Vacation rentals with all the trimmings

All photographs copyright/courtesy Villas of Distinction.


Anyone can rent a vacation home, Steve Lassman says.

“Call a real estate agent and they’ll find you a home. But we create a full-service experience.”

The “we” being Villas of Distinction, part of World Travel Holdings, which is No. 19 on Travel Weekly’s Power List and the world’s largest cruise distributor.

What Villas of Distinction does, however, is find you a vacation house or apartment throughout the world that belongs to a third party you never deal with. Instead, Villas of Distinction assigns you an agent and then a concierge who is there to cater to your every need or whim.

“It’s a highly specialized team,” Lassman, vice president and general manager, says of the company’s mostly home-based workforce, “because the more knowledge you have, the better it is.”

Lassman is not only a Villas executive, he’s also a client.

“I go to Jamaica every other year with my wife and friends. I love the house we stay in, and every night there’s a gorgeous sunset.”

And he has the time to savor that sunset, because every Villa of Distinction comes with a full staff, so there’s a butler to anticipate when you’re thirsty and a cook to serve up the catch that the fishermen haul in daily. That leaves Lassman free to indulge his passion for golf, zip-lining and horseback riding.

Or maybe you’re more of a foodie, he says. Villas of Distinction can not only get you a place in St. Maarten in the Caribbean but will put together an eclectic dining experience for you at the island’s eateries.

Villas had one client, celebrating her 50th birthday, who rented Casa Aramara in Punta Mita, Mexico for a week. (The cost of the rental – $150,000. Rentals start at $5,000.) But that was just the beginning. For her special day, she wanted fireworks and a mariachi band. Villas of Distinction made sure she had them.

It’s a world away from renting a vacation home and being left to fend for yourself. And it’s certainly different from being in a hotel environment, particularly when it comes to family travel, which is trending now.

“If a family goes to a resort, they have their individual rooms. Where are they going to meet? The lobby? The pool?”

In a villa, there are many common areas. And should a family have a special needs child or an elderly relative, Villas of Distinction can easily prepare for him or her as well, Lassman says, adding, “It’s very comforting.”

Besides Mexico and the Caribbean, Villas of Distinction offers houses in France, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Belize, Costa Rica, the Tahitian island of Motu Teta and Thailand as well as apartments in London and Paris. The company – which also has rentals in Miami’s South Beach, Colorado, Utah, Jackson Hole, Wyo., Las Vegas and Hawaii – is looking to add to its domestic listings.

Whether you’re on Mykonos or Maui, though, you’ll receive the same service.

“Whatever is going to make you happy, we’ll do it,” Lassman says, adding with a laugh, “as long as it’s legal, we’ll do it.”

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