If there is one destination that calls to me every year, it’s the Balearic isle of Ibiza. Now affirmed lovers of Ibiza’s laid-back scene, each spring my friends and I start to feel the urge to book.
The destination cries out to us, much like the ancient sirens of Homer’s epic poems, said to have dwelled on the mysterious rock Es Vedra, off Ibiza’s Southwest coast. And before we know it, yet again we have sorted our pilgrimage to the white isle.
Ever knowing we could have journeyed to many other climes in place of these trips, the island’s magnetic pull has drawn us back religiously for the past eight years, turning our annual trip into something more akin to a ritual.
Yet these ritualistic jaunts have grown up alongside us. And nothing beats getting to the core of a destination and watching it grow. The initial visits of our early twenties, with the obligatory all-nighters and 5pm meal of breakfast, lunch and dinner – wrapped into one, happily now seem like fond, distant memories.
Safely in our thirties, we want to enjoy Ibiza in a different way – sunlight breakfasts, boutique browsing, dips in the med and glamourous seaside suppers. As tastes have matured, our trips have naturally led us to discover a more sophisticated side of the island, where senses can be spoilt with the finest of cuisine, mixology, accommodation, entertainment, spas, shopping and beachlife.
ARRIVING IN STYLE
One of Ibiza’s blessings is the short flight, at just over two hours. Still, you’ll want to board the plane with at least a modicum of composure, so the best way to start an Ibiza break is with an airport lounge. The Escape Lounge at Stansted offers a calm sanctuary away from the hordes of holiday-makers. Enjoy a glass of chilled white and some delicious nibbles, as you gaze at planes taking off for a relaxing hour or two.
Want to impress your party with a restaurant that flaunts the wow factor in spades? Book Bambuddha in Santa Eulalia for your first night in Ibiza. Having flown in late this year, we whisked ourselves off to this temple of Zen on evening one. Three conjoining dining spaces, resplendent with Buddha statues and palms, look on to a candle-lit courtyard, creating a dinner backdrop that would feel at home in Hollywood. It’s impossible to experience anything other than thrilling anticipation, as you are led to your table. The crowd is pure Balearic cool – families, friends and couples alike and no one’s in a rush to leave. Cuisine is pan-Asian and diners are best choosing a selection of sharing platters. Recommendations include the Atlantic French baby scallops, soft shell crab, soba salad, duck confit curry, Japanese Beef Carpaccio and Gyozas Mu Nam Prik – grilled and steamed Chinese dumplings filled with Iberian pork. To drink, order an Ibiza Summer – a cocktail of Champagne, lime, basil, cinnamon and strawberry. And don’t forget to stroll to the shop for a few fun surprises at the end of the evening.
Want to experience some island history? Book a table at Las Dos Lunas, the peaceful courtyard Italian restaurant that’s been serving plates to the Ibiza’s chicest since 1981. Soft lighting, bougainvillea, delicate cuisine and impeccable service characterised our visit. We over ordered, so slowly indulged on baked aubergines Parmigiana style to start, followed by Pappardelle al telefono, scallops with truffle, Tiramisú and double chocolate mousse – all of which were divine. Las dos Lunas’s stylish boutique (to peruse between courses), plus extra touches, such as offering pashminas to anyone feeling a slight breeze, make this eatery a fail-safe bet for a dazzling night.
The only way to observe the island is to hire a car. Take in the breath-taking North, with its mountainous roads, forests and expansive beaches. Pull up at will – say at the serene agriturismo Atzaro, stop to buy gifts at cool concept stores Sluiz and Cocoq or perhaps to chill at beaches Cala Llonga or Cala Llenya. And a day trip to Formentera is also a must – the Caribbean sand and turquoise waters of Platje de ses Illetes make the jam-packed ferry ride more than worth it.
