There is a villa sitting on the rocks on the west coast of Ibiza that says much about the new Ibiza “set”. It is called Casablanca and is an exquisite white minimalist house full of grace and manners. It has a huge outdoor sitting room with built-in sunsets, a glass-walled bedroom, an exterior bath set into the rocks and a cabana overlooking the sea. You can hear the waves breaking below.
On Ibiza you can live outside almost all the year round, like a modern Robinson Crusoe, and still do business in London. With City Airport now running flights directly in and out of the island several times a week, it is possible to fly to London on Sunday afternoon, work the week and fly back on Friday in time for supper by the pool. The culture, the weather, the sheer buzz of the place give it immense appeal to those who want to live outside the metropolis.
Casablanca is being sold by Knight Frank at €9.75m. It is on the west coast, by Cala Salada and near Cala Tarida, the longest and widest beach with the whitest sand, which stretches into the famously emerald-green water. The southwest is loved for its beaches and sunsets, but many families also head for the quiet of the north, away from San Antonio where teenagers, stags and hens flock to party.
As connections have improved, Ibiza’s attraction has gone a stage further and some young families are now moving here to live rather than just to holiday. They put their children into good local or international schools and commute when they need to. For decades Ibiza has been known as Europe’s nightclub central, but it is fast becoming a new paradise island. Successful entrepreneurs in shorts and flip-flops have built stylish villas down long sandy tracks, on rocky outcrops or in thickly wooded coves, which they now call home. And not just for summer…
Two years ago there weren’t any direct flights to London during winter, but it is very different now. Recent figures from Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea show passenger numbers rose by 35 per cent in January 2015, compared to the previous year, thanks also to a new Eindhoven route. Ibiza in winter has become the place to be.
“Two or three years ago whole areas of Ibiza would shut down from October until May, but now a lot of bars, restaurants and spas stay open throughout the year,” says Penny Mosgrove, chief executive officer of property search and management agents Quintessentially Estates. “Technology allows people to work very effectively away from the London office. I know one guy who has a whole room in his Ibiza house set up with banks of computers and uses it as a trading office.”
Buyers wanting a house for all seasons are keeping her busy. “We have staffed up our office in Ibiza because of the demand,” she says. “Most have around €1.5m‑€6.5m to spend.” The new flights from London have been a huge factor but she has also seen an increase in the number of private jets. “Partners who fly back to spend weekdays in London often feel they are spending no more time travelling than if they were driving up to London from Dorset or Somerset. It works for them.”
The local government has made an effort to take Ibiza upmarket and encourage high-end enterprises. A stroll around the harbour in Ibiza Town and the two marinas of Botafoch and Ibiza show how the island is attracting an affluent clientele. Many of the yachts are floating palaces moored close to the boutiques and hotels. “We know there has been an increase in high-net-worth individuals visiting Ibiza because we run a concierge office that books tables in the most exclusive restaurants, and these days you can’t get in,” says Mosgrove. Sublimotion at Hard Rock Hotel marketed itself as the most expensive restaurant in the world last year, at €1,500 per head.
Andy Dean and his wife Stevie moved to Ibiza three years ago and he now returns to London for meetings one week in four. He previously co-ran Ivor Novello-award-winning music production company The Boilerhouse Boys with Ben Wolff, has written music for films starring Orlando Bloom and Colin Firth and has thrown parties for music legends such as Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and the Eurythmics. It was the big dance-music scene that pulled him to Ibiza. Now he runs the Emerging Ibiza music festival in May that showcases up-and-coming talent.
The couple brought their children with them, when Jagger was nine and Mimi five. “I visited Ibiza in the winter and the weather was blissful,” says Andy. “Then I came back to England for 10 days of rain and realised there was more to life.” He and Stevie have an old finca in the hills and sent the children to the Escuela Mestral in Ibiza Town.
“I knew it wouldn’t be too much for the kids,” he says. “Childhood is a wonderful time and in Ibiza you can play outside for 300 days of the year.” Stevie now has a horse and the children have ponies. “The sunshine puts a smile on your face,” Dean says. They have a constant round of friends coming to stay and Dean organises dinners for expats to swap information and expertise. “It can be daunting when you first come here and there is a lot of red tape to deal with,” he says.
