Below is a roster of villa rental agents whom I consider best qualified to match Conde Nast Traveler readers with  properties.  To compile the list, I created a 53-question application designed to assess a rental agent's competency, connections, and business practices. 

We asked each agent to send a sample house book (that invaluable guide to a villa and its environs), sample driving directions and other preparatory information and questionnaires that they give clients, checklists they use to evaluate properties, and at least one client reference.  After carefully combing through these materials, we interviewed the most promising rental agents, by phone to evaluate their friendliness, honesty, and familiarity with the villas and regions they represent.  

Only 48 agents made the cut.  What separates the honorees from the also-rans?  The best personally visted all of the villas they represent and slept in a good may of them.  They inspect the properties at least annually.  They speak the local language fluently.  They handpick villas that have an authentic sense of place.  And they themselves write or at least vet their house books, update them at least once a year, and fill them with insider tips.  Some agents have a preponderance of modest cottages, others fairy-tale estates, and we've characterized their overall portfolios accordingly, from a single dollar sign($) for the least expensive to four ($$$$), indicating generally very expensive accommodations.  Unless otherwise noted, prices relfect the cost of one-week rental.  If you would like to nominate a villa rental agent for a future list or to comment on your experience with one of the agents listed below, please email me at perrinfeedback@cntraveler.com

Hawaii

Anne Pawsat, Hawaii Hideaways, Kula, Maui

115 properties (low season $7,350 - $54,500, high season, $8,000 - $72,000) overall portfolio $$$

Pawsat's sumptuous oceanfront Hawaiian villas come with the latest and greatest amenities (granit countertops, Bosch appliances) and a 24-hour concierge who-can line up everything from a private heli-hiking tour of Molokai to a pedicurist who makes house calls.  Paswat, who lives on Maui and speaks pidgin (the local dialect), combines intimate knowledge of the islands with a type A efficiency born of a Yale education and years in the Northeast, that's unusual in Hawaii.  It's really her openness and "sprit of aloha", however, that separate her from the competition, who might rent houses where wave swells makes swimming tough. (808) 878-8559; anne@hawaiihideaways.com.