Get into the Ibiza groove
The summer party season is under way on the White Isle – and there are hedonistic holiday options to suit all budgets, says Sara Lawrence
Wednesday 22 June 2011
What's the attraction?
The spiritual home of dance music is well into its summer groove. The annual International Music Summit last month launched a summer of glamorous crowds, all-day beach parties and heady nights spent listening to the hottest tunes in the best clubs.
But it's not all dancing and partying – as David and Samantha Cameron's recent family holiday at a private villa near Santa Eulalia showed. The most hedonistic of the Balearic Islands is also protected by Unesco for its Phoenician-Carthaginian history and marine biodiversity. There are also gentler recreational and sporting activities available – horse riding, yoga, secluded beaches – as well as quiet hotels and luxury villas where relaxation is paramount. But if it's a party lifestyle you seek, you don't need the deep pockets of a superstar DJ or PM; there is plenty to satisfy the thrifty thrill-seeker, too.
Live like a local
Basing yourself at a villa gives you the freedom to experience the "White Isle" at your own pace, to cook fresh, local produce and to have a peaceful hideaway to retreat to after a big night out. At the Finca Grande, just outside the port of Santa Eulalia, you can live the rockstar dream without paying high hotel prices.
The spacious traditional-style house sleeps eight. Situated on the top of a hill near a pine forest, it has a pool, outside dining area, kitchen and barbecue, all surrounded by rosemary bushes. A week's rental through Coastline Villas (0844 5571020; www.coastline.co.uk) starts at £887 per person, which includes flights from Gatwick, car hire for the group, a welcome hamper and the daily delivery of newspapers, bread and pastries.
Cheaper options are offered by Ibiza Summer Villas (00 34 971 319 971; www.ibizasummervillas.com); for example, a four-bedroom villa in Ibiza Town for €463 per person a week in July and August, excluding flights. An apartment sleeping four in Ibiza Town is available for €275 per person during the same period.
The online portal 9Flats ( www.9flats.com) lists private rentals such as a modern three-bedroom apartment outside Ibiza Town for €37 per person per night.
Beds and beats
Ibiza's hottest new venue, the Ushuaia Beach Hotel (00 34 902 42 42 52; www.ushuaiabeachhotel.com), opened in Playa d'en Bossa at the end of last month. It is sandwiched between Ibiza's biggest beach and legendary dance club Space. With a Miami Beach vibe, the 236-room hotel is 24-hour party central. There's a huge stage in the 5,000-capacity poolside courtyard and podium dancers in the pool itself, not to mention a recording studio and quirky touches such as plastic bottom-shaped seats and the Pioneer Suite, kitted out with the latest DJ equipment. Every room has a balcony where you can watch the acts away from the crowds – this is not the place to come for quiet downtime, although the music does move inside to a sound-proofed clubroom at midnight.
If your budget doesn't stretch to the €300-plus per night room rate, you can buy tickets to watch acts playing in the poolside area for €30 per person. David Guetta held his album launch here and Luciano played the opening night. Rihanna, Eminem and Fergie are also expected to perform over the summer.
No visit to Ibiza is complete without a long, sangria-soaked lunch at the Jockey Club restaurant on Salinas beach (00 34 971 395 788; www.jockeyclubibiza.com). Sit at tables on the terrace eating sublime seafood with views of the turquoise sea and know that you are indeed living the dream.
Later, head to San Antonio for a few cocktails at the neighbouring venues of Café del Mar (00 34 971 342 516) and Café Mambo (00 34 971 346 638; www.cafemamboibiza.com), the island's legendary sunset chill-out bars. Order a jug of sangria (€20) or buy a few beers or a bottle of wine in one of the nearby supermarkets and sit on the rocks beneath the bars to watch the sky turn pink while listening to great tunes.
Inland, there are no door charges at Aura in San Lorenc (00 34 971 325 356; www.auraibiza.com; starters around €13, mains €22), where you eat dinner in the magical garden restaurant before heading inside and dancing late into the night. Tables are laid among orange blossom trees strung with fairy lights, where a laid-back glam crowd tucks into salads and grilled prawns.
People in the know point to Circo Loco ( www.ibiza-spotlight.com) on Mondays as the best all-day party to be at this season, particularly since host venue DC10 is relatively cheap. The club is located in a former airport hangar just a stone's throw from the runway of Ibiza airport. Expect to pay no more than €30 admission; a beer or water will still set you back about €6.
For an adrenalin burst away from the pulsating beats of the clubs, get in the saddle and explore Ibiza's interior – green mountains, pine forests and olive, citrus and almond groves. In La Fruitera, the fertile centre of the island, ancient Arabic terracing divides the farmland. Much of the land is inaccessible by road but horse riding is a great way to explore.
The 70 horses at the Cuadras es Puig riding school (00 34 600 05 93 43; www.cuadrasespuig.com) near Santa
Gertrudis are suitable for riders of all levels. (€25 per person for 50 minutes.)
The motorboats that cruise the shoreline and anchor in the bays embody Ibiza's glitzy appeal. To experience the bliss that is sunbathing, sipping cava above a fast-moving sea and exploring beaches along the way, you can charter a boat through Coastline Villas from €500 per day (for up to eight people). Stop off at idyllic beaches then head over to the neighbouring island of Formentera for paella or grilled seafood at Juan y Andrea (00 34 971 187 130; www.juanyandrea.com).
You can also access the peaceful, white-sand beaches of Formentera on a quick 30-minute boat from Playa d'en Bossa or Ibiza Town. Plenty of local operators such as Capitan Hook offer the trips, departing at 10.30am, returning at 5.30pm; €20.
What Google will tell you...
During the winter, one can sense a change as the local Spanish culture is more evident. In Ibiza Town, you can sample local food, enjoy the Christmas decorations, and visit the Christmas Market on the Vara de Rey. Clubbing, dining and shopping are always options, even in winter. www.ibizatruth.com
What Google won't tell you... until now
A hire car is the best way to get around the island. But be warned that Spain's blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05 – lower than the UK's 0.08 – and that police are clamping down on drink-driving at checkpoints outside San Antonio and around the big clubs.
Who said that?
"Ibiza epitomises everything we love: good food, great music and lush beaches. It's no wonder it continues to attract some of the most fun-loving people from around the world." NERVO: Australian house DJs
"One of the biggest things I have learnt from travelling is tolerance. Ibiza is a place that tolerates."
Explorer, TV presenter and Ibiza resident Bruce Parry
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