Ever since Matt de Graff began working at Luxury Retreats nearly 10 years ago, he promised his Mom he would bring the family on a vacation. Finally, the stars aligned and 2016 was the year the ultimate family trip could take place. St Martin was the spot of choice, because, as Matt puts it, “it’s one of those islands everyone loves, there’s just so much to see and do.” Matt’s younger brother zipped to St. Martin from Whistler to meet the rest of the gang, and the adventure began. The villas for the week were Grand Palms and Turtle Nest, both of which provided a stylish, comfortable home base on the island with it all.
1. Ah, the first moment of vacation! Do you have a ritual?
I make a mad dash for the pool right away. There’s nothing better than jumping in the water after a long day of travel.
2. What’s one thing you never leave home without?
Music! I think music and solid playlists are key to setting the tone for vacation, so I always come prepared with plenty of options.
3. What was your favorite thing about Grand Palms and Turtle Nest?
I loved the al fresco showers at both homes! I didn’t step foot in the “regular” shower once. My Mom is a hobby photographer, and Grand Palms has a little gully just beyond the infinity pool, so she would get up every morning to explore and she got some very cool photos of iguanas; this was definitely her favorite part! And Turtle Nest’s location right on the beach just can’t be beat – nothing compares to listening the sound of the sea while you’re falling asleep.
4. Anything from the villas that you wish you could take home with you?
The upper terrace at Grand Palms was the perfect sunny spot for drinking coffee and reading my book in the morning. And, the pool area at Turtle Nest with daybeds and a deep end for diving was incredible.
5. What’s the one experience in St Martin a traveler can’t miss?
Whatever you do, make sure you get out on the water and explore some of the neighboring islands! We took a day trip on a catamaran, saw the most spectacular turquoise water, and stopped at Tintamarre Island for snorkeling and went to Anguilla for lunch. We also checked out Pinel Island that has crystal-clear calm waters for swimming and a beach bar with delicious fresh fish.
6. What was the theme song to your vacation?
Fire & The Flood by Vance Joy
7. Did you tick off any “bucket list” items while you were there?
Taking my whole family on a villa vacation was something on my list, ever since I began my career at Luxury Retreats. I’m so happy the time finally came to experience this with my family. My girlfriend and I also extended our trip by visiting St Barts for a few days after St Martin, and that had been on our “bucket list” too!
8. Did you have any vacation reads?
I read a short JFK biography, one of those “pick it up and put it down” books that’s perfect for easy vacation reading.
9. When you look back on this vacation in 10 years, what will you remember most?
The expression of awe and pure joy on my Mom’s face when we rolled up to the villa, it was just priceless!
10. Where are you off to next?
I’m heading to Lisbon, Portugal next Spring!