Ian Howie was young, single, and living in Yorkshire, England. It was January 2003. He was in need of some time away, but none of his friends could take time off. So alone he went to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun for two weeks. “I’ll read a book, get a tan, recharge the batteries, and come back,” he thought. But that’s not what happened.
Enter, Caroline, at the time an Air Transat employee that had some friends working in Playa del Carmen and access to free flights. She thought she’d join them. But then Caroline met Ian and Ian met Caroline, and they ended up spending all their time together. And it didn’t take long to decide they wanted to spend their lives together too.
“We made a promise in Tulum – this is after like three days together – that we were going to travel around the world. And we actually did.”
After spending a romantic week together in Cancun – “holiday romance,” as Ian refers to it – they traded visits to each other’s hometowns. Ian spent a week with Caroline in Montreal, Quebec, and Caroline flew out to Yorkshire, England to see Ian. Caroline later moved to England to be with Ian before they moved together to Montreal, where they now live. “In between moving from England and arriving in Quebec, we said ‘Okay, this is an opportunity to travel’, so we spent eight or nine months traveling around the world.”
By this point you can see that Ian and Caroline’s relationship is deeply rooted in travel. All the more fitting then that after settling in Montreal in 2009, Ian landed a job in the travel industry. Today, he still works with Luxury Retreats as a VIP Villa Specialist, matching affluent travelers with luxury rental homes in charming destinations. He’s been able to visit many of those very destinations around the globe – and he’s been able to bring Caroline with him. Over the years, Ian and Caroline have taken their love to many new countries, and since having two daughters – Mia, age 10 and Thalie, age 8 – they have been able to share their love for travel with their entire family. Family trips have included exploring in Maui and poolside bliss in St. Martin. But this most recent trip was the one they had been planning all along.
In December 2016, Ian had the opportunity to visit two Luxury Retreats villas in Riviera Maya: Casa Nalum and Villa Carolina. He could bring his partner and their two daughters along, yet another memorable family adventure. Still, Ian and Caroline knew this one would be different than any trip they had taken before. They would be stationed on the east coast of Quintana Roo, just a short way away from Tulum and all the memories of their first meeting way back in 2003. And that, for the couple, was absolutely irresistible. “This was actually the idea coming full circle – back to Tulum – to show the kids where we met and where we promised we were going to travel.” For Ian and Caroline, it was an idea 14 years in the making. “But the kids really weren’t interested. They just wanted to play in the pool and on the beach.”
“This was actually the idea coming full circle – back to Tulum – to show the kids where we met and where we promised we were going to travel.”
At Casa Nalum, the kids could enjoy both. Nestled between a peaceful lagoon and a pristine Caribbean beach, guests virtually have no neighbors, making it perfect for those seeking privacy. Nalum is defined by its eco-design, its thoughtful build, and how it merges perfectly with its surroundings. The villa, built to rigorous construction regulations, is completely self sufficient – sun, wind power, and ultra-silent backup generator – and is a zero carbon property. Still, it has all the modern comforts such as air conditioning in all bedrooms, 120″ home theater system, SKY TV, Wi-Fi, and of course, a pool.
Their second vacation home, Villa Carolina, was another beachfront property with a private pool. Or, as Mia and Thalie might call it, paradise. Conveniently located in a gated community between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos, Carolina is a bijou villa where you can feel like you’re at your own private resort. To simulate that feeling, the infinity pool has in-pool seats and a swim-up bar, so you can sip a sweet cocktail with water up to your chest and watch the sea in the distance. You can also choose to serve yourself thanks to a full gourmet kitchen with top of the line appliances and a charcoal grill on the garden patio.
During that first week together in Mexico back in 2003, the new couple tried to squeeze in as many activities as they could. Even if some of them took a little convincing. “I’m not great in the water,” Ian recalls. “She persuaded me to snorkel in the ocean, and that was a big thing to overcome for me. Xcaret was also another place we wanted to go back to.” And they did. They revisited Xcaret Park, an ecological site and theme park with nature-based and cultural attractions demonstrating Mexican tradition and Mayan archaeology. The park’s owner, Marcos Constandse, happens to be a loyal Luxury Retreats guest who has a great relationship with Ian. Thankfully for the family, Marcos also happens to enjoy a good love story. “I told him the story and he basically took care of us VIP style when we went back to Xcaret with the kids.”
The globetrotting couple had a few more boxes to tick to fulfill their commitments from all those years ago. “We went to Tulum, the ruins where we made this promise to each other, and the kids were like, ‘It’s too hot, can we go back to the pool? Can we go back to the villa?’” So much for that. But even if their interest was minimal, having their two kids by their side was a symbol for Ian and Caroline of just how far they’d come since making that promise at the ruins in Tulum way back in January of 2003.