A region-by-region guide to the world's most reliable resources—and some of their standout properties.
Agency: Ville et Village (villeetvillage.com)
Carolyn Grote visits each of the 200 villas in her collection; all are characteristic of their region (such as farmhouses in Provence). The staff is bilingual and offers local suggestions, from good cycling paths to off-the-radar restaurants.
Top property: Le Pavillon de Chasse
A 17th-century five-bedroom hunting lodge with pool, guesthouse, and a caretaker, on 650 acres in Provence's Luberon. $9,240/week.
Agency: Aqua Living (livinginternational.net)
Local staff can arrange anything from a massage therapist to a picnic lunch at a secluded beach near one of the company's stylish properties in Mykonos, Crete, Paros, Santorini, or Rhodes.
Top property: Infinity
A large white house near Agrari Beach on Mykonos, with five bedrooms, an infinity pool, and multiple terraces with views of the Aegean. From $20,573/week.
Agency: The Best in Italy (thebestinitaly.com)
Countess Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda often stays in one of her company's 80 villas—mostly around Tuscany and Lake Como—when on vacation. Her well-connected owner friends can arrange private museum visits or concerts for clients.
Top property: Villa Pisana
The celeb-friendly eight-bedroom estate outside Pisa has its own laundress to attend to your riding gear. From $43,981/week.
Agency: Spain Select (spain-select.com)
A small collection of 65 villas ensures that manager Karin Wallis and her staff can regularly revisit each property. The best are spread across the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, and Majorca.
Top property: El Navio
A Modernist five-bedroom hilltop retreat in Cádiz, with three levels, floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor and outdoor pools, and a small gym. From $11,000/week.
Agency: RentVillas (rentvillas.com)
This 24-year-old agency has recently expanded beyond France and Italy to four regions in Turkey: the Aegean; Marmara, near Istanbul; the south; and central Anatolia. A personal travel advisor helps clients select their ideal house.
Top property: Villa Ilhan
The six-bedroom villa in Bodrum is a Mediterranean-style estate with a pool, on the grounds of a working farm. From $6,500/week.
United States and Canada
Agency: Beau Monde Villas (beaumondevillas.com)
Beau Monde has 25 architecturally noteworthy Palm Springs pads, including one previously owned by Warner Brothers cofounder Jack Warner. Staff can arrange mountain biking tours, art classes, tennis lessons, and private treatments at your villa.
Top property: Kreiss Estate
A Michael Kreiss–designed three-bedroom estate with 18-foot ceilings, many glass walls, and views of the San Jacinto Mountains. From $1,100/night.
Agency: Beautiful Places (beautiful-places.com)
Co-owner Liza Graves works with 30 estates in Sonoma and Napa valleys, from historic farmhouses and vineyard cottages to mountainside manors, and caters to wine lovers by arranging vineyard tours, private tastings, and picnics with winemakers.
Top property: Terra del Cuore
A Tuscan-style villa in Napa with two guest cottages, a boccie court, indoor and outdoor pizza ovens, walking trails, a small chapel, and a sweeping view of southern Napa Valley, including San Pablo Bay and Mount Diablo. From $4,500/night.
Agency: Entrée Canada (entreecanada.com)
Among owner Marc Télio's 20 properties in Whistler and Mount Tremblant is everything from authentic log cabins to palatial estates with infinity pools. Télio creates trips around golf, skiing, or culture, and he also regularly satisfies one-off requests, such as in-villa yoga instruction or private cooking classes.
Top property: Whistler Estate
A six-bedroom, 6,500- square-foot villa in British Columbia, complete with outdoor infinity pool, rock hot tub, and adjoining backyard spa that includes a sauna and gym equipment. From $12,000/night.
Agency: Time and Place Villas (timeandplace.com)
The agency has villas in Nantucket, Beaver Creek, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, but its Kauai and Maui properties are some of the most spectacular. All clients are contacted immediately after booking to discuss special requests, and round-the-clock concierges can arrange anything from car service to a chef.
Top property: Pilaa Beach House
The fully outfitted, modern three-bedroom villa in Kauai has a granite soaking tub, chef's kitchen, central gas tiki torches, and a football field–size secluded beach. From $1,700/night.
Agency: Island Hideaways (islandhideaways.com)
This Virginia-based company's 800 villas throughout the Caribbean are meant to fit all budgets, from $2,000 a week to $45,000 a day. (Online customer reviews help you sort through them.) It can also connect clients with local wedding planners and arrange yacht and helicopter rentals.
Top property: The Distillery
A rum distillery turned residence on Tortola, this five-bedroom estate sits on eight manicured acres and includes a maid, cook, tennis courts, pool, and gym. From $6,790/week.
Agency: St. Barth Properties (stbarth.com)
Affiliated with Sotheby's, this boutique agency's 150 properties are located solely on St. Bart's and, unlike most of its competitors, it has an on-island office. Founder Peg Walsh publishes "helpful hints" manuals, hosts welcoming cocktail parties, and arranges for in-villa spa treatments, gym equipment, or baby furniture.
Top property: Au Soleil
A four-bedroom villa with a gourmet kitchen and on-property chef, media room, multiple covered terraces, barbecue area, and two-level infinity pool with expansive bay views. From $9,500/week.
Agency: Unusual Villa Rentals (unusualvillarentals.com)
Owner John Greer specializes in private islands; he has access to more than 50. Some rentals include a yacht and crew, while others come with a helicopter. Rentals on more mainstream islands —such as St. Bart's, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic—are also available.
