I returned to Ibiza in May this year for a mini-break with my hubby, sans enfants. It was still as magical as I remembered it to be. There’s something about the island that, for me, is incredibly magnetic and I had been yearning for years to go back. It didn’t disappoint. The White Isle still had plenty to offer a couple of 40+ year-olds looking for a bit of R&R in luxurious surroundings with the added opportunity to re-live our clubbing days.
When I excitedly informed friends and family that we were headed to Ibiza as a treat for our upcoming wedding anniversary, a few of them regarded me incredulously, “Ibeefa???” I think, like many, their perception of the island had been marred by the Ibiza Uncovered programme of the late 90s and the Kevin and Perry Go Large film that followed. But Ibiza is so much more than a party destination where people go to get wrecked on a week of back-to-back clubbing.
In fact, the island has matured in a way that makes it a perfect haven for us discerning 40-somethings. Ibiza offers the glamour and sophistication we often head to London to gorge upon, but within a dazzling, Mediterranean setting and a laid-back, captivating environment.
Here’s 10 reasons why I will be returning next year (and maybe the year after, and the year after that..):
People go to Ibiza to have a good time – whether it’s the clubbers, the power players or the hippies – and you can literally feel it. The island just oozes feel-good vibes. There’s an air of hedonism and decadence… encouraging you to kick-back the minute you step off the plane. I love the element of ‘anything goes’. I’m a bit too self-conscious and restrained to fully embrace it these days, but the chilled-out atmosphere warms and soothes my soul.
Ibiza is breathtakingly and diversely beautiful with traditional whitewashed villages such as Santa Gertrudis and Sant Josep, pine forests, stunning sunsets and magical spots like Es Vedra which is said to be the tip of the sunken civilisation of Atlantis.
Eating out in Ibiza is now as much of a lure as the clubs, with famous chefs and pop-up restaurants providing a gastro scene on a par the major cities. The array of dining options is tremendous; traditional tavernas, trendy beach-side cafes, rural restaurants or glamorous, Miami-esque hot spots. I ate the best-ever sushi at Nikki Beach and devoured a classic, melt-in-your-mouth chateaubriand at La Casita in Cala Llonga.
We stayed at the ME Hotel set in the tranquil bay of Cala Martina, just north of Santa Eulalia. Everything from the decor, to the food and service was faultless. My highlights were the view from the rooftop bar, the superb breakfasts and the daily yoga sessions overlooking the sea. The pool area was uber-relaxing (no kids!) and the DJs created an amazing vibe.
There are many fabulous beach clubs in Ibiza. From the small and picturesque El Chiringuito at Cala Gracioneta to the more upscale Amante and Blue Marlin. There’s nothing better than feasting on a Mediterranean lunch, washed down with a few cocktails, then relaxing on a daybed while a DJ serenades your siesta. Heaven on earth.
Ibiza old town
I adore the narrow, winding, cobbled streets of the old town decorated with dashes of vibrant colour from the Bougainvillea bushes. It buzzes at night-time with the restaurant terraces at full capacity. We had huge plates of Mexican-inspired tapas at La Mezcaleria in the heart of the old town. It goes without saying that the shopping here is to die for, from boutiques and hippy market stalls to all the mainstream Spanish brands.
Wherever we went, music filled the air. From the taxi driver blasting local radio, to the pool-side DJ at our hotel, to the bars along Marina Botafoch, music plays such a prominent role. And it wasn’t just cliché, upbeat dance tracks but cool DJ mixes comprising old-skool tunes, Balearic chill-out beats and classy, club classics.
A refuge from Franco’s reign in the 50s, a hippy hangout in the 60s, the opening of the first discos in the 70s, and then home to the 80s & 90s house & rave scenes, I love the fact that Ibiza has been a mecca for freedom- and fun-seekers from around the world for decades.
From vast stretches of white, powdery sand to rustic, pine-clad, pebbly bays there is a boundless variety of unique bathing spots, all surrounded by crystal clear waters. You can choose from seaside glamour and people-watching locations to total seclusion in the many hidden, tricky-to-reach coves.
Last, but not least, the club scene. People travel from all across the globe to dance in the super clubs to the best DJs on the planet until sunrise and beyond. We knew we wanted one night ‘out, out’ and so we chose Space as 2016 marks the final year of this seminal club. I bloody loved it. Fuelled by an Espresso Martini and a couple of rum & cokes, I danced my socks off until the wee hours.