Nowhere is the supply of villas more plentiful than in the Caribbean, especially on the islands of Jamaica, Anguilla, St. Bart's, Mustique, and Barbados. Belize, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua are also heating up. And a smattering of houses is cropping up in the Turks and Caicos and on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Throughout most of the region, high season runs from mid-November to April. The best times to score a deal and nearly perfect weather are during May and November, but be prepared for occasional showers and shuttered restaurants.
THE REGIONAL PLAYERS
Wimco Villas has 1,200 listings throughout 12 islands, and nearly 200 of these are exclusives (most of them on St. Bart's). Founded in 1983, the company also covers the French Rivieria, Italy, Greece, and Morocco.
McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas works with more than 130 Caribbean properties, including many on Tortola, Grenada, St. John, and St. Thomas—the company's home base.
Villas of Distinction covers Mexico and the Caribbean, as well as Hawaii, Italy, France, and Portugal. The firm was recently purchased by the California-based travel agency Creative Leisure International, so it has the resources to plan your vacation from start to finish.
LaCure, a Toronto-based agency, has an inventory of more than 1,300 properties, with locations on 23 Caribbean islands, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Morocco. The company is quick to pick up on the demand for new and unusual locations, and it has some excellent houses in Central America and Thailand.
Also worth a look CaribbeanWay, Island Outpost, Sanctuare, Villas & Apartments Abroad, and Unique Properties & Events
Under $5,000 a week
Landmark Cottage, Barbados Two-bedroom house with a veranda, gardens, and access to nearby tennis courts and golf course; one-minute walk to the beach and five-minute drive to town; cooking and housekeeping included. Wimco Villas; $3,500 a week.
Frenchmans Lookout, Tortola Clifftop retreat with five bedrooms, modern gym, wraparound deck, hot tub, and 50-foot pool; includes housekeeping service, and chef on request. McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas; $11,000 a week.
Little Eden Cay, Nicaragua Three-bedroom, five-bath beachfront plantation house on a private island; includes high-speed Internet, organic garden, two boats, staff (boatman, housekeeper, house manager). LaCure; $21,000 a week.
Frangipani, Mustique Rambling seven-bedroom house designed by Italian architect Paolo Piva on a hill overlooking the water; five-minute walk to the beach; comes with 60-foot-long pool, four cars, four tennis courts, and on- site staff. Wimco Villas; $35,000 a week.
Sky's the Limit
Mount Hartman Bay Estate, Grenada Gaudi-inspired 11-bedroom estate with an infinity pool; carved into a hilltop on a private peninsula; comes with two boats, two 4x4's, and full staff. 473/444-4504; $110,800 a week.