The 15-minute drive to Àni Villas Anguilla from the island’s bustling port of entry is an exercise in decompression. Anguilla’s long, skinny shape and undulating topography dictate that roads on the Caribbean island are narrow and winding, snaking past roadside fruit and barbecue stands and brightly painted beachfront shanties. Delays are the norm, frequently in the form of goat herds that stop traffic and leave passengers little choice but to sit back and slow down.
Following multiple turns onto unmarked, unpaved roads, the car eventually arrives at the top of a steep, rock-ribbed hill, where—suddenly and somewhat incongruously—two massive residences with vertically stacked glass walls and jutting flat rooftops come into view. A vacation rental of such grand proportions—and ambitions—seems a rare find in this remote location, or anywhere else in the world. "I vacation every year with up to 20 or 30 of my friends and family members," says Àni Villas’ owner, a New York–based financier who asked not to be named. "And it has always been a challenge to find a resort where we could all feel relaxed and interact with one another in a casual way."
Àni Villas’ owner plans eventually to have a collection of estates that offer resort-style amenities in far-flung destinations from Sri Lanka to Vietnam. Àni Villas Anguilla, the company’s debut property, comprises the two adjacent five-bedroom homes, named Àni North and Àni South. The sleek contemporary structures opened to guests in December and can be rented separately or together. (Weekly rates are all-inclusive and begin at $30,000 for one villa and $51,000 for the entire estate.)
Perched high above the coastline on a two-acre bluff known as Little Bay Cliff, the three-story villas have infinity-edge pools that, like most of the estate’s vantages, afford striking ocean views. The vastness of the surroundings—virgin cliffs, blue sky, Caribbean Sea—is echoed in the villas’ uncommonly spacious interiors, which include six suites among the 10 bedrooms plus two kitchens, 12 bathrooms, four sitting rooms, four dining areas, two game rooms, and one elevator. Each suite has a private balcony or terrace and a bathroom with double vanities and a soaking tub. On the third story of each villa is a sprawling cantilevered balcony that provides yet another location for watching the sunset with a friend or family member.
After size, Àni Villas’ owner cares most about service. "We’ve found that rental properties don’t provide the same level of service and amenities that we enjoy at a resort," he says. Thus, Àni Villas Anguilla employs a full-time staff that includes a chef, a housekeeping team, and a concierge. Each member of the team is an experienced hospitality professional hired from a nearby restaurant or resort. Furthering its resort-in-a-residence concept, Àni Villas Anguilla offers spa services and has an on-site fitness center, business center, and tennis court.
Future sites for Àni Villas properties may include Mauritius and Zanzibar. Each of the properties, says the company’s owner, will feature a unique design and architecture that will reflect the local style. The collection’s second property, which will open on the north coast of the Dominican Republic late next year, will have pitched wooden roofs and tropical-inspired furnishings—a sharp contrast to Anguilla’s modern look.
For those seeking some local flavor on Anguilla, Àni Villas offers guides who take guests snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating. Many guests, however, will understandably opt not to leave the sanctity of their surroundings, in favor of soaking up native flavors during lunch by the pool—and perhaps during their leisurely drive back to reality.
Àni Villas, 264.497.7888, www.anivillas.com