Interview: Alvar Lipszyc, Hacienda Na Xamena

Hacienda Na Xamena, Ibiza Hotel, Alvar Lipszyc

The charming, funny and creative Alvar Lipszyc first came to Ibiza as a young boy 50 years ago. His father, a Belgian architect, developed the entire urbanisation of Na Xamena including building its crowning glory, Hacienda Na Xamena. Ibiza’s very first five-star hotel brought much-needed life to the area in the ‘70s, and today Alvar feels a social responsibility to share its beauty, luxury and ambience with the world.

Was it inevitable that you follow in your father’s footsteps?
My father said to me when I was 12, as we sat here watching a sunset before the hotel was built, ‘Alvar, we have a responsibility to share this with the people. This is the salt of Ibiza.’ At the time, I thought he was just a crazy father, but now I understand. But I always wanted to be an architect. I studied in Belgium, specialising in hotels around the world. I learned to understand the local people, culture and the feeling of each place, and incorporate it into hotels. Now I repeat that here using elements from all over the world.

Do you still travel for inspiration?
It is very important to leave Ibiza for inspiration. I like going places where I can integrate with the people and get a sense of true feeling from the place. For example, I go to Ubud in Bali, where it is wholesome and creative. I go to the north of Sri Lanka, where it is not artificial. And I like the ghettos in the Caribbean.

So what is it about Ibiza that is makes it so special for you?
When I first came to Ibiza 50 years ago, I had a fantastic welcome from the farmers and this harmony between the people, the place and the architecture is what makes it successful.

What are your favourite places in Ibiza?
The north! I love the area between San Mateo and Santa Ines – San Antonio used to be like this, back when there was only one hotel. I love restaurants with personality, like Es Torrent, and El Bigote, places that offer something more. We have many places like this in Ibiza.

Is that what you try to achieve with the Hacienda, ‘something more’?
Having a beautiful hotel is not enough – you must always keep working, on the food, the service, the personality. Each year I take it up a level, offer something new. I listen to my clients. I watch them, I read my clients to know what they need.

How do you stay ahead of the growing five-star competition?
Guests who come just for a sunset receive the same level of service as a famous person, or guests staying in the suite. I want everyone to be able experience this quality of the north. This is why we have the restaurant, the spa and we are building new things like a sunset viewing platform for 80 people. The most important thing for me right now is to incorporate nature inside my hotel. The idea is to make you feel inside the view – not to see it, but to be part of it once you are inside the hotel. This is the future and nothing like a big city hotel

What does Ibiza need to improve?
It is simple – direct access for the weekends and low seasons. It is so beautiful, everyone from Europe would come here, but at the moment they have to spend hours in airports. It has such fantastic potential.