Simon Wittenberg heads to the Balearic Islands to discover more about the five-star ME Ibiza
Launched in July 2014, the five-star ME Ibiza graces the north-eastern shore of the Balearics’ third-largest island, and is located on the outskirts of Santa Eulalia del Río, far away from the beats and party-goers of San Antonio. The first ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ property on the island, ME Ibiza, which neighbours Nikki Beach, is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum to the cosmopolitan ME Milan. From the very first second of arriving, visitors are immediately immersed within the notoriously-chilled Ibizan vibe. The open and airy lobby leads the eye directly to the live DJ, central swimming pool and the far-reaching views over the Mediterranean. With everything dressed in white, right down to the staff attire, sun loungers and the hotel exterior, this is what you would imagine heaven to look like when peering through the pearly gates.
At the helm of the pet-friendly ME Ibiza is the laid-back and welcoming German General Manager, René Hoeltschl, who has been with the property since its opening, and now guides his team of 155 people. Just like Alessandro of ME Milan, he is clearly a real asset to the property, having already spent time at hotels in Majorca, Barcelona and Venice. He does a great job of implementing the ME mantra of making sure that ‘everything is possible’, right down to sourcing a phone charger over dinner, or liaising with the chefs to ensure that all precise dietary requirements are met.
The ‘L’ shaped ME Ibiza has 205 rooms, including 29 ME+ suites, which are broken down into the ‘Chic’, ‘Passion’ and ‘Personality’ classifications, culminating with the ultra-luxurious 400 square-metre ‘Suite ME’ on the ground floor. During our two-night visit, we stayed in one of the Chic Suites. With large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, which lead to your very own balcony and reclining chairs overlooking the central pool area, you cannot help but become addicted to the beautiful sun-kissed vista of the surrounding bay. It’s the very first thing that you see when drawing back the pleated curtains in the morning, and there really is no better way to start the day.
As with the rest of the hotel, the room is also themed around the colour white. Its unique configuration features a very sizeable walk-in wardrobe, a separate toilet, a free-standing bath overlooking the balcony, a bar-like washing station housing a double sink, a walk-in shower complete with two rain and handheld heads, a well-stocked mini-bar and an array of seating. The crisp linen of the king bed is soft and inviting, and the pink ‘Sexy Light’, which subtly illuminates the ribbed headboard above, can be activated with the intuitive touchscreen panel if the mood so desires. The light wooden floor and the large LG TV are the only other elements of colour that breaks up what is really a minimalist modern décor, in-keeping with the island’s surroundings – but it works.
The continual attention of ME Ibiza extends to the daily evening turndown service which sees the curtains drawn, a robe and slippers placed on the bed, a slate platter of petits fours on the writing desk, and a lip-shaped chocolate accompanied by a meaningful saying from a celebrity gone by – in our case, the wise words of Marilyn Monroe.
Apart from the obvious admiration for the sun, there are various ways to sit back and relax at ME Ibiza, starting with the swimming pools which include a series of Jacuzzis and an infinity pool on the rooftop (for ME+ Suite residents only). These are bordered by luxurious Bali Beds (costing €179 per day including a €140 allowance for food and drink) which have to be booked in advance. Waiter service is provided, meaning that all you have to do is lie back, enjoy the repertoire of the DJ who plays from midday to midnight, and decide which refreshing cocktail to fill your hand with.
For those in need of a bit of pampering on a getaway from the grind, there is the Skin Inc Spa. Although we personally didn’t sample them, there are various treatments available on the private rooftop beds, spanning body wraps to massages. For the more athletic and keen, there are thrice-daily yoga sessions (at 09:30, 17:30 and 19:00), in addition to the well-equipped in-house gym.
On the important subject of food, there are two havens of gastronomy at ME Ibiza – ‘Salt & Sea’, and ‘The Rooftop’. Both are led by head chef, Silvia Nicolini, who spent many years learning her trade with Marriott International. The former is centered around Mediterranean flavours and inspirations from the Spanish peninsula, and even has a wood-fired pizza oven from Naples. At Salt & Sea, we tried the gazpacho with a mango, onion and tomato toast to start, an immaculately-presented piece of Red Mullet for mains, and a cream and strawberry dessert to round things off. It was excellent. In contrast, The Rooftop is more of a tapas-style arrangement where you can get small dishes of cured salmon, salad and seafood, amongst other Spanish delicacies. However, here you have the distinct advantage of being able to dine in the company of an unforgettable sunset, and drink powerful cocktails prepared by the Spanish winner of the 2015 World Class bartender competition.
Breakfast back at Salt & Sea, which is served until 11:30 at the weekend to accommodate late risers, is an idyllic and generous buffet of fresh fruit, pastries numerous cooked options such as freshly-prepared omelettes, cheeses, meats and pastries, to name just a few of the dishes.
For those who wish to venture beyond the confines of the hotel for dinner, we ate at the Amante Beach Club, which pitches itself as Ibiza’s most beautiful rural restaurant, and it certainly is. Set within a cove, around a 20 minute drive away from ME Ibiza, we enjoyed a tasty selection from the à la carte menu – smoked salmon tartare with guacamole, burrata, and hake from the local fish market for the starter and mains, and cheesecake, mint-infused melon and chocolate tart to finish.
Away from the main attractions that makes ME Ibiza such an exceptional property, the hotel offers guests a series of ‘exclusive experiences’ which we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to try. The first was ‘JET with ME’, a ME Meliá-branded and leather-clad Dassault Falcon 900 private jet belonging to the company. We flew the one and a half hour journey from Milan’s Linate airport to Ibiza, and were fed and watered throughout with free-flowing Moët & Chandon champagne and fresh strawberries – there are clearly worst ways to travel. The seemingly fit VIP arrival at Ibiza translated as a separate terminal, allowing us to simply bypassing the hustle and bustle of holidaymakers, thereby making it a totally relaxing and stress-free transit from the very moment that you set foot on the island. For those who do choose to splash out on this extravagance (it costs around €40,000 return from the UK to Ibiza for 12 people), it is definitely worth every penny.
On exiting the building, we were greeted by the second ‘experience’ in the form of a chauffeur-driven ME by Meliá-branded white Range Rover. Equipped with refreshingly-cool bottles of water and cold towels, ME Ibiza’s two luxury cars are at the disposal of guests around the clock to get to and from the airport (€130 per journey), a restaurant or nightclub, or alternatively, they can be hired hourly to travel to any destination of choice such as Ibiza Town.
The final exclusive service that we sampled was a semi-rigid motor boat which we boarded to make the 60-minute crossing to Formentera, a small island which lies just four miles south of Ibiza. Blessed with sandy beaches, this is a playground of the wealthy and the beautiful, where superyachts and other expensive-looking vessels moor to enjoy the crystal clear and warm waters, and lunch at the beachfront restaurants. Only reachable by a Zodiac dinghy, the Caribbean-like ‘Beso Beach’ at Playa de Cavall d’en Borràs (Illetes) is one of the prime destinations. Although there is no view of the ocean, the food is divine, and the fresh ingredients of the avocado and tuna salad, and the paella really shone through. Its chocolate volcano was equally a memorable end to the exquisite meal.
ME Ibiza’s summer season runs until 31 October, 2015. Rates start from £1,119 for the Chic Suite per night (excluding breakfast) for August.
For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.melia.com/en/hotels/spain/ibiza/me-ibiza/index.html.
With thanks to Beso Beach (www.besobeach.com) and the Amante Beach Club (www.amanteibiza.com) for their superb hospitality.