On the wider northern shores of the former sleepy fishing village turned billionaire holiday haven that is Santa Teresa, this complex of pavilions and open plan palapas is the epitome of bohemian chic. Facing a pristine 150ft-strech of white sand that opens on to four miles of beach, these are some of the most sought-after private villas on Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula. Protected from the boom of the distant surf in an enclave of palm trees and bananas, this is all about the pleasure of living close to nature. Monkeys chew blossom in the treetops, pelicans patrol the shoreline, emerald-striped iguanas bake silently on stone paths. Casa Capitan is the largest of three villas with eight rooms, a curvy pool and a yoga shala. In a culture where horse and cattle herds reign supreme, this is as relaxed a destination for riders as it is for suffers and yogis. There’s a stable of Andalusian thoroughbreds on the property and South American Paso Peruano, known for their ability to be nimble, to dance and canter fast along the flat hard sands of Manzanillo beach at sunset with you, barefoot and bikini clad.
It is only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Rio to Reserva do Ibitipoca, a private 4,000-hectare of Atlantic forests in Minas Gerais. Base yourself at Engenho’s farm, an 18th-century lodge with large stables, for the best way to explore this remote wilderness is on horseback. The Anglo-Arabian crosses are docile enough to carry you cantering through the ever-changing landscape, from rocky fields to high-altitude pastures and shady forest enclaves, concealing grottoes, waterfalls and canyons. The Ibitipoca ethos shows commitment to the reintroduction of endangered indigenous species – on the ride up to the highest point we spot rare snakes, toucans and butterflies, but sadly not the last remaining Muriqui monkeys. At the top is Eagle’s Nest, a cliff-edge wooden bothy, where a soothing lentil soup and a warm bed reckons for the most memorable night’s sleepover on the very edge of the world.
Imagine stepping through the frame into an idyllic classical landscape, and there you have it: Castello di Reschio. This 2,700-acre estate on the Umbria-Tuscany border has been exquisitely recreated on the footprint of pre-existing ruins by the estate’s architect, Benedikt Bolza, son of the owner, Count Antonio. Ranging from rustic-farmhouse style to a magnificently grand Palazzo, the villas here accommodate between two and 14 guests. Each one comes with outdoor living spaces, three acres of private land and its own pool. The surrounding views, perfumes and sounds of nature are, quite simply, breathtaking. The landscape is heaven for horse lovers, such as the Count, who, together with renowned trainer Antonello Radicchi, has created one of the finest stud farms in Italy. The estate, like an open-air museum. Guests can also enjoy the estate’s Osteria, tennis courts and a range of activities from art classes to wild-boar hunting. Just don’t come expecting a party scene – at Reschio, discretion and privacy are the name of the game.
Hollywood’s romanticized version of America’s Wild West gets reimagined for 21st-century cowboys at this working cattle ranch, where resident wranglers still lasso steer and guests can channel their inner-gun slinging outlaw at five different shooting ranges. Owner Jim Manley grew up watching Westerns and dreamed of owning a place where he could ride horses and shoot guns. He found the perfect 6,600 acres nestled in the sagebrush-covered foothills of Montana’s Rocky Mountains and transformed it into a 125-guest ranch hotel. Horsemanship is at the heart of the experience – with 14 wranglers and 75 horses, riders of all abilities can have a great time in the saddle on one-to four-hour rides, often spotting elk and bighorn sheep on trails. Tuesday-night rodeos allow wranglers to showcase bull riding, while inspired guests can sign up for arena lessons and learn to rope a steer and race around barrels. And for skills beyond the saddle, there’s the Saturday Buckle Barn dance, where a live band sets the tone for a night of two-step and country swing.