The island now has many Europeans from other countries who spend much of their lives here. “The population is rising rapidly. It’s now over 130,000, but overall around 6m visitors come every year, of whom about a third are clubbers. The biggest growth is in retreats, spas and yoga centres. Some of the large villas are let in the summer to holidaymakers, then taken by healers and health workshops at other times of year.” Dean believes there are now more millionaires per capita in Ibiza than almost anywhere else in Spain.
His home is near the heart of the island, Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, which has a particular charm for the out-of-season crowd. Brightly coloured houses cluster around the whitewashed church, bars and shops, encircled by ancient farms, with herds of sheep and goats browsing among the almonds and figs.
It is becoming increasingly bohemian as artists, sculptors and musicians replace the old hippies who used to pay for their food with paintings in the Bar Costa. Internationals in winter head to the restaurants for lunches in front of open fires, or to the Bistro Plaza. The international bookshop, Libro Azu, stocks English editions of the latest novels.
Another attraction near Santa Gertrudis is the Morna International College fee-paying school. It teaches the UK national curriculum and caters for three- to 18-year‑olds. The headmaster, Colin Sinclair, reported that pupil numbers rose by 28 per cent in 2013, most of them from the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. Around 65 per cent of all pupils were international in 2014. Other fee-paying schools include the Collège Français d’Ibiza, partly funded by the French government, and aforementioned Escuela Mestral.
At Santa Gertrudis, Savills is selling Casa Libelai, built in 2004 on high ground with views of Formentera, for €5.25m. It’s been boldly decorated with black slate floors, bright leather sofas and large works of pop art, and is designed for outdoor living. The central white cube of the house has sliding glass walls that open to an external dining area for 10-12 people. One of the guest bedrooms has an alfresco bath, the other opens onto the pool terrace and there is also a guest house, surrounded by palms, cacti and yuccas.
Another old hippie village is San Carlos, where people go to Anita’s Bar to collect their post as there isn’t a house-to-house delivery. Close to this, and a short drive from the northeastern beaches, Knight Frank is selling for €10.5m a five-bedroom, five-bathroom modern white finca with uninterrupted views over the sea from almost every room and terrace. It comes with nearly 50 acres, a large pool, outdoor dining room with barbecue area and sails for shade, and a guest house.
Agents agree that there is a two-tier market here – one for locals who pass property down from generation to generation, and a much more expensive one for internationals. Rather than build a house themselves and tangle with the complications of local planning, buyers often opt for a site where the architectural drawings have been done and planning permission has already been obtained.
Property prices have held up during the recession. “As ever, both official and unofficial figures are tricky to come by in Ibiza. It likes to keep an air of mystery,” says Glynn Evans, managing director of Ibiza Sotheby’s International Realty. “But in 2014 we sold four times as many properties as we did in 2013. Island-wide we’re aware of at least 25 villas sold at prices over €1.5m, and there will be several more that missed our radar.”
These properties are also often let as part of an increasingly high-end rentals market where houses can fetch as much as €10,000 per day in the summer, and attract celebrities or royalty. Big names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Madonna and Paul McCartney, plus many others, visit most years.
New lock-up-and-leave properties are being built in small enclaves too. Savills is selling seven turnkey villa plots promising a “hassle-free construction package” and a 15-month build-time at Cap Martinet, priced at €1.75m each. “These are in great demand with people who want to be close to Ibiza Town and in a well‑established area,” says Cathy Ouwehand of Savills.
Some buyers prefer to stick to the roads closer to Ibiza Town. At Roca Llisa, Savills is selling at €4.5m a smart five-bedroom, six-bathroom villa called Miragolf, which has a pool. The golf course is on the doorstep and there are views across the sea, lots of terraces, as well as chill‑out areas surrounded by pines, bougainvillea, palms and cacti.
“We should really keep this to ourselves,” says Numa Heathcote of Aylesford International, “but Ibiza is wonderful in winter. It is a time for fishing, mushrooming, looking for wild asparagus. In January the almond blossom creates a marvellous natural beauty.” He is currently selling a modern finca, built on the site of a 1742 palace in Dalt Vila, with seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool, outdoor kitchen and covered terraces, for €9.5m. It is set among the ramparts and cobbled alleys of Ibiza Upper Town, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.