Central & South America
Brazilian Beach House Co.: Rio penthouses, beachfront villas, and private-island estates make up this small collection of 50 properties. Each has daily housekeeping and a concierge.
Standout: The fully staffed, palm-shaded Casa Azul feels secluded despite its location on a shared stretch of sand in Trancoso (six rooms; $20,790 a week). 55-21/2225-9476.
Mead Brown: The majority of the 45 villas, all located along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, are exclusive. Agents are locals who have tested every excursion they book, whether it’s snorkeling off the white-sand beaches of Tortuga or ziplining through the Herradura highlands rain forest.
Standout: Your only neighbors at Villa Malibu 8, in the tiny town of Bahia Herradura, are scarlet macaws and howler monkeys (four bedrooms; $15,000 a week). 888/744-6599.
Oasis Collections: A third of the company’s 1,200 properties are in Buenos Aires; the rest are beachfront retreats, chic apartments, and sprawling mansions in Punta del Este, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; and Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín, Colombia.
Standout: The 1860 Casa Carlos Calvo, in Buenos Aires’s lively San Telmo neighborhood, has crystal chandeliers and a private rose garden (four bedrooms; $4,000 a week). 631/731-1677.
Blue Parallel Villas: This Buenos Aires–based outfit has 20 villas and penthouses in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, and the Galápagos. Prior to guests’ arrival, properties are stocked with food, champagne, and fresh flowers.
Standout: In José Ignacio, Uruguay, the El Bosque estate has handcrafted wood furnishings and a pool that faces seven manicured acres (six bedrooms; $26,500 a week). 800/256-5307.
Explore, Inc.: Most of the villas listed by owner Cherri Briggs, who spends half the year in Africa, partner with safari lodges to ensure the best possible service, but all come with their own staff, vehicles, and guides. Her portfolio covers South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, and Botswana.
Standout: Spot elephants and buffalo from the acacia-shaded Sirikoi lodge, on a northern slope of Mount Kenya (three bedrooms; $37,800 a week). 970/871-0065.
Touch of Spice: Based in both Auckland and Queenstown, this team has the North and South islands covered, yet is small enough to provide one-on-one service to clients. About two dozen town houses are centrally located, while rural retreats sit on postcard-worthy pockets of land.
Standout: The Residences at Mountain Landing has an on-site staff and a private jetty facing the Bay of Islands, and it’s a stone’s throw from a series of secluded beaches (four bedrooms; $13,488 a week). 64-3/450-0855.
Villas & Apartments Abroad: With more than 750 properties around the world, the company has one of the widest ranges of listings of any we’ve seen. Still, it provides personalized service, setting up, say, an in-villa opera performance in Verona.
Standout: Terra-cotta tiles, exposed beam ceilings, and a fireplace round out Sarageto, a country house near Siena (four bedrooms; $6,370 a week).
A Note on Pricing: Rates given are for high season; they often drop dramatically in low season.