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A certain je ne sais quoi

There are few things that an infusion of French sass can’t improve. A simple Breton tee paired with jeans, a thick slice of brie atop crusty bread, a glass of red wine on a cold night – these may sound like tired old clichés but they epitomise some distinctly French ideas. A certain pizzazz for style, cuisine and wine – things the rest of the world appreciates but can never replicate. On the white isle, we have Experimental Beach Ibiza to thank for the arrival of a certain inimitable French chicness on our shores a venue where couples with cosmopolitan leanings call on without question to seal the deal on their big day.

Situated among the glass-still salt flats of Ses Salines, a centuries-old nature reserve where Ibiza’s vast quantities of salt are harvested, Experimental Beach Ibiza boasts a front row location on the pebbly beach of Cap d’es Falco. Facing out towards an always sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the tip of the majestic rock known as Es Vedra, the venue is part of the esteemed Experimental Group, which has much revered outposts in London, New York, and Paris, where the team’s first cocktail club changed the face of the city’s mixology scene.

The same can be said for Experimental Beach Ibiza. Not only is this an alternative spot for watching the sun go down at dusk, it’s also a venue that seamlessly combines subtle style with the kind of bohemian free-spiritedness that Ibiza became renowned for in decades past. This combination of stunning location and elegant insouciance has made it an unrivalled hit with Europe’s globetrotting wanderers, and it has cemented its place as one of the most sought after wedding venues on the island. After all, who wouldn’t want to tie the knot as a silhouette against nature’s greatest spectacle?

Unsurprisingly then, the majority of weddings at Experimental Beach Ibiza take place at a time that allows sunset to be incorporated into proceedings. Suggestions are that guests arrive at around 5pm, which is followed by a bespoke beachside ceremony facing the Med, cocktails and tapas, and then a unique dinner on the restaurant’s beautiful alfresco terrace, just in time to see the sun dipping beneath the horizon. Following photos, speeches and food, space is made for drinks and dancing, which continues till the stars have been strewn across the sky like diamonds on a velvet blanket.

Experimental Beach Ibiza is also available for exclusive hire, which allows the happy couple and their loved ones to savour the special day in total privacy. It also means that the venue is a blank canvas on which to paint every pair’s perfect wedding day – from the decor, to the flowers, to the music, all of which can be catered for in collaboration with an external wedding planner, on which can be arranged by the venue’s events manager on clients’ behalf. The same ethos extends to food and drink, where several example menus are available, but can be altered according to taste and in collaboration with the chef after an exclusive tasting menu session.

As a part of the celebration feast at Experimental Beach Ibiza, guests are offered a selection of tapas prior to the sit down meal. Mediterranean-inspired options include pan con tomate, shrimp skewers, and vegetable tempura, as well as patatas bravas, gazpacho, and ceviche. Starters meanwhile, range from luxury lobster salad to salmon gravlax, and crayfish carpaccio. For the pièce de resistance, the couple can choose from options like grilled sea bass, summer truffle risotto, or parrillada of meats cooked in the Josper over for their guests, before finishing on fruit salad, Baba au rhum, or Moelleux au chocolat for dessert.

A nice additional touch comes in the form of the option of a late night snack to refuel guests after all that dancing, with options like Manchego cheese, ham croquettes and mini burgers providing sustenance to keep the energy flowing well into the night. And naturally, since Experimental Beach Ibiza is a world-class cocktail bar, there’s also the option to have the venue’s expert mixologists create a bespoke cocktail to mark the occasion. Sweet, salty or sour – or a concoction that comes with an accompanying story – barmen are able to transform the couple’s cocktail dreams into reality. Classic cocktails and an extensive wine list are of course also available.

An entirely unique venue, Experimental Beach Ibiza is woven together with the standards associated with French establishments and perched on a beachfront on an island in the middle of the Balearics – much like any marriage, it symbolises the unison of two seeming opposites. And yet, one complements the other, revealing something magical and unseen. As you say your vows with the sun setting in the distance and the sea lapping at your feet, may it be the first page of a long and harmonious life spent well together.

Visit the White Ibiza weddings guide to read more and enquire with Experimental Beach
Weddings in Ibiza – Vittoria and Reto

Swiss couple Vittoria and Reto had no doubt in their minds that Experimental Beach Ibiza would be the location for their Ibiza wedding – in fact, they made the decision the very night they became engaged. Reto’s proposal reads like something from a Hollywood movie; on a dark and stormy night as Vittoria was returning drenched from a late horse ride, she couldn’t wait to get home, showered and warm. The couple’s dog Lizzie, however, alerted her to someone else’s presence in the stables – and there was Reto, dressed in his business suit amongst the muddy horses, ready to pop the question.

