One of the more dispiriting aspects to our new COVID-19 reality is that the virus sucks the air out of every room in the house, the very one we’re stuck inside for the foreseeable future. There is no getting away from it, every topic of conversation–homeschooling, zooming, social-distancing, quarantining, what time to start drinking–circles back to coronavirus. The pandemic is a beast and nobody knows what’s coming next, so even looking to ostensibly better days ahead doesn’t feel right. Planning a big pricey vacation at this time would be foolish.
Daydreaming about one however, is a perfectly respectable way to get your mind off your troubles, if only for a brief moment. Someday this will all be over and travelling to gorgeous high-end properties will be possible. (And at a major discount!) In the age of coronavirus, it’s a superfluous waste of time to look at luxurious VRBO properties spanning the globe. Which is exactly why you might need this too.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES $2,881 avg/night
Dubai doesn’t do subtle, so neither should you. This four-bedroom villa is jaw-dropping and headache-inducing in equal measures, design styles clashing as far as the dizzied eye can see. But that’s what you want in a city of extreme excess, right? The spot features a private small pool and jacuzzi and an enormous illuminated pool stretching to the Persian Gulf for gazing upon the highrise bounty of a tax-free oil economy. Trust the villa’s owner when he says, “the resort is a party,” or it will be again… hopefully.
EAST SISTER ROCK ISLAND, MARATHON, FLORIDA $1,360 avg/night
Having your private island, it’s not just for the 1% anymore. Located a quarter mile off the Atlantic coast of Marathon, this slice of nirvana features a 5,000-sq. ft Bhamaian-style abode with a ridiculous 19 sliding glass doors and an even more ridiculous 2,700-sq. ft 360-degree view veranda with a pool table to boot. It’s a prime angling spot with bonefish in the flats and tarpon at the Seven Mile Bridge, a five-minute boat ride away. If you’re more the snorkeling type, there’s a coral reef within kicking distance. And if you’ve ever wanted to drop the coin to go “full douchebag,” a helicopter pad awaits.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA $1,655 avg/night
Glacier National Park is majestic, but unfortunately, there’s a good chance the park will have to be renamed in the near future. Thanks to climate change, many of the once-bountiful glaciers have vanished and all that remain are melting. So get there ASAP and take the rare opportunity to stay inside the park at the Glacier Bear Retreat, a secluded four-bedroom house near Lake McDonald. Avoid the summer crowds–or isolate yourself in winter–as the Bear has it all, an outdoor firepit, hot tub, and a game room stocked with Montana whiskeys like Wheatfish and Bighorn Bourbon. Just make sure to get your “Red Jammer” reservations booked early.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA $1,017 avg/night
Named after Ernest Hemingway’s boat, “Pilar’s Secret” is the perfect kind of hideaway to while away afternoons Big Poppa-style, double-rum daiquiris with grapefruit juice and the morning’s fresh-caught marlin catch. Pilar’s Secret is a tropical three-bedroom oasis right in the heart of Old Town. Lounge in the chaise loungers around the private pool, fire up the grill, and get cracking on the Hemingway lifestyle, the fun-loving non-suicidal part at least. Or make it a movable feast, just be sure to wander over to the man’s house to say hello to the six-toed cats. Then toast his memory at the legendary Green Parrot, “a sunny place for shady people.”
MAUI, HAWAII $1,061 avg/night
If you asked a toddler to draw a picture of the most amazing spot on Earth, it would probably include the ocean, flowers, mountains, sunsets, horses, all the colors of the rainbow, and maybe like a rocket filled with pasta. This three-bedroom home is basically that child’s imagination come to life. Magnificent isn’t a strong enough word to describe the views, even the etched equine window above the deep bathtub somehow works in the setting. This place will take adults to a childlike state of wonder, with the added grown-folk bonus that scoring some world-renown Maui Wowie might just bring the spaghetti spaceship to life.
MUNISING, MICHIGAN $2,429 avg/night
The term “compound” used to suggest wealth, glamour, and power–think the Kennedys summering in Hyannis Port–but lately it seems to be used mainly to describe the barren lands of jackass radical right-wing anti-government types. It’s time to take the word back. Let’s start on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with an astonishing 13-bedroom 14-bathroom 10-acre family compound. It features a main lodge, three cottages, and a carriage house, sleeping 34 of your closest associates. The nearby natural highlights include colored sandstone cliffs, sea caves, and pristine waters for exploring shipwrecks of yore. You want to be the Kennedys, not the Bundys, and call this compound a temporary home.
