For those who feel passionately about mitigating the effects of climate change, it can be tricky to understand how we, personally, can make a difference. But it goes without saying that even the smallest changes in our lifestyles can help, and it’s why ecotourism is currently at the forefront of every traveller’s mind. It’s heartening to know that in our little corner of the world, there are places like the luxurious but eco-friendly Ibiza Agroturismo Can Martí which is making it possible to live and holiday harmoniously alongside nature. Surrounded by pine forest in the quiet foothills of San Juan, Can Martí is simply another bump on the gently undulating landscape. Entirely at one with nature, the hotel is encompassed by hardy shrubs and blooming flowers, ripe vegetables and lofty trees. Close your eyes and you’re taken aback by the chirruping chorus of cicadas and the soft rustle of gardeners tending to herbs; open them once more and suddenly there’s a donkey chewing grass by your ankles, or a butterfly stopping for rest on a nearby branch. It’s enough to evoke an arresting sense of ease – after mere moments here, the load disappears from your shoulders.
Owned by the same Swiss family for over two decades, Can Martí was always a project that had sustainability at its heart. Peter and Isabelle Brantschen started the hotel 25 years ago, but even then, it wasn’t just a concept – it was a belief. “We always wanted to make as little impact as possible,” explains their son, Tom. It was with this ethos in mind that they went about renovating the farm and the 400-year old finca at the heart of it. Permaculture was integrated into the plans, organic vegetables were planted, and even the finca and surrounding buildings were restored and built with eco materials, respecting construction techniques used in the past. “For as long as I can remember, my parents were always very careful,” Tom continues. “They made us realise when we were very young that we needed to look after our planet.” Instilling this consciousness early on did the trick – it meant that when Tom went on to take over the management of Can Martí he was ready for the challenges posed by running a commercial project that aims to exist in unison with the environment. He admits it’s not always easy but remains dedicated to the values at the core of the project, and that’s what makes Can Martí a beacon on the horizon of sustainable tourism.
Can Martí is also a uniquely stylish, comfortable hotel. But naturally, there are some differences. “Everything is natural here, including our cleaning products,” Tom explains. “We recycle and filter all our water, which we use for watering the plants, and we produce 60% of electricity with solar panels.” Aiming to use less electricity means there’s no air conditioning, of course, and bed sheets are made from organic cotton. This is also exactly what the majority of our guests want. “More and more people are specifically looking for somewhere that’s eco-conscious,” Tom says. “They know that just because a place is environmentally friendly, it doesn’t have to mean it’s uncomfortable.” Spend a night at one of the laid-back but luxurious suites and this becomes immediately clear. Despite its glowing reputation, Tom and his team go to work on Can Martí every day, determined to improve it little by little – it’s a palpable labour of love visible everywhere you look. (“We don’t just do it because it’s work,” he affirms). That’s why they’re now proud owners of Ibiza’s first entirely natural swimming pool (it doesn’t have chlorine but it does have frogs), and why each season, an abundance of fruits and vegetables are planted so that they can be served as part of the scrumptious, bountiful breakfast, or sold in the onsite, organic shop. “We are constantly learning and there are always things we’re trying to develop,” he explains. “But once people see and understand what we’re doing here it becomes hard for them to go back to anything else.”
In years to come, Tom hopes that more places on the island follow suit. “The way we look after the environment isn’t sustainable, and if we trash the island we’re also trashing our own businesses – everything is connected,” he says. Meanwhile, he takes solace in the gardens of Can Martí, where time seems to stand still, and the light faintly flickers. “I like to wake up in the morning and feel the peace,” he explains. “It’s a bit like being in a bubble that allows you to disconnect from our crazy, busy society.” So let’s meet here and gather our thoughts, then let’s take that inspiration and march on towards saving the planet.