Within hours, the couple had decided to host a civil wedding in St Moritz and knew they wanted somewhere high-end yet relaxed and beautiful for the party and blessing that would follow. “We chose Ibiza because we love spending our summer holidays on this magical island,” explains Vittoria. “In particular at Experimental Beach Ibiza – we think it matches our lifestyle beautifully. It’s easy going but still a little posh, with a focus on good quality and very good food. And of course, the location is breath-taking, right next to the protected area of Cap d’es Falco with the sunset and the view to Es Vedra.”

After locking down the venue and the desired late summer date, the next step was to enlist a wedding photographer, and Vittoria and Reto fell in love with Ana Lui Photography’s signature style of creatively capturing intimate moments. Famed for her work with fine art photography and one of the only island wedding photographers who continues to shoot on film, Ana’s portfolio speaks for itself and after discovering her work on White Ibiza, followed by viewing her beautiful Instagram account and website, the couple were sold.

The day itself was as picture perfect as the venue, and indeed, the bride. As Reto – dressed in a cool, crisp white Pelikamo suit – waited for his bride-to-be on the sandy aisle, Vittoria shone against the turquoise blues as she floated into Experimental Beach Club. With stunning hair and make-up courtesy of Blowout Ibiza, she carried a fresh bouquet from island florist Sa Floristeria and her dress was the work of chic Spanish designer YolanCris, coupled with bohemian cool Gaimo wedges and a delicate floral headpiece.

After an informal blessing officiated by a close family friend, fresh lemonade, sparkling gin fizz and gorgeously flavoured mojitos were served as guests mingled and little Lizzie tried not to steal the limelight. The expert kitchen team at Experimental Beach Ibiza designed a Mediterranean menu including tapas and delicate ceviche to start, followed by the restaurant’s signature fresh fish and grilled meat dishes. Dessert came in the form of a turquoise three-tier wedding cake, created by Eileen Spargo from Ibiza Cakes and topped with a pair of golden seahorses.

Before long, Balearic beats from the in-house DJs called guests onto the dance floor as the stars lit up the sky above. “The best thing about our wedding, besides the fact that we proved our love in front of all our friends and family,was the intimate atmosphere,” says Vittoria. “All in front of the sparkling sun on the water, with very good food and drinks – it was a magic moment.” After honeymooning on the west coast of the USA, the newlyweds are already planning to return to Ibiza this season, to relive that magic moment and make the most of their summer holidays.

Weddings in Ibiza – Anna & Matthew

The love story of newlywed couple Anna Dunstan and Matthew Spencer began in the late 90s, while the pair were studying for their degrees at university. Little did the UK couple know at the time, nearly 20 years after their schoolyard romance began, they would be saying ‘I do’ at a seaside ceremony on a beautiful Mediterranean island.

Ibiza had entered both the bride and groom’s lives at the same time – with each visiting the white isle for the first time in 1996 prior to getting together, and then returning regularly as the years went on. After Matthew popped the question in 2011, the couple decided it would be the perfect location to exchange their vows. “We just love the feeling you get when you arrive onto the tarmac and step onto the island,” Matthew says.

The duo took on the task of planning their own Ibiza wedding themselves, choosing stylish Ibiza beach restaurant Experimental Beach Ibiza on the island’s south east coast for its bohemian beauty. “We wanted to get married by the sea,” says Matthew. “Experimental Beach Ibiza was very bohemian and relaxed.” On the rocky coastline of Cap d’es Falco, the official blessing took place with stunning blue skies and the azure blue sea as the backdrop – a picture perfect Ibiza wedding. Enlisting the services of Gypsy Westwood Photography to capture the day’s magic on camera (“They were the best company on the island,” says Matthew without a shadow of a doubt), the couple created a boho-chic wedding that was at once romantic and rustic, fresh and natural – with backgrounds in interior design and fashion, it was always guaranteed to be a super stylish affair. Ibiza wedding photographer Sofia Gomez Fonzo turned her talented hands to capturing all the moments of the day as day turned to dusk.

In keeping with the theme, Anna chose a bohemian halter dress, made from delicate lace with hand embroidery by Spell and the Gypsy Collective from Australia. Gorgeous straps crisscrossed over the open back with a small lace train falling behind. Made Up In Ibiza gave the bride loose, cascading curls for the occasion and styled the look with a fresh, handmade flower crown designed by El Ramos De Flores. Anna’s look was the embodiment of a Balearic princess bride. Matthew looked every bit as dapper as his bride, sporting a cobalt blue tailored suit from ASOS paired with a bespoke Liberty shirt made by his best man, shoes from Hammond and Co and a white ceramic Nixon watch to polish the look off. Anna’s creativity shined in all corners of the wedding, having designed and made each of the bridesmaid dresses, plus her son’s shirt and flower girl’s dress.

