Ibiza’s frantic nightlife has been the big draw for 25 years. But a new crop of rural retreats may change all that for good
to get people asking
us to put packages together that were club, club, club. Now, they say, ‘We don’t want to go clubbing every night. We want to go restaurants, beach resorts, spas.’ You see it with the young ones as well. They don’t want to smash it for seven days. They want to fall back and enjoy where Ibiza’s going.”
Charlie Chester is better placed than most to judge which way Ibiza will head. He runs concierge service Icon Ibiza, and has lived here for two decades. Five years ago, time-poor clients were asking him to organise seven consecutive nights’ clubbing. Judging by recent requests, the island’s taken a grown-up turn of late.
“No one seems to fall out of love with Ibiza,” he says. “In fact they fall more in love with it. So they’ll come back and hire a nanny. Childcare has exploded. We’ve got to find a nanny for a couple next week, and we’re going to struggle. It’s just so busy.”
He gestures to the tables around us. We’re sitting in Sands, a beach restaurant on the Playa d’en Bossa. Next to us, a group of women in their late thirties — all dark golden tans, big sunglasses and expensively highlighted hair — are having lunch. One dandles a baby on her knee. Another wraps a towel round her teenage daughter; they wear identical bikinis, though she’s thrown a cobwebby kaftan over hers.
At Can Lluc, just north
of San Rafael, similar scenes play out round the pool. A young Spanish couple is teaching their toddler to swim. A group of Brits commandeer a table on the terrace, salving their post-club torpor with coffee, croissants and tortilla, as their children streak around on the grass below. Beyond the pool, you can see the pine-clad hills and rolling farmland of the interior.
Can Lluc is one of the growing number of agroturismos in Ibiza — converted farms sunk deep in the countryside that offer slow food, spa treatments and a roster of family-friendly activities as standard. There’s Atzaro, a 300-year-old finca with a Balinese-style spa and a long green lap pool running through a colonnade of orange trees. Cas Gasi, a timber-beamed farmhouse just outside Santa Gertrudis that grows all its own food on the grounds. The Giri Residence, a five-bedroom bolthole that’s already been voted one of the 100 best hotels in the world.
They cater to the new breed of Ibiza hedonist; young enough to be lured to the clubs two nights out of five, old enough to appreciate good food, soft beds and the restorative powers of a really great massage.
“The island attracts a more adult clientele these days,” says Lars Holmes, owner of the Giri. “The mood is changing, but there’s still a feeling of anarchy, of madness. Ibiza is still hedonistic under the surface. It’s what people come for.”
Clearly, Ibiza’s febrile nightlife remains a huge draw. But the pace of life is slowing down, and increasingly, those who work the clubs are embracing the island’s spiritual side. Chester’s wife, DJ Jo Mills visits a hypnotherapist (who’s apparently inundated with famous clients) every month. DJs like Danny Rampling are now regulars at the spring boot camps. Low season, burnt-out promoters get their strength back at rural yoga retreats, or Atzaro’s Healing Ibiza events, which offer residents free reflexology and reiki sessions.
Visitors are now following suit. James Davis is owner of M Wellness, a spa in Santa Eulalia. He runs fitness camps and has seen steady growth in clients coming to Ibiza to detox, counterintuitive as that may sound: “The island has so much natural beauty and healthy living to offer. People are switching onto that. There are a lot of alternative holistic therapies here. It’s almost like Ibiza has a healthy spirit yin to balance the hedonistic yang.”
It’s a balance the island’s government has had to come to terms with. For some time, it’s been trying to attract a more mature, high-spending holidaymaker. Cue draconian moves like demanding clubs close by 6am, and some fanfare over Samantha Cameron being spotted at the 2010 closing parties. But Ibiza is hard to tame (local police got chased out of DC10 a couple of years back when they tried to shut proceedings early) and house music remains the heartbeat of the island.
The government has now reached an armistice with the clubs here, and accepted that the current crop of agroturismos will do probably more to tempt families over than any drastic legislation. Change has happened organically. That acid house veterans should want to come back, and bring their young families along, should be taken as eloquent testament to the grip Ibiza gets on people’s hearts. The island will continue to grow old disgracefully. And that’s really no bad thing. - email@example.com
All Points North: Where to go for the grown-up experience
- Cas Gasi (Camino Viejo de Sant Mateu, casgasi.com) The terracotta-tiled farmhouse grows its own almonds, figs and lemons, and presses its own olive oil. Rooms are rustic chic, with huge bathrooms and four-poster beds.
- Can Lluc (07816 Sant Rafel, canlluc.com). Hidden down a dust-track that’s used as a thoroughfare by local goats, but still in striking distance of Amnesia and Privilege. Book into Room 10, which is tucked away in the eaves and has its own private terrace.
Drink: Hotel Hacienda (Buzón 11, Na Xamena, hotelhacienda-ibiza.com) is perched on the northern coast — the best looking end of Ibiza. Grab a drink on the terrace (served with a plate of salted almonds and fat green olives) and watch the sunset over the Na Xamena cliffs.
Eat: Café Giri (Plaza España 5, San Juan, cafe.thegiri.com) serves seasonal food made with local ingredients on a shady, tree-lined terrace. Go for lobster and black rice, followed by orange cake with almond ice cream.