Like many boutique hotel owners in March 2020, Caroline Foraz – founder of the intimate, boho-chic escape pad, Pure House Ibiza, in the hills of Ibiza – was counting down the days until she could reopen her beloved business again. Born in France, Caroline has lived in Ibiza for 10 years, and run the hotel for six, so she understands well the clockwork-like nature of the steps that need to take place for a hotel to prepare to open on time. With her small team of three, they were busy painting, preparing menus, event concepts, and more. Outside, the bougainvillea was blooming, the gardens were thriving and you could feel that summer was on the horizon. Then along came COVID-19.
“I’d just had a fabulous one-day experience with the amazing Healing Arts therapist Ayda Koc, who came to Pure House Ibiza to give it an energy cleaning as we were preparing to open,” she recalls. “Ayda taught me so much about Feng Shui changes to circulate good energy throughout our spaces, plus purification and creating beautiful flower altars for protection. We were all in very positive and serene states of mind. I wasn’t worried about being in lockdown. But I was conscious that the island’s main hospital, Can Misses, wasn’t equipped to deal with the pandemic. I also didn’t think the confinement would be this long and restrictive.” Here, she talks about her experiences living in a hotel without guests.
Describe your current Ibiza lockdown situation?
Right now, I’m living here alone in the hotel, Pure House Ibiza, surrounded by a lot of birds, partridges and lovely rabbits! As I had to take the decision to reduce the hours of my employees during the state of alarm, I’m lucky that I see them twice a week when they come to work.
What is your daily life like now?
I take advantage of this time to follow a morning routine. I start with a positive thinking meditation in my bed, then I pick three oranges from the orchard, freshly squeeze an orange juice, eat fruits while listening to podcasts on YouTube and stretch my body. Then, during the day, I can choose between gardening, painting, cooking and prepping the hotel for the season.
How are you feeling on a personal level right now?
I feel serene and strong.
Who or what do you miss most right now?
First, I miss my beloved family: my daughter, and my two grandsons – one is four years old and the other only five months – and my lovely sister. They were all supposed to come to Ibiza for two weeks in April. It’s very hard not to be able to see family and friends who planned to visit before the start of the season.
What’s been most the challenging thing for you throughout this experience?
Not being able to travel. This is the first time that I’ve ever felt trapped on this island. Two weeks ago, I even tried to develop escape plans, but it’s very difficult from an island!
Has there been anything about the lockdown experience you’ve enjoyed?
I was surprised to appreciate so much alone time. The happiness of living alone in my house in the midst of such beautiful nature and absolute calm – this allowed me to see more clearly in my desires. I always dreamed of making a silent retreat and the confinement allowed me to do it. Come on, I’m exaggerating… it’s not totally silent! I still spent a lot of time on video calls with my family and friends, haha!
Have you set yourself any goals during this period?
Not at all! Before the season, I’m used to working a lot, on lack of sleep and I get a little overwhelmed by the opening. I saw the confinement as a gift to take the time and let myself be free to do what I like, without pressure.
How do you keep in touch with the outside world?
First, I was looking a lot the French and Spanish news, very worried to see the summer season would be delayed. But after two weeks, I stopped this flow of information because too much intox. Now I read the Diario de Ibiza and El País quickly. And every day I see videos of my family and best friends – much more than usual.
What’s been entertaining you during this period?
I’ve rent some movies on Rakuten TV and my last crushes were the Oscar-winning film Parasite – very original – and Joker. I loved the chilling acting game of Joaquin Phoenix. The most recent Tarantino film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was also a wonderful tribute to cinema.
What’s been educating you?
By choice, I don’t have TV but I love to watch movies and documentaries in my bed, on my MacBook. Arte is a Franco-Germanic channel filled with rich one-hour documentaries on nature, universe, science, spirituality and history. My latest heartbreaks have been a series of documentaries: one about the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which partly burned down in April 2019. Then a three-part documentary based on the history of drugs from the end of the 19th century and finally, the life of Sigmund Freud, utterly thrilling! I also took part of the first Self Healing Circle hosted by Ayda Koc on Zoom, and learned a lot of good tips for managing the stress of lockdown. For the past five weeks, I’ve been following the rainbow challenge created by a French-American girl, Lilou, on Facebook, watching one interview every day with interesting people about wellbeing, yoga, and spirituality. YouTube is also an incredible source of entertainment. I suspended Netflix this winter, and I didn’t want to re-access it during the lockdown because I know myself and when I start on a series, I don’t sleep at night.
