– follow Julian –www.sxmusicfestival.com
Julian, thank you so much for being a part of A Hotel Life as a Featured Insider! We’ve very exciting about the upcoming SXMusic Festival. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. None of us have ever had a normal job, really. We build businesses from passion, social missions or to facilitate our lifestyle. I’ve worked in real estate, made music and opened up cocktail bars. My family owns hotels, yoga studios, spas... fun things in general. The festival is the latest venture that was motivated from my love of Saint Martin and electronic music – plus a wider goal to rejuvenate the island’s tourism and boost its economy.
And tell us about SXMusic Festival. How did you come to be involved?
I grew up in Montreal and in 2004 we were looking for a retirement project for my parents, who were tired of the never ending winter. We came across The Mercure Hotel in Saint Martin, in the Caribbean. The rooms were old and it was generally run down, but somehow my dad saw potential in it, moved there and made his magic happen. It’s now a beautiful, successful hotel that runs perfectly. I used to go two or three times year – since it’s a short flight from Montreal – and it didn’t take me long to realize this place was built for parties – huge international airport, European vibe, affluent locals, huge beach clubs, reputation as a party island, half French so nude beaches and gastronomy, half dutch, so many clubs and casinos! People who come to SXM are very likely to make it a habit. Back in 2006, less people were willing to travel so far music festivals. Now with the recent rise in popularity of Burning Man and a host of amazing global destination festivals, there is a broader group of discerning music lovers who are adventurous and looking for a special festival experience they will travel long distances for. People are always looking for something new in our scene and the Caribbean is perhaps the last open market.
The setting for SXMusic is pretty magical…tell us a bit about how the Caribbean became the destination of choice?
Well apart from my family’s history with the place, I believe that Saint Martin is the best island in the Caribbean for several reasons. It’s a dual territory so there’s a mix of French and Dutch culture – with a Caribbean twist of course. It has 36 beautiful beaches and a fun-loving, party reputation, hotels, condos, cute homes and outrageous villas. It’s for wallet, affordable to very expensive, makes an interesting melting pot. It’s also safe and feels far from the worlds troubles! St-Barths is a 45 mins boat ride away with all the jumbo yachts and a concentration of billionaires. When you see the amount of Private jets at Princess Juliana it makes it pretty clear on the quantity of executives present. With having the second largest airport in the Caribbean, accessibility is the game changer. With many daily flights from huge key cities like Toronto, New York, Miami, Paris and Amsterdam people can easily access and exit the island. Every Caribbean island is beautiful in its own way – but SXM has the most perfect features for our festival.
Tell us about your perfect day in Saint Maarten (ie., everything we need to see, do and taste!).
You mean before I decided to organize the biggest event ever and ruin the last place on earth where I was able to relax, ha ha? I’ve spent so much time in Saint Martin, you would think I would get bored. But it still enchants and I have so many different experiences on different trips – each one seems to yield some kind of epiphany. A lot of new spots are opening these days as the island is in a boom. The perfect day for me tends to involve a boat, with a crew of great friends and a cooler filled with great food and wine. We swim, go snorkeling and end up at Long Bay to watch the most beautiful sunset. It’s majestic! Then there are so many things to do at night – dinner at Calmos Cafe in Grand Case, checking out some local reggae bands or splurge at the casino night. I also love to just head to a place to a beautiful place Loterie Farm and chill by the pool or sleep in the beautiful cabanas.
Any other music venues you’ve experienced in your day that were particularly special?
I’ve been lucky enough to experience some amazing venues around the world from North America to Europe and beyond, but I have to say the Loterie Farm, where will be hosting a special VIP Tropical Jungle party is still one of my favorites. It’s a secluded retreat with infinity pools, raised lounge huts / cabanas and wooden platforms overlooking the tropical splendor. It’s a stunning paradise with palm and mango trees, lush waterfalls and even roaming wildlife of beautiful birds, huge iguanas and cute monkeys!
What’s your favorite hotel in the world?
I’ve had many over the years. I love new, cool cutting edge hotels so one of my early favorites was the Mondrian. I’m a fan of aquariums so I really loved the lobby of the Gansevoort in Miami, although that has now become the stunning 1 Hotel. I love how some are frozen in time but are still chic like the Beverly Hills Hotel then again, I’ve never had as much fun staying in a hut in Tulum with no electricity!
Next trip on the books that you’re anticipating?
Barcelona for one month next summer. The lifestyle over there is just made for me. The old and the new, the mountain and the beach, the late night food and drinks with the historical heritage and the beauty of the architecture…I might never leave.
Where will you be on your next day off?
I’ll take my fiancé to St-Barths for a couple days after the festival to show appreciation for the patience she has had, enduring my relentless days of work for the past year. I love to take it easy and relax but my life is dictated by the projects that I take on. Usually I work very hard for a project and set it up for management. I’m a builder, not a day to day kind of guy. I don’t like routine so I build something, set it right, enjoy it and then search for the next inspiring thing to do. I’ve been running to a the pace of a different project a year for a while but this festival actually took 14 months to set up so I think I’ll give this one another year before I take something else, but I know myself to well enough to guaranty that, I might add something on the way!
Where will you be a few years from now?
Given all the opportunities in St-Martin i’ll probably still be there growing the festival. I love that idea but I honestly don’t have a clue. I somehow always end up pushing my limits by taking on projects in fields that I don’t know much from. I’ve learned to adapt very fast and I think that I’ve learned how to use all skills from other experiences and using them in new project. I usually try to think outside of the box and come up with new angles. With this mentality I could do anything. Life is an adventure, I’m all up for it!
If you could have a party and invite anyone, dead or alive, who would make the short list?
Without being morbid I’d go for the 27 club, that list of amazing musicians who tragically and bizarrely all died aged 27. I’m pretty sure Jimi Hendrix, Biggy Smalls, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain would all have a great time in Saint Martin. OK, maybe not Kurt, but you know what I’m saying.