Rent A Cheap European Villa

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From THESTREET.COM: A European summer holiday may seem financially irresponsible given the greenback's record lows against the euro and British pound. Globetrotting families looking to book that villa on the French Riviera or Mallorca will be paying on average 20% more than last year's currency rates. But before you start selling your spouse on a week in Maine or Provincetown, we've discovered some high-end bargains that may save your luxury pilgrimage to Europe from becoming ancient history.

Sanctuary Villas

Hot Villa Rentals With An Affordable Twist

Sanctuary Villas is a spin-off of Abercrombie Kent specializing in hosted and tailor-made villa rentals in France, Spain, Italy and Croatia. For those new to the villa market, rental properties usually offer full-service and limited-service options. Hosted 'full-service' properties offer daily maid service and a refrigerator stocked with food staples and essential provisions like chilled bottles of Bollinger.

Limited-service, 'tailor-made' villas may be a more affordable option, which includes the villa rental. Add-on requests are paid in addition to the rate.

Sanctuary Villas & Apartments vary in design from charming Parisian apartments to lavish villas suitable for Wall Street and Hollywood royalty.

After a quick check of the Web site we realized that Sanctuary actually offers several of our favorite St. Tropez summer rentals. Properties like the Villa Jasmine near St. Tropez, formerly represented by AK Villas, feature a glamorous 5-bedroom beach villa with formal garden, opulent dining room and heated infinity pool that could easily compete with the best hotels in town.

Priced from under $10,000 a week in off-season to $18,425 in peak-season, the rates are quoted in U.S. dollar, meaning that paid reservations are safe from currency fluctuation.

Given that nearby hotel rates at the Byblos and Hotel La Bastide average between €625 and €1,400 per night for a single room, the 5-bedroom villa feels like a relative steal.

The World by ResidenSea

A Luxury Ship Safe From A Sinking Dollar

For the segment of the travel market familiar with summer villa rentals, the idea of booking a weeklong sojourn on a cruise ship is nothing short of torture. But in the world of travel there are always exceptions, and one is currently floating the high-class seas by the name of The World by ResidenSea.

Launched in 2002 as the world's first condo-cruise ship available for week-long journeys and private ownership, the ship initially offered all-inclusive room packages that abruptly ended when apartment owners who plunked down upwards of $2 million for an apartment were forced to commingle with overindulgent party cruisers. Their loss is everyone else's win, as those rooms were upgraded to apartment-style suites now available for rental to the general public.

For the summer of 2008, The World will work its way out of the eastern Mediterranean from Turkey and into the Black Sea visiting such ports as Bodrum, Sochi and eventually winding its way around several Greek Islands.

The ship has the feel of a private apartment building of manicured common areas with collection-quality artwork and sculptures. Three restaurants and new The World Spa by Banyan Tree offer lavish service and designer décor fit for a stylish eye.

Guests choose from a variety of floor plans and apartment categories, each finished with professionally decorated interiors that include state-of-the-art kitchens and private verandas with open air jet pools (in larger units).

Prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and range from $1,300 to $4,500 per night for six-day journeys.

Sadly, once you're on land you'll have to change your dollars into euros or other local currency.

Small Luxury Hotels

European Hotels Price in Dollars

Last year, the Small Luxury Hotel collection of properties began offering a Guaranteed Dollar Rate program that allowed guests of many member hotels to book and secure their room rate in U.S. dollars.

This year, the program is back at select French and U.K. hotels that allow visitors to book rates from $350 and up in select cities. As an added perk to the program, many guests paying with their U.S.-issued Visa and Mastercard will save the currency exchange fee of 1% charged by many of the U.S. banks.

For those booking a room in London, check out stylish The Levlin located near Harrod's and Sloane Square in central Knightsbridge. The hotel is centrally located with a polished Victorian façade and groovy interiors that mix mellow modern design with eclectic antiques. Rates start at $949 for a two-night stay.

Spa-seekers will want to also pay attention to a lavishly renovated Luton Hoo located on the outskirts of rural London. The landmark property and its baronial facade are protected by the state, containing an exquisite 5-star property with 18 hole golf course, in-house spa and more than 1,000 acres of gardens created by landscape designer Capability Brown.

A three-night stay from $1,250 will seem anything but budget-inspired, and make you feel as powerful as a dollar bill in 1994.

 

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