Joe Poulin created Luxury Retreats more than 15 years ago, when, he says, villa-rental companies were plagued by capricious standards and unfulfilled promises. “Renting a villa was a gamble because these companies couldn’t promise the kind of reliability and predictability that hotels could,” he explains. “It was my goal to bring that standard to villa rentals.”
Poulin launched his Montreal-based agency with just a handful of villas in Barbados in 1999. Since then, Luxury Retreats has built a portfolio of over 3,000 properties in more than 30 countries. Each villa has passed Poulin’s 150-point checklist and is serviced by a personal concierge.
In Italy, Poulin’s concierges have indeed mastered the art of the extravagant. “We’ve arranged private dinners under the David in Florence. We’ve sent guests truffle hunting in Tuscany,” he says. “Whether it includes cooking lessons or an after-hours tour of the Vatican, every itinerary is built from scratch.”
For the ultimate home base in Puglia, Poulin suggests the four-bedroom Villa Baraquiel Relais, set among olive groves near the town of San Michele Salentino. Crafted in the Itria Valley’s centuries-old architectural style, the villa includes 11 trullo conical roofs, three of which are more than 150 years old. Inside, the design juxtaposes colorful and contemporary furnishings with ornate brick archways and barrel-vaulted ceilings. Outside, the smell of jasmine flows from the verdant gardens to the two terraces and swimming pool. (from $1,000 per night)
Also in Puglia . . .
Villa Magnifica ➤ LOCATION Within the Borgo Egnazia resort, roughly one mile from the port of Savelletri. SIZE Sleeps six in three bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom. AMENITIES Swimming pool, home theater, courtyard, private gardens, and full staff (upon request). HIGHLIGHT Access to the restaurants and amenities of Puglia’s most exclusive resort. (from $1,180 per night)
Villa Pizzorusso ➤ LOCATION A restored 16th-century masseria in the countryside near the village of Mesagne. SIZE Sleeps 12 in six bedrooms, four with en suite bathrooms. AMENITIES Home theater, swimming pool, full staff and chef (upon request), and outdoor dining area. HIGHLIGHT History abounds, from the 18th-century frescoes in the main wing to the 17th-century stables turned kitchen. (from $800 per night)
Luxury Retreats, luxuryretreats.com