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Ibiza, a playground for the world’s elite, continually reinvents itself. The island’s allure is different for everyone, finds intrepid travel consultant and writer Timmy Coles-Liddle
It is high up from above that we first spot the rocky islet of Es Vedrá, a magical sculpture protruding high above the Mediterranean Sea like a jagged mountain that has pierced the dead-still water.
But it is the history and buzz of Ibiza that is the real reason thousands of travellers flock to this archipelago of four islands – Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera – all year, not just in the balmy summer months.
Indeed, it is between October and April that an altogether different adventure can be experienced.
Head north to the distinctly Ibicencan village of Sant Joan and stroll through the lively hippy market on a Sunday. Artists, jewellers and musicians mingle, whilst entrepreneurial millennials devour acai bowls and chia smoothies.
Just like a once-well-known actor, Ibiza majestically and continually reinvents itself. Back in the 1970s, Princess Grace of Monaco honeymooned here. The world’s elite soon followed. The island’s allure is different for everyone.
Long, lazy lunches gazing into the endless azure waters precede vibrant nights. Detox and yoga retreats are now a popular attraction, and a food movement pioneered by a group of visionary gourmands is taking shape.
A little-known lady of American origin, Annie Sijmonsbergen, must take at least some credit for this change. Sijmonsbergen can lay claim to the wildly successful ‘The Ibiza Cookbook’, and just last summer launched a new restaurant.
El Portalon, set in an ancient townhouse tucked behind the imposing walls of Dalt Vila (the Old Town), is simply gorgeous. Hot-pink bougainvillea clings tightly to 500-year-old walls; a large cobbled terrace is shaded by a gnarled vine. Melt-in-the-mouth sea bass and octopus is washed down with pale-pink rosé.
In nearby Talamanca, a much-anticipated new resort is ruffling feathers among the island’s hoteliers. Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, launched in June 2017, has 152 rooms and suites, with a dedicated adults-only section, and offers unrivalled views south across the Mediterranean. Indeed, Nobu’s most experienced teams from Malibu and Miami jetted in to oversee the launch and offer support.
Sleek new hangout Rehab is next door while some of the best fish on the island can be eaten at Fish Shack, an uber-relaxed café-hut, a short stroll away. The design aesthetic here is elegant and bright.
Over by the main pool, cream cushions sit proudly on smart wooden daybeds, while large cotton drapes billow in the gentle breeze. The hotel’s four restaurants include an outpost of Japanese favourite Nobu; Chambao, a chiringuito or “beach shack” serving authentic Spanish tapas and larger plates; Peyotito, a modern Mexican café using authentic, seasonal Spanish ingredients; and a gluten-free café, Celicioso.
A quick peep at one of the impressive 1,200-sq-m junior suites, equipped with a private rooftop and dining area, was enough to reassure that guests are in for a luxurious holiday during their visit early next year.
Those seeking an altogether stripped-back, rustic-luxe retreat in tune with its surroundings, can visit the newly launched La Granja, nestled within the immaculate vineyard terraces of San Mateu. A centuries-old finca has slowly been meticulously and fanatically reinterpreted as a 10-bedroom farmhouse and two-bedroom guesthouse, whilst being mindful of the building’s history.
Unlike any other establishment, La Granja is run by a community of likeminded individuals who seek to better the environment through forward-thinking, socially-conscious work. Bold claims.
We enjoyed two glorious days by the cobalt blue swimming pool earlier this year, surrounded by acres and acres of lush pine forest. Together with a focus on music, art, mindfulness and gastronomy, this place is seriously cool and a visit is mandatory.
About a 15-minute drive from Ibiza Town will take you to Can Miquel Guasch, home to an extraordinary boutique vineyard and in-house farm and gift shop, selling everything organic from homegrown fruit, vegetables and olive oil to candles and wine. However, it is the beautifully designed restaurant Ses Escoles, complete with traditional Sabina-beamed ceilings and exposed stone brickwork that is the real draw here. The jolly team dish up modern Spanish fusion specialities paired with biodynamic local beverages.
