For the purposes of this round-up, the West Indian island of St. Barts has all the necessary equipment: tropical island, stylish crowd, and high-dollar real estate. This rental villa on Point Milou is sited at the edge of a rock outcropping and surrounded on three sides by the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. A swimming beach is a decent drive and we wouldn't want to try to tackle the roiling waters at the foot of the cliff, so luckily there's a swimming pool. The rental rates vary wildly, from $1,560 per night in low season to $11,000 per night—with a 14 night minimum stay—over the Christmas and New Years holidays. For that price the furnishings are a little dated, but the daily maid service should help to make up for any decor disappointment.
? Sticking to the French-speaking areas for a moment, here's an unusual villa on the French Riviera, at Le Lavandou, France. Dubbed Semaphore, the villa is built around the native stone, with a swimming pool that looks like a giant puddle among the undulating rock, with views up and down the Mediterranean coast. Renting for up to $9500 per night, the four-bedroom villa balances its connection to nature with modern interiors accented with floating fireplaces, fur throws, and glass headboards.
? Not far from the French Riviera, Italy's Amalfi Coast gives the French hotspot a run for its money when it comes to glamour. Though the Villa La Veduta in Praiano isn't as flashy or new as some of its competitors, it enjoys an unparalleled cliff-front location, while not sacrificing on luxury. The six-bedroom, seven-bath vacation home boasts a chef's kitchen, a swimming pool, gym, sauna, and massage table. It currently rents for $7600 per night in high season.
? Though often overlooked by American vacationers—at least those who don't head out on safari—South Africa has plenty of breathtaking seaside estates. This one, in Cape Town, takes classic materials like stone and wood, and combines them with a modern style and floor plan. The best part: collapsable glass walls seamlessly open the master bedroom to the adjacent balcony. Sleeping outside without sleeping outside, certainly worth $5,800 per night, if you've got it.
? Thankfully, despite the recent uptick in crime in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta has retained its gorgeous views. This hillside vacation home, built in a Polynesian style, has six bedrooms, six baths, and elevated views of the crescent-shaped white sand beach below. The interiors have a less-than-stylish, McMansion-type vibe about them—generic sepia-toned photo art anyone?—and the place is asking quite a bit, $9,000 per night in high season.
· Villa Cap Au Vent [Luxury Retreats]
· Semaphore [Luxury Retreats]
· Villa La Veduta [Luxury Retreats]
· 26 Sunset Avenue [Luxury Retreats]
· Casa Paloma Blanca [Luxury Retreats]
· All Renters Week 2011 posts [Curbed National]