Life is Bless in Santa Eularia


His clubbing days behind him, Nick Harman instead heads to Ibiza for a different take on decadence; a spot of luxury hotel action and a Michelin-starred dinner…

As I leave Ibiza airport, I can’t help but notice giant posters for the big clubs, each featuring top DJs that I haven’t heard of.

The road gets to calmer Santa Eularia, and I see one featuring a sixty-something man. He may mean nothing to the clubbers, but for foodies he is Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong and Judge Jules all rolled into one (Editor, these are the only DJs I know, ahem).

He is Martin Berasategui, Spain’s most decorated chef, with something like twelve Michelin Stars across the numerous restaurants he helms, more than any other Spanish chef. His eponymous main restaurant in his native Basque country has held three Michelin Stars since 2001.

I’ve been invited over from London for the press launch of the new multi-course menu at his restaurant Etxeko Ibiza (Etxeko means ‘from home’ in Basque, and yes, it has a Michelin star), located inside the luxury hotel BLESS Hotel Ibiza.

First though, lunch. Situated in Cala Nova, BLESS Hotel Ibiza was reopened in 2019 after a major refurb that saw it given an overall look that ‘derives from Coco Chanel’, which in practice means her signature black and white colour palette; elegant, but not showy. It’s a very chic hotel with all you’d expect at the price; a gorgeous roof terrace with a bar restaurant, the EPIC Infinity Lounge, serving a menu of pan Asian/Pacific food  (great fish tortillas), infinity pools and water island cabins that look out over the pretty bay.

At ground level are more pools with Bali beds and sun loungers, and direct access down to a sandy cove. From here you can stroll to Santa Eularia in around ten minutes via a coastal path that’s almost Cornish, but with added sun. Here, too, is Llum poolside bar, and an airy restaurant with tables inside and out for sunny breakfasts and lunch. The hotel, rightly, is proud of all its gastro offerings for guests, not just those who can afford Etxeko Ibiza.

A lunchtime plateful here of tasty croquettas, a bright squash salad, plus handfuls of giant olives, takes the edge off my post flight hunger before I cheerfully grapple with an octopus tentacle, charcoal grilled and served with creamy mashed potatoes and romesco sauce. It’s a very good bit of octopus, velvety smooth and with moreish smokiness.

Sated, I head up to the large balconied room for a bottle of cava and a much-needed monsoon shower. While admiring the view over the blue bay through a floor-to-ceiling window I discover, with some relief, that it can be closed by an electric blind which, like all the room’s electronics, is controlled by touch sensitive switches. The giant TV has Netflix, but a promise to my wife not to login on pain of death should she miss Yellowstone, relieves the tears of frustration trying to use the remote as a cordless mouse, so I abandon the attempt and go back to admiring the view from the balcony.

BLESS’s 151 rooms and suites may seem plenty but the hotel’s layout makes it feel much smaller. A king bed, Bose sound system and a hot tub or a hydromassage bath stocked with Le Labo’s toiletries (straight into my suitcase, as tradition demands) complete the picture.

Of course, no luxury hotel can be without a spa and when the sun goes in, as it can do in Ibiza for those of a certain vintage, BLESS’s Magness Soulful Spa has a pretty and private indoor garden and pool where the spa uses the Eminence Organics skincare line across six treatment rooms, and a lounge with hydro-massage waterbeds. I don’t think I’ll want for pampering here.

That evening, after a pleasant day stretched out in the sun, the grand double height Tris Vermouth bar is calling, where excellent champagne from Comte de Montaigne, the partner brand to the hotel, is served, before the allotted hour into the space that is Etxeko Ibiza.

It’s a picture of concrete modernism, with striking features; a massive glass-doored wine cellar, a live fig tree in the centre, and well-spaced tables that are lit not for Instagram, but for atmosphere. There’s a palpable buzz, it’s press night and the Spanish food critics are talking nineteen to the dozen, the French contingent is looking thoughtful, and the wait staff cruise about talking quietly into headsets. This is the military-timed precision operation as it has to be.

To get the best of Berasategui, twelve courses are matched with champagnes, but it doesn’t feel long or excessive. Called ‘Martin’s Journey’ (which sounds better in its original Spanish, ‘El Viaje De Martin’), it comes in stages, with intermittent break-out parts.

From first to last this is a meal that is surprising, satisfying and not infrequently stunning. The journey takes us from San Sebastian to Ibiza, and amongst others we get ‘snacks’ – Martin’s remarkable ham and truffle liquid omelette, and mussels with a garlic and butter emulsion; then there’s a dish of tempura hake with amontillado and caviar mayonnaise, a roast wild sea bass on a bed of seaweed with scallops and a cauliflower couscous, and my favourite on the night, a langoustine carpaccio on an emulsified fennel base, followed by suckling lamb with wild mushrooms. As if this wasn’t captivating enough, many dishes are finished in front of us, adding to the theatre.

Some time later, dishes turn to five different desserts, a star being a celery sorbet with brandy granita and a ‘carrot’. Finally, Martin emerges to take a bow and deliver a burst of Catalan. It has been a triumph for him and his head chef here, Paco Budia, and the menu is going to delight the well-heeled guests of BLESS Hotel Ibixa all summer long.

We once came to Ibiza for a rave, but now we’re older, perhaps even wiser, it’s a rave of a different kind. It’s time to come for Michelin-starred cuisine and the lap of a luxury hotel. Have it large.

BLESS Hotel Ibiza, Playa, Av. Cala Nova, 07849 Es Cana, Balearic Islands, Spain. For more information, including details of Etxeko, please visit El viaje de Martín obligatorio mesa completa at Etxeko Ibiza is €175 per person.