With many U.S. states and countries around the world relaxing lockdown restrictions, people are wondering when—and how—it will be safe to travel again. And though many want to get back out into the world, social distancing will be the norm for months—if not years—to come. Experts like Misty Belles, managing director of global communications for the luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso, believe that in the post-coronavirus world privacy will be one of the most sought-after amenities. “Social distancing will no longer be about physical proximity, it will be an ingrained mindset that persists long after borders reopen,” Belles said. For this reason, RV rental bookings have reached a record high. But why rent an RV when you could rent out an entire hotel?
Buyouts are nothing new—hotels typically offer them for weddings, corporate retreats, and other big events. But now, because of Covid-19, small luxurious hotels may start to see requests for buyouts from families who want to vacation together without being exposed to other guests. Luckily, there are some fantastic options coast to coast and beyond, including many in summer’s top resort destinations.
For New Yorkers who don’t want to give up their summer in the Hamptons, the Shou Sugi Ban House is a great option that can accommodate up to 26 guests. Opened last May near the Parrish Museum in Water Mill, the 13-room wellness retreat draws inspiration from Japanese design, with wabi-sabi influences and a minimalist aesthetic. Each suite is like its own studio apartment with an independent entrance, a private garden, and custom furniture. About 13 miles east, the Roundtree, Amagansett is set to debut in June with 15 newly renovated rooms and suites housed in a centuries-old barn and cottages. No hotel wants to open in the midst of a pandemic, but the Roundtree’s team is already adapting by offering laundry service, grocery shopping, pickup from local restaurants, and in-room Netflix streaming for stays of ten nights or more.
A New England seaside getaway is another option in driving distance of New York, Boston, and points in between. In Newport, Rhode Island, you and your family could have your own Gilded Age mansion to yourselves. The Chanler at Cliff Walk overlooks the ocean with 20 individually designed guest rooms, a signature restaurant, and an outdoor fire pit where you can sip cocktails under the stars. In scenic Nantucket, you could rent the Anchorage House by Serena & Lily, a three-bedroom cottage that’s part of the Wauwinet, a Relais & Châteaux property poised between two beaches, starting at $1,200 per night. The kitchen comes fully equipped and there’s indoor and outdoor dining space made for enjoying meals in private.
After being confined to home for so long, you might want to spend time outside in nature and wide-open spaces, which there are plenty of out west. Within the Wild runs two rustic-luxe lodges in Alaska with new wellness programming that includes morning yoga, meditative walks through the forest, and paddleboarding in addition to activities like fishing, river rafting, and bear viewing. Buyouts start at $60,000 for three nights and up to 12 guests, including all meals, customized guide service, private transportation by boat or floatplane to the lodge, and select activities. Upon arrival, guests will be taken straight to their private cabin and receive a welcome packet with a mask and gloves, hand sanitizer, and water.
Also on the West Coast, Napa Valley has a number of intimate boutique hotels available for buyouts, including Bardessono Hotel & Spa in Yountville and the five-room Francis House in Calistoga. Bardessono’s three new Maple Grove Villas can be booked individually or as a three-bedroom retreat spread out over 3,705 square feet of space and exclusive access to the property’s hybrid Lexus. The landmarked Francis House was built in 1886 for a merchant family and opened as a boutique hotel in 2018.
Though it’s not clear when Europe will reopen its borders to Americans for non-essential travel, Europeans may be able to travel around the continent this summer. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a further lifting of lockdown restrictions, including opening borders to citizens of Europe’s Schengen Zone starting June 3rd. Groups of up to eight people can take over the four-room Il Palazzetto, the sister hotel of Rome’s iconic Hotel Hassler.
“Despite the situation being out of the ordinary, we have to be positive!” Robert Wirth, fifth-generation president and managing director of Il Palazzetto and the Hassler, told Departures. “So, look at the positive aspects: a faster check-in/check-out, guests can send in advance all the documents and credit card authorization; a cleaner hotel, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces throughout the hotel with increased frequency with recommended cleaning agents and utilizing enhanced technologies; more privacy due to social distancing and, more than ever before, a tailor-made service in all aspects.”
Some hoteliers are even offering up their properties exclusively for buyouts. Marie-Louise Sciò, who runs the chic Pellicano Hotels collection, which includes Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Mezzatore in Ischia, and La Posta Vecchia—a member of Leading Hotels of the World that was once John Paul Getty’s villa on the coast an hour from Rome—is offering up the latter this summer exclusively for buyouts with a one-week minimum stay. Built on the remains of an ancient Roman villa, the property has 15 rooms and comes equipped with a cinema, outdoor barbecue, tennis courts, steam bath, vegetable garden, and helipad.
In France, which is also starting to lift lockdown restrictions, a cool €16,000 could buy exclusive access to the sumptuous new Hotel Château du Grand Lucé, which opened last year in a restored 17thcentury Loire Valley château. With 80 acres of gardens and grounds, there’s plenty of space to spread out. Design fans would do equally well to book the Chartreuse at Cos d’Estournel designed by Jacques Garcia as the personal home of Michel Reybier, owner of La Réserve hotels. The eight-bedroom residence and 200-acre vineyard in Bordeaux is exclusively available to rent in its entirety from €20,000 per night.
On Croatia’s glittering Dalmatian Coast, Villa Orsula—a member of Adriatic Luxury Hotels—is a perfect pied-à-terre with 13 bedrooms and a gourmet restaurant with stunning sea views. For €25,000 per night, a full buyout would give you and your guests full run of the 1930s Mediterranean villa and the chance to experience Dubrovnik without the cruise ship crowds.
Wherever you plan to go, whether in the U.S. or abroad, make sure to check the current travel restrictions or you may find yourself required to quarantine. Then again, a quarantine at one of these luxe properties might not be so bad.