A soul soothing escape

Nestled within the blissfully quiet Corona valley on the way to the north-west enclave of Santa Ines, Es Cucons is a stylish Ibiza Agroturismo that has been welcoming guests from all over the world since its inception in the year 2000. This is the part of the island you should head to if your idea of heaven is the sound of silence, with only sonic interjections from Mother Nature herself, (birds, frogs, cicadas, and rustling trees) as opposed to the four-to-the-floor beats that take over much of the island in summer.

Es Cucons soothes the soul, from the very first minute you step onto the stone path leading you towards the authentic finca and its charming ground – a feeling that once experienced, will never be forgotten. Inside thick, cool walls of the ancient finca, guests find themselves enveloped in a comforting pashmina of calmness. Stop, breathe, feel and reboot as the enchanting ambience of Es Cucons washes the stress from your bones; slowly, you will feel your soul start to sing again. The outside world falls gently away, as must-do lists and pre-ingrained behaviours give way to a feeling of deep, still presence and effortless relaxation. Everything about this enchanting space tells you to stop trying so hard. Just stop. Just be here. Just be.

The owners of Es Cucons experienced that same sense of life-changing calm when they discovered the 16th century finca in 1997. At the time, it was nothing more than a ruin, neglected over the course of a few lifetimes, but the family – who hail from mainland Spain but spent summer holidays in Ibiza for decades – could see its potential to fulfil their dream of opening a boutique hotel on their beloved island. It was love at first sight, and the family set to work restoring the property, breathing new life into the bones of the building and transforming the grounds and gardens into the heavenly Agroturismo it is today.

Fast-forward 19 years and Es Cucons is both world-renowned yet somehow still considered an insiders’ secret, due to the word-of-mouth nature of recommendations and the discreet nature of its clientele. With only a handful of double rooms and exclusive suites, the hotel is quick to book up each summer, with most loyal guests returning year on year, considering the hotel their Ibiza home away from home. No two rooms are alike, with details such as chill-out areas, claw-foot bathtubs, private sun terraces and even outdoor showers giving each space a sense of unique character. Warm, personal service is all part of the package – many of the team members at Es Cucons have been in the hotel’s employ for years.

On the cusp of the summer season every year, when the weather is blissfully warm but never too hot, Es Cucons is also the chosen venue for a selection of inspirational and transformative retreats. Leading wellness practitioners, nutritionists and yoga teachers from all over the world bring groups of like-minded people to Es Cucons to be immersed in the hotel’s deeply restorative ambience. The yoga deck and the private log cabin with sauna, spa and plunge pool is set a short distance away from the main building of the hotel, guaranteeing blissful ‘me-time’ in the middle of nature, while the hotel kitchen can accommodate nurturing meal programs to suit the style of retreat.

Speaking of the hotel restaurant, it’s here that Ibiza residents also get the opportunity to enjoy some of the Es Cucons magic – the space is open to the public (via reservation only) for lunch, dinner and special events such as barbecue evenings and tapas nights. Head chef Cristian González Expósito is at the helm of the kitchen, serving up a creative menu, plus daily specials, inspired by his love of fresh, seasonal and local Mediterranean organic produce. Whether it’s a luxe lunch, a romantic date night or a fun celebration with a group of friends, the magical garden dining space is an unforgettable setting.

The true attraction of Es Cucons is its feeling of authenticity. It takes you back to the Ibiza of old, where a laid-back ambience is fused with luxurious home comforts to create a heavenly haven unlike anywhere else in Ibiza, or indeed, the world. It’s a place where well-travelled families holiday side-by-side with supermodels, business people and creatives from all over the world; a place where everyone is equal, everyone is welcome, and everyone is treated like family.

Visit the White Ibiza hotels guide to read more and enquire with Es Cucons
Romance and magic

Obviously, the chance to combine an island holiday with the nuptials is a bonus and the beautiful locations are plus, however, whether they know it or not, people choose Ibiza for a more spiritual reason. There is a definite magic in the air that attracts romance and love and nowhere is more magical and romantic than the iconic and mystical Benirras beach. Elements Ibiza sits directly on the golden sands of this majestic bay and is an emporium of wedding perfection. From the very start to the very end, the Elements Ibiza events team are standing by to help create the most memorable day of your lives. From simple celebrations to extravagant festivities, Elements Ibiza has you covered.

