Privacy and personal service are hallmarks of Ani villa resorts

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Ani's resort in the Dominican Republic offers 14 suites on the north coast.
Ani's resort in the Dominican Republic offers 14 suites on the north coast. Photo Credit: Ani Private Resorts

The Caribbean and Mexico are prime locales for villa rentals, offering stunning sea views, beach and pool access and the services of a staff. Many are large enough to accommodate a multigen family reunion,  a small wedding party, a corporate retreat or a group of friends simply looking for a little R 'n' R in their own space.

Ani Private Resorts is among the many companies offering villa rentals in the region, but it believes it offers something truly unique, billing itself as "the world's first private resort collection." Ani currently is offering just four exclusive retreats, or resorts -- in Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka and Thailand -- with a fifth villa resort (a second location in Anguilla) scheduled to join the collection in 2024. At Ani, guests are assured that their group will be the only one booked at the resort during the duration of their stay.

Ani Private Resorts and its nonprofit Ani Art Academies were founded in 2010 by philanthropist and arts patron Tim Reynolds. The company name is derived from the Swahili word andjani, which means the path or journey ahead, according to Henny Frazer, Ani's chief marketing officer.

"Each resort is designed to host a single group of guests at a time with a minimum of six rooms booked for five nights," Frazer said. "No resort is larger than 15 suites.  The ratio of staff to guests is more than one to one. All staff are locals who know the area well and who speak with the guests before arrival to help tailor every detail of their stay."

Ani's Anguilla property overlooks Little Bay on the island's northwest coast.
Ani's Anguilla property overlooks Little Bay on the island's northwest coast. Photo Credit: Ani Private Resorts

"Each villa is located away from tourist areas and offers the services of a five-star resort, including a general manager, operations manager, executive chef and culinary team, hosts and housekeepers," she added.

The four private resorts are newbuilds, beginning with the Anguilla property, which opened in 2010 on the north coast of the island overlooking Little Bay.

All Ani resorts except Anguilla are all-inclusive; Ani Anguilla features half board (two meals a day) "because that island has such fine restaurants, we want our guests to be able to venture out and sample them," said Frazer, adding, "Guests have the option of full board for an additional $75 per day."

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Two villas housing oceanview suites and guestrooms sit atop a bluff in Anguilla and can accommodate up to a group of 20.

Ani Dominican Republic opened in 2017 on a private peninsula on the island's north coast between Samana and Cabarete and features Villa Larimar and Villa Amber, accommodating up to 28 guests with a team of more than 30 staff to fine-tune every aspect of the stay.

Outside the Caribbean, Ani Sri Lanka is located on that island's south coast overlooking the Indian Ocean. It has two infinity pools and two salas -- large modern areas with upstairs and downstairs living and dining spaces -- and room for up to 30 guests.

Ani Thailand boasts lush gardens and views of Phang Nga Bay. It welcomes groups up to 20.

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Amenities at all include pools, beach access, a small gym and spa, an event and entertainment pavilion, several  dining venues, watersports, kids' and wellness activities and curated excursions, high-speed WiFi, complimentary babysitting, daily laundry service and roundtrip airport transfers for the group. All offer accommodations with wheelchair accessibilty.

Depending upon the resort, guest privileges include a beach barbecue, biking, movies by moonlight and a sunset cruise. Anguilla also offers cooking classes and a DJ for one evening; there's rum tasting, folklore dancing and cigar-rolling in the D.R. In Thailand, there's a Thai dance show, batik painting and fire jugglers and in Sri Lanka, tuk tuk tours of local villages.

The Ani Art Academy in Anguilla is geared to locals with tuition paid for by the resort collection. An Art Academy can be found at each of the company's four resorts.
The Ani Art Academy in Anguilla is geared to locals with tuition paid for by the resort collection. An Art Academy can be found at each of the company's four resorts. Photo Credit: Ani Private Resorts

All guests at the four resorts can visit the nearby Ani Art Academies, which offer aspiring artists instruction to hone their skills through a four-year art education program. Revenues from the Ani properties cover all tuition costs for the students; all proceeds from the sale of their artwork goes directly back to them.

"Our inclusions are extraordinary," Frazer said. "Our founder believes that the power of togetherness has no price list. Our standards and goals are to always do everything and more to make our guests happy."

Summer rates start at $13,000 per villa, per group for five nights: winter rates from $27,000 in Anguilla, $32,000 in the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka and $17,000 in Thailand. The festive (holiday) season already is booked for this year.

The rates do not include a 10% service charge and local taxes. Tipping is at the discretion of the guests.

Commission is 10%; bookings through travel advisors account for 60% to 70% of business, with the Caribbean properties "very strong," according to Frazer.

"We have a global sales agency, we participate in webinars and trade shows all over, and our relationships with the industry are very solid," she said.

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