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Want luxury but tired of golf resorts? Try renting a ritzy villa

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

So many great golf destinations, so little time.

Luxury golf villas
Luxury golf villas are good alternatives to buying vacation homes.
Luxury golf villasPalm SpringsOlive wood

Hawaii, Florida, Scotland, Costa del Sol. And dozens, scores - hundreds of others.

For those who want to live, or at least briefly experience, the luxury-golf lifestyle, there are numerous options.

You could buy a fancy vacation house at a ritzy resort. But then you end up playing the same golf courses over and over.

You could rent a suite at an upscale resort. Not bad, but for many people resort vacations fall short in some respects: lack of privacy, impersonal hotel rooms, disconnect from the surrounding culture.

Still others like to experience different golf destinations by renting villas and even yachts. But how to sort through the thousands of possibilities?

Luxury-travel brokers and clubs such as Dream Catcher Retreats, Quintess, Exclusive Resorts and Eco Voyager, to just a view, can connect customers with luxury accommodations in elite destinations.

Luxury Retreats is another good example. This broker offers more than 1,300 villa rentals and yacht charters around the world, from France, Italy and Greece to the Caribbean and South Africa.

Like golf packagers, Luxury Retreats takes care of the details, arranging everything from car rentals and private air charters to spa treatments, catered gourmet meals and tee-time reservations at some of the world's best courses. It has a number of accommodations in major golfing hotspots.

In Palm Springs, the company offers several villas, including the Andreas Hills Golf Home on the sixth hole of Indian Canyons Golf Club.

Featured as an "Ultimate Destination" on NBC's Mansions and Millionaires, the 4,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bath house has 18-foot ceilings and 10-foot glass doors opening to panoramic views of the San Jacinto Mountains. It's within walking distance of Indian Canyons, ancestral home of the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla Indians, but if that's a bit too spiritual for you it's also five minutes by bicycle to the downtown shops of Palm Springs. Rates range from $938 to $1,344 a night.

In Portugal's Algarve there's the Casa Da Cascata, a four-bedroom, five-bath villa at the Quinta do Lago resort, with Sky satellite and LCD TV, under-floor heating, fruit trees and a barbecue area near the pool. Villa Roma, also in the Quinta do Lago, has five bedrooms, five baths, a two-tiered dining-room with open fireplace and a master bedroom with its own private lounge. There is also a pool and barbecue area and numerous sun terraces.

Decide how high you want to roll in Barbados: Cassia Heights #3 at the famed Royal Westmoreland, with two ocean-view bedrooms and an open terrace for $350 a night; or Olive Wood a four-bedroom villa on the Sandy Lane Estate with its coral-decorated dining room, Jacuzzi, private waterfall and gazebo overlooking Sandy Lane Golf Course and the ocean, for $3,050 per night.

For a change of temperature, Whistler, British Columbia's Muirfield Chalet, on the 14th fairway of the Nicklaus North Golf Course, offers five bedrooms, five baths, a sunken living room, wood-burning and gas fireplaces and an outdoor hot tub and patio for $1,600 a night.

Should you feel like a break from golf, the "ski-in, ski-out" Ridge in Whistler in has six bedrooms, five baths and can sleep 13. It has a 10-person hot tub overlooking the slopes (including the downhill course for the 2010 Winter Olympics), a private wine cellars and heated slate floors. Rates range from $990 to $3,300 a night.

Go on, you've earned the right, unless you're a CEO who's cheated your stockholders. Enjoy.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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