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Chilled Ibiza: Experience the Ultimate Sunset Mix

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The organic produce at HaSalon at The Piazza restaurant – helmed by Eyal Shani, the founding father of new Israeli cuisine – is sourced from the company’s farm outside Santa Gertrudis. It reminded me that even as one generation moans about how much more magical and idyllic Ibiza was in their day, successive generations are already finding new sources of magic and idyll. The dark-green hillsides dotted with farmhouses in the typical white- washed, cuboid style; the tiendas selling everything from sandals to sardines; the clouds of chalky dust that billowed up on the bumpy tracks among the pines. The old north-south divide is also increasingly redundant: you’re as likely to discover a cool boho scene among the glitz of the south as a whopping heavyweight resort on a wild northern beach. Meanwhile, the island continues to evolve, even if old-timers such as me sometimes have a hard time adjusting to the new realities.

I stood on my balcony and took in the sight below: a beauteous pool, bright young things lounging in swimwear, the gentle thud of house music. Along the road, sun-faded nightclub billboards advertising the closing parties of October 2019 seemed like messages from another world. Parts of my mental geography were virtually unrecognisable: Santa Gertrudis, in my day a one-horse hamlet with a couple of bars and a tobacconist, was now a fully grown town of done-up villas with a world-class cocktail bar, Overall, and Bottega il Buco, an outpost of New York restaurateur Donna Lennard’s Il Buco, also found in NoHo and the Hamptons. I went there for dinner one evening with Serena Cook who, after almost 20 years at the helm of Ibiza’s most creative concierge business, has her finger firmly on the island’s pulse, can always get the best tables and is the keyholder to some of the most special villas around. I cast myself off a rugged slab into water as intensely blue as turquoise ink and somehow viscous, so swimming in it felt languid and sensuous.Though it looks fresh, Oku is in fact based on the footings of a former three-star stay, a humble bucket-and-spader dating from the package-tour boom of the 1970s. Few places on the planet have undergone changes as sweeping, as transformative, both for good and ill, as Ibiza. I wandered around in a mild aesthetic trance, registering the twisted wooden gates between stone walls, the aroma of jasmine, the flame-thrower blasts of bougainvillaea against the white façade turned ultraviolet by the midday sun. The makeover by Dutch interior designer Carmen Straatsma is an exercise in balancing contemporary taste with an injection of personality. The great dome of Privilege up on the heights of San Rafael looked forlorn and unkempt, the encroaching vegetation making it appear like a Mayan ruin in the early stages of being reclaimed by the jungle.

Not to be missed are the multicoloured installation by artist Miranda Makaroff and chef Jean Imbert’s avocado dish – it’s oven-baked and delicious. It’s a story I’ve told before: for 10 years I lived in an old casa payesa in Sant Vicent de sa Cala at a time (the 1990s) when rent was as cheap as chips, smartphones and the internet hadn’t happened yet, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a good hotel on the island.Meanwhile, it’s drawn in more bohemian creatives such as Patricia Marañón, a floral designer working with organic and wild blooms, and her friend Laura de Grinyo, a ceramicist inspired by the forms of classic ibicenco pottery. You might find a sparkly W hotel in a bustling little town never previously noted for its glamour (Santa Eulalia).

Six Senses Ibiza is certainly big and opulent, and involves a massive investment by a powerful international brand, but having visited on the eve of its opening, I’m happy to report that the alarm is mostly unjustified. The funky chairs beside the pool are not from a big-name Scandinavian brand but handmade by artisans in Papua New Guinea. Booked out well before it opened, this much-talked- about arrival is drawing hordes of wellness-focused travellers to the north of the island. Or a smart seaside hotspot such as Beachouse at the scrappy end of Playa d’en Bossa, where the large Ushuaïa and Hard Rock Hotels fizzle out into overgrown waste ground and car parks.I committed it to memory as I set off to catch my flight with the salt still drying on my skin: ‘Accept, and let it go. Another example of this is Petunia, where I stopped one evening for dinner on a terrace with mesmeric views of the rocky islet Es Vedrà.

And with Hilton’s Curio Collection no longer running the show, the Experimental Group has taken over, opening a recharged restaurant designed by Dorothée Meilichzon this summer and bedrooms next year.The original fixer for anything you want organised while in Ibiza, from villas to chefs, drivers to yoga teachers. With rustic rattan, washed-out linen and sandy floors, Jondal, on the cala of the same name, is Ibiza’s restaurant of the moment, no contest. On the night I was there, drinking cold fino sherry and nibbling burrata with olives and juicy figs, the soundtrack was a Brazilian guitarist playing soft bossa nova. La Torre is not the only delicious makeover of a tired hostel – look at Los Enamorados in Portinatx, the delightful waterside bolthole curated by design freaks Pierre Traversier and Rozemarijn de Witte. From a hardscrabble peasant economy to one of the world’s wealthiest enclaves in the space of 60 years.

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