I want to let you in on a little secret. You know The Giri Residence? The beautiful high-end boutique hotel in San Juan, situated next door to The Giri Café? Well…while I’ve always been a huge fan of the restaurant, I’ve also always been kind of envious (oh ok, really jealous) of those lucky few clients (the hotel has just five rooms) who shimmy up the secret side corridor to the hotel before and after their meals.
But here’s the thing. You don’t need to be a hotel guest to experience The Giri service and hospitality (or as the owner’s call it, ‘The Giri Universe’)… a little secret I only recently discovered. You see, within the stylish San Juan hotel – nestled in the awesome purpose-built basement – is a heavenly five-star spa that is open to one and all.
All you need is a reservation for a spa treatment and you can be the one shimmying up that secret San Juan corridor in no time. Combine the experience with a meal at The Giri Café and you are living The Giri lifestyle like one of their most valued guests (although what I learnt when I tried this for myself is that at The Giri, all guests are created equal – but more on that later).
So let’s start from the beginning. I had heard, along my travels, that there was a new therapist joining The Giri Residence team, an experienced and passionate Ayurvedic practitioner who had shipped all her secret herbs, teas, concoctions and carefully blended cures all the way from India. And recently, after doing a lot of research and meeting a lot of inspiring wellness people while producing the White Ibiza Wellness Magazine, I became fascinated with Ayurveda – so meeting The Giri Spa therapist Ana Villanueva was high on my list of priorities!
PART ONE – THE AYURVEDIC AWAKENING (fast forward if you just want to read about the food!)
As I arrived at The GIri Residence, I was greeted with all smiles from the staff and Ana was waiting for me on the sunny terrace. As we entered the treatment room, I was intoxicated by the scents wafting through the air. Hello Ayurveda, it’s a pleasure to meet you.
Ana takes my pulse while burning sandalwood incense, asks me a few questions about my digestion (which made me start craving my upcoming lunch in The Giri Café), the way I sleep and some other personal things you probably don’t want to read about here, and tells me my primary constitution is ‘Vata’, with my second dosha ‘Pitta’. And yes, they are definitely out of whack, which is contributing to my stress levels, insomnia, stomach cramps, and much more. I won’t go into detail since it’s pretty much only interesting to me and those around me affected by my nood swings, but suffice to say, Ana is available for consultations to help you determine your own.
To begin rebalancing my doshas, Ana sits me in a chair, swathed in a red towel – the colour typically associated with Ayurveda – and begins to give me an Indian head massage. As the slick oil drips down my scalp, I start to wonder what I’ll look like later when I meet my boyfriend for lunch… but try to relax and get into the moment. Then it’s up onto the bed for an all-over massage with a custom blend of amazing scented oils designed specifically to suit my constitution.
I often find it difficult to relax during a massage – this is due to my Vata, Ana assures me – and just as I feel I am about to drift off, she asks me to turn over onto my back. Dammit, I think, it’s almost over. Boy was I wrong! The front massage, which included the stomach and face was one of the most relaxing experiences of my life (and to be honest I’d been a little scared I would feel uncomfortable). Absolutely no joint goes untouched, from head to toe, hands and feet, you feel as thought you are being healed holistically.
A lot of healing energy is going on while you’re up there on the table. Channeling energy from the universe, Ana infuses each treatment with Reiki, and she doesn’t stop until she feels she has really, truly, rebalanced you. This isn’t a quick holiday massage in exchange for a quick buck (that would be so un-Giri!), no siree. This is a deeply moving treatment… At the end, Ana uses Tibetan bowls to rebalance your chakras, something I had never experienced before and that amazed me as I felt the vibrations through to my bones.
