By Issy von Simson, acting travel editor at Tatler
The thing about Scott Dunn villa vacations is that they make it pretty impossible to return to regular traveling life. I am now disproportionately disappointed when there isn’t anyone to meet me when I spill out of Arrivals, my heart sinks if the hire car isn’t sitting, keys in ignition, in the nearest car park slot, with bottles of chilled mineral water in the boot and towels in case I want to go straight to the beach. Scott Dunn has spoiled me, spoiled me rotten.
I want canapés, lots of them. I want champagne, on tap. I want a kaleidoscopic playroom, more nannies that I can shake a stick at, a chef, an obscenely talented chef who will make a breakfast so pretty I want to cry. I want my room turned down in the evening, tidied up in the morning. I want beaming, sweet, charming staff who make you feel like they love their jobs. I want mid-morning surprise smoothies and sushi by the pool. And the good thing about all that, is I know where to get it.
The flagship villa, Quinta do Calma, on Scott Dunn’s books is a whopper, but not terrifyingly so. Five bedrooms, masses of space, done up just as you would probably do it, splashes of Oka-ish stuff, dashes of Ikea, gorgeous local bits and bobs. Relaxed enough for children to career about, smart enough to want to sling on some heels at supper. They have nailed it.
The in-house staff are so bubbly and enthusiastic you can’t help but wonder if they’re sucking on helium balloons off set. About five seconds after arriving they’ll have figured out what’s what, who’s who, which of you has sugar in your coffee and where you think you’d like to sleep. It’s the intuitive attention to detail that makes the whole thing so special.
You can come here and do absolutely nothing – they won’t bat an eyelid – or you can launch into an activity packed week, if you have the energy, but the best thing is that it is up to you, this is your vacation and you can do whatever you want.
It’s rare to find a set up quite so relaxed that also runs so ridiculously smoothly. And when you do the maths, it seems bonkers not to come here every summer, in fact it seems bonkers not to just move out here permanently and eat salt-baked seabass and salads with nasturtiums on top all day, every day, under the bluest sky.
Issy and her family at Quinta do Calma.
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