The Mediterranean Sea is a breathtaking backdrop for unforgettable ceremonies. As the sun sets, the colours provide the perfect foil for bride and groom, creating the most photogenic moments. Finding the right celebrant allows couples to tell their personalised story and sets the ambience for the celebration to come. A selection of celebrants are on hand to collaborate on an outstanding ceremony – from spiritual guides to impressive orators, there is someone to suit every event. A dedicated audio-visual team provides lighting and sound to set the mood while flowers and table decorations are thoughtfully chosen for colour and style in accord with the couple’s wedding palette. Elements Ibiza has access to an impressive stable of performers and artists. Acrobats, fire twirlers, Flamenco dancers, musicians, DJs, magicians and performers of all kinds add intrigue, humour and unique entertainment for guests.

Cuisine depends on the time of the wedding and is specially designed to fit the ambience of the celebration. Options include traditional sit-down dinners, buffet or cocktails and canapés. The Elements Ibiza chefs prepare everything from scratch, including Mediterranean classics such as paella, tapas and seafood extravaganzas. Created from locally-sourced seasonal produce, an Elements Ibiza wedding meal is nothing short of heavenly. In collaboration with the kitchen, couples can design their perfect feast matched with delectable libations. Famous for their divine desserts, the Elements Ibiza pastry chefs roll out the big guns when it comes to weddings. Naturally, there is the wedding cake beyond which guests can also enjoy a variety of sweet morsels including the best cheesecake on the island, chocolate fondants, tiramisu and homemade sorbets.

Brides may choose to arrive by boat, skipping across the crystal waters in place of the conventional walking down the aisle. As her bridesmaids escort her onto the sands into the arms of her true love, there will not be a dry eye on the beach. Dramatic and stunning, it’s an arrival to remember. The pier overlooking the sea is a stunning location to exchange rings while Cap Bernat – the rock emerging from the water known by locals as the hand of God – casts its shadow against the kaleidoscope of reds and blues. It’s a natural and striking backdrop for wedding photos. Declare your love in the most romantic and striking settings in Ibiza. Benirras is one the island’s most-loved spiritual centres and iconic weddings should take place in iconic locations. Sensational food, incomparable entertainment, and the most stunning view in Ibiza are all the elements required to create an unforgettable day. Up to 350 guests can be accommodated within the restaurant and terrace for the continuation of the joy, and Elements Ibiza bring it all together.

Evening oasis

Against the sparkling, star-lit sky owners Alex Piella and Carla Espinosa have created an unparalleled dining experience – one that simply needs to be experienced to be believed. The focus on creating a relaxed, natural environment is one of the driving passions that has pushed the success of Salvia forward, alongside its strong ethos on quality service, high-grade ingredients and creative, thoughtful dishes. While the emphasis is on allowing the freshness and natural flavours of the produce to shine through, head chef Sergio Zubiadut also likes to bestow a contemporary, Ca Na Xica twist on each and every plate.

As night falls, a sense of magic envelops the fields surrounding Salvia at Ca Na Xica. Cicadas sing in the distance, while birds circle around the trees at sunset before settling in for the night. Hundreds of candles create a romantic atmosphere within the restaurant and trees light up thanks to stylish wicker pendant lamps strewn from the branches. On Saturday nights throughout summer, Ca Na Xica also hosts live music nights – further adding to the alfresco ambience – with local artsists including Island Thrills, Matteo Crocetti, Elena Tovar, Aránzazu, Rafa Peletey and Oh La La among others showcasing their talents. Once you’ve taken your seat, the biggest dilemma at Ca Na Xica is what to order! Spoilt for choice doesn’t even come close. Start with hand-crafted starters such as the light and crispy Kataifi crayfish with sweet mango chutney to plump vegetable gyozas served with soy and chilli sauce. For those looking for healthy options, the salads at Salvia are taste-sensational, with much of the produce coming from the onsite garden and orchard, or from local Ibiza farms. Think of fresh and flavoursome bowls of goodness such as the fluffy quinoa, vegetable and nut salad with agave syrup vinaigrette or the marinated chicken salad with mango and crunchy pappadums.

