Review by: Charlotte Cox
As an Ibiza virgin, I’d always viewed it much in the same way as I view Scientology: as something that inspires frenzied, unquestioning devotion from the initiated (oh, how many times I’d listened to a wide-eyed, tanned, utterly sleep-deprived returnee talk in reverential tones of their week ‘aving it’ in the sun); but, ultimately, as something too darned unbelievable for me to sign up to. A tiny island roughly the size of the Isle of Wight, yet home to the world’s biggest superclubs, countless beach bars and God (or should I say Xenu?) only knows how many people having, uniformly, ‘the best holiday evaaaaar’? Surely not. There must be some kind of cult-like conspiracy at work. It can’t be that GOOD. (And can it be coincidence that devotees of both Scientology and Ibiza think their spiritual home is Space?)
Of course, I’d been assured that the island was also home to highs of an altogether more holistic kind, with yoga retreats and blissed-out spas aplenty – and that, away from the Brits-abroad bustle of San Antonio, stylish nightlife options were out there. But how earth, I feared, was a White-Isle newbie to find them?
But all that was before I travelled there with high-end villa experts Chic Ibiza, who offer dream rental properties and carefully curated experiences to fit any number of people or budget.
After a 10-minute drive from Ibiza airport, we arrive at one of the company’s premium pads, Villa Skyfall. And from the moment we pull up outside the light-up (yes, LIGHT-UP) gates, I begin to think maybe, just maybe, I had Ibiza all wrong. Because here, while yes, it’s about having it large, it’s about having it luxe as well. An airy, open-plan villa in the southern Salinas area, Skyfall is adjacent to the island’s largest nature reserve and thus has an utterly secluded, private feel. Which is a good job, too – as this place was made to party.
Comfortably sleeping up to eight, inside the four suites lead off from a spacious living area that offers a vast modern kitchen, grand dining room table, flat-screen TVs and plush couches. Oh, and a huge metallic silver armchair. Just because.
Heading out on to the large decking, with garden furniture aplenty, I first catch sight of the sizable pool. And the covered day bed. And the complete, fully equipped outdoor kitchen (with – yes! – an outdoor fridge freezer). And then, only then, do I get an inkling of the super-stylish, small-scale parties that you could have here, escalating into the night for your very own, very private Ibiza experience far away from the mad-fer-it tourist hordes. I’m told that superstar DJ Carl Cox has hosted bashes here. I well believe it.
Back inside, the decor nods to about as many ‘this is cool’ tropes as you care to mention: Buddha statues? Check. Exposed concrete? Check. Black-and-white prints of the Rat Pack and Marilyn Monroe? Hell, why not. Yet it doesn’t feel in any way over the top. And even if it did, I’m not sure I’d have cared. Ibiza, I quickly realise, is not a place for holding back.
The real USP of holidaying with Chic Villas, though, is the unparalleled local knowledge of owners Nick and Jason, who between them have racked up almost 40 years on the island and so can curate the very finest in not-holding-back. The top-notch concierge service they oversee means that – for a newbie like me, trying to navigate the myriad eat/drink/party/repeat options available – I could do Ibiza right first time round, and fuss-free. And this is how.
Step 1: LIVE IT UP IN-VILLA
When you have a grand dining table and outdoor decking of dreams, you want to make darned good use of them. Enter in-villa catering magicians Dalilicious, who create a four-course meal worthy of a high-end restaurant right from our villa kitchen. And for laid-back days by the pool? This is not just barbecuing, this is Dalilicious barbecuing: think super-fresh sea bream and seabass, moules mariniere, honey and mustard pork, rack of lamb and a wealth of inventive salads. What’s more, the friendly chefs take care of the shopping and tidying up, too, leaving us to focus on the important stuff. Namely, getting on with our villa party.
Which, of course, means doing some drinking. But not for us just any old plonk. No, no, no. The Chic Villas concierge team can put on a party that comes with cocktails, courtesy of mixologist extraordinaire Felice Pinto. Arriving to turn the poolside area into our own exclusive beach club, he conjures up fresh, innovative twists on classics. Somewhere around the refreshing but oh so potent gin julep, I become a full-blown Ibiza convert.
Step 2: HIT THE CLUBS
And what is the initiation ceremony for a new Ibiza convert? A night of clubbing, obviously. The endless nightlife options can be a daunting prospect to the first-timer, but that’s where that concierge team pays out again. If you want hard ’n’ heavy, they tell us, head for DC10, set in an empty aircraft hangar. If you want clubbing ‘for professionals’, go to Amnesia. But, like the Goldilocks of Ibiza nightlife, I want somewhere juuuust right – and before we know it, we’re heading for the legendary Pacha.
Three things: 1. It’s busy. Damn busy. All season round. 2. If you can afford the (up-to-four-figure) outlay, ask the Chic Villas team to arrange a table in the VIP area, where you actually have space to drink, dance and generally ’ave iiiit. (Wait, did I just say that?) 3. Whether you go VIP or get stuck into the thick of it, you will have fun. You will throw shapes. You just may not be able to remember a lot of it.
Of course, not all nightlife options are quite so full-on – Ibiza is also home to myriad beach clubs, where a long lunch can spin into al-fresco dancing in the sun. And the ideal spot for this most quintessential of Ibiza experiences is Nassau Beach Club. Luxe without being shouty, cool without being pretentious and with a fresh seafood-focused menu to die for, this is understated, chilled luxury at its best. And ‘understated’ and ‘chilled’ are not words I expected to use about anywhere in Ibiza.
Step 3: RECOVER RIGHT
So you’ve partied right through sundown to sunrise again. How to re-centre? Chic Villas’ concierge team, once again, have the answer. They can arrange a private yoga class right on your deck. And while after adventures in clubland, the idea of a downward-facing dog didn’t SOUND appealing (or, in fact, even possible) after an session of energising, restorative poses, I feel revived and ready to take on the island afresh.
Step 4: GO OUT ON A HIGH
No, not like THAT. I mean end the holiday with a bit of pure indulgence, with dinner at Bambuddha. A stylish, high-end Asian restaurant in the manner of Nobu or Zuma, here you’ll dine lavishly amid stunning bamboo surrounds. Go for the tasting menu for the full experience – the black cod especially is not to be missed. And, just in case this all sounds a little civilised by Ibiza standards, take heart from the fact that there’s an achingly hip bar and – of course – club night on site. There endeth my recovery…
Step 5: FACE THE TRUTH
Nassau Beach Club
The truth that, after a Chic Ibiza holiday – complete with deluxe villa, endless bespoke options and the kind of local knowledge you can’t put a price on – all that remains is to return home, wide-eyed, tanned and utterly sleep deprived, to tell all your friends about ‘aving iiit’ in the sun. Which is exactly what I do. Because, as it turns out, Ibiza is my kinda cult. Join us.
LOCATION: Villa Skyfall, Carrer de Formentera, 16, 07818 Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Illes Balears; 08700 112311; chicibiza.com. Sleeps 8-10 from £9,330 per week – which means, if there’s enough of you, it’ll come to around £900 each and, believe me, it’s worth it.
GETTING THERE: Ryan Air (ryanair.com) offers return flights from London Stansted to Ibiza from around £180. The villa is a 10-minute taxi ride away from Ibiza airport.