A raft of new glitzy hotels may have stamped their mark on the island, but when it comes to luxury, the Ibiza Gran remains the A-lister’s hotel of choice
In the 1960s, Ibiza was a bohemian’s Mecca, a fun-loving, free-thinking place where hippies gathered in circles around fires to watch sunsets from the beach. Over four decades, the outdoor party scene evolved, went mainstream and created the type of mega-clubs that the island is more associated with today.
Recently, a spate of luxury hotel openings – The Ushuaïa Tower, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, Sir Joan, Aguas de Ibiza, Hard Rock Hotel, ME Hotel, et al – has meant that Eivissa, to give the island its Catalanname, has gone upmarket. Between May and September, nowadays, the White Isle is a hub for the super rich. Despite this, Ibiza still boasts only one five-star ‘grand luxe’ hotel – the highest rank of hotel in Spain.
Located in Ibiza Town, opposite Marina Botafoch, where multi-million pound superyachts bob to and fro, Ibiza Gran was for years the only option for someone looking to enjoy the island’s hedonistic opportunities while staying somewhere that was truly luxurious. Let’s start with the lobby. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve entered a museum of modern art. On top of polished white floors, marble columns extend six storeys up. The space is open and bright and there is artwork everywhere. From a white stone boulder by the cigarette dispenser, to a floating woollen installation hanging from the middle of the ceiling. Clean lines, dark woods, minimal use of colour – the hotel has a Japanese feel to it.
There are 157 suites and no ‘standard’ rooms. Starting from a Junior Suite (which has a whirlpool bath next to the king-size bed), the rooms extend up to the Gran Suites (three variations). The Gran Suite Isla Blanca and Dalt Vila are the largest at 150m², with their own pools, private terraces, solariums and exceptional vantage points across the island.
I’m staying in the Suite – a 60m² room with a comfortable living room, a round indoor Jacuzzi, a large terrace with day beds and impressive views of the city and port of Ibiza. Lots of pale wood and a white colour scheme create a feeling of Zen, especially when laying in the Jacuzzi with the terrace doors open looking out to sea. Rather than traditional dressing gowns, the hotel provides kimonos – another Japanese-inspired theme.
Where Ibiza Gran led the way in luxury accommodation on the island, it continues to do so in its culinary offering. Breakfast is served buffet-style – if that buffet had been put together by Willy Wonka. Across multiple stations, staff prepare made-to-order omelettes, pancakes and waffles, with a team carving the finest Jamón Ibérico into shiny, fatty wafers. To top it all off, a chocolate fountain cascades its silky-smooth wares. Each morning, my plate is a smorgasbord of different types of cuisine. One morning I spy former Formula One boss Bernie Eccleston looking at my plate (and glass of Champagne). Was he impressed? Was he disgusted? I guess we’ll never know.
Poolside, Ibiza Gran serves things like grilled octopus salad and tuna tartar – a perfect complement to the hot weather. (There’s also a sunglass-cleaning service.) The showstopper restaurant, however, is the Japeruvian La Gaia. Headed up by Óscar Molina, La Gaia, with its wasabi martinis, is mind-blowing from the off. Peru and Japan collide on Molina’s menu – which comes with a helpful glossary of terms: Zapallo, a term to designate pumpkin in ancient Inca; Shoyu, Japanese for soy sauce. I start the meal with a Hamachi ceviche, followed by John Dory with ají chilli pepper crumble and kumquat. Next up is the shrimp tempura – with batter so light it dissolves as it touches my tongue – followed by octopus with sweet potato dices flavoured with lemon verbena honey and an olive mousse. I’m much more of a savoury person, but the desserts hit a sweet spot for me. A sweet caramel mousse, a foam of Iberian herbs, a chocolate moulded into the shape of a carob tree and a minty, fennel jelly finish off the meal. It’s no surprise that, at the time of writing, La Gaia was reportedly on the verge of gaining its first Michelin star.
The next day I pay a visit to the Open Spa for an After Party Detox (a mineral mud treatment and an orange and mimosa oil massage). Such therapy would have many a partygoer reenergised and ready to hit the night spots. I, however, will be by Ibiza Gran’s top deck swimming pool, sipping on a frosted glass of Rosé, wondering which celebrity I’m going to spot next.