Ca’Na Xica, a boutique agroturismo set deep in the countryside in Sant Miquel, saw the addition of 12 one-bedroom suites back in 2015 and the introduction of a dedicated spa. Each spacious suite has been thoughtfully designed and blends traditional Ibicencan brick walls with ultra-contemporary architecture. Indeed, the poppy-blue swimming pool must be one of the longest on the island.
Just down the road from Sant Miquel, and with an imminent launch date, a new concept in organic, home-farmed dining and chilling will be unveiled. Los Patios, a private club and the brainchild of serial entrepreneur and philanthropist David Leppan, will welcome boho foodie-lovers to its tranquil, olive tree-filled terraces.
It’ll take a while to sample the culinary delights of the many restaurants, rustic bar, bakery and gift shop, so pencil a whole afternoon in your diary.
Back in the other direction, and just a little further up the road, gently climbing the mountain in the picturesque village of Sant Joan, The Giri Café is well worth a visit. Cave-like internal dining areas and a beautiful, olive tree-filled garden make a special hangout to enjoy modern Spanish meals, healthy grills and uber-fresh cold-pressed juices.
Spend a night or two in one of five beautifully appointed suites at chilled sister, The Giri Residence, just up the road, which has a seriously cool wellness spa and in-house restaurant whose chef will whizz up your favourite dish and serve it to you and your guests wherever you like. Splendid stuff.
Designed as a village retreat, and replacing a tired existing hotel complex, set amongst 50,000 sq m of indigenous lush pine trees, and with awe-inspiring views of the eponymous rock Es Vedrá, 7 Pines Resort launched earlier this year is home to 186 independent, one and two–bedroom suites, two superb restaurants and four bars, each with staggering sea views.
Guests can tuck into wild red snapper with fennel pureé and crispy Iberico pancetta, whilst sipping on raw, cold-pressed juices handmade with local Ibicencan fruits.
The design aesthetic here is altogether pared back and sparse, blending light mauve and grey pastel upholstery with classic, white-washed walls. Each suite has a private terrace; guest relations can be contacted via a handy app, alleviating the necessity to wait for room service to answer the telephone.
Pure Seven, the resort’s very own medical spa, one of the few newly built structures not in the original footprint, possesses a whopping 1,500-sq-m home and shares its holistic, rebalancing treatments and a unique range of organic, handmade products using local ingredients.
During my visit in October, I was privy to a mesmerisingly brilliant deep tissue massage administered by the capable Sonia. From February 2019, after a few modifications, the resort will be open all year. It is a seriously cool addition to the island’s luxury hotel outlook. Indeed, not since Ibiza Gran Hotel spectacularly opened over a decade ago have I seen something so intriguing, so marvellous.
Like most, it’s from the air that I first spotted Tagomago almost 10 years ago. Now, here I am in the glorious October sunshine, being greeted with typical Ibicencan warmth at Pou des Léo, a little jetty near Santa Eulàlia, by bubbly Natalia and captain Andrés. Not entirely brand new but totally reimagined in 2014, and with some of the most enviable panoramas in the Mediterranean, this 148-acre, off-the-radar private island, just 10 miles off the west coast of Ibiza, is most definitely noteworthy.
As we tether up, the island’s majestic 33-m Mangusta yacht bobs up and down gently, glistening proudly above the cobalt blue water. We meander up a gentle hill and observe the island’s single elegant-contemporary villa, standing boldly, which houses five bright suites, each with show-stopping floor-to-ceiling windows and sublime views.
A team of polished staff was just about visible during our visit, delicately prepping the property and its rugged grounds for its next arrival with minimum fuss. The island can now be let on an exclusive-use basis for three nights, but can also be taken for a week or more.
I bid farewell knowing I’ll return soon and can’t help but be reminded of terrific Thanda Island, in the Indian Ocean, and its distinctly decadent allure.
• Timmy Coles-Liddle is the founder of NINE, a private concierge club, providing tailored travel solutions to individuals and families globally. Instagram: @nine____timmy
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