What’s made you laugh during this time?
My aperitif meetings with my family and friends in France. After two drinks, we put on music and dance alone at home, it’s breathtaking. Also my attempts to become the perfect little gardener! I’ve pruned the olive and orange trees now – we’ll see how well I’ve done in the next harvest!
How is your general health and wellbeing?
Right now, I’m suffering with a dental infection and it had been my understanding that during the COVID-19 lockdown, you cannot be treated at a dentist’s clinic. Absurd, when it’s an urgency! Finally, after some days of suffering, I went to the emergency ward at the Rosario Clinic and was fortunately given an IV with antibiotics to relieve the pain and heal the infection. I feel well now!
What are your eating habits like these days?
More healthy, but it’s definitely not fun to eat alone all the time. We have forgotten what it feels like to eat in a restaurant or even to take a tea on the terrace with friends. I’m used to eating a lot of vegetables and fruits plus protein like tofu and Haloumi. I don’t drink alcohol except a cup of Champagne when I have a zoom meeting for an aperitif with family or friends. I go the supermarket just once a week for fresh purchases even though I find it very anxiogenic, so I recently got the address of a small local producer in San Jordi who sells organic vegetable baskets and prefer this.
Are you factoring exercise and movement into your time spent indoors?
With the preparations for the hotel opening, I’m on the move all day, but I skip my gym mat and BFit still remains closed. The weather has been nice for a few days now, and I love swimming – the pool at Pure House Ibiza is 23 metres long, so I realise how incredibly lucky I am to be in lockdown here.
How has the lockdown impacted your business and industry?
No international planes = no clients, It’s mathematics! We are still uncertain about when, or if, international flights will resume for this summer. Our season will start when the international flights come back to Ibiza. Good financial management might have been not to open this season but it was impossible for me to abandon my employees. My priority is to ensure that they can keep a job this summer. I’ve been able to do this by implementing some drastic solutions for budget restrictions, and reducing the hours of employees who – thanks to the measures taken by the government – can receive compensatory aids.
How do you manage stress during such uncertain times?
Meditating a lot, morning and evening. Writing a personal book each day, thinking positively. Walking through my forest and garden. And I listen the ‘Meditative Mind’ healing music on YouTube.
How do you feel Ibiza has come together (while staying apart) as a community during lockdown?
I have the feeling that in Ibiza – from my friends at least – that after having lived through this dramatic period, and having the understanding that our businesses will be hugely affected this summer, the energy is going to be more positive. We believe that we’ll experience some weeks that are just like exceptional summer back in the 70s, with no tourists and the beaches just for us. I’m sure that next year, we will all say: ‘SS2020 was incredible!’
Have you seen/felt any differences within your direct local community?
I always thought that there was a real solidarity between friends in Ibiza, probably because as expatriates, most of us do not have family close to them and strong ties are thus created. In lockdown, I felt a lot of empathy and caring from my friends, who hear from me every day. There are no neighbours near Pure House Ibiza, but as the hotel is located just four kilometres from the city and three kilometres from the main hospital, at 8pm every night I hear the music and sounds coming from the city as the residents and police applaud the health services. I feel that strong sense of gratitude for all the nursing staff around the world. They are the real heroes and I hope that we, and our governments, will not forget it!
What are your hopes for Ibiza in the future?
To regain the carelessness we had before COVID-19.
Do you have any fears for the future of the island?
It’s not really related to lockdown, but ecology seems to me to be the most important point not to neglect in Ibiza in the future.
What about your own future – how is that looking right now?
Pure House Ibiza was originally a hotel for adults only, but for the first time this year we’ll open to families during one or two weeks of the season, allowing parents to come with their children but still be able to enjoy a romantic dinner or party time, while leaving their little ones at the hotel with the service of a nanny. We would also love to make a non-profit ecologic event, plus wellness events this season, and we plan to become even more plastic free in 2020. Another adventure is that we’ve started to grow saffron, close to the terrace olive grove – something I hope will flourish. And last but not least, we are further developing the wedding and events concept at the hotel, as we think the property and location is perfectly suited to it.
Do you feel safe here? Is there anywhere else you’d rather be quarantined than Ibiza?
Sometimes, I dream to be in Paris with my family and friends nearby, but I love my lockdown in Ibiza and I feel safe – except when you have a dental problem!
What are you most looking forward to when the lockdown restrictions are lifted?
Seeing my friends for a small pool party.
Is there anything you might miss?
The notion of time without expiry. It’s so relaxing.