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Selling Paradise: Our Stay at Villa Aquamare in Virgin GordaMay 31, 2012 By: Joe Pike
It’s not every day that we can make a claim like this, but Travel Agent recently returned from what may have been one of the best villas we will ever see – Villa Aquamare in the British Virgin Islands.
This resort is made up of three, perfectly-designed, 8,000-square-foot villas all within a stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful beaches in Virgin Gorda and all spaced out enough to ensure privacy.
Each villa is situated on a different elevation and surrounded by landscaping for even more privacy, yet angled to maximize views of the stunning Sir Francis Drake Channel. A separate Concierge House is located on the property to provide attentive guest services at every turn. Clients have the rare option of renting more than one villa, or even all three, to accommodate large gatherings of up to 36 people in one private enclave.
All five-bedroom villas feature comfortable spacious areas and ample balconies with spectacular ocean views. But a distinguishing feature of the Aquamare experience is located in each of the spa suites: open, yet completely sheltered marble bath areas with separate outdoor shower rooms the size of my Queen’s apartment’s living room.
|Each villa comes with its own private pool|
The guy who usually takes this kind of stuff for granted instead didn't want to leave the private swimming pool located on the bottom floor, couldn't wash off enough in the outdoor rain showers, which are located in each of the three master suites and the studio (the other room is a double) and frankly just didn't want to leave the villa.
Now, the full time housekeeping service the villa provides may require clients to sacrifice a little privacy in exchange for a meticulously clean villa. The housekeepers could be in your open-air living room at anytime from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. so make sure you’re not doing anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see because you may have a surprise visitor. Having said that, you’ll get over that small inconvenience when you come down from your bedroom to see the evidence of the previous nights festivities already discarded before breakfast is even served.
Private, in-villa dinners, lunches and breakfasts are also offered where you can get either a gourmet meal or some down-home cooking. For dinner, we chose some comfort food cooked by our incredibly friendly chef, Mimi, who may have made the best sweet potato and leek soup I ever had. Ok, fine, I never had sweet potato and leek soup before, but I'm sure the next time will disappoint.
Clients also have the option of getting a butler, who will come to the villa for eight-hour shifts and take care of your every need from packing and unpacking to bringing you some cold Carib beers on ice on the beach.
|A cabana at Villa Aquamare’s private Beach Park|
Aquamare’s private Beach Park is the ideal setting for destination weddings and small meetings. That’s right, there is a separate man-made beach with sand whiter than I was before the trip. Now, just to be clear, most beaches are not private in the Caribbean. That's why there was a "public" beach and then another man-made one just for villa guests. There was help-yourself kayaking, snorkeling, a cabana and the clearest, calmest water you can imagine.
Villa Aquamare offers an on-site concierge named Gino, a very charismatic Peruvian native who knows the island inside and out. Gino can assist clients in just about everything from coordinating boat excursions along the Sir Francis Drake channel to a champagne sunset cruise, or coordinating just about any in-villa services.
Two things we highly recommend doing for your clients here: tell them to book groceries before their arrival and recommend a private dinner in their villa for at least one or two nights. Now, before Travel Agent and four guests arrived at the villa, we ordered roughly $700 worth of groceries from burgers and hot dogs to beers, wine and liquor. It was way more than we needed for the four-day stay. We recommend getting simply what you need for the first day or two and then playing the others days by ear. Agents should note though that there is a 25 percent service charge for the groceries pickup. Agents should also highly recommend renting a car if clients would like to skip the 25-percent service charge and pick up some groceries on their own or if they want to see one of the Caribbean greatest attractions, The Baths, which is located just a 7-10 minute drive from Villa Aquamare.
We also highly recommend private boat transfers. Or at least book one for the way back. The public ferries, however, are actually pretty convenient and cost about $20 each. Make sure your clients have cash for the ride. The ferries, however, only run roughly every two hours, so planning it around your return flight can result in getting to the airport way earlier than you really need to.
Who to Book For
Book this for couples getaways, friends getaways and multi-generational travel. Agents should not, however, limit their focus to only affluent cleints as the villa can actually be a lot more affordable than you would think at first. When Travel Agent went in May, for example, we were told the costs were roughly $20,000 for the week. And each villa sleeps up to 12 people, so if you had multigenerational families or smaller groups of couples, the costs per person can be lowered substantially. Also, there are always some pretty good deals going on involving Villa Aquamare so be on the lookout.
There is no way around having to rely on affluent clients if you’re looking to book this property for the holidays, however, as costs for Christmas and New Year’s Eve stays can balloon to as high as $50,000 to $70,000 a week, Travel Agent was told.
|The Baths, the British Virgin Island's greatest tourist attraction, is located 7-10 minutes from Villa Aquamare|
Some Additional Notes
Agents should note that there is a $20 tax to leave the country. It is not included in the air ticket and most major credit cards, except American Express, are accepted. Clients should also be warned to use as much bug spray as possible. Paradise doesn’t come with a catch or two and in this case, it’s in the form of some pretty determined mosquitoes.
Travel Agent was told that one of Villa Aquamare's first guest was actor Harrison Ford. We were also told that musicians, such as rapper Ludacris, have also stayed at the property.
Agents looking to book Villa Aquamare should contact Tracey Harlowe, travel industry sales representative with The Harlowe Group, a boutique representation company, at [email protected] or 954-345-4078. Agents can also contact Lizzie Paz, hospitality and reservations manager for Villa Aquamare, at [email protected] or 787-725-2552.