The quest to run a successful ecotourism resort runs a lot smoother when you have the right resources at your disposal. Think solar energy and a circular water supply, plus farm to fork fresh food that’s good enough to attract a visit from one of the world’s most exciting chefs. Rebecca Cox visits Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel, where Ottolenghi’s dinner is the gem in an enticing August events line-up.
Ottolenghi at Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel: Review
An Ibiza favourite, superlatives are always on the cards when one is describing Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel. This is my first visit, but friends who live on the island, or are regulars on the White Isle, have described it thus: ‘special’, ‘spectacular’, ‘truly magical’, and simply: ‘the best’. Funny, then, that my first invitation to visit is for an evening of firsts, and of ‘bests’. The best dinner setting on the island, with a first visit from one of the world’s best chefs: for one night only Yotam Ottolenghi is on the island (his first visit to Ibiza), preparing a feast for 200 guests to dine under the stars at the hotel’s stunning Vegetable Garden. Fresh farm to fork food, fabulous entertainment and old and new friends coming together. None of the superlatives however, though well-deserved, are quite the right word to encapsulate the evening at Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel, or the luxury hotel itself.
The only word to suit the occasion, on a warm Saturday night in August in the Ibizan countryside, is ‘abundance’. Firstly, demand for the occasion is so abundant that even the waiting list had a waiting list. Relaxation is in the air, with a loose start time, an abundant free-flow of (potent) welcome drinks and a slow move between garden areas before taking seats at stunning sharing-style long tables in the Vegetable Garden as the sun begins to sink and the sky shifts from blue to pink and orange before turning inky black and flecked with stars.
The Vegetable Garden
Our dining room for the evening is the three-hectare vegetable garden, which is the sustainable hub of Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel. The garden is home to 200 solar panels, which generate the power supply for the Atzaró Vegetable Garden and the entire hotel. Not only is the power self-generated, but the hotel’s water (including that of its famous pool) is sourced from the on-site well.
The garden itself is entirely organic, with produce ranging from squashes and courgettes, hanging on pergolas across walkways, to passion fruits, apples, avocados and papayas. Not only are the vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs abundant here, so too is the space. En route to the garden dinner I pass a bed of enormous cabbages, each one surrounded by several feet of soil, (their living situation arguably more agreeable than many of those trapped by the London rental crisis).
The freshness of the ingredients in the one-night-only menu do the hard work (not to take away from the excellent work of Yotam and his team). Sharing platters of fresh, crispy focaccia with an oil and zingy lime dip, grilled padron peppers in muhammara cups with walnut and pomegranate molasses and chargrilled courgette with Manchego cheese, burnt butter and pine nuts all start the evening, before the lamb main is brought out alongside roasted celeriac skewers as a (delectable) vegetarian alternative. By the time the enormous pavlovas topped with fresh roasted apricots from the garden are brought out, there is little space to fill, but as the mesmerising flamenco dancers pound a rhythmic Spanish melody on the stage to the hypnotic vocals of the live band, we all spoon in a mound or two of melt-in-the-mouth meringue topped with sweet fruit and crunchy pistachios. It is a perfect evening of lively conversation, spectacular entertainment, plentiful food and wine: the spirit of old Ibiza with the modern zing and bold flavours of one of the world’s most likeable and talented chefs.
Ottolenghi’s visit may have been a one-off, but there is always a reason (/excuse) for a visit to Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel. Arguably the most spectacular pool on the island (and one of the world’s), the iconic 43-metre fresh-water pool in the spa grounds is surrounded by towering palms and enormous, comfortable day-beds set amidst a bountiful aromatic garden at the property’s former orange grove. Regulars to Ibiza will know that it is an island of two halves, hedonism and wellbeing coexisting flawlessly alongside each other, yin and yang; and if it’s self-care you seek, an indulgent spa day in this peaceful haven is enough to set just about anyone right. Detox juices, fresh salads with greens from the garden, a tempting spa menu and yoga and pilates by the pool; the options for self-improvement (/desperate attempts at emergency detoxification after a weekend of hedonism) are endless.
THE FINAL WORD.
Abundance, naturally. Of fresh and nourishing, home-grown food, regenerative ecotourism initiatives, unforgettable experiences, new friendships and space: glorious, peaceful space. To breathe, to grow, to live a life in balance.