Hacienda de la Paz, Andalucia, Spain
We had an absolutely wonderful time at our hacienda in Ronda. The house, pool and hostess could not have been better. I hope the owner was happy with his decision to let 14 of us share his wonderful home.
Chuck S. August 2016
Cortijo de la Reserva 11, Costa del Sol, Spain
Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know the Sotogrande villa was wonderful. I’ll pass along the compliments to Made for Spain as well, and happy to let anyone else in your office know, if necessary.
Thanks again for everything!
Rebecca, July 2016
Villa Acarrab, Catalonia, Spain
Thank you so much for last weekend – it was absolutely fantastic. The villa was fabulous, Anna and her mother were incredibly helpful and kind and Easee Trip gave us the most fantastic transfer service!
You have been wonderful in helping me organize every little detail – thank you so much.
Florence, June 2016
La Caceria, Andalucia, Spain
We had a spectacular month in Spain. We loved the Villa. Alan made us feel very welcome.
After a transatlantic flight, renting a car, way-finding, grocery shopping , and then making our way up the mountain road we were pooched. I actually think we had done well until that very last leg, which we managed by following Alan in his SUV. Once we had managed to breathe again (!), Alan ushered us into the villa where a fire was burning in the hearth, candles were lit, music was playing, and a Spanish omelette and a bottle of wine were waiting to be consumed. It was all very welcoming; we immediately de-compressed. Alan spent an hour with us over a glass of wine explaining how all systems worked.
We loved: the i-pad info site, the playlists, the gardens, the views, the trails, the villa décor. We had a candle-light dinner on the patio one warm evening in our last week, and a few nights were able to have a fire in the hearth outside.
We ate dinners in each night, primarily because we did not want to risk the mountain roads with any wine in our bloodstreams. Over the course of one month, we had about 28 dinner parties with much conversation and laughter. How wonderful is that?
La Caceria is a delightful villa. It provides space for together time and for quiet, alone time. I cannot imagine spending less than one month. It was hard to leave.
Bonnie and Kenn L. March 2016
Calle Nueva III, Malaga, Spain
The location of this apartment is perfect. It is less than a two minute walk to the main square and the main shopping street. There is a bakery next store and restaurants all around. The market is less than a five minute walk and the waterfront is about 10 minutes away. Given the location of being in the middle of everything, inside the apartment is very quiet. The apartment itself is clean and cozy. The outdoor space (a deck off of the living room and a roof deck) is great and the hot tub on top of the roof was enjoyed by our whole family. This was the perfect place to spend New Year’s Eve.
Kelly A. Dec., 2015
Pere Apartment, Barcelona, Spain
The apartment is lovely. It is clean, spacious and very quiet. The location is perfect – a short walk to restaurants, shops, the waterfront and the Metro. There is a grocery store right next door to this apartment as well. There was a large bottle of water and a bottle of wine for us when we arrived which was much appreciated. The hosts had a list of their favorite restaurants. We ate at two of them (can’t remember their names) and they were both hits.
Kelly A. Dec., 2015
Palacio Real Apartment, Madrid, Spain
Pictures do not do this apartment justice. It is like being in a palace while looking at the Royal Palace. In the words of our sixteen year old, “this place is insane”. As a family of five, we rent apartments or houses for all of our vacations. I have never seen a more well equipped kitchen in any holiday rental place. We ate on beautiful dishes by candle light with the Royal Palace outside of our windows on Christmas Eve – a truly magical experience.
The location of this apartment is perfect. The Mercado de San Miguel is a five minute walk. The gardens of the palace are across the street. The Metro stop is less than a five minute walk.
This apartment, at least during the holiday season, is in a very hustling bustling area. There are musicians outside the windows and there are two restaurants below. We loved this and could not imagine staying anywhere else if/when we return to Madrid.