NORTH TIPPERARY, IRELAND $1,216 avg/night
Being home for weeks on end has completely diluted the notion of it as “a king and his castle.” After we are free to roam the globe again, it’ll be more of “your kingdom for a castle.” Like this one, the 7,000-sq. ft. Castle of Lisheen, which dates back to the 19th-century. Fully restored in 2000 by the family that operates it, Lisheen is a nine-bedroom palace for dedicated Emerald Isle luxury-seekers. Bring up to sixteen of your royal friends and family and get to sipping Guinness in a private rural fiefdom. It’s centrally located, so go ahead and tool about Ireland’s important cultural sites, aka “the closest pub with the sharpest craic.” Go off, king. It’s your castle now.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA $285 avg/night
We as a society don’t talk enough about hammocks. It’s like laying in a levitating bed! That sways! Flawless design, the most perfect nap-inducing invention in human history. So sure, this three-decker two-bedroom 400-year-old brick home in Casco Viejo—the authentic archeological World UNESCO heritage heart of Panama City–with things to see no matter which way you’re looking and a rooftop pool to cool off in the Panamanian sun at an incredibly reasonable price is dope as hell, but still. It’s all about those hammockzzzzzzzzzzzz……
PHUKET, THAILAND $2,888 avg/night
The headline for this VRBO states, “This is a place where I don’t want to believe it exists, like you are in a novel.” It’s a lovely haunting metaphor which seems to capture the essence of this unique two-story one-bedroom dwelling near the Andaman Sea. There isn’t a lot to go on other than a handful of pictures, but between the one with the porch swing and the jacuzzi, and the one that captures the whole structure, it’s clear there’s magic and mystery afoot. The kind of place you’ll tell too-good-to-be-true stories about for years to come.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA $1,141 avg/night
San Diego is laid back sure, but it’s also home to seriously funky arty beach vibes. Take this four-bedroom oddity, apparently featured on something called HGTV Extreme Homes. Looking like the world’s most expensive lean-to, it rests on the quiet sandy side of Mission Bay, two blocks from the ocean, with multiple lounging hammocks and solid views of SeaWorld’s nightly fireworks. It’s a quirky trip, festooned with all manner of nautical bric-a-brac including two well-endowed mermaids offering inspiration above the indoor jacuzzi.
SANTORINI, GREECE $1,287 avg/night
There’s no way 80-kajillion honeymooners could be wrong, right? As one of the hordes who followed the post-marriage trek many years ago, I can attest. Santorini is all it’s talked up to be. It’s incredible, as is this open-plan cave for two, all laid out in soothing white cycladic style. It gets better on the terrace, with a private pool looking out on the caldera–a large volcanic crater–and the Aegean Sea. The views are beyond the pale, but be forewarned, it’s still an active volcano. Although going out Pompeii-style making good use of that daybed…
SPRUCE ISLAND, MAINE $850 avg/night
We’re all isolation experts now, so why not take what you’ve learned to the lone woodsy home on Maine’s Spruce Island? Call it social distavacationing as you claim this private 80-acre refuge off of Stonington. It comes with everything you could want in a New England getaway: Kayaks, a lobster shack, golf balls to launch into the ocean, horseshoes, Sealegs for island-to-island capture the flag, and the piece de resistance, pirate costumes for the entire clan. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrre you going to pass up a chance to go off-the-grid and down a local can of Helles a Day at Sea under a universe of stars? You are not.
TROPEZ, FRANCE $1,039 avg/night
What’s the French word for a four-bedroom villa in a private community ensconced within an brilliantly landscaped garden with a vista looking out over the Mediterranean Sea? Oui. The villa sits a mere ten minutes from private access to Pampelonne Beach, but if it gets too lively for true maxing your relaxing, it also features a 36-foot long pool for a more secluded dip. Oui, Oui. And If the spirit of sex kitten-era Brigitte Bardot moves you, jetsetter favorite Club 55 is stumble-able after a long sensual evening of Ratatouille and Rosé.
TORONTO, CANADA $1,030 avg/night
Known as the “Forever House,” this sophisticated three-story three-bedroom dwelling in Toronto’s leafy upscale Forest Hill neighborhood is the kind of joint you may never want to leave. (Good thing as three weeks is the minimum stay.) The owner’s description is catnip for the sophisticated traveller, “There is an emphasis on simplicity and spacial flow, natural light and space optimization.” For the unwashed masses like myself, it’s got an indoor elevator! And a museum-quality wine fridge! Let’s all move in and make it our own Forever House and eat veal sandwiches and drink Raymond Masseys and never leave, Parasite-style!
QUEENSLAND, NEW ZEALAND $1,146 avg/night
I don’t know much about New Zealand, it was always just a small map blip on the other side of the world filled with hobbits I’d probably never visit. In the last few days, I’ve learned New Zealand is a forward-thinking country that has only one recorded death from coronavirus thanks to smart policies like a stringent lockdown from a thoughtful compassionate determined prime minister who even told kids the Easter Bunny is an essential worker. That, and the supreme knowledge that this particular outdoor hot tub and this particular panorama exist out there in our big beautiful world.
It’ll be nice to someday get back in it…