Get into the Ibiza groove: Why British families are heading to the White Isle

Ibiza is known for partying, but good schools, warm weather and smart new homes are attracting British families, says Cathy Hawker
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This is where the beautiful people go to party. The Spanish Balearic island of Ibiza was colonised by hippies in the Sixties but it has spent the past 20 years trading on its pulsating club scene and celebrity DJs, attracting a wealthy crowd and rivalling St Tropez for out-and-out glamour.

This summer's visitor numbers were 25 per cent up on those recorded in 2009 – and new levels of excess were on display, too. Wealthy visitors, many of them Russians, lined up to pay £21,800 for a week's villa hire and dropped £3,000 for a prime table at the nightclub Pacha.

But away from the sleek yachts and gleaming Ferraris, there is another side to the island. With its end-of-season parties over, the pace slows, the beaches clear and its rural beauty emerges.

Ibiza's property prices are the most buoyant in Spain. Figures from the estate agent Engel & Volkers show that prime seafront properties are selling strongest, registering a 10 per cent increase since January 2010, and that Britons account for 40 per cent of buyers.

"Ibiza is considered the place to be seen," Natascha Sandig, of Aylesford International, says. "Its government has taken the island upmarket since 2003, encouraging four-and five-star hotels and restricting development."

The result is a sophisticated, yet relaxed, island where bohemian millionaires in flip-flops live in exclusive whitewashed villas hidden down bumpy, unmade roads. Sant Antoni, on the island's west coast, (better known to hedonistic holidaymakers as San Antonio) is noisy and built up and best avoided unless you enjoy the mass-market crowd. But elsewhere there's a wide selection of waterfront apartments, contemporary white villas and rural fincas (typical farmhouses).

Expect to pay from £191,700 for a basic holiday apartment and from £305,000 for a modern, two-bedroom apartment in Ibiza Town.

The steep cliffs and unspoilt pine forests of the north tend to attract older buyers who want a little more peace. The bustle and clubs of Ibiza Town are up to 45 minutes away, so the area is not ideal for the party crowd.

"The diversity of Ibiza is special," Philip Gould, of Engel & Volkers, says. "There is some of the best nightlife in the world, yet in the north you wake up to birdsong and the smell of rosemary."

Close to Cala Llonga and Santa Eulalia on the east coast, a stunning six-bedroom villa with exceptional sea views is on the market for £1.78m. It currently rents for up to £8,000 a week.

Prices peak around Es Cubells, including Cala Jondal, where Blue Marlin, Ibiza's chicest beach club, attracts Hollywood A-listers such as Kate Moss and Leonardo DiCaprio. In the south-west, some 30 minutes from Ibiza Town, a smart three-bedroom townhouse, with a communal pool and gym, in a newly completed development at Cala Carbo is on sale through Aylesford for £635,400.

The central village of Santa Gertrudis, with its pretty yellow-and-white buildings and nearby international school, is in an area of agricultural land stuffed with fig and almond trees.

Fincas are proving popular with buyers seeking more cosiness than stark, minimalist villas provide. Such properties, provided they have some land, start from £1.3m. A well-presented seven-bedroom finca in Santa Gertrudis is on sale for £1.65m with Aylesford. Included in the price is a two-bedroom guesthouse.

The garden boasts olive and orange trees and a large pool with distant views to the sea, while inside there are beamed ceilings, big fireplaces and Moorish-style doors.

Aylesford International (020 7349 5100; and Engel & Volkers (+39 971 311 336; www.engelvoelkers. com).

The island experience

Advertising executive Tom Hoddell left his job to renovate a six-bedroom finca above Cala Jondal beach with his brother, and rents it out for up to £11,000 a week. Tom now develops property on Ibiza, living near Santa Gertrudis, with his wife, Chantal, and son, Noah, two ."Ibiza is full of interesting, creative people," says Hoddell. "There's a sexiness here that I think St Tropez had in the Seventies, which is attractive whatever age you are. There are 80 beaches within 25 minutes of my house and many different facets to the island, from the buzzy south to the fantastic nature in the north." His finca was rented for 24 weeks this year but he says 12 is the most that could be achieved in the north. "Tourism figures were excellent this summer, flight access is improving and the planning rules show the government is determined to preserve the island." Rent his finca through