Southeast Asia's top 10 private villas

CNN Travel staffPublished 12th July 2017
Villa Puri Bawana is a pool paradise.
(CNN) — There are a few reasons you might want to rent a private luxury villa rather than stay in a resort.
Extra space. Naked swims in your private pool. Personal chefs.
In terms of sheer swank factor, combined with fashion-spread worthy surroundings, Southeast Asia has some of the world's best private villas.
Based on its inspections of over 200 properties in the region, The Villa Guide -- a booking site that features reviews of villas in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka -- recently put together a list of what its reviewers feel are "without a doubt the top 10" villas in the region.
Criteria: "Every villa that actually makes it onto The Villa Guide website (many do not) has been independently reviewed and rated. The criteria is stringent, and in each category they are scored from a possible 10 points, then combined to give an overall result.
"All villas in the 7-plus range are great rental properties, therefore any villa that the seasoned reviewers rate at 9-plus, is absolutely out of this world."

10. Villa Puri Bawana, Canggu, Bali

Villa Puri is a deserted haven.
Villa Puri is a deserted haven.
Courtesy Villa Puri Bawana/Elite Havens
At the Villa Puri Bawana, luxury is key. "The villa grounds are huge, allowing each family enough privacy but with large common areas to allow for a combined get-together," says The Villa Guide.
Rating: 9.1
Pros: Spectacular rice field terrace design; beautifully finished interiors; outstanding staff and service; close to both beach and Seminyak; and gourmet food made to order
Cons: Difficult to find anything wrong other than the occasional morning cockerel and the odd farmer tending the rice.

9. The Tamarind, Bang Saray, Thailand

The Tamarind is one of the largest holiday retreats in Thailand, located on the foothills of Bangsaray, on the east coast of Thailand.
The Tamarind is one of the largest holiday retreats in Thailand, located on the foothills of Bangsaray, on the east coast of Thailand.
Courtesy Tamarind
In addition to the usual perks like a private pool and personal chef, The Tamarind has a Harley-Davidson for guest use.
Rating: 9.1
Pros: Nine round-the-world decor bedrooms; super luxurious and massive; no neighbors to disturb; great Thai cook; and umpteen facilities.
Cons: Staff's English not hot, their Tom Yam is; and easy to get lost so keep a mobile phone handy.

8. Villa Ananda, Natai Beach, Phang Nga, Thailand

"We found the air conditioning in bedrooms a little noisy and the villa does require some minor maintenance which is no surprise given the coastal location but this equates more to 'touch-ups' than anything that affects the pleasure of your stay," says The Villa Guide's review of Villa Ananda.
Rating: 9.2
Pros: Eighty meters of beach frontage; serviced to a six-star level; spacious, impeccably landscaped grounds; super private bedroom pavilions; and tasty Thai seafood prepared with panache.
Cons: Need to watch the kids at the pool, beach; far from nightlife entertainment; and weddings/events not permitted.

7. Baan Suriya, Lipa Noi, Koh Samui, Thailand

"Although Baan Suriya is definitely family-friendly, the 'floating' stairs leading to the mezzanine lounge, the sliding doors opening directly to the pool, and the ungated beach access mean it would be wise to keep small children closely supervised," says The Villa Guide.
Rating: 9.2
Pros: Facilities that go the extra mile to please; knowledgeable, helpful villa manageress; delightfully indulgent bathrooms; and fabulous views out to Angthong Marine Park.
Cons: A few toddler-unfriendly features to watch out for; occasional traffic noise; and a big group is needed to fully appreciate the villa.

6. The Edge, The Bukit, Bali

In September 2017, the Edge will launch a 180-degree cliff-front bar and restaurant.
In September 2017, the Edge will launch a 180-degree cliff-front bar and restaurant.
Courtesy The Edge
"We are hard-pressed to find anything to complain about at The Edge," says The Villa Guide. "Still, the price is high by anybody's standards. This is a villa for people who have so much cash that it doesn't matter ... or someone else is paying."
Rating: 9.3
Pros: Top-of-the-line luxury; eye-boggling views; state-of-the-art spa; and tailor-made cuisine.
Cons: The price. And there will be monkeys.

5. The Shanti Residence, Nusa Dua, Bali

The stunning Shanti Residence.
The stunning Shanti Residence.
Courtesy the Shanti Collection
"With three pools (four if you count the jacuzzi), fantastic views, great staff and a home cinema that will rock your world, The Shanti Residence is simply a beautiful place to spend a vacation," says The Villa Guide.
Rating: 9.3
Pros: Amazing home cinema; great views.
Cons: Inconvenient beach access.

4. Villa Sapi, Tanjung, Lombok

Villa Sapi's dinner set up by the pool is pretty fabulous.
Villa Sapi's dinner set up by the pool is pretty fabulous.
Courtesy Villa Sapi/Elite Havens
"All in all, this is a villa where you will want to bring your friends so they can see it for themselves," says The Villa Guide on Villa Sapi. "Photos and tall tales just won't suffice."
Rating: 9.3
Pros: Three swimming pools; desert island setting; private absolute beachfront; incredible architecture; chef is a culinary genius.
Cons: Quite remote; outdoor showers not for the modest.

3. The Istana, The Bukit, Bali

"Cliff-top means cliff-top --- there is a 60-meter drop down to the sea below," says The Villa Guide on the Istana. "The edge does not have fencing to ruin that magical view but is protected by a wide bed of extremely sharp and very uninviting ground shrubs."
Rating: 9.3
Pros: 60-meter cliff-top views; fabulous staff; suites and bathrooms to die for.
Cons: Remote location far from most attractions; usually booked up solid.

2. Latitude, Karang Kembar, The Bukit, Bali

The view from Latitude at sunset is truly unforgettable.
The view from Latitude at sunset is truly unforgettable.
Courtesy Latitude
"Such a spectacular 180-degree ocean view already singles out Latitude as special," says The Villa Guide on Latitude. "Add the space-age architecture, seriously long swimming pool, the beach club, and the promise of gourmet meals day-in day-out, and Latitude is clearly in a league of its own."
Rating: 9.4
Pros: Excellent chef; incredible views; private beach club.
Cons: Remote location.

1. Ariara, Calamian Islands, Palawan, Philippines

Pictures of private island Ariara. Related to Business Traveller episode, January 2016.
Ariara is a private island.
David Molko/CNN
One could easily spend weeks, even months at Ariara and have a new adventure each day --- or simply do nothing but lie back and drink cold San Miguel brews all day.
Rating: 9.4
Pros: Private island; personal dive guide; delicious gourmet meals; plenty of watersports; great design and craftsmanship.
Cons: Pool access unsafe for families with young kids; pier is lacking a handrail.
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2012. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.