It’s known as a clubbers’ mecca, but Ibiza rocks for families too as Helen McGurk discovered
How glamorous, you might think? Wrong. Call me a prude, but I just didn’t see the attraction of foam parties, half-dressed teenagers lying unconscious in the gutter after a night of raving and barrel-chested Brits downing pints of lager at 11 in the morning.
So how come more than two decades later did I find myself back in the place which I thought had scarred me for life, and not only that, why had I brought my young family?
Well, the answer is simple - I had read so many enticing articles about the aptly named White Isle that I decided to put aside my prejudice and check it out with fresh, albeit slightly failing, eyes.
Of course, like other Balearics, certain parts of Ibiza still have the flop-and-drop Eurotrashy resorts, but, as I soon discovered, there is another side to this island, and one which is beautiful, sophisticated and serene.
We had booked an all-inclusive family holiday with First Choice, flying direct from Belfast International. Our base for the week was the fantastic Holiday Village Seaview in the quaint village of Port des Torrents - five minutes drive from raucous San Antonio, but a million miles removed from the clubbing and chaos.
The Holiday Village Seaview is a best-of-both-worlds type of resort. It has a chilled-out beach scene and doesn’t just line up a parade of gorgeous pools – it’s also got its own waterpark that’s chock-full of slides and chutes; my children were in paradise.
Unlike other package holidays and resorts I have stayed in, this one isn’t a humongous high-rise eyesore; rather, accommodation is in tidy buildings, a couple of stories high with quaint names like Geranium House and Sunflower House. We were in Almond House, in a lovely, cool, contemporary family room, with sliding doors separating our bedroom from the kids’.
Our accommodation had everything required for a family - a kitchenette, with fridge, two flatscreen televisions, a balcony with views of the pools and the sea, and tonnes of storage space.
The best bit for me was that it had a bath as well as a shower, as our six-year-old son is shower-averse.
The room was kept spotlessly clean every day by a fleet of cheery chambermaids.
What also made for a refreshing change, was that there were ample sun loungers to go around - so no mad scramble in the morning to mark your territory with a towel. The facilities at this resort are second to none, with plenty of snack bars, pool tables, and cool indoor seating areas to escape the scorching sun.
There’s also a well-stocked supermarket and a souvenir shop selling all manner of beach paraphernalia, just across the road.
Great views come with the territory at this place – it’s got a sea-view pool that’s just a few minutes’ walk away from the beach. And when it comes to rooms, you can upgrade to a swim-up room with direct access to a shared pool.
Once you’ve dried off the kids, there are activities like football and stage academies and aerial adventure high ropes courses for them to enjoy.
As for dining, you certainly won’t go hungry. There’s a large buffet restaurant, with a fantastic range of food - they even do theme nights - we loved the Japanese one; there’s also an Italian restaurant, Sunset Grill restaurant and an American diner; needless to say we all came home a few pounds heavier.
But what really sets this place apart is the location. Just a two minute walk from the hotel and you are on Port des Torrent beach. Tavernas parade themselves in time-honoured fashion beside the waterfront, and the party prowess of San Antonio’s far enough away for nights to stay bass-free.
We went in the evenings to watch the day dissolve .
It was bliss sitting on the sand whilst the children played in the bath-warm water, watching the sky glow then fade from baby blues to dusky pinks before the sea swallowed the sun.
If you can drag yourself away from the hotel, there are plenty of wonderful places to see on the island. Ibiza is roughly the same size as the Isle of Wight, so nowhere is too far away.
We hired a car for three days from Blue Rent A Car, which cost £130. The lovely owner lent us a beach parasol and was a wealth of knowledge on places to visit. She directed us to Saint Gertrudis de Fruitis, a beautiful inland village with a distinctly bohemian feel; lots of chilled out beautiful people in head-to-toe white linen ensembles were sipping Negronis in the streetside cafes.
The island is dotted with tiny out-of-the ways coves, sweeping arcs of sand with Caribbean blue waters, rocky cliffs, sprawling pine tree forests, olive groves and flat-roofed houses painted toothpaste white.
Dalt Vila, meaning high town, is the oldest part of Ibiza town. Colossal Renaissance walls surround this historic enclave. There are hidden chapels and tunnels and a warren of steep streets to explore; be warned though, this area can be pricey - we paid eight euros for two ice-creams.
Ibiza has so many wonderful secluded beaches. My favourite was Cala d’Hort with gin-clear waters and a fantastic view of the vertiginous rock-island of Es Vedra.
I was immensely impressed with Ibiza on this visit. The accommodation was everything, and more. a family could want - with helpful reps on hand if you needed assistance with anything. Next time (and there will be a next time), I’m keen to visit the north of the island and one of the famous hippy markets...still, I think this old buzzard will give the foam parties a miss.
Holiday Village Seaview Ibiza offers - Depart Sept 10, 2018 for 7 nights, on an all Inclusive basis from £719pp Family Offer: Depart Sept 10, 2018, for 7 nights, on an all Inclusive basis from £2046 (2+2)
Depart May 20, 2019, for 7 nights, on an all inclusive basis from just £849pp. Family Offer: Depart May 20, 20 19, for 7 nights, on an all Inclusive basis from £2199 (2+2). For more information visit: www.firstchoice.co.uk/holiday/accommodation/overview/Port-des-Torrent/Holiday-Village-Seaview-Ibiza-006394