Kelly A. Dec., 2015
Lisbon Coast Villa, Portugal
Our week was fabulous! Honestly it was the perfect spot for us … low-key, beautiful, easy to get to. Zero complaints. The house was fantastic, Theresa who took care of us was beyond amazing, and we just had the best time! . We all absolutely loved Portugal, and would go back and do the same trip again in a heartbeat. Thank you for everything
Rob S., Oct. 2015
Cortijo Arcos, Andalucia, Spain
“We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Cortijo Arcos and the villa exceeded my expectations. The staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating, and made our group feel like we were staying in their personal home. The rooms were very nice and each had a unique layout and decor. I appreciated that they’ve made some upgrades for the comfort of their guests (like modern bathrooms, air conditioning, and mini refrigerators in each room) while maintaining the charm and history of the villa overall. I felt like I could have stayed there for a month and never run out of interesting art and objects to explore and discover. The grounds and pool area were very well maintained and I loved being able to eat fresh figs from the tree and see chickens and peacocks wandering around the property. And where else can you stay that has a natural spring running through the property, allowing you to draw your own fresh spring water to fill your water bottle? In short, the experience of staying at the Cortijo Arcos far surpassed anything you could find in a hotel.
Colleen B.-August 2015
Villa Olivo: Mallorca, Spain
I am delighted to write glowing words of praise about the Villa Olivo and our week’s stay. The villa was clean thanks to Yolanda who came every day with a smile on her face. The pool area was great and the views from the villa over the terraces of olive trees, orange, lemon and even peach trees was amazing. We were able to eat all our meals outside in the court yard and thus enjoy the view and sweet smelling air. The children (six in all between the ages of 4 and 12) loved exploring and saying hi to the donkey, and sheep in our “backyard”. The rooms, each with their individual bathrooms, provided for all our needs and the beds comfortable. The four car garage also came in handy, as we had that many cars. Each family could then go off and explore the island individually or in a caravan. I would not recommend renting a big SUV as the roads are narrow.
We never felt the need to watch TV, but did bring a lab top already loaded with movies for the children to hitch up to the TV. The WiFi was a bit slow, but worked well in the library.
I have saved the best for last: Wendy Park, our amazing cook. Wendy and her helper,Virginia, came daily for breakfast (at around 8:00) and dinner. The children ate dinner at 7:00 and the adults (8) at 8:00. Wendy made our stay a true vacation. She is an excellent cook, flexible, kind and thoughtful.
The bottom line is that I would encourage anyone to rent Villa Olivo !
Margot F. June 2015
HACIENDA DE LA PAZ: Andalucia, Spain
We loved the villa. Renata the house manager was wonderful. The accommodations were lovely and our friends were all pleased with their time with us. Also, the cook, Deborah was wonderful. Can’t express enough how comfortable and nice everything was. It is on a bit of a back road, but that made our time at the property even better, because it was as though we had the world to ourselves!!! We had great weather and a wonderful time.
Many thanks for your help with this.
Marita P.-October 2014
VILLA FIORE BIANCO: Sorrento, Italy
We had a great time. The Villa was beautiful. It was a noisy location – on a busy one way street that runs along the sea, but it’s proximity to town was perfect. Mena, the owner, was great as was her housekeeper Layla.
Thanks for setting this up with us.
Lou P.-October 2014
ALCUDIA VILLA, Mallorca, Spain
Overall we had a great experience. The villa is well laid out and very functional for a large group. The table outside on the porch as well as the couches facilitated some great dinners and evenings. The view is awesome and the pool area is excellent. We are very active, we hiked and biked. My friend and I played golf at the course you can see from the villa which was superb. The area is great for people with an active lifestyle. The maid service was fantastic and everyone at El Sol was very helpful.
Hope this helps. We would rent from you guys again if the occasion comes about.
OLIVO VILLA: Mallorca, Spain
We all had an incomparably wonderful time. The location turned out to be great and the house itself is magnificent! We were well taken care of by Wendy, Yolanda, Benito and the rest of the staff.
