How and Where to Buy a Private Villa or Overwater Bungalow in Paradise

Courtesy Rosewood

It's all blue waters from here on out.

Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.

The overwater bungalow remains the pinnacle of bucket list vacations for many travelers. Few images inspire more envy than a string of thatch-roofed bungalows with their private decks and plunge pools dotting the shallow, impossibly clear turquoise waters of some fanciful archipelago a world away. Of course, the problem with a once-in-a-lifetime getaway is that you don't get to experience it again. When that just won't do, a number of luxe resorts around the world have started to offer on-site ownership programs, enabling you to snag your very own overwater bungalow or beachfront private villa, while still capitalizing on all of the hospitality perks, amenities and world-class services of the hotel itself.

Soneva Fushi, Maldives


Courtesy Soneva Fushi 

Soneva has offered a Villa Ownership program at its flagship Soneva Fushi (an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property) since 2011. Villas range in price from $3 to $15 million, with the resort's largest haven, the nine-bedroom Private Reserve, included in its offerings for sale. The island mansion is a resort to itself, with 28,288 sq. ft., an enormous pool with an all-encompassing deck, endless outdoor sitting nooks and lounges, waterslide, and a spa including sauna, steam room, and fitness center. Soneva's private estates can also be purpose-built to match the owner's whims in terms of style, architecture and functionality, and can also be rented out to guests to produce a viable cash stream. When you're on-site with the family, the entire resort is your personal playground, and owners receive discounts in areas such as food, beverage and transfers.

Sister property Soneva Jani, which opened in the Maldives in 2016, has one and two-bedroom overwater villas available for purchase, and yes, they often include water slides directly into the ocean. There are now plans to construct 31 additional on-land villas across the property, with your choice of between one to seven bedrooms, when you're ready to join the queue.

Four Seasons, Anguilla


Courtesy Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Private Residences Anguilla, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, has properties for sale ranging from $725k to $10 million. There are over 80 such heavenly slices at the resort, split into three categories, including one to three bedroom beach residences, one to two bedroom centrally-located townhomes, and four to five bedroom villa residences. The latter are located along a private swath of beach, and showcase infinity pools and gourmet kitchens, the sleek all-white exteriors of the beachfront homes matched only by the blindingly pure white of the sandy beaches. The resort opened in fall 2016 and showcases design by Kelly Wearstler, offering a modern take on beachfront lifestyle.

Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico


Courtesy Rosewood

The Rosewood Residences at Mayakoba currently has 18 villas available from its total inventory of 33. Prices range from $3.3 to $5.5 million, offering contemporary design with features such as private waterfront pools and sundecks. You'll be able to enjoy all the bells and whistles of the Rosewood Mayakoba resort, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, while capitalizing on everything the entire Mayakoba community—the Riviera Maya destination also includes Andaz, Banyan Tree, and Fairmont hotels, along with a PGA Tour golf course and a wide range of additional diversions—offers. Once you're an owner, you're also in the Rosewood Reserve program, which essentially makes you a VIP at all of the Rosewood properties across the world.

Six Senses Papagayo, Costa Rica


Courtesy Six Senses

The first Six Senses property in Central America is being designed from the ground up to match Costa Rica's ethos of both sustainability and pura vida. That already happens to be well-aligned with the Six Senses brand itself. The Papagayo Peninsula is a new mixed-use luxury development with 15 miles of coastline, and even after completion, will still consist of 70% preserved nature. The Six Senses will keep its wellness offerings at the forefront of this property, which is set to include 41 villas for guests, in addition to 31 unique residences for sale.

The good news is there's still time to stash away some cash for this one. Six Senses Papagayo is slated to debut mid-2021.