Bring your family and friends
Looking to get together? Here are some great options for big group getaways
It takes a village to raise enough accommodation for some families, so this Tuscan hamlet complete with its own restaurant and chapel should fit the bill. San Casciano dei Bagni, a privately owned hilltop town 650m above sea level, has five newly renovated houses in the grounds of an 11th century castle. Each house is separate, with its own courtyard and outdoor seating areas, but within a stone’s throw of each other along winding lanes bordered by gardens and ancient trees.
Situated within easy driving distance of Siena, Arezzo, Perugia and Florence, the hamlet accommodates a total of 30 people and includes two pools.
As if all that weren’t tempting enough, the privately-owned restaurant is managed by three Michelin starred chef Heinz Beck. Prices are given on a per villa basis, starting at £2,160 (€2,500) per week for one which sleeps four. sjvillas.co.uk
Village life in St Tropez
Villa Du Carillon in Grimaud, near St Tropez on the French Cote d’Azur, is a recently refurbished villa on four acres within walking distance of the gorgeous hilltop village of Grimaud.
Tucked away down a private lane with magnificent views of Chateau Grimaud, it is named for the sound of the old village bell that strikes the hour and carries across the valley. The region has everything for a great holiday from hiking in forests and mountains to flopping on sandy beaches. There’s yacht-watching at St Tropez and Antibes and it makes a good base for exploring the coast up as far as Monaco.
The property consists of the main villa plus a two-bedroom pool annex, with pergola-covered dining terrace beside the pool, a barbecue and children’s play area. It sleeps 13 and costs £9,000 (€15,000) a week. dreamvillarentals.com
There’s room to spread out a lot in Grand Banc too, a Provencal hamlet in Luberon that sleeps up to 24 people.
This scenic part of the world is where the Jean de Florette films were made and is where the finest French lavender is still harvested, distilled and sold on local roads.
The property sits on 400 acres of farmland – including lavender fields and orchards – with an outdoor dining room seating up to 30 and a swimming pool that overlooks the surrounding countryside.
At nearly 800m above sea level there is hardly any humidity, the nights are cool and the days mosquito-free. It also has loads of little outdoor nooks and crannies to repair to, making it a perfect solution for extended family groups. There’s an in-house chef offering breakfast and either lunch or dinner, plus maid and concierge service, with prices starting at about €1,600 a day. petershamproperties.com
If it is sunshine and swank you’re after, check out El Cano, a large, Irish-owned villa in Marbella capable of accommodating 26 people.
The rooms here are huge, with 10 bedrooms (and 11 bathrooms) designer furniture, al fresco dining terraces, a tennis court, and two swimming pools – indoor and out – plus hot tub and sauna.
Outside it has a nine-hole putting green, table tennis, outside catering and barbecue areas plus extensive, landscaped gardens, just 10 minutes from Puerto Banus. As well as fancy bells and whistles such as plasma TVs in every room, it also has practical ones, such as lift access to all levels and general wheelchair friendliness. Priced from €12,000 to €25,000 a week – or €460 to €900 a week, per person at full capacity.
Room with a vista
The aptly named Villa Vista is a gorgeous family villa built with the kind of spectacular sea views you’d expect on the Amalfi coast.
Sleeping 12, it has a pool and daily maid service and breakfast provided, plus a private chef available in the evenings if required. Spread over four levels, it has a large living area opening out on to a spectacular terrace which is partially shaded and fully furnished.
Two annexes, one next to the pool and one below the main terrace, make it a good option for those travelling with teens or grandparents, whom might value a little independence.
The villa is an hour from Naples airport, 10 minutes from the town centre and a 15-minute walk to the beach. Prices from €14,410 a week. sjvillas.com
For an exotic but expensive twist, Ezzahra in Marrakech comes staffed with no less than three resident beauty therapists available for pedicures, manicures and massages, either by the pool, in your room or in its own spa – all included in the price.
The villa, which has extensive gardens, is in the Palmeraie, five minutes from the centre of Marrakech’s medina and souks.
The villa sleeps 14 guests who are waited on by 16 full-time staff including a resident chef.
Facilities include a heated pool, a Berber tent for evening drinks, gym, hairdresser, games room with a full-sized pool table, table tennis and outdoor chess.
A week’s stay for 14 costs €27,800 including all food and non alcoholic drinks.
For a grand family villa built for entertaining, Casa da Filipa on Portugal’s Algarve is hard to beat. Sleeping 19 people it’s a great spot for a house party, in a regal setting overlooking the Bay of Lagos with super-sized sea view terraces and steps down to its own beach.
Designed by a member of the Portuguese royal family specifically for holidays with families and friends – and with royal crests on the bedheads to prove it – facilities include table tennis, a grand piano, bar, pool and even a chapel.
There’s a professional chef option available too. Prices for a week’s stay, full occupancy, start at £4,515 (€6,343).