Have you ever been woken up by the call of a cockerel? Dear reader, I have. There you are, peacefully asleep between cool cotton sheets in one of the most beautiful hotels in Ibiza when, bam! – there it is – cock-a-doodle-do! You sit bolt upright from your pillow thinking: ‘What the hell was that?’ when, wait for it, another one answers from across the valley… then another… and another. An hour later the cocks are merrily calling to each other around the White Isle, the birds have started their dawn chorus and the cicadas are singing in the grass. What do you do? Shove earplugs in and shut your window? Nah – you get up at sunrise and write a Mr & Mrs Smith review, surrounded by the most inspiring sights and sounds imaginable.
The glory of Can Curreu is that it wraps all five senses in a blanket of Ibiza sensuality. It’s the perfume I noticed first. As we wandered up to reception from the perfectly manicured gardens we found ourselves bathed in the gentle aromas of pine, rose, fig and lavender. Sitting on the whitewashed walls of our own private terrace drinking champagne, we soaked up the sun while gazing at the forested hills surrounding us. We could almost taste the plump green olives in the nearby groves. When we arrived for our two-night stay, we stumbled into the middle of a wedding party. It’s easy to see why those in love choose to get married here – the romance is breathtaking.
By its own admission Can Curreu is ‘more than an exclusive residence with exquisite food. It is a place with a soul’. And I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps the passion behind these words comes down to the fact the hotel is privately owned – manager Vicente Mari lives on site in a stylish colonial villa, and his family have owned the land for years. But it’s his attention to detail that really makes this place stand out from the crowd.
There are just 10 rooms here, ranging from doubles to superior suites, each housed within individual whitewashed apartments. The style is elegantly rustic, with rounded walls, low-beamed ceilings, terracotta tiles, and crisp white linens. Try, if you can, to book a superior suite – the ones we were lucky enough to see had the added luxury of a Jacuzzi, living room and open fireplace. But whatever you choose, you will be welcomed with a single red rose cut from the garden that morning, soft music and champagne chilling in the fridge. Of course, it’s all designed to make you feel special – but the thing is, they really do care.
For a start, the staff are immaculate in white linen trousers and open-necked shirts, and seem genuinely pleased to be there. I couldn’t believe how helpful Sandra, our receptionist, was – as a hardened Londoner I was immediately suspicious, but I think the simple fact was that she was just, well, lovely. Before we checked in she was at pains to take us on a tour of the grounds – pointing out the swimming pool, gym, and the restaurant on the upper terrace (which just happens to be run by one of the best chefs in Ibiza). Absolutely nothing was too much trouble for her. Did we want to go horse riding? No problem. Would we like to charter the hotel’s private boat? Just ask. She was even prepared to do my ironing for me. I nearly fell over. When I asked her why she was so enthusiastic about her job, she simply said: ‘I’m very proud of this hotel.’ And she meant it.
It’s only with hindsight that I can appreciate just how well placed Can Curreu is, situated just outside San Carlos, towards the north-east of the island. If you turn one way you can see the forested valleys of the north; turn the other, and you can see as far as Formentera in the watery distance. As dedicated beach bums whose sole purpose in life is to find the perfect beach, we were delighted when we came across Cala Llenya – a mere 10-minute drive from the hotel.
If you fancy taking the half-hour drive into the heart of Ibiza Town for some excellent food, then go to La Brasa restaurant – an intimate garden of Eden in the shadow of the old town. It serves the best paella I’ve ever tasted, and made this birthday girl very happy. The staff are delightful, the atmosphere romantic, and has made it onto my other half’s list as ‘his favourite restaurant in the world’. High praise indeed. The other curious attraction that lies but a stone’s throw from Can Curreu is Las Dalias hippie market. I use the words ‘curious’ and ‘attraction’ wisely – you may think you’d never be seen dead in a place that reeks of patchouli, but believe me, you’ll be buying a kaftan faster than you can say ‘Hey man, where’s the spliff?’
Maybe it was the kaftan, or maybe the thought of some spliff – but for me, the most poignant feature of Can Curreu was the 2,000-year-old olive tree that grows majestically in the garden by the side of the restaurant. It is gnarled, hollowed, but still lusciously green and bearing fruit; and someone had carefully placed two candles at its foot – as if in reverence to all it had witnessed. As a sun-gnarled thirtysomething myself, I felt a certain sympathy. Given half the chance, I’d put down roots here too if I could.