Offering a new way to source luxury villa rentals, The Villa Collective prides itself on creating a personalised experience for its clients. Hospitality Interiors’ Gemma Ralph travelled to the collective’s most recently-added property in Corfu to find out more …
Founded in 2016 by talented young entrepreneur, Nick Cookson, The Villa Collective is a boutique luxury villa rental agency with a handpicked selection of private properties across the Mediterranean. From a 17th century Tuscan country house to an ultra-modern Ibiza newbuild, the collection offers a plethora of architectural styles, configurations, locales and amenities, all linked by one unifying characteristic – privacy.
As I slide open the glass door of my room at Villa Apasa and step out onto the veranda into the balmy Corfu dawn – enveloped by a panorama of pink-gold sky and glittering Ionian sea – I truly appreciate the quest for this blissful sense of seclusion.
“Built into the tumbling cliffside in Nissaki, a picturesque village in north-east Corfu, Villa Apasa is the most recent addition to The Villa Collective’s portfolio”
Built into the tumbling cliffside in Nissaki, a picturesque village in north-east Corfu, Villa Apasa is the most recent addition to the portfolio. The six-bedroom property is quite some architectural feat, occupying a 10,000m2 site painstakingly carved into the shear cliff face over the course of three years. The excavated rock has been repurposed for the dry stone walling throughout the plot, each piece hand-faced by local stone masons.
The exceptional views from this vantage point are more than worth the lengthy construction process, however. To the east, the coast and mountains of Albania – with the ancient site of Butrint in full view – and to the south mainland Greece and the islands of the Ionian.
The villa is accessed via a sloping drive from the main road, winding down into a stone courtyard. Its striking porticoed entrance features a bespoke, copper-panelled water feature at its centre, flanked by three handsome wooden doors sourced from India.
“Villa Apasa’s owner, Francis Fowler, designed the property himself, drawing inspiration from the late Oliver Messel who – aside from being a famous set designer – designed 18 striking properties on the Caribbean island of Mustique”
Villa Apasa’s owner, Francis Fowler, designed the property himself, drawing inspiration from the late Oliver Messel who – aside from being a famous set designer – designed 18 striking properties on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Chanelling Messel’s use of space – larger rooms with open ceilings and colonial fans, wide openings leading onto covered and open terraces, and his preference for white on white with splashes of colour – Francis has given the villa’s interiors a contemporary spin, while introducing locally-inspired elements.
Beyond the property’s dramatic entrance is a tasteful and comfortably-furnished 20m-wide sitting room with prime oak floors, exposed ceiling beams and a plantation ceiling fan. A grand piano sits to the right of the door, while the three enormous sofas at the centre of the room are grouped around a large marble fireplace and a striking coffee table formed out of ancient bronze doors from Jaipur.
The muted palette here allows the breathtaking views over the Corfu Channel and Butrint to take centre stage. Indeed, floor-to-ceiling glass doors along the length of the back wall, with a glass-framed terrace beyond, mean that you are immersed in the landscape from the outset.
The sitting room branches off, at one end, to a cosy book-lined study and then through to a light-filled dining room. A long white table, seating 12, runs through its centre with a grey wooden sideboard at either side.
Connected to the dining room is the villa’s fully-equipped kitchen, headed up by UK-based chef, Veronica Drysdale. An enormous granite-topped island unit with bar seats sits at its heart, lit by three hanging stainless steel lamps.
Also situated on the villa’s upper floor is one of two master suites. Extending the same neutral palette as the communal spaces, the suite features a king-sized bed with a bespoke padded headboard; its elegant pattern echoed in the upholstered seating.
The en-suite bathroom is Romanesque in feel. Three wide marble steps lead up to a sunken double bath with a picture window looking out across the sea and mountains. The enormous walk-in shower, meanwhile, has a stone backlit Jali with ancient wood and stone pillars.
Should guests prefer a spot of outdoor bathing, the suite has access to a private landscaped area with its own covered jacuzzi.
The remaining five rooms include a second master suite on the lower floor – complete with a large free-standing egg-shaped bath illuminated by a chandelier – two further bedrooms with en suite his-and-hers shower rooms and dressing rooms, and lastly the Guest Suite, a separate wing of the house comprising two king-size bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and a dressing room, along with a shared private sitting/dining room with its own beautiful private terrace overlooking the sea.
Each room possesses its own quirks and highlights, from vibrant textiles, standout lighting fixtures and artwork to chic bathrooms and terraces.
Completing the villa’s interior facilities are a fully-equipped gym, a mosaic-tiled hammam with twinkling lights in its domed ceiling, and a cinema with two enormous fitted bespoke sofas with silk cushions and an 80-inch Samsung Smart TV with surround sound.
Though considered and utterly opulent in their design, the villa’s interiors willingly sacrifice your attention, drawing you out onto the many stunning terraces, and into the verdant grounds beyond.
The property features a dual-level freshwater infinity pool, which drains from the upper terrace to the lower by means of a lavishly planted waterfall feature. A nearby pool cabana, complete with a covered dining area, well-stocked bar and a pool shower, ensures guests need not move far for refreshment.
Beyond the immediate vicinity of the villa, the grounds feature a series of private lawned terraces cut into the cliffside and furnished with sun loungers and parasols. Much of the landscaping here is in its infancy, but as it matures will create the effect of hanging gardens.
Should guests want to bathe in the sea, they need only take the glass-panelled lift, housed in a purpose-built tower, which descends the final three levels between the villa and the seafront.
Indeed, the feeling that your every whim is catered for here is exactly what The Villa Collective is all about. From initial enquiry to the flight home, Nick and his team deliver a seamless and personalised service. Having experienced all that Villa Apasa has to offer, it is easy to see the appeal.