But evenings must still focus on the glamour, as this is Ibiza we are talking about, after all. Lio is where the island’s elite gather, to feast and sip in opulent surrounds, overlooking the superyachts of Marina Botafoch, while an opulent cabaret plays out. Walking in, past the Giuseppe Zanotti ‘shoetique’ I realised how much Ibiza has grown up with us – as the now glorious Lio, was once a haven of hedonism – club El Divino. The makeover is indeed stunning.
And if heading to Lio, ladies should book a blowdry to truly look the part with the best hairdressers on the island, Blowout. Either book a mobile appointment or visit their pop up at hotel Midjourn in Playa d’En Bossa.
For the best sounds of the island, get acquainted with the talented family of house, Defected. With residency Defected In The House every Tuesday on Amnesia’s Terrace, my friends and I enjoyed a VIP vista of the stage from a risen terrace, listening for a few hours to the sounds of house legends Sonny Fodera, Franky Rizardo and the awesome Sam Divine, who also hosts Defected’s weekly podcasts.
Friday’s Glitterbox at Space was created to appeal to the seasoned clubber, sampling sounds of classic house and disco. We escaped the crowds with the luxury of a table, from which we could watch all the fun from an overhanging balcony. Fat Boy Slim offered up his fat selection of disco classics for us to boogie to, leading us to reminisce more than just a little about past fun.
For a truly laid back evening with Balearic beats, always head to Café Mambo – where the cocktail menu always compliments the head-turning grooves. Watch the sun set and for the full experience.
Chic Ibiza is the only firm that offers a selection of the island’s best villas, together with unparalleled, in-depth team knowledge of the destination, gathered over 25 collective years. The company, which regularly hosts celebrities in its exclusive hideaways, also offers a concierge service to sort boats, cars, tables, nannies, masseuses, weddings or whatever your heart may desire. Chic Ibiza also works with the fabulous catering firm Dalilicious – perfect for bespoke in-villa dining. Book Miles and Marquito for one of their famous BBQs.
Or prefer to have someone else make the bed and cook you breakfast? Then always opt for Hotel Es Vive, in Figueretas. With its art deco façade, heart-stoppingly gorgeous white courtyard, glamourous roof terrace bar and haute cuisine restaurant DECO, there’s a reason the cool crowd flock back to stay every year.
A spa is now a holiday treat for my friends and – something we often pre-book from the UK. And Ibiza herself is a queen of spas, with more than 10 upscale retreats on the island. Arguably the coolest new opening this year is Rock Spa, set in the centre of the shiny new Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, in Playa d’En Bossa. The spa consists of the usual hot beds, steam, sauna, jets and jacuzzis, but perhaps most glorious is its outdoor pool, which nestles in the hotel’s circular centre. Watch planes fly overhead whilst seated on a bubble bed, where you can also top up your tan (safely!). Have muscles worked by therapists in the tranquil spa rooms, or choose from a selection of other reasonably-priced treatments available. After basking on gorgeous Missoni print sofas, taking in the cool purple and white colour scheme and pop art in reception, it’s certain you will emerge feeling like a rock star. Oh and did I mention you can order-in cocktails? Just better make them healthy ones…
Or try the Clarins Revival Spa at the five-star Aguas de Ibiza Hotel in Santa Eularia. An oasis of calm set over 1,500 square metres, on entering we couldn’t help but slip onto a more peaceful wavelength. Rotating between indoor and outdoor day beds, a circular Feng Shui pool, warm and hot spa pools, a Turkish sauna and Hamman, Swedish sauna, Scottish showers and plunge pool, it’s easy to lose a few hours here. Having snacked on apples and thirst quenched by the best herbal teas I’ve tasted, we walked out semi trance-like, yet feeling cleansed and soothed. This spa is a great ritual for the last day of any Ibiza trip, to fly home on a high.
Flights to Ibiza start from around £143 this September, searching on travel site momondo.co.uk.
(Price true as of 27 Aug.15).
Words by Leila Stocker.