If you have a hankering for something more hearty, the Ibiza country chicken is marinated in juice from the abundant island lemons and topped with local herbs; steak tartare is served atop health-boosting marrow and tobiko roe is an amazing twist on the French classic, while the certified Black Angus loin is slow-cooked to perfection in the Josper oven to create a melt-in-the-mouth taste that is nothing short of sublime. The grilled croaker ‘à la meunière’ also puts another surprising twist on a famous accompaniment while the wild seabass in red wine sauce with homemade gnocchi is simply divine. A homemade seafood Paella (served in single portions) embraces the restaurant’s natural Spanish spirit, with the added twist of kimchi mayonnaise to create a delectable contrast. To accompany the culinary creations, an expertly selected wine list has been designed especially for Ca Na Xica, with the restaurant priding itself on offering rare and unusual drops to its clients. “We don’t offer wines that can be found just anywhere, or in the supermarket,” Alex explains of this ethos. “We use our expert sources to find recommendations that are unique. When word gets out, and those wines start to be seen around the island, we upgrade our wine list again. We always want to bring our guests something different and unique.”

As the night deepens, the dessert menu starts calling, and once you’ve tasted the incredible homemade lemon meringue cake or the signature Piña Colada dessert – a pineapple and custard combination that tastes like a tropical holiday – you’ll see why loyal Salvia fans always leave room for indulgence at the end of their meals. As you stroll out through the fields of beautiful tall, wild grass, the soft Mediterranean breeze in the air and the sounds of Bossa Nova or jazz floating on the airwaves, it’s a certainty you’ll be planning your return visit, because one trip to Salvia at Ca Na Xica is never enough.

Visit the White Ibiza restaurants guide to read more and reserve at table at Salvia
Pre-season magic

It’s during this period that orchards boasting thousands of almond trees blossom into a spectacular blanket of white flowers, casting a sense of mystery and magic over the area. Nestled within the same valley is Es Cucons, the luxury boutique Agroturismo known for its warm and attentive service, beautiful gardens and country-chic interiors plus a clued-up clientele comprised of creatives, jetsetters and Ibiza lovers. For over 17 years, the hotel – run by owner María Rodríguez Castán and Pasi Kulju with much passion and pride – has provided sanctuary in the north to those who seek to escape the hustle of island life, offering an authentic style of living combined with all the luxuries a discerning modern traveller would expect. In 2018, as the almond blossom comes into full bloom, Es Cucons is opening its doors early, for a series of unique pre-season experiences, inviting intrepid holidaymakers to discover the pleasures of Ibiza in winter and early spring.

There is no greater destination for a late winter or early spring getaway than the stunning Corona Valley in Ibiza, where the almond blossoms blanket the fields in white and Es Cucons provides a home away from home.

For the long weekend between Thursday February 15 and Monday February 19, 2018, Es Cucons has designed an exclusive event with options for two and four-night stays – also ideal for romantic Valentine’s getaways. Guests receive accommodation in a gorgeous double superior room and daily breakfast with homemade specialties from Ibiza, and a cocktail prepared by beloved bartender Angelo before dinner. In addition, local outdoor experts Rockid take you on a guided nature walk through the stunning valley while the almond blossom is at its peak, and bicycles are available should you prefer to explore at your own leisure. Sunday lunch complete with entertainment by a live Flamenco band is included in the package – a truly unique experience that should not be missed. In keeping with the Es Cucons family’s Catalonian heritage, a traditional ‘Calçotada’ is prepared using time-honoured recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Taking place in the outdoor barbecue area, hundreds upon hundreds of sweet calçots (a type of spring onion) are char-grilled on the open fire before being served on terracotta tiles with a rich Romescu dipping sauce. And finally, to ensure you really relax into the slower pace of winter life, a relaxing 45-minute massage for two people is also included, with access to the panoramic sauna circuit.

