Far from the madding crowds, Lucy Halfhead discovers the unspoilt beauty of northern Ibiza at a secluded, centuries-old estate
Dawn was threatening to break as we made our way along the path, cloaked in darkness, blinking to keep our eyes open. Unlike most people who find themselves awake at this hour on the island of Ibiza, my friends and I were not stumbling out of a nightclub but trying to find our villa after a less than punctual flight. Following a smooth half-hour’s drive from the airport, we were suddenly glad to have a 4x4 for the bumpy, twisting dirt track we were met with as we turned off the main road. It was only the next morning that our surroundings came into focus: a sprawling pine-covered valley, embellished with ancient apricot groves and lavender-lined paths, leading down to a slither of sparkling sea.
The White Isle may have a formidable party reputation, but head north and it’s a different story. Away from the resorts, Ibiza retains the easy-going charm that has drawn a free-spirited crowd of painters, artists, beatniks and hippies since the 1960s. Here, the Balearic island’s history and culture resurface, and it returns to its beguiling, unhurried self. The countryside is all red-hued earth, craggy hills, olive-trees and archetypal flat-roofed houses, painted bright white, including our destination, Finca 15 (so named as it was the 15th finca to be built in the area), a lovely, rambling residence that dates back 300 years. One of Scott Williams’ exceptional European properties, it was revamped last year by an eco-architect and now offers elegant accommodation for up to 10 guests, while retaining wonderful original beams and polished stone floors.
Furnished with wooden beds, kaleidoscopic cushions and quirky knick-knacks from around the globe, Finca 15 truly felt like a home, and was well stocked with entertainments such Scrabble, and plenty of glasses and bottle openers. Despite its remote setting,
luxuries included soft White Company linen, a huge flat-screen TV and movie library, and bathrooms with monsoon showerheads and underfloor heating. And, although probably designed with younger guests in mind, the giant trampoline in the flower-filled gardens delighted our millennial gathering, as did a six-foot canvas tepee with working electricity and a double bed, ideal for adventurous sleepovers as well as a daytime den.
Our days took on a simple routine. In the morning we would visit the local village of San Joan for a café con leche and buy cartons of gazpacho, juicy grapefruit and quiches from the bakery. Centred around an 18th-century whitewashed church, San
Joan is blissfully quiet, with hidden gems such as the Giri Café, an organic restaurant serving dishes with ingredients from its vegetable garden; a pharmacy selling smart Dr Hauschka products; and a splendid artisan market on Sundays with a great selection of handmade jewellery, leatherwear and candles.
Back at the villa, we explored the grounds, which were filled with giant palms, fig- and lemon-trees, making the most of the latter’s bountiful fruit to garnish jugs of gin and tonic. Drink in hand, it was time to commandeer a sunlounger for a daily dose of vitamin D, our only companions a menagerie of floats – including a flamingo and a swan – that would glide silently across the surface of the navy-blue infinity pool; the only sound the wind chimes nestled within the bougainvillea cloaking the old, limed walls of the house.
When it was particularly humid we packed up the car with beach towels and books and set off in search of a sea breeze. Luckily, Finca 15 is a short drive away from some of Ibiza’s prettiest beaches, such as the quiet coves of Cala d’en Serra and Xuclar, where we swam in the iridescent topaz water and ate amazing spaghetti with clams and sardines, sitting at wooden tables with our feet in the powdery sand. While on this side of the island, it’s also worth spending a lazy afternoon at the secluded beach club Aiyanna, which has beautiful bohemian interiors and delicious food – including chilled octopus and an incredibly fresh and zingy tuna and mango salad – with not a boozy clubber in sight.
We’d return dozy from the beach with warm, salty skin and wavy hair, and gather together on the villa’s vast day-bed, to enjoy the uninterrupted view across our kingdom. On hazy nights, as the sun sank into the water like a burnished coin, the pastel colours of dusk would swirl around us and pinpricks of starlight would quickly appear in the velvety black sky. No lasers and Day-Glo for us, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Finca 15, from £450 a person based on 10 sharing (£990 a person in peak season), with Scott Williams (01749 812721; www.scottwilliams.co.uk).
Below, above left and opposite, left: Finca 15 £232 Dolce & Gabbana
From a selection Bucherer Evening bag, £13,845 Chanel £140 Heidi Klein
Finca 15. Left: Aiyanna beach club
£850 Hermès £55 Aspinal of London