites.
Best For: Local connections; over-the-top services
What We Love: Those looking for privacy and discretion will find it here.
Properties From: $22,500 a week
Standout Rental: A hilltop palazzo in Umbria with 12 bedrooms whose staff will organize hunts for truffles or even wild boar ($42,618 a week). 44-20/7402-5330; carpediemtravel.co.uk.
A list of about 500 properties includes pricier Dream castles, villas, and yachts, as well as relatively affordable Charme properties in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
Best For: Travel services
What We Love: The Milan-based company is also a travel agency, offering one-stop shopping for plane tickets and car rentals.
Properties From: $7,000 a week
Standout Rental: Charme’s two-bedroom mountainside chalet in the South Tyrolean region of Trentino Alto Adige, with a retractable drawbridge to keep out unwanted guests ($11,680 a week). 39-02/8050-3457; dreamcharme.com.