If spring is your thing, then mark March 8 to 11, 2018 in your diary as Es Cucons is set to host an all-new healthy retreat. The experience has been designed to offer guests a healthy holiday under the guidance of chef and nutritional coach Adriana Molina alongside wellness experts and professional therapists Melanie Jane and Alba Castán. You’ll be served fresh and tasty cuisine designed to nourish the body and soul, and take part in two cooking classes with Adriana so you can take tips, techniques and nutritional advice back to your own kitchen. Daily yoga sessions are held within the beautiful grounds of Es Cucons – with stunning views over the valley, it is the most peaceful way to start the day. A highly effective lymphatic drainage treatment plus additional therapies continue to care for your body, and guests also receive access to the panoramic sauna circuit. As opposed to super strict health and fitness retreats, there are no rules or regulations at Es Cucons – if you feel like a glass of wine at the end of the day, you’re encourage to enjoy! It’s all about making the most of your precious holiday time.

Es Cucons have a relaxed approach to healthy retreats. By day, practice yoga, eat healthily and try cutting-edge wellness and body treatments. By night, relax by the fire with a glass of wine. It is a holiday after all…

As Easter appears on the horizon, Es Cucons officially opens its doors for the season on March 22, 2018. To celebrate the Easter week – known in Spain as Semana Santa and a truly wonderful time to visit the white isle – a special Easter Getaway pack is on offer, including (minimum) four nights’ accommodation, buffet breakfast, a candlelit dinner for two and access to the sauna, plus the invitation to celebrate alongside the Es Cucons family for the fun, family-friendly Easter Sunday event. The day begins with egg hunting for the little ones, with a babysitting service available so mums and dads can kick back and enjoy their day. Brunch and appetisers are served up in the gardens, followed by a sizzling barbecue and typical Ibicenco fideua (similar to a paella but made using noodles) with plenty of fresh salads plus a dessert buffet for those with a sweet tooth. A fabulous live band keeps you entertained for the event, and as the stunning spring weather sees the Es Cucons gardens bathed in glorious sunlight, you may even be tempted to have a pre-season dip in the pool!

As the season progresses, the in-house restaurant will introduce a regular tapas night, based on the popularity of special themed events last year and as the season starts to wind down in November, the hotel focuses again on hosting wellness retreats. As with every year, Maria and her team continue to organically improve on the authentic Ibiza style of Es Cucons and 2018 is no exception. A room renovation here, a chic decoration upgrade there, fresh decking, elegant new furnishings, eclectic art, a table tennis table – the hotel is constantly evolving like a beautiful work in progress, however to those who call it their home away from home, it will always be a masterpiece.

Visit the White Ibiza hotels guide to read more about Es Cucons
Food for thought

No matter what your Ibiza tastes lean towards, Pike is an Ibiza institution. Eclectic chic accommodation, the island’s best parties, poolside cocktails, fancy dress and bathtub karaoke… those are the things you’ll read about on Trip Adviser or in the press, but there’s another piece to the Pikes puzzle that is fast earning its place with all of the above. And it’s here where ‘tastes’ really do come into play. Room 39 is the in-house restaurant at the legendary boutique hotel, and unbeknownst to many, you don’t need a room reservation to enjoy its culinary magic. From early morning breakfasts (including the best full English on the island, according to those in the know) and lazy lunches, through to late afternoon poolside snacks and divine dinners, everyone is welcome. The dawn of the 2017 summer season has seen Room 39 – under the expert guidance of Food and Beverage Manager Steve Hughes and head chef Lee Milne – hone its menu concept to complement the hotel’s relaxed, fun ambience and international clientele.

