“The party scene is only a small part of Ibiza,” said my host a few weeks ago on the Spanish island. Then she rolled her eyes when I brought up the Netflix series White Lines. “That wasn’t even filmed here,” she said with what sounded like a faint trace of exasperation.
In other words, That’s not who we are. And it’s not what should define the island, part of Spain’s Balearecs. Rather, much of Ibiza is a place of beautiful nature and slow living—at least if you go, as I did, at the very tail end of the season.
The beach clubs had already closed for the year, and the nightclubs are still grounded by the thing. That left the nature—both on the trees and the vines, and on the plate—for us to enjoy. And a prime place to do that is the “natural luxury” Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel, part of a small but strong hospitality that also has other hotels, restaurants and beach clubs around Ibiza, as well as a sailing yacht in Indonesia and seven-suite villa in Cape Town.
At the agroturismo, everything is sun-splashed and dreamy, with some trees strewn with lanterns and fairy lights by night, and others laden with oranges or illuminated by flowers (depending on the season) all the time. Set on a 13-hectare estate of citrus groves, flower gardens, lily ponds and vegetable plots in the rural heart of the island, is was one of the first agroturismos on the island when it opened in 2004.
Before that, it was a 300-year-old family farm, and some of the original buildings remain, including the old family house, where the giant stone hearth and oven are now a design cornerstone of the communal living areas. There’s still a feeling of warmth in the hospitality as well, making you feel you’re being looked after by a “family” of staffers who believe in their project.
In the gardens, around the eight (!) chlorine-free swimming pools, and in the 24 luxurious yet understated bedrooms, the style is pared-back, with rustic local woods, four-poster beds and locally crafted materials and fabrics. Most of them have terraces or gardens, and they were designed to work in harmony with their surroundings.
There really are oranges everywhere—you can smell them—from the grounds to the art in some of the rooms. Even one of the restaurants is called the Orange Tree. It’s summer-only, but even at the cozier indoor dining room, it’s no wonder that its breakfast is fresh and yummy.
Lunch and dinner are also enticing, making use of ingredients from the organic gardens in classic Spanish dishes like padrón peppers, mushroom croquettes, and roasted octopus with Iberian ham, potato and garlic cream (but with a twist of bok choy and kimchi emulsion). Fully half of the all-day menu is vegetable-forward (if not fully vegetarian or vegan).
It’s a good example of the healthy living that’s going on at Atzaró. A separate spa garden supplies the organic botanicals and herbs that are used in the treatments, cosmetics and teas. The daily yoga or Pilates classes are well attended, and private sessions can be arranged on request. Electric bicycles are on offer for guests who want to explore the area, including the easy, family-friendly routes around the Santa Eulalia area.
I appreciated the wellness offerings, but even more, I appreciated getting to know this nature-loving side of the island. “Slow living” has become a fashionable phrase lately, but it’s really happening here, and Atzaró, at least in the off season, is a master of it.
Apart from a bicycle excursion, my only outing was to dine at Aubergine by Atzaró, another soulful cornerstone of the group, with produce supplied by the hotel’s gardens. The lantern- and fairy-lit garden is a romantic dream in summer, but in the cooler months, the old farmhouse feels like grandma’s home, with its small rooms, warm fireplaces, old-style green-glass wine jugs on the shelves, and baskets of peppers, zucchini and eggplant (aubergine in British English) on the shelves. My same host compared Aubergine to Ibiza in the 1980s.
I don’t know for sure, but it made sense to me. And anyway, the eggplant was delicious.