It was all-in-all quite enchanting. I think if we had anything in the way of suggestions it would be only that the wifi was impossible for most of our stay, so with some rare exceptions we felt “cut off” (combined with spotted cell coverage) – and a few people who needed to stay in touch with work got a bit stressed out. But that issue was minor compared to all of the positives!!
Thanks for helping to coordinate everything – we look forward to working with you again in the future!
Mark B.-August 2014
Country Farmhouse: Catalonia, Spain
Hi! My wife, I, and four others have just spent a week in the farmhouse in Peratallada, Spain, and I wanted you to know just what a wonderful house it is. EVERYTHING was just first rate in the house. The place was stocked just like “home”, with plenty of water, sparkling water, beer, wine, groceries enough to get us along for a few days or so, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., etc.. The place was lovely, up to date, everything worked, the pool a delight, and the setting absolutely wonderful.
We were there for a week, and walked into Peratallada about every night for dinner, save one, which was provided us by a woman referred to us by Emma, the “major domo” of the house. Emma was a delight, the restaurants in the village fine, and the walk to and from them just right. It took us but 10 minutes to slowly make our way to the village, and there was much choice there of places to eat. The meal provided us by the outside chef was fine, but we liked walking into the village more than just staying home.
Our guide, Federico Vasco, took us around the Costa Bravo, to places away from the sea, and even up to France for a lunch at a seaside town. We saw the monastary and the black Mary and Baby, and very much enjoyed Federico’s driving and guiding around Catalonia. We had just a fine time in a most lovely place, with an absolutely wonderful home to return to each afternoon.
Thanks for making the house available for us, and for working out all the coming-and-going details about renting the house. The house is just first rate. My family and I have been renting houses (in the Caribbean each Christmastime) for years, and have never had such an agreeable overall experience with a rental anywhere we have been.
Bob S., – August 2013
Summer House: Marbella, Spain
To sum up we had an excellent stay. I think we were lucky to not have noisy neighbors so we had a peaceful and enjoyable stay. A gps (and a car) are definitely needed to reach the villa. The house is very well located, minutes from the motorway and a large shopping mall and with a beautiful view.
The house has all the amenities for a wonderful stay. Slavic who met me first was always on hand and courteous should we have a problem. Air conditioning was good though it was not too hot outside.
We did use the chef (Evelyn and her crew) and it was a very good idea. Portions were large so left overs were usually sufficient for another meal (and we had voracious kids !). Evelyn was very nice with good food, smiles and kindness. We highly recommend using her.
Security: we always felt safe inside (and outside) the gated community of Sierra Blanca (they have guards driving around, cameras ….)and no one walking on the street
Swimming pool was deep, clean and warm, well taken after by Slavic in the morning.
Robert G. – July 2013
CHIC APT, Barcelona, Spain
“The trip was really wonderful—what a lively, beautiful, easy to navigate and human scaled city. Kids say it was the best vacation ever. The apartment was lovely and in a terrific location. Thanks again for setting things up.”
Joan M – August 2013
Pedrera 11: Barcelona, Spain
Pedrera 11 and the beautiful city of Barcelona have exceeded our greatest expectations!! When Mary and Bonnie at El Sol Villas showed us the photos (and later the wonderful You Tube tour) of the apartment, we knew this was the perfect fit for us. Little did we know, having never been to the city before, that it is in the perfect location in the perfect neighbourhood. You made us feel comfortable and welcomed…and of course we could not have figured out the clothes washer without your help! We will tell our friends who plan to visit that Pedrera 11 is the only place to stay (!) and we look forward to a return visit soon.
Best always and good luck to Jorge on his musical career.
Beth and Steve H
Pedrera 11, Barcelona, Spain
How lucky we were to have found Pedrera 11! It was our perfect home away from home. Josefina and John, you have thought of and provided every amenity a traveler might want.
You have renovated this flat with both comfort and beautiful décor in mind. The location, within walking distance of major attractions, cannot be beat. Convenient Wifi, computer and a vast library of books on Barcelona were most appreciated.