“The concept this year is very much based on smaller plates designed to share,” says Milne. “We work with a lot of seasonal produce so we have more specials, more fun and by nature, it’s more social.” Unlike other busy Ibiza restaurants, Room 39 doesn’t turn over tables twice nightly in order to maximise bookings – they’d prefer you linger longer, savour the flavours and really enjoy everything on offer. “Smaller dishes mean you don’t have to be committed to just one plate for the night,” explains Hughes of the concept. “You can try a little bit of everything, and eat slowly over a few hours.” This change in dining style was prompted by seeing the way clients would really relish eating family style over a big table in previous years. With many large bookings on a nightly basis, as partygoers fuel up for the night ahead, the team knew it would be easier to cater to big groups with an a la carte menu designed to share, rather than hold the service up with huge complicated orders. “We realised people love slow dining, sharing, grazing and picking and so we’ve devised a menu that brings in many elements from the hotel’s heritage; typically English dishes, Spanish tapas and Tony’s Australian touches,” says Hughes. “The menu works for everyone – it’s a Mediterranean, family style service.”

Absolutely every dish that comes out of Milne’s kitchen is beautifully presented beautifully, prompting an “I’ll have what she’s having” mentality with restaurant guests. Now in his third season in the kitchen, the chef has really come into his own with behind the scenes techniques including in-house fermenting and smoking breathing new life into classic dishes. Expect vibrant colours, pure flavours and as much local produce as possible. Milne personally visits the fishmongers and farmers on a daily basis to choose his produce for the day and night ahead. “I absolutely love it,” he says, also hinting there are plans afoot for a Pikes veggie garden next season. “That’s why we work with daily specials, incorporating the best of what we find on the day.” The main menu is designed around the concept of five starters, five mains and five desserts, with the idea that three to four (in any combination) would be perfect for one person. Standouts include the 11-spice cauliflower (the chef’s own take on KFC – upgrading the colonel’s secret herbs upgrading them into a delicious vegetarian dish), the mouth wateringly rich pork secreto, a 48-day aged fillet of beef and Milne’s own personal favourite, the nine-hour slow roasted octopus – a bright pink tentacle served whole, bursting with the pure and natural flavours of the Med.

Nostalgia plays a part in the Pikes kitchen too, and born and bred Brits will relish the chance to tuck into savoury faggots (with lamb and vegetarian options available), bringing back memories of childhood dinners, with desserts to match. And of course, as is Pikes tradition, Sunday roasts remain a staple – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! “A Sunday roast at Pikes matches any home cooked version,” says Hughes, who says it’s not just the food on a Sunday that makes it special – it’s the feeling of being embraced into the Pikes family. Dawn Hindle, Pikes creative director sees this nostalgia as key to the restaurant’s continued success. “People come back here year after year, and they’ll see Steve and feel like they’re coming back into his home. He’s always been here to welcome them –that feeling of though you’re staying in someone’s house is all part of our ethos.” Milne talks of similar experiences, with many of the restaurant guests he’s met over the past three years going on to become good friends – not just with himself and his team, but even with his wife and children.

This year has also seen the wine list at Room 39 undergo an impressive revamp, with the introduction of many high-end Spanish drops now available by the glass. “There’s a huge wine culture in Spain that isn’t well-known globally,” says Hughes. “And just like with cuisine, people seek out local wines when on holiday. Depending on the dish you’re eating, we can recommend the perfect glass to accompany it. It may be 80€ a bottle, which can often make people curious, but cautious. Now, you don’t have to commit, because you can try just one glass first, and a different one after that. Or you could take the whole bottle if you like it!” Thursday nights at Room 39 see Milne take a step back and let guest chefs into his domain, with the launch of Pikes Open Kitchen. “These pop-ups are really exciting,” he says. “We get to learn from people from all around the world and our menu will continue to evolve organically.” And while he may be the brains behind Room 39 alongside Hindle and Hughes, he is very quick to pass credit where credit is due – to his kitchen staff. “I can be the face and come up with the dishes,” he says. “But the guys in the kitchen are the ones who make a difference to our customers, night after night.”

