Ibiza is the last place I’d expect to reconnect and recharge in an oasis of tranquillity where even the birds are attuned to discerning visitors seeking to escape the crowds.
How wrong could I be?
I found paradise nestling in verdant surroundings in the Can Lluc Boutique Country Hotel and retreat - a rural idyll in the heart of the ‘Isla Blanca’ with its whitewashed houses.
A 20-minute taxi ride from the airport culminated at the end of a dusty, bumpy track where our divine destination was bathed in spring sunshine.
First impressions surpassed expectations, endorsing Can Lluc’s award-winning reputation which includes a recommendation by Condé Nast Traveller 2019.
The hotel is surrounded by an abundance of olive, fig and carob trees enhanced by the scent of wild jasmine and purple bougainvillaeas.
The soporific running water feature in the stunning swimming pool, the hotel’s centrepiece, and beckoning Balinese beds bedecked in white linen are conducive to total relaxation.
Within two hours of checking in, the outside world dimmed into insignificance as I was cocooned in a wonderful sense of wellbeing.
Sunrise and sunsets are sensational and can be experienced to the full via a short walk to a pretty pagoda in the hills with fantastic views of San Rafael Valley and further afield.
Can Lluc’s holistic ethos and facilities to boost wellness include a small gym, spa and sauna. Bespoke massages can be booked a day in advance and three-day Stay Healthy and Yoga Packages are available for guests and small groups.
On our first evening, the garden in the pool area was buzzing with a film crew from the island’s official tourism board. The opportunity to join a yoga class was too good to miss and my concentration and smattering of Spanish were rigorously tested trying to follow the instructor!
Harmoniously fusing past and present, Can Lluc, a true labour of love, has been painstakingly transformed from a two centuries-old rustic ranch owned by the grandfather of the present proprietor Lucas Prats, into a niche 20-room hotel.
Fuelled with a passion to ensure it is sustainable environmentally and kept in the family, Lucas and his wife Tina Soriano are creating a legacy to pass onto their children (the youngest is 12) and grandchildren.
At the forefront of ‘agriturismo’ - a growing trend designed to attract visitors to the countryside - Lucas and Tina were granted Ibiza’s 9th agriturismo licence in 2003 – three years after embarking on their major undertaking.
Lucas explains: “Can Lluc has been a long-standing dream which has entailed much sacrifice and investment to create a special rural retreat in an environment which gives guests a genuine sense of wellbeing and relaxation.
“Ibiza’s is a beautiful island with a conducive climate in the spring, autumn and winter and we want to encourage more visitors to sample its rich and diverse culture which includes cycling, sailing, beautiful beaches and fine wining and dining,”
In Harmony with Nature
Lucas’ eye for minimalist design - which has been lauded by prominent influencers - is apparent throughout and highly complements the rustic ambience. Drawing on natural materials, original features include drystone walls, ceilings made from Sabina wood - and roofing from a local variety of juniper.
Aligned with Can Lluc’s sustainable ethos, many of the finca’s original features have been lovingly restored and integrated into the distinct décor of each room.
Accommodation comprises doubles, superior rooms and villas with every conceivable amenity we could wish for. Our villa included a kitchenette, terrace and spacious garden with a Balinese bed.
Magical sun-kissed days brought the anticipation of sinking into slumber ensconced in luxurious cotton sheets.
Renowned for gorgeous gastronomy, Can Lluc’s Olea Restaurant surpasses its quest to serve excellent Mediterranean cuisine with Ibizan passion thanks to Head Chef Alberto and Sous-chef Fatima.
Maximising healthy, natural products from the restaurant’s own vegetable and herb garden, every mouthful of the flavour-packed dishes stimulate the taste buds.
Mouth-watering dishes included colourful char roasted vegetables of fennel, pumpkin, Jerusalem artichokes, celery, beetroot, parsnip, celery and kale.
In plentiful supply, fish and shellfish are favourites in Ibiza’s culinary offerings and I was looking forward to sampling authentic seafood favourites such as bacalao, (cod), merluza (hake), emperador (swordfish) and lenguado (sole).
The bacalhau with Malaga cream, almond and garlic vinegar accompanied with a tasty ratatouille was scrumptious - as was ‘grandpa’s cannelloni’ combining lamb, chicken, beef, pork, tomato shallot’s spiced with garlic and cinnamon.
The à la carte menu includes a selection of grilled meat - the chuletas (lamb chops) and rice is particularly good. Accommodating meals and celebrations for groups, Can Lluc’s private dining room, complete with fireplace for cooler months, seats 10.
A must before dinner is sipping cocktails in the restaurant’s picturesque outside seating area while watching the sun descend over the hills and the promise of another day in the slow lane dawning.
A copious collection of Spanish wines including Rioja, Penedes, Ribera del Duero and Bierzo coupled with local wines from Ibiza and Formentera as well as Spanish sparkling wines and champagnes.
No meal is complete without a shot of ‘Hierbas Ibicencas’ the taste of Iziba’. With roots in the middle ages, this mellow concoction integrates the island’s herbs and plants including fennel, wormwood, sage and thyme.
While guests are more than welcome to ensconce themselves in Can Lluc for the duration of their stay, Lucas and Tina also encourage them to explore the island, offering tips on eating and activities.
The concierge and special services include day trips, kayaking, horse-riding, cycling, hiking and boat hire.
Just 45 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide, Ibiza is a proverbial treasure trove. Boat services transporting visitors to and from Dalt Vila - the old town declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999 – are a 15-minute drive away.
With its picture-postcard setting, Dalt Vila’s sights include the gothic Cathedral de Eivissa and its fortified 16th-century walls provide unparalleled panoramic island views.
A snorkeler’s paradise, Ibiza also boasts secluded and buzzing beaches and gems of traditional towns with narrow cobbled streets include San Carlos, Santa Gertrudis and San Jose.
A day’s exploration of the island is rewarded with a return to Can Lluc’s oasis where even the resident cat purrs with chilled contentment.
With temperatures at 23º Celsius in October and averaging 15º Celsius or higher from November to April Can Lluc - the ultimate panacea for winding down - is a purrfect haven for all seasons.
This review was commissioned for the Yorkshire Times.
Can Lluc Boutique Country Hotel & Villas - check for opening dates
Address: Ctr. San Rafael a Santa Inés, km 2, 07816 San Rafael, Balearic Islands, Spain
Can Lluc accommodates families, couples, weddings, honeymooners, yoga retreats and is pet friendly. Guests can also rent the family’s private vacation home Can Jaume Curt.