Somewhere for the Weekend: Atzaró, Ibiza
Now here’s a refreshing concept from a hotel on the party isle that’s been going strong now for 11 years: deliver a fabulous, endlessly innovative product, level out your prices, keep it accessible!
It was a decision taken after the sleek, then Bali-inspired agroturismo Atzaró opened all year for the first time last winter – during the hotel’s first decade it shut, like many of the island businesses, from November to March – during which time all sorts of irresistible deals were worked into place. The €25 three-course lunch menu for example, and a €60 day pool pass including lunch (what non-regulars to Spain don’t realise is that the water – both sea and pool – is still warm enough for swimming until the end of November at least) providing such good will all round that yes, even the off-season jet set continued to flock to their ongoing roster of events. Best of all, locals and the less full of pocket could also treat themselves to an authentic Ibiza experience.
“I think people were a bit afraid to come in the old days,” Rachel Parsons told me, who prior to joining the team at Atzaró had been personal assistant to Vivienne Westwood for 10 years, when we met for lunch during the summer. “Now we want to be accessible to everybody. Ibiza has got a bit out of hand price-wise and we want to go back to what it’s all about. After all, if Madonna can do her own shopping in Mercadona [as she was spotted doing last year] then we can afford to keep it real.”
Next up was a revamp that threw off the dark crimsons and teak woods of the Balinese look and returned to the white wash, bare terracotta-tiled floors and woven sea grass accessories of traditional Ibicenco design. It’s much fresher now and provides a more discreet frame to the several acres of exuberant gardens that surround the property. As well as two pools – one a proper, 33m lap pool flanked by pili pili day beds, it also boasts my favourite island spa and an excellent restaurant headed by macrobiotic specialist Lucia Ferrer who’s given the menu a rejuvenated update more fitting of these health conscious times: think refreshing bowls of zingy peach gazpacho, piquant chopped salads and simply grilled island fish.
The strategy has made the hotel more successful than ever, and as it enters its second autumn/winter season, with a number of events worth-travelling-for on the horizon, such as the Ibiza Spirit Festival on Sunday 4 October 2015, which showcases the island’s best healers and therapists, organic food stalls, juice gurus and general purveyors of a healthier lifestyle. Frankly, if the summer’s taken it’s toll, there’s never been a better time to check in.
Where and what to eat on Restaurant Road
Situated mid-way along the Carretera de Sant Joan that runs north through the middle of the island to San Lorenzo, Atzaró is in good company for this is otherwise a food lover’s paradise: the mythic Restaurant Road.
At KM8.5 Bambuddah was one of the first inland island resto-clubs to earn a following from the great and the good of the island’s movers and shakers. As dramatically beautiful as ever this is old-school Ibiza at it’s finest. Book a table there and tuck into pan South East Asian – perfect for those sultry summer nights.
At KM9.5 Nagai: serious food for serious foodies, these guys travel back to the homeland every winter in order to bring you the latest trends from the Japanese table. Then they mix it up with some down-home Mediterranean cooking. An aesthetic combining Japanese zen in an old Ibicenco finca works brilliantly too. Don’t miss the turbot in seaweed tempura.
At KM12 Can Curreu is a rural hotel and restaurant set amid heady aromatic gardens, the air thick with pine, roses and lavender. Folk travel from as far away as Barcelona for their hefty 1.2kg chuletón (Galician T-bone steak) with the crunchiest fries for two. Bag a seat by the roaring fireplace in the winter.
At KM12 Cicale dishes up luscious Italian food in a delightful garden of stripped back wood furniture topped with pretty glass vases filled with flowers. Generally trimmer than cream-heavy pasta dishes and gooey pizzas, make an exception for the richly decadent eggplant parmigiana.
At KM14.8 Es Pins is where islanders head for traditional Ibicenco cooking and a fantastic Sunday lunch, just right when the weather turns a tad chilly. Their homemade bread and aioli, followed by a hearty paella are second to none.
At KM15.4 Camí de Balàfia is a legend for its simply grilled meats done superbly well, particularly the steaks. Still, it’s well worth gathering your carnivorous pals and going all out for a grill of lamb chops, rabbit and locally crafted sausages too. If it’s good enough for the Jaggers (and yes, that would be Mick) it’s good enough for you.
At KM15.4 Ca Na Pepeta was formerly a grocery store serving inland islanders’ needs for wine, snacks, cigarettes and postal services. It’s now one of the most atmospheric places on the island for truly authentic local cuisine like sofrit pagès – a hearty island stew of pork, lamb, chicken and sausages. Not for the faint-hearted, but a brilliant way to see off a hangover.
Finally, once you get to San Lorenzo, La Paloma was a pioneer in leading the island’s organic revolution with a darling garden dining room spread out beneath the orange trees. Middle Eastern and North African influences lend a gentle spice to the menu that’s complemented by excellent baked goods.