Visit the White Ibiza hotels guide to read more and reserve a table at Room 39 at Pikes
The first Ibiza Clandesdining Club

Ahh, old school Ibiza. I’ve heard tales of magical parties atop of mystical mountains. Unforgettable events in impossible-to-find fields, beaches or villas. You know the ones… the ‘you-had-to-be-there’ type of top secret soirees that you annoyingly hear about the day after. Those truly authentic Ibiza events that allegedly only ever took place ‘back in the day’.

Ladies and gents, I am here to tell you these events are not just a myth. They do indeed, still exist in Ibiza and they are every bit as amazing as you may imagine. So without any further ado, let me spill the beans on my latest Ibiza secret discovery: Clandesdining Club, a secret supper society popping up in unique Ibiza locations, serving up exceptional cuisine and reaffirming my faith in this island’s magical spirit.

The vision of three long-term Ibiza lovers and residents, passionate foodies, professional chefs and experienced event organisers, the idea is simple: to create a series of happy, smiling, fun, delicious alfresco Ibiza dining experiences for a select group of diners, ranging from close friends to colourful characters and holidaymakers alike.

As the name suggests, the invitations and promo leading up to the event were all very word-of-mouth and hush hush. This wasn’t the type of party that was designed to be crashed, or even worse, closed down! Thankfully, the first wave of Clandesdining Club invitees were all like-minded people, and knew the first rule of Clandesdining Club was, well, you know the drill!

After confirming my attendance, I received super detailed directions to the location (which of course I cannot divulge due to the super secret nature of the event!) and very strict instructions to be on time.

Arriving via a lumpy, bumpy, dusty path in the heart of the island, I arrived to a beautiful orange grove, with a huge clearing strung with coloured lights, surrounded by trees bedecked with twinkling fairy lights and one l-o-n-g, communal table (for 66 people no less!) plonked perfectly in the centre. The red and white gingham tablecloth won me over in seconds, and I half expected the cast of the Sopranos to sit down next to me.

In fact, it was a cleverly assembled cast of Ibiza folk (the ‘who’s who’ springs to mind here) mingling at the makeshift terrace bar, sipping on sangria – a ‘spiced albariño sangria’ that is – and marveling over the beauty of the setting in the magical Ibiza dusky light. As we took our seats and introduced ourselves to our new neighbours, there was a feeling of being part of something über special.

First up were long sharing tableaus topped with antipasti – lush, creamy Italian cheeses (a fresh Bufala mozzarella to die for – I wanted to stash it in my handbag for later, but got carried away and ate it all), the very finest Italian cured meats and the yummiest cherry tomatoes I have ever had the pleasure of popping in my mouth! Clever really, as the sharing tactic encouraged you to socialise even more and by the end of the course, I had about six new BFFs.

Next up was spaghetti vongole a la fideua, which I do believe was the specialty of the private chef, who was at the helm of the giant saffron-hued platter at one end of the field. Rich and homely, chock full of chunky clams and with a kick of chilli, one by one each of the plates were demolished (in good manners of course) to make way for the main event.

Succulent organic local lamb, marinated in wild fennel pollen and parsley seeds then cooked to perfection on an open grill (which seemed to be inside an empty swimming pool, for extra quirk factor), served with smothered fresh borlotti beans in mint and basil plus delicious little Ibiza red potatoes sautéed in garlic and rosemary.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is at the sheer memory of this feast fit for a king (or a table of 66 kings and queens!)…

Despite being full to the brim, I still managed to polish off the quirky little dessert, an Ibiza trifle made using local almonds and apricots… the English classic with a Balearic twist.

After dinner, it was back to socialising… the laidback, food coma style that can be done from your seat at the table. You know, just 66 friends, shooting the breeze (and there was a lovely fresh summer breeze indeed) under the stars in a field… One by one, guests excused themselves and returned to their respective Ibiza homes at a very civilized hour, senses sated and ready to wax lyrical about the magical Ibiza event ‘you just had to be there’ at the next morning…

So keep your ears to the ground folks… details of the next Clandesdining Club event will be ‘leaked’ on Facebook and Twitter in the next few days. You’ve got to be there!