The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

While most of us have fond me­mories of self-cater­ing hol­i­days in child­hood, to­day’s villa stay is en­tirely dif­fer­ent. The best op­er­a­tors plonk you in the heart of a des­ti­na­tion and take on lux­ury ho­tels for de­sign and qual­ity of concierge ser­vices. Fancy an on-site chef? A truf­fle-hunt­ing guide? A choir? All of this is avail­able in an in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated mar­ket.

Lead­ing the pack is Simp­son Travel, with high-end self-cater­ing in main­land France, Cor­sica, Mal­lorca, Si­cily, Puglia, Turkey and 10 Greek is­lands. Its di­verse range of prop­er­ties and be­spoke concierge ser­vices is im­pres­sive. Age-spe­cific on-site child care is of­fered at many of Simp­son’s prop­er­ties. Ac­tiv­i­ties such as sail­ing lessons and horse rid­ing com­pete with the best on of­fer at ho­tel kids’ clubs, and creche care from six months helps make this a stand­out oper­a­tor.

Fol­low­ing close be­hind is The Think­ing Trav­eller, pur­veyor of beau­ti­ful prop­er­ties in Cor­sica, Si­cily, Puglia, the Io­nian and Spo­rades is­lands. Each des­ti­na­tion has par­tic­u­lar “ex­pe­ri­ences”, such as yachts to char­ter for snorkelling ex­cur­sions or pri­vate guided tours of Unesco World Her­itage sites.

Fi­nally, our read­ers praised Vin­tage Travel, an oper­a­tor also com­mended last year, which of­fers vil­las, all with pri­vate pools, in quiet ru­ral lo­ca­tions around the Mediter­ranean, Ca­nary Is­lands and United King­dom.

Its cat­e­gories in­clude vil­las near beaches, near golf cour­ses, and with fenced pools. And with small-party rates avail­able, it’s easy to find a suit­able prop­erty for your group.

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