Top property: Villa Beach 921
A four- bedroom beachfront property in the Dominican Republic, with an infinity pool facing the sunset, media room, wood-burning pizza oven, herb garden, and daily maid service. From $21,000/week.
Agency: Villas and Apartments Abroad (vaanyc.com)
Company founder Sylvia Delvaille-Jones makes homeowners provide guest references before accepting their properties. Ask about epicurean vacations. Clients can tour local markets with personal chefs, who will offer cooking lessons back at the clients' villas.
Top property: La Koubba Villa
A five-bedroom, Moroccan-style house in a href="/guides/turks-and-caicos">Turks and Caicos with a guest cottage, on the calm and kid-friendly Sapodilla Bay. A stairway leads directly into the ocean, and tranquility is the main attraction. From $10,000/week.
Agency: Villas Caribe (villascaribe.com)
The family-run outfit offers one of the largest collections of luxury villas in the region. Its Web site provides 360-degree tours of most of its 1,200 properties, and lets you customize your search by vacation theme, such as golf, spa, scuba diving, or fishing.
Top property: Petite Plage
A four-bedroom, air-conditioned beachfront villa on St. Martin with a large swimming pool, media room with film projector, satellite TV, and Jacuzzi. Babysitter and chef services are available on request. From $22,000/week.
Mexico and Central and South America
Agency: Azul Latin America (azullatinamerica.com)
English expat and former tour guide Steven Chew relies on his insider access to create bespoke experiences for each guest—from helicopter safaris to chef-prepared dinners. Personal connections lead him to remarkable private houses and estancias across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay.
Top property: Relais Solar
A five-bedroom colonial house in the Santa Teresa district of Rio, surrounded by a 21,000-square-foot garden with a pool and bungalow. From $1,250/night.
Agency: Costa Vallarta Boutique Villas (costavallartaboutiquevillas.com)
With only 16 villas around Puerto Vallarta, the agency can deliver a very high level of personal attention, crafting excursions that could include anything from aerial sightseeing tours to a guided ramble through a nearby jungle.
Top property: Casa Tabachin
A four-bedroom house on a cobblestoned path, with original paintings by celebrated Mexican artists (Manuel Felguerez, Alejandro Colunga), two cooks, a housekeeper, and a handyman. From $700/night.
Agency: Earth, Sea & Sky Vacations (cabovillas.com)
Specializing in vacations in and around Los Cabos, the company organizes private-jet charters to Cabo; arranges in-villa yoga and Pilates classes; and hires babysitters or coordinates kids-friendly activities on nearby beaches.
Top property: Villa Cortez
A 4,000-square-foot oceanfront estate with five bedrooms (each with its own patio), a waterfall pool, Jacuzzi, and unmatched views of the Sea of Cortés. From $2,000/night.
Agency: Exsus Travel (exsus.com)
This company has dozens of villas and private houses across Argentina, Belize, Brazil, and Peru, many of which adhere to an eco-friendly philosophy. A number of property owners rely on solar power, recycled water, and locally sourced organic food, and the agency also contributes to charities in local communities.
Top property: Villa Galapagos
A three-bedroom estate on Santa Cruz Island with steam room and sauna; comes with a dedicated naturalist guide who can design custom itineraries. From $10,500/night.
Agency: Private World (privateworldvillas.com)
Drawing from the discerning taste of its owners—former British Vogue writer Ian Holmes and restaurateur/gallery owner Meryanne Loum-Martin—this London-based company selects sites for their privacy, style, and individuality. The new Rad Pads collection highlights the region's top "design villas."
Top property: Villa Lunatica
North of Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park, the sleek oceanside villa has three bedrooms, two kitchens, and a freshwater infinity pool. From $550/night.
Sanctuary Villas (sanctuaryvillas.com)
Pinpoints the exact location of each property with Google Maps.
Rates villas on a scale of three (comfortable) to five (exceptional) and has detailed floor plans.
Dream & Charme (dreamcharme.com)
Individualized experiences and villas with stylish amenities, such as contemporary art.
Tuscany Now (tuscanynow.com)
Sorts by 17 handy categories, from no need for car to stunning view.
United States and Canada
Villas of Distinction (villasofdistinction.com)
Personalized Hawaii trips can include a private tour guide, nanny service, and the opportunity to participate in local festivals.
One Key World (onekeyworld.com)
Unlike a rental agency, One Key offers a travel card that allows users up to 45 nights at villas around the world.
Five Star Destinations (5stardestinations.com)
Offering 150 properties in Aspen, its agents will also make hard-to-get dinner reservations.
A major player with 1,000-plus villas. Staff can arrange car rentals, restaurant reservations, and babysitters.
Personal touches include fresh flowers in every room, pianists brought to the villa, and on-site fireworks.
McLaughlin Anderson (mclaughlinanderson.com)
This company has the largest variety on St. Thomas, and can book chefs and helicopter tours.
Mexico and Central and South America
Luxury Lifestyle Management (dreamexoticrentals.com)
The company has its own fleet of luxury cars and yachts; private island rentals are also available.
Villas of the World (villasoftheworld.com)
Search any of the 3,000-plus properties by amenity, including beach access and yacht rental.
Private Luxury Group (private-luxury-group.com)
In addition to renting, it will also coordinate private-jet travel to your villa of choice.