Her love affair with the white isle blossomed when she was 11 and became fast friends with a local girl – from a Dutch family but Ibiza born and bred – whom she met while on holiday with her parents, and over the subsequent years, the two girls continued to visit one another and Ibiza became a very important part of Mabel’s life over the next 35 years. When Mabel and her husband were looking to invest in a holiday home, the idea of Bali came up after they had lived in Asia for nine years and loved its weather, energy and people, however seemed too far away when travelling with four kids, and despite being much closer, the south of France seemed just a bit too stuck up. So Mabel introduced her husband to her island, and he too fell in love, finding many similarities with Bali, so the decision was easy. “We love the energy and free spirit of Ibiza and the friendly inhabitants,” says Mabel of her adopted home. “There are so many beautiful facets of nature here. And not a lot of people know about this. There are some places that are really popular in the summer, but a lot of the island is still our secret.
The purchase however, was not quite such smooth sailing. The couple viewed a vacant plot of land in the hills of San Miguel, and were very keen to acquire it to build on, however striking a deal with the owner took almost two years. It also transpired that once you had bought the plot, you were limited to building within the plans that had already been approved for the land. “The previous owner’s vision was more like Miami Vice,” laughs Mabel. “He had plans for a Jacuzzi in the living room and a swim-up pool that led into the house. I think it was all designed with villa parties in mind, which was not our style at all.” Thankfully, through some local connections, Mabel was introduced to the renowned architects of Blakstad Design Consultants, who were able to convert the plans into a more traditional, Ibicencan style family home. “Blakstad were so great – such hard workers and such nice people,” says Mabel of her dream team. “It’s so easy to fall in love with Ibiza, but to buy and build here is totally another story – you need a lot of patience. And it’s a constant work in progress, we are always adding or changing something each year.” …
Fast forward four years and the newly completed six-bedroom Can Terra became the family’s much-loved escape from the city. Nestled into a hillside, surrounded by pine forests and olive groves and with an uninterrupted view to the church (“Where I hope one of my children gets married one day”), saltwater pool and beautiful gardens, the property is ideal for outdoor living, and very much suits the family’s love of outdoor pursuits. Much of the décor was purchased or designed and made locally. “We wanted to keep it as authentic as possible,” says Mabel. “It was so much easier than shipping it in from somewhere and we like to help local people as much as possible.” Star features include a row of spectacular floor to ceiling glass windows that separate the kids rooms from the master suite, yet open up to create a feeling of outdoor living, and a huge skylight that retracts, for fresh air and energy to flow freely through the house. A comfy cinema room provides after dark entertainment for the kids and the areas for relaxation are plentiful. The family have also planted 150 olive trees and now harvest their own oil each year in conjunction with the local corporation.
The family try to visit around six times a year. “But it’s never enough,” says Mabel. “We will move here eventually.” The style of Mabel’s home away from home is quite different to the family’s current abode in Belgium, very intentionally. “I want things to be easy when I’m here,” she says. “I want to relax and enjoy it!” The chic and simple minimalist styling also makes it easy for the family to convert the villa to a holiday rental when they go back to the city. “It’s the kind of house that could be a B&B,” says Mabel of the spacious layout. “It already feels like that way sometimes with all the teenagers eating and sleeping here in summer.” “When we’re here on holiday, the house is full of life, full of children, full of fun. We are a big and very close family,” says Mabel of her tight-knit clan, who love to hike, watersport, cliff dive, go out for dinner, find nice local restaurants and explore the many hidden beaches of the island. “We love to be surrounded by our family and friends and we fill the house with them – otherwise it can seem empty as it’s so big. It gets very well lived in when we are here. It makes us so relaxed and happy to be here.”