Fresh flower arrangements by El Ramo De Flores decorated the tables, as did classic place settings, elegant candles and turquoise glass adornments. On each place setting, the couple left a beautifully embossed leather luggage tag as a gift to thank their family and friends for joining them on the island for their celebration of love. Catering came courtesy of the venue, with a mouthwatering menu of Mediterranean gastronomic delights including refreshing lobster and watermelon summer salads, freshly caught fish and seasonal vegetables plus a decadently rich chocolate mousse for dessert. As to be expected, Experimental Beach Ibiza’s expert mixologists were also hard at work serving up their signature cocktail concoctions all evening long.

The celebratory feast was followed by music courtesy of ECC Ibiza’s talented resident DJ, who had friends, family and the bride and groom alike dancing and grooving as the sea swallowed the sun and a glittering star-crossed sky encapsulated the night. It was a night to remember with people they’ll never forget in a place they hold so dearly to their hearts. Following their island nuptials, the couple travelled back to the UK for two weeks before emigrating to Denia in Spain, making Ibiza their new not-so-far away neighbour. “We’re only a boat ride away,” says Matthew, who says finally getting married after all these years together was the highlight of his day. “We plan to pop over to celebrate our anniversary in 2017.”

Alexander Larrea – Experimental Beach Ibiza

The ultra stylish Experimental Beach Ibiza is the first and only beachside bar and restaurant from the collective behind the renowned Experimental Cocktail Club which boasts venues in London, Paris and New York. They serve lunch, sunset cocktails and dinner daily to their jet setting clientele on the beautiful beach at Cap d’es Falco, which means a busy kitchen, and obviously, an even busier head chef. We persuaded head chef Alexander Larrea to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the magic he’s working there this summer.

What first brought you to Ibiza? I came to visit a friend and fell in love with the island. I’m from Bilbao and I always wanted to live somewhere different. The first year I worked at Vinyl; I returned the next year, in 2013 and came to this beach for the first time in my campervan to swim in the sea. I saw the beach club and thought wow! So I dropped in my CV, started working on the hotplates soon after, and then I was promoted to head chef.

How would you define your style of cuisine? I am very inspired by my Catalan grandmother, and my style is ‘cocina de verdad’ – real cooking. I believe in preserving the essence of the best quality ingredients. Our clients want relaxed, authentic food that is expertly made.

What kind of food do you like to eat yourself? I love my native Basque cuisine, Mediterranean of course, and I recently discovered I have Peruvian heritage which is great because it’s another cuisine that influences my cooking.

What is the Experimental Beach Ibiza star dish? It’s probably the Tiradito, a Peruvian-style sashimi. The combination is amazing – the acidity of the passion fruit, the crunch of the fried rocket and the delicious tiger milk marinade is really special. I am also particularly proud of the Marinated Sardines Terrine and the Charcoal Grilled Black Cod.

What are the best and worst things about being a chef? There’s a lot of pressure. I always want to deliver the perfect service. You have to juggle lots of things at the same time and the clock is always ticking. The best thing about my work is that it’s very gratifying, to do what I do here in this wonderful location. The Experimental Beach philosophy is to encourage me to develop and be different. They believe in me. So I feel very lucky.

What are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza? I love Sa Carboneria in Santa Eularia, also La Paloma, I want to try the new Adrian brothers’ restaurant Heart, and I like the restaurant at Destino.

Where do you go when you are not working? I love to go the cliffs at Pou des Lleó; I go there with my dog on almost all of my days off. I also like to have drinks and tapas in the old town.

What do you like most about living in Ibiza? It allows me to travel a lot. Every winter is different. This winter I worked in Bilbao and Paris, which was really interesting. My two passions are travelling and of course, cooking, and I love that I get to do both.

Visit the White Ibiza restaurants guide to reserve a table at Experimental Beach Ibiza
Sunset shopping

Now it’s absolutely NO secret that I love fashion. And shopping. Yes, I definitely love shopping. Of course, the two go hand-in-hand and when you throw in a sunset and a cocktail (or three), well, you know who’ll end up going home with a few extra bags of clothes that night. Yes, me, despite the lack of space in my already enormous but totally overstuffed wardrobe.

I’m not going to complain – after all, there’s a reason they call it retail therapy!