Afterwards, we had a chat about some ways I can help maintain my balance – dietary tips, develop a routine and other valuable life tips – and I took a seat in the sunny spa courtyard to drink my Vata tea, a really delicious blend of herbs and spices that I should be drinking daily. Seriously, I felt amazing… I feel like Ayuveda just makes sense to me… after all, it is an ancient science. But don’t just take my word for it! Keep your eyes on White Ibiza in the coming weeks for a more in-depth interview with Ana Villanueva and a look at the Ayurvedic treatments on offer at The Giri Spa.
PART TWO – THE FABULOUS FOODIE
So there I was, soaking up the sun, in the lap of luxury – and I had the snap realisation that I was only halfway through my Giri experience! Hurrah!
I rinsed the oil from my hair and braided it (embracing my San Juan boho spirit) tightly, still enjoying the scent of the oils lingering on my skin and got dressed for my hot date next door. Saying goodbye to The Giri Residence was hard… one part of me just felt like booking a room and staying by the pool, but the other remembered just how good the food is next door. So off I shimmied down the corridor once again, and strolled into the restaurant hoping I was looking as good as I felt – I seriously felt like I could be glowing!
As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of The Giri Café. Passion for what they do is evident everywhere you look, from the homegrown veggie patch in the garden to the beautifully styled spaces, the lovingly created cocktails and the super amazing service. High-end cuisine in a laidback environment, with prices that are accessible to everyone… there’s no VIP. Everyone is a VIP. This is my kind of place.
Above all, this is my kind of food. Simple, yet delicious, playing on natural flavours and chock-full of goodness. Beautifully presented and equally as tasty – honest cooking, made with love and served with a smile. This is The Giri Café way.
Post-treatment, I was starving… Ana had encouraged me to drink a lot of water (and I did, promise!), but I was also tempted by the lush Rosemary Bellini, a new house specialty, peach and cava blended with homemade rosemary sugar. A taste sensation! I could have easily scoffed about 4 of these, but I did keep in mind that I should try to maintain my Vata balance, so instead I sipped it like a lady until our starters arrived.
New for 2014 at The Giri Café is a ‘menu del dia’ – the Spanish tradition of a set price, set menu. There are two options: the chef’s appetiser, a main course and a drink for just 16€ or three courses plus a drink for 24€. Such amazing value for such a high quality restaurant… and even better news for those Ibiza residents who work all week and can’t make it all the way to San Juan for a lunchbreak… the menu is also on offer on the weekends (a rarity in Ibiza restaurants).
As tempting as the menu sounded, I am a bit of a creature of habit and have to have the exact same thing to start each and every time I visit The Giri Café. It’s just SO GOOD that I can’t bear the thought of missing out. The Giri head chef Xavi Domenech Moreno – who I have had the pleasure of interviewing on multiple occasions – has created the lushest homemade focaccia spread with creamy homemade tartar, mini-pickles and topped with silky salmon that is marinated in salt, sugar, citric juices and lemon zest. This is how good it is – I don’t normally like fish very much, and I cannot bear NOT to eat this dish on a regular basis! YUM.
Luckily for me, the other half of my tables ordered the scrumptious codfish croquettes, of which I also managed to snaffle a bite or two… YUM!
While the service is impeccable at The Giri Café, the attentive staff are also super friendly (stay tuned to White Ibiza in the coming weeks to read my article where you get to meet the entire team!) and you never feel like you are being rushed through courses or to continue… I feel like the queen of Ibiza right now, perched in my beautiful chair overlooking the countryside, über-relaxed and ruling over The Giri Universe.
And the mains are still to come! I, as always (there’s that creature of habit again) opt for the risotto. When the sous chef in a restaurant is nicknamed ‘the king of rice’, how could you not (and yes, it was as good as you could imagine)? And Ana had previously told me that to keep my Vata in check, I should eat warm, mushy foods. My dearest companion tucked into a lush looking steak tartar, and promised me it was better than any he had tried while living in France.
While the desserts sounded truly tempting, I had to pass. For now. But I know for sure I’ll be back… and next time, I think I’m going to splurge and book a room… because I want to shimmy down that corridor again!
But remember… it’s our little secret, OK?