Villa Woodward is the ultimate picture of luxury, so luxurious that it has its own private runway, where you can fly in with a jet directly. But it isn’t pretentious in the way a hotel could be, and is exactly what Javier Medem wanted to stray away from. His philosophy of luxury service is cosy, discreet, and professional but still warm without being overbearing. The feeling you should have when you enter the villa, is that you’re home.
"You can find amazing homes anywhere, but the experience is completed by the staff that are at Villa Woodward. It’s an amazing place because of them."
History and heritage
We sat down with Javier Medem, whose family has owned the land in which Villa Woodward stands for over 100 years. While this villa is now meant to be shared with others, its history is still rooted in family; his brother Otto Medem, a renowned architect designed the house, and his wife did the interior design.
While originally working as a lawyer, he also ran a business in photography and film. Javier was inspired by how you can make an atmosphere warm through light and just like in photography, he manipulated the house’s architecture and layout to play with angles, and make something different and spectacular. It’s because of this that Villa Woodward is a place that plays with your senses. During the day there’s music playing in all the corridors of the house; at night candles illuminate the pathways, and the dining room’s only light source is candles too.
Though he doesn’t credit this home’s special atmosphere solely to himself. He proudly tells us:
"I was lucky enough to marry my wife, who is crazy about aesthetics. She has taken on that role in this adventure, and she has surpassed me in terms of her level of taste."
luxury and details made to measure
Everything at Villa Woodward is tailor-made. One particularly memorable request was unforgettable to Javier and his staff. The guests’ request? To have the country's best chef cook them dinner and have a private show by the best flamenco dancer after. It was a night to remember, as Javier recounts, where Spain’s best were all but an arm’s length away.
It’s these moments and memories created to the most minute detail that bring Villa Woodward’s guests back year after year, even on the same dates. Some have even taken the ‘my home is your home’ philosophy to another level, as they leave some of their personal items and have them kept on-site so that they can have them when they return.
loyalty and quality
But it isn’t just material things that people leave at Villa Woodward. If you come to Villa Woodward, it’s likely that the faces will all be the same; the chef will be cooking for you year after year; the driver who shows you the sights of Marbella will find new spots to take you; the housekeeping will learn exactly how you like your pillows fluffed. This is because most of his staff have been with Javier since the very beginning, for over 25 years and the ‘youngest’ as he likes to call them, have been with him for 5 years.
When we asked Javier what his formula was for this excellent collective of staff, he tells us:
"When selecting the people we want to work with at Villa Woodward, we always start with asking one question: What do you want to do?"
If the person enjoys cooking, horse-riding, or adrenaline activities, then we really try to place them in the roles they want to be in. This allows for everyone to really enjoy what they do on a daily basis.
When you enter the kitchen, whether it’s before (the most stressful part of the day for the kitchen) or after dinner, you’ll find yourself bathed in music playing, and laughter. It’s these behind-the-scenes details and moments, he says, that makes a difference in your experience at Villa Woodward; the feeling of togetherness every step of the way that allows the staff to be so in sync with each other for your benefit.
Aside from his aforementioned wife, he was also inspired a lot by his mother, and his parents who constantly entertained large groups in their original home which sat on the property. He warmly tells us that this is likely where his passion for bringing people together comes from, from the hospitality and warmth that his parents once showed to others as he grew up.
An example of this philosophy is that as soon as you step into the bedrooms, you won’t find a television. But fret not, as that was actually done on purpose. Why? To encourage you to experience things together. Javier tells us that this detail was made to encourage you to make use of the cinema room- which is the perfect setting to get rowdy with your whole family while watching sports finals, or to relax and cuddle up for a movie with fresh popcorn and fluffy blankets.
While the beauty is in the details; in the light, the staff’s enthusiasm, the variety of activities, the music; at the end of the day, the only detail that really matters to Javier is that you create moments with those you love.