ANGUILLA — Ani Villas, a collection of private resorts that includes two new estates in Thailand and Sri Lanka opened earlier this year, has announced plans to debut its fourth property in the Dominican Republic next summer.
Now under construction, the new resort juts into the Caribbean on a 4-acre, north coast peninsula, minutes from the country’s best beaches and a Trent Jones clifftop golf course reminiscent of Pebble Beach. Designed by the Estudio Sarah Garcia in the Dominican Republic, the property features 14 bedrooms, ample living spaces, a spa, sports facilities and a large event pavilion.
“It’s one of those locations that really makes you wonder whether you’ve seen any place as beautiful,” said Ani Villas Principal Tim Reynolds. “This one’s been a long time in gestation. We spent three years on environmental impact studies alone. But some things are just worth the wait.”
Reynolds, a one-time trader who co-founded Jane Street Capital, founded Ani Villas as a new category in luxury accommodation: the Private Resort.
Each Ani Villa has the facilities and amenities of a 5-star hotel, including fully staffed kitchen, bar, spa, pools, leisure coordinators and concierge services – but offered to a single group in residence.
While groups such as airbnb and VRBO.com gobble share from the traditional hotel market, and exclusive high-end hotels brands cater to the ultra wealthy with sophisticated design, spare-no-expense hardware and destinations emerging from the zeitgeist, Reynolds and Ani Villas CEO Ira Bloom realized there was an opportunity to present the best of both worlds for the top end of the market.
The private resort concept taps a growing trend among groups of people who want to vacation in company, though not with strangers. Ten years ago, the travel industry minted a phrase to describe the movement -- togethering -- and there’s been nothing but momentum ever since. One New York based consultancy group earlier this year found that nearly half of the top 1% of U.S. travelers plan to vacation with friends, 41% with kids and almost a third as part of a multi-generation party. The AARP released research this year showing that three of every four adults over 45 planned to observe a life milestone on holiday with friends.
“Groups traveling for milestone celebrations, weddings, family reunions and get togethers” said Bloom. “These are the kinds of groups that want a resort-like property all to themselves.”
In Sri Lanka, Ani Villas opened over the 2015 holidays as a pair of two mutually exclusive estates, one with seven bedrooms, the other with eight, all designed by renowned architect Reda Amalou.
In Thailand, the 10-bedroom private resort opened in January and sleeps 20 on the shores of Phang Nga Bay. Four of those bedrooms feature interior hidden pools, in addition to the resort’s 42-meter beachfront pool. And in Anguilla, where the Ani Villas concept took root in 2011, 10 suites command a dramatic cliff top location overlooking one of the island’s most notable “secret” beaches.
The resorts feature some combination of fully equipped spas and fitness facilities, tennis courts, and kids’ pools with water slides. As at any resort, there’s a chef, a general manager, a spa manager, a fitness instructor, bartender, housekeeping staff, and a full support team to maintain and operate each facility.
In line with the “it’s all yours” concept of the collection, stays at Ani Villas include all food, drink, spa, and other on-site leisure pursuits from cooking classes and children’s arts and crafts to personal training and paddle boarding. Nightly rates with these inclusions start at $4,000 in low season for up to eight guests and rise to $16,000 for 30 guests over the holidays.
Every Villa stands as a complement to an Ani Art Academy, an independent school that’s fully funded by the Tim Reynolds Foundation, established by the group’s owner specifically to build and operate the schools. The Academies offer a free, comprehensive drawing and painting program to communities surrounding each private resort, and at two additional locations in the United States. The Academy in the Dominican Republic, operating since 2013, was a precursor to the soon to be opened private resort.