Is Mr Smith having a mid-life crisis? We’re waiting to board a late-night flight to the Balearic island renowned for its all-night hedonistic partying. Ibiza wasn’t quite what I’d imagined for our romantic weekend away in the sun without the kids. Hearing a stag party behind us revving up, I try to stay optimistic about a spell in Mr Smith’s favourite bachelor-days holiday haunt.
A loud, and dare I say, entertaining flight later, we discover our hotel has a car waiting patiently for us outside the tiny airport terminal, which more than takes the edge off our early-hour arrival. Driving through Ibiza Town we admire the centuries-old architecture – but I’m still a little sceptical. As historic and hip as this harbourside town may be, I’m hoping our relaxing escape à deux won’t be in the thick of all these dressed-up revellers.
Pulling up to a security barrier at a metre-thick wall of 14th-century Dalt Vila, we’re smoothly ushered through. We emerge from a tunnel within the walls of the fortified Old Town. It is completely and utterly peaceful. No neon signs, no bassline-blasting bars, in fact, there’s not a soul in sight.
Once the colonial house of a wealthy Spanish family, Mirador de Dalt Vila is resplendent in antiques and artwork – sophisticated embellishments that hail from the original collection of the previous owners. Apart from a central modern glass lift, this palatial property is much the same as when it was their summerhouse. A black-glass chandelier in the lobby sets a cut-above tone, and bronze sculptures, peachy hues and oriental rugs add to an air of nonchalant opulence.
Waking up in our big white-linen-clad bed, we admire our grand room in the daylight. Traditionally Spanish in its decor, there are paintings by local artists and exotic Moroccan rugs slung across gleaming dark wooden floors. Our spacious junior suite in the eaves even has a sea-view Juliet balcony overlooking the boats bobbing into the port. A large green onyx marble bathroom is stocked with chic Loewe toiletries and there's even a fancy whirlpool bath. You usually need to hire a rock-star villa for this kind of pampering.
By now midday, Mr Smith panics that we've missed breakfast. Ah, but this is Spain – a quick call to reception assures us we can have it delivered to our room at no extra charge or we can enjoy it at a table on the cobbled street out front. We opt for a gloriously sun-kissed spot alfresco and munch our way through fresh pastries and breads with homemade jams, Iberian jamon, cheeses and eggs cooked to perfection. Polished off, of course, with super-strength cafés con leche – we need our strength for a busy day at the beach. (The pool area at the hotel is charming but snug and best suited to a pre- or post-exploring cool-off.)
A stroll through Ibiza Town's pretty winding lanes past cute, white balconied buildings and we are exposed to an array of boutiques from glamorous new international brands to quirky been-there-decades vintage-sellers. Coffee shops and the small, central fruit-and-flower market occupy Mr Smith while I give into some irresistible boho-chic buys. As we ponder walking along the port to hop on a ferry to Formentera for the day, Mr Smith, determined to keep us onboard his trip down memory lane, steers us south to Salinas.
A 10-minute cab ride away is las Salinas, one of the White Isle's most headline-worthy sandy stretches. The beautiful people flock here to catch the rays and see and be seen while they do so. A well-heeled cosmopolitan crowd a world away from any rowdy Brits-abroad type holidaymakers I’d feared. With fascinating people-watching in wide-screen, I don’t even bother opening my book. Mr Smith, meanwhile, sets off for an explore down the coast and discovers a small nudist beach. He takes great pleasure on his return in describing a game of bat and ball he stumbled across – literally.
Long, late lazy lunches at the Jockey Club are de rigeur with those in the know, and for us it’s a rosé-fuelled feast of fresh calamari, sardines a la plancha and lots of aioli. The waiter informs us that the garlicky mayo originates from this island – and it’s the best we’ve ever had. I get a bit carried away. This potent dip is not the ideal snack to become addicted to on a romantic weekend away...
A siesta, some mouthwash-swilling and pillow-testing later (who can’t resist a pillow menu?), and we’re revved up for a little wining-and-dining in the Old Town. Making the most of our location right in this World Heritage site, we have booked to eat at the Mirador itself. Translating as viewpoint, the bar and restaurant gets a stream of visitors during the day, but by this hour it feels relaxed and exclusive. After aperitifs in the cocktail lounge, dinner is in a similar spot to breakfast, on the hotel's own postcard-perfect palm-tree-lined promenade.
Chatting to the chef, Juan José Ribas, at this acclaimed Mediterranean restaurant we learn that the Ibiza-born chef prides himself on his use of local produce. We devour his recommendations – lobster salad with a citrus dressing, succulent slow-roasted suckling pig – and a very decent bottle of local white wine from our luxury hotel's extensive cellar, la Enoteca. Sat in our peaceful perch, we could be in a sleepy Andalusian village – it’s a very different setting to the image of Ibiza that the media usually flaunts.
Our plans next? No queuing for megaclubs, or catching cabs to hip hidden-away hangouts, we just fancy an amble down to gently buzzing Plaza del Parque for a nightcap at one of the slow-tempo bars we spotted on the drive back from the beach. Drink in hand, this will be the perfect candlelit rendezvous to tell Mr Smith over a Spanish-measure vodka-tonic about how El Mirador has its own boat for charter. Where better for late-summer adventures and celebrating his pending landmark birthday with some friends than crusing these very sapphire waters? Clearly I’m getting into the Ibicencan swing of things. I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe, Mr Smith got this trip exactly right.