Recently I discovered a secret little boutique housed within a very well known Ibiza beach restaurant…  Treasure Chest at Experimental Beach Ibiza is a hand-picked collection of cool trinkets, elegant clothing, boho beachwear, stylish footwear and plenty of other fashion finds including a select range for the island’s most stylish blokes.

Of course, I don’t expect it to stay a secret for long, which is why I’m glad I stumbled across it just a few days before the official launch – July 10, 2014, in collaboration with London pop-up specialists Modern Society.

Boasting an array of fashion goodies from Ibiza, London, Paris and New York, the collections at Treasure Chest – which by the way, has a gorgeous blue treasure chest right in the middle of the displays – have got the archetypal Ibiza beach babe look covered, but also offer some more edgy pieces for those who like to stand out from the crowd.

The star of the collections (in my book!) is hot London designers The House Of Dharma – ethnic jewellery, elegant headpieces, cool swimwear and beautifully chic silk dresses and jumpsuits. A portion of the proceeds of many of the pieces goes to charity – simply read the hand-written labels to find out just which good cause your retail therapy will be helping.

Another standout is Toto Artwear – a made-in-Ibiza brand of bikini where each is hand made and painted to ensure no two pieces are alike. In addition, there are stunning long silk kaftans, beautiful symbolic jewellery and healing stones, sunglasses handmade in Barcelona, men’s swimwear that is 100% waterproof, ponchos that can be worn 12 different ways and an awesome range of espadrilles that were created exclusively for ECC Beach by Caulaincourt.

This ultimate change-room-with-a-view is open daily from 3pm until 10pm, making it the perfect pre or post-sunset cocktail shopping haunt. With more brands and collections arriving each day – plus a two-week collaboration with Modern Society, including designers Taylor Morris, Tatjana Anika and BexRox, between July 10 and 24, 2014 – there’s always another reason to pass by… With many of the pieces one-of-a-kind or strictly limited, it’s first in, best dressed… literally!

The Space Pop-Up at ECC Ibiza

It’s been unavoidable, with the launch of the White Ibiza online boutique and being surrounded by beautiful clothes and jewellery (and people!) on a daily basis. And then The Space popped up (quite literally, in a cool pop-up boutique at Experimental Beach Club at Cap des Falco), turning me into a full-time fashion junkie.

And now I plan on doing the same to you.

The Space – when not holidaying abroad in glam luxe locations like Ibiza, Miami, St Tropez or even Russia – is a hip concept store in Paris’s tres chic Saint Germain des Près district. With previous owners including Elizabeth Taylor and famous couturier Vicky Tiel, it oozes cool factor before you’ve even stepped onto the super cool shop floor! Today, The Space is the co-project of art curator Julia Van Hagen and fashion stylist Tallulah Rufus Isaacs, an ever-evolving hub dedicated to art and fashion that hosts both established and up-and-coming designers with international, emerging artists.

If only there were a place like this in Ibiza… I thought to myself as I read the press release wistfully. Fast forward a few paragraphs et voila!

Hitting the shores of Ibiza for a month-long tenure at the island’s coolest new seaside hangout, Experimental Beach Ibiza, entering The Space is more like stepping into the most amazing walk-in wardrobe of a well-dressed, well-shod and well-travelled friend. With a laidback ambience (that is sometimes lacking in über-chic boutiques in Ibiza, let’s be honest!) that makes you feel comfortable perusing the wares, shopping here is a beautiful summer breeze… in fact, a little TOO easy, I thought the day after when looking at my credit card statement the day after my first visit!

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, fashion is an investment. Expecially GOOD fashion, like the brands showcased at The Space: Bex Rox, Margaux Lonnberg, Pitusa, Blk Opium, Delphine Delafon, Black Score, We Are Handsome, Barbara Casasola, Bonheur and more.

A flash of fluoro, a fluff of feathers, a whiff of vintage and a dash of designer… I double dare anyone (men and kids included!) NOT to find something they love in this carefully curated collection. For me (predictably), it was a floaty floral maxi-dress and amazing vintage orange wedge heels (IN MY SIZE!! It’s meant to be!) that won me over first… followed by some awesome crocheted shorts, cute knickers with each day of the week embroidered on them and funky patterned espadrilles.

The good news is that The Space will be in place for a month… all the more reason to visit my dear shopaholics! The lovely Julia is also on hand to help with personal recommendations and styling tips, a fountain of knowledge on each brand and its heritage, upcoming trends and what to wear anywhere in Ibiza.

I blame/thank her entirely for my credit card bill/awesome new purchases!