You and your charming children have been gracious hosts. The maps and restaurant suggestions provided helped us enjoy a memorable week. We can see why your guests are eager to return. We loved the quiet serenity of the apartment after busy days exploring your lively exciting Barcelona. The apartment could not have been better located nor better furnished, was beyond our expectations!
Donna and Joel T
Mary Margaret and Galen S – May 2013
Mazagon Beach Villa: Costa Brava, Spain
Our stay in mazagon was fantastic. The house way exceeded our expectations. It’s modern design and open plan suited our needs perfectly, as a party of 15 we needed a lot of open space!! We had a very warm welcome from the owners on our arrival and they made us feel very welcome. The maid, Daniella, was superb, and although she was there daily, you never felt like she was intruding on the holiday. Quite the opposite. We all fell in love with her gentle way and quiet nature and we would all have gladly brought her home with us if we could. The garden was beautifully maintained, and the pool was cleaned daily. The access to the beach via the garden was a huge benefit to us as it did not require loading up the car for a day on the beach and meant all could come and go as they pleased. The permanent shade on the beach was also great as it gave more than ample shade at the hottest time of the day. All in all, we had a great holiday, in a great villa.
Norma H – August 2013
I want to give El Sol Villas and Mary Vaira a big shout out for all the expert help she provided as I was planning a trip to Spain last month.
This was my first time visiting the country and I was having trouble deciding where to go and where to stay. It was a family trip, and I was late nailing down plans. We had one very specific week when all three of our kids were available. I turned to your Condé Nast Traveler and found Mary’s name. She was a life saver. She knows the region cold and wasn’t afraid to let me know her opinions. At the same time, she listened carefully to my descriptions of what I wanted and made great suggestions. She was supremely patience as I vacillated between Catalonia and Andalusia. We decided on Andalusia and Mary set us up in a charming apartment in Sevilla and an absolutely perfect house in the mountains between Malaga and Grenada. She filled me in on all the major sights we might want to see while we were there, and she made sure we had tickets in advance for Alhambra and an international drivers license. I never would have thought to do either. She put me directly in touch with the proprietor of Cortijo el Carligto (Villa Marmoa), which made the final details easier to iron out.
Mary was terrific. Her involvement made me feel way more comfortable that everything was going to be OK on this trip, and it was. She knows the lay of the land, she has beautiful villas and apartments in various price ranges and she can put together the details fast. Gracias, Mary and Condé Nast, for helping to make the 2013 Family trip such fun.
JUDY B – June 20, 2013
Country Farmhouse: Catalonia, Spain
We worked with Mary at El Sol Villas to find a villa in Spain for my large extended family (3 generations and 7 people total). We rented the Country Farmhouse. Mary was very patient with me and helpful asking good questions about what we would like in a house. We have traveled extensively in Europe, but never to Spain and so we were not as familiar with the different feel in different parts of the country. In any event, I highly recommend Mary at El Sol Villas and will use them again. While I know it has become much easier to rent houses directly from the owners via the internet, it was invaluable having an intermediary that could tell us the pros and cons of the different properties and territory.
DENISE G – August 13, 2012
My family and I traveled to Barcelona for a week and used Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas to help us plan our trip. We have previously relied on the experts that Conde Nast recommended and have been pleased with the results so we again relied on your magazine to guide us. The apartment, Pedera I, was spectacular. The location was perfect and the owners of the apartment could not have been more helpful in making us feel at home and making our week in Barcelona memorable. The amount of material the we received from Mary prior to our trip was astounding. She was ALWAYS available to answer my many questions. Her guidance and insight enabled us to have a spectacular time in a beautiful apartment in a wonderful city. There are not enough accolades for Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas. In addition, your magazine and the list of experts you vet are an invaluable resource to the discriminating traveler. Thank you.
