#DareToDreamIbiza: Gemma Bowman of Ibiza Wedding shares her passion for this beautiful Mediterranean destination
I had been coming to Ibiza since I was a young girl. I married my husband here in 2004 and after getting back from honeymoon, Ibiza was constantly in our minds. I read Spanish and French at University, my husband is half Italian and the idea of a Mediterranean life was something that we both very much wanted to explore. So it was a no brainer really, but difficult in the sense that we were moving to the unknown, no job securities etc. And of course leaving friends and family behind.
Ibiza’s appeal lies in its beauty and its diversity. You can be at yoga in the morning, lie on the most beautiful stretch of sand in the afternoon, dine at an amazing restaurant in the evening and party until dawn if the mood takes you. The Ibicencan people are so welcoming and tolerant so for us it is just perfect. It is so much more than a party destination – it is an amazing place to bring up children and of course the weather and the beautiful fresh food are huge attractions.
Speaking Spanish helps negotiate with the (sometimes complex) bureaucracy. You can’t rush certain things here, so rather than fight against this and become frustrated you learn to embrace that and appreciate that it is these very idiosyncrasies that make the island what it is. You definitely become more tolerant, patient and less aggressive which can’t be a bad thing. I think it is hugely important to learn the language despite the fact that so many speak English here. You get much more from certain people if you are conversing or trying to converse with them in the language of the country in which you have decided to live.
We live in the middle of the countryside but yet have Santa Gertrudis on our doorstep and Ibiza Town just 10 minutes away. Once at our house, you feel completely immersed in the campo, and we can also see the sea and wonderful sunrises. But then in minutes I can be at the beach, eating Japanese, walking in the woods, buying a copy of Elle Decor… whatever!
I hate the term Expat. It always makes me think of English people all sticking together, eating British food and making no attempt to integrate! Rightly or wrongly this is always the thought I have. Yes, we have English friends, but Ibiza is a real melting pot of different cultures, nationalities and religions and we also have Ibicencan friends, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, so I don’t really think about being an ‘expat’ at all.
I feel much more part of a community here than I ever was in the UK. I know my Bank Manager by name (not sure if this is a good thing!), the name of the couple who run our local shop and know all of my neighbours (even though we live much further apart than we would in the UK). Having two children, I get involved in things with the nursery and the local village. There is a lovely sense of community and being a small island there are very, very low levels of crime. I feel safe and as such find that people really do talk to each other and help each other more so than in a big city where people tend to remain more on their guard.
I feel that the clubbing side of the island is becoming much less relevant when people choose to live here. Yes, we have world famous clubs and the best clubs in the world but realistically this is only the focus for 4 months of the year. However, all year round you have beautiful beaches (50 plus at the last count!), 300 plus days of sunshine, fabulous restaurants (with more and more opening every summer), retreats, yoga and every kind of alternative therapy you could imagine, as well as walking, hiking, hot air ballooning…. And for kids, it is a Mecca in its own right.
There are tonnes of families living on Ibiza and the great thing about the island is that – with the exception of the clubs (gone are the days when people would rock up to Pacha and leave the kids asleep in the car outside!!) – you can pretty much take them everywhere and they are really welcome, which I don’t always feel in places like London or other big cities. In the UK, it tends to be either kids’ activities or something for the adults without much crossover between the two. Here, you can take the kids to the opening parties of the beach clubs, there are Halloween parties, organic farms that offer wonderful afternoons of live music, food, games for the kids etc. Of course, give most kids the beach and they are happy for hours! It is a super healthy environment to grow up in, with lots of time outside, lots of influences from different cultures and the constant flow of people that the island sees every year. Most kids growing up here will speak at least two languages fluently and in many cases three.
We always wanted to have children once we moved here and the experience was really positive. I had my first child at home with an amazing doula and South American midwife who has delivered more than 400 babies on the island and my second son I had at the local hospital and this was also fine, although not quite as Zen as the home birth!
The greatest benefits of living on Ibiza are the weather, food, people and general outlook on life, which is more focused on enjoying the weather, food and everything the island has to offer as opposed to working all hours, racking up a huge mortgage and debts and climbing endless ladders that seems to be the case in other countries.
My work day is so varied, which is one of the many reasons I love what I do. I either cook lunch at home or we go out, to the beach if it is sunny – we love Talamanca and Cala Yondal in the winter or to somewhere like La Paloma or one of the little local restaurants in Santa Gertrudis if the weather is not so great. Then, I spend the afternoon with the boys, either meeting up with friends, at the beach, or people come over to the house. We also love to travel and spend around 3 months of the year away. I am currently totally in love with South East Asia!
Winter is just as lovely as the summer, in fact sometimes better! Walks on the beach with the dogs, long lunches with friends at their homes, walking around the deserted streets of Ibiza, spending lots of time at home in front of the fire catching up on all the films and box sets I missed over the summer and lots of reading. It’s just a different vibe in the winter but the weather is often lovely so you just catch up and do the things you never seem to have time to in the summer. And go to South East Asia!
Gemma’s favourite places on Ibiza:
- La Paloma for lunch on a sunny day, sat in the orange grove whilst the kids play on the swings eating the most divine organic food (much of which is grown on site).
- Talamanca beach in the winter. The water is beautiful there and the beach so quiet and protected, so perfect for the kids.
- Walking along the front in Santa Eulalia.
- Pastis in Ibiza Town for an intimate dinner with Jack.
- Macao in Santa Gertrudis on a balmy summer evening for amazing pizza and pasta followed by a wander around the square.
- Atzaró Spa in the summer to escape the crowds.
- Blue Marlin Café in Marina Botafoch for the most delicious breakfast enjoyed whilst gazing at the multimillion pound yachts.
- A day on the boat spent at Formentera, ideally with skis and a giant rubber ring so we can laugh like kids.
- A Dr Haushka facial with Abi once the kids have gone to bed.
- Wandering round the Old Town during siesta time and shopping in Ibiza at night, followed by sushi at B.for Ibiza in Ibiza Town.
- Dirty hamburger at Hard Rock (the burger, not the place).
- Lunch at El Chiringuito whilst the kids hang out in the kids club there.
- Eating squid and sea bass in any of the little restaurants in the north off the Portinatx road.
- A couple of nights with Jack at The Giri Residence – our home away from home. Oh I could go on and on…
Gemma founded and runs Ibiza Wedding (www.ibizawedding.com).