Readers of a certain vintage will recall the reputation that San Antonio had back in the 1990s. A once-sleepy fishing village on Ibiza’s west coast, it became a hedonistic mecca for British teens and 20-somethings who would arrive in their droves to cut loose all summer long, drawn by the promise of sex, drugs and electronic music.
Those seeking more, shall we say, salubrious pleasures on the Balearic Isle were advised to steer well clear – and they did. Two decades on, that narrative is shifting. Thanks in part to new, stricter laws that curb the worst of the night-time excesses; San An is striving for respectability, keen to attract the kind of affluent visitors that have transformed the rest of the island into a jet-setter’s paradise.
San Antonio has always been what you’d describe as geographically blessed. It sits in a wide, natural bay that offers a front row seat to Ibiza’s jaw-dropping sunsets, while its coastline is littered with pretty sandy coves, or calas. These natural assets are now drawing the hoteliers, with a number of new, five-star properties springing up in recent years, including the latest, TRS Ibiza.
Where to stay
Billed as the island’s first upmarket, adult-only all-inclusive hotel, TRS Ibiza, which opened earlier this summer, is a sure sign of San Antonio’s burgeoning upmarket appeal.
It follows a Balearic-chic design playbook well established by five-stars elsewhere on the island – think natural woods and stone, a smattering a geometric tiling and a predominantly white and blue colour palette.
Even a few years ago, it would have been laughable that such a property would chose to situate itself here, on a hillside overlooking San Antonio Bay, but the mixed crowd – ranging from 30-something party people to more seasoned travellers – is proof that this is changing.
With 378 rooms, three pools, a rooftop bar and a smart spa, it’s a sprawling affair, but the layout keeps it feeling intimate.
All-inclusive can be a dirty word, but here, the execution is superb: three restaurants, including a signature steak eatery and a fantastic Mediterranean-Asian fusion restaurant, mean that dining-in a worthwhile enterprise, while the cocktails at the bar are excellently crafted – and especially welcome as you enjoy the sunset before heading out for the night.
Rates at TRS Ibiza start at £302 per night for an all-inclusive deluxe superior room; palladiumhotelgroup.com
What to do
A €20m project is currently underway to extend and generally beautify San Antonio’s seafront promenade – known as the sunset strip – and it’s at its northernmost fringe, just beyond Passeig de Ponent, that you’ll find TRS Ibiza.
This neighbourhood is terrific place to base yourself, suitably removed from the tourist masses: take an afternoon dip with the locals in the blue waters of Cala Gracio beach, which can be reached directly from the back TRS Ibiza, then stroll along the coastal path for a gelato at Heladería Milú, before finishing up in Bamboo next door. This intimate tiki bar boasts a fantastic selection of craft beers – arguably the finest on this side of the island – while owners Lucie and Wouter are consummate hosts, and they make a mean cocktail too.
Where to eat
Long, rosé-fuelled lunches that stretch languidly through the afternoon and into evening are an Ibiza staple and few places do it better than Cala Gracioneta. Having started life as a chiringuito [beach shack] in the 1990s, this cosy seafront restaurant, found in a small cove just up the coast from Cala Gracio, has grown into an all-together more polished affair. With its wooden tables and wicker lanterns hanging from an overhead canopy, there’s more than a whiff of the Tulum beach club to the place, but Cala Gracioneta is Ibiza through and through: Balearic beats drift from speakers as you dine and an Ibicenco-inspired menu includes the best charcoal-grilled seabass we’ve ever eaten.
While the sea views on this side of the island are excellent, some of the best restaurants in these parts are inland. Head a few miles east and you’ll find Ibiza’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Es Tragon, while Sa Capella, a converted church which sits on a hillside to the north-east of San Antonio, is rightly considered a local fave.