GERRY P – July 9, 2010
Finca de Oro
Wow – It’s been a while since a vacation really exceeded my expectations. My extended family met at Finca de Oro for 2 weeks in early June. The house was set-up well for us with the bedrooms separate providing quiet, private space yet plenty of shared space for all of us, especially the kids, to enjoy together. The whole property is fenced-in which was a huge bonus with the kids. It allowed us to relax while the kids were out exploring b/c we knew they couldn’t leave the property.
And there was plenty for the kids to explore with goats and alpacas behind the house and lizards running around everywhere. The children loved the outdoor pool and the adults loved the fact that we could enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner at the outdoor table and still see the kids in the pool. The indoor pool served us well on the one day that it rained and my husband did use it several evenings for swimming laps. But let me cut to the chase, the reason we were really able to relax (with 4 kids under 5 years of age) was because of the house staff – Craig & Catherine.
The breakfast and house-keeping included with the house rental was a great bonus. We loved the dinner meal option as well. This was a great luxury that I think we opted to have 7 of our 14 nights. The food was delicious with lots of fresh herbs from the garden and saved us several trips to the supermarket. In previous villa rentals (Italy) I thought the option to use a cook was cost prohibitive, but here it was fairly priced. Our adventures away from the house included Granada (overnight), Seville, Mijas, the beach at San Luis de Sabinilla and the white washed mountain towns of Gaucin, Ronda and Casares. We enjoyed it all.
Additionally the owners had us over for dinner at their home which was such great fun. It was difficult to return home after being spoiled for 2 weeks. I hope to see the Finca again! And I highly recommend Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas. She provided us with great villa options and spent lots of time patiently answering all of my questions and even booked our 9 passenger van. Can’t wait to plan our next trip with her again.
TRACY C – July 7, 2010
Dear Ms. Perrin-
I got your name from Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas. I had approached her to see if I could supply comments about our wonderful stay at the villa she arranged for us in Andulucia in May of this year. I was delighted when she gave me your address, as we had found her through Cande Nast Traveller. From start to finish, Mary arranged our last-minute (2 weeks planning time) vacation without ever getting flustered. She was attentive to all the pertinent details and to my last minute emails. We rented a palatial home in Gaucin, Spain from Mary for a week.
I traveled with my two (2) twenty-something daughters and 2 of their friends and just had the most amazing holiday. It was my first time in Spain and because of personal health issues, I wanted to get a taste of the country in a week without being exhausted. It was important for me to have communal space where we could spend evenings and daytimes together, but also have retreat space – not just a hotel room to retire to. Mary helped us find the perfect spot. When we first arrived, we oohed and ahhed for several minutes – the rooms and grounds were more beautiful than the website photos could convey. The villa was immaculate, beautifully furnished with striking architectural details. The kitchen was completely stocked for us on arrival and the gardener brought us fresh spinach, fava beans, peas, oranges and lemons from the grounds – talk about locovarian!
The property manager, Glyn Thompson, who met us and checked in periodically, could not have been more accessible and helpful. We were treated to a small village before tourist season; met friendly ex-pats and ever-helpful locals who endured our Spanglish with a smile. We took a couple of wonderful day trips (Ronda and Granada) early in the week and then decided we were already in paradise and hung out in our little corner of the earth. We cooked in, played games and started a jig-saw puzzle, ate out, explored the narrow streets and hiked to the local castle – where we were treated to a rainbow on our final evening; and as my kids say “chillaxed”. We were given a very fair price for rock star accommodations.
When considering that we ate all most of our breakfasts and lunches in and half of our dinners – I think it was every bit as economical as staying at hotels and feeding 5 all week at restaurants. I had never had the pleasure of visiting Spain, but Andulucia was a total treat. I loved going to the local market and produce stand where nobody spoke English – unlike do much of the continent, I actually felt like this was not an Epcot vacation, but the real thing – no MacDonald’s in sight! My thanks go out to Conde-Nast, Mary Vaira and El Sol Villas for a perfect holiday. Please continue to feature this excellent resource in your fine magazine. Ole!
CYNTHIA M – May 14, 2010