Hotel innovators gather in Ibiza to explore the changing face of the island’s hospitality scene, with a curated programme of tours, talks and transformational experiences.
The spiritual gods of Ibiza made their presence felt at Sleepover in May, with fun-loving Bes influencing the late-night live entertainment and site visits to music-driven hotels, while the virtues of Tanit – representing health, harvest and fertility – permeated the exploration of a new generation of resorts devoted to community, wellbeing and connection to the land.
To the theme of ‘club to campo’ – referencing the evolution of Ibiza’s hospitality offer from clubber’s paradise to rural retreat – hotel innovators from Europe, USA and as far afield as Asia flocked to the Balearic island for two days of exploration and inspiration. It was the latest in a series of nomadic events in which entrepreneurs and creative spirits gather for 48-hours of immersion into a particular destination, with a bespoke programme that allows attendees to experience new hospitality concepts, identify future business opportunities and gain insight from pioneers at the forefront of design, travel and hospitality.
The journey so far has taken Sleepover attendees to meet the makers and artisans of Brooklyn’s industrial workshops, food foraging in Copenhagen and on a tour of Miami’s emerging Design District, as well as to preview forthcoming hotels in Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona. So why Ibiza? The island has long been recognised as the beating heart of Europe’s clubbing scene, but until recently, its hospitality offer lagged behind. A glut of cheap-and-cheerful hotels to accommodate the hordes of clubbers contributed to concerns of overtourism, leading to government-imposed restrictions on nightlife, holiday rentals and new hotel development. Many thought the party was over, but the action has in fact been the making of the new Ibiza. The island is being promoted as a family destination; its northern coast and inland markets are being redeveloped; and the hotel scene is evolving at a rapid pace, through both the reinvention of existing stock and the arrival of big brands, lured in by the promise of strong performance – Ibiza has one of the highest RevPARs in Spain – and rising tourist expenditure.
“Ibiza is trying hard to reinvent itself and doing so in many interesting ways,” explained Matt Turner, Sleeper’s Editor-in-Chief, at the opening reception. “More than ever this place is still a hotbed of innovation and a lightning rod for many worldwide trends in hospitality… that’s what led us to bring you here.”
Speaking from the rooftop of OD Talamanca, one of Sleepover’s host hotels, he continued: “Our programme is going to take you from the clubs that made the island famous, to the campo – or countryside – where a new generation of agroturismos are emerging. Along the way we’ll be looking at some of the island’s most exciting new luxury hotels and previewing others.”
Following a welcome from OD Group’s founder and CEO Marc Rahola, and a Mediterranean lunch overlooking Talamanca Bay, Sleepover’s guests headed off along the coast to tour the island’s newest and most interesting hotel concepts. At Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, opened in 2017 following the complete overhaul of an ageing property, a look around the public spaces and guestrooms revealed a design scheme inspired by the surroundings, with white to represent the island’s famed white houses, turquoise for the Balearic sea and accents of gold for the sunshine. Naturally, F&B is central to Nobu’s offer, so the tour took guests to the brand’s eponymous restaurant, designed here by California-based Studio PCH, as well as Chambao, a laidback beachside chiringuito serving freshly caught seafood. The lobby impressed with its architecture, which neatly frames the view out to the pool and ocean beyond, while the wow-factor came in the form of the Royal Suite, a villa-like duplex featuring a sprawling terrace complete with outdoor lounge and hot tub.
The next stop, Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, showed an entirely different side to the island’s hotel scene, and offered insight into the appetite for club hotels. The 415-key property from Palladium Hotel Group opened in 2011 to support one of the largest clubs in Ibiza and regularly sells out despite standard room rates in the region of €700 during peak season. The design scheme sees an army of oversized ants seemingly crawling across the ceiling, which may seem out of place to the uninformed guest, but those in-the-know get the reference to Ushuaïa’s popular Ants club night. Sleepover’s guests were invited to follow the ants around the public spaces to the swimming pool, which boasts a very lively atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon, and up to the guestrooms – many of which overlook the dance floor of the 4,000-capacity open-air club – where circular beds, transparent bathtubs and indiscreet ceiling mirrors certainly aren’t for the bashful. Attendees were also granted access to the ‘I’m on Top of the World Suite’, which fetches €10,000 per night and demonstrates that, while the bold scheme may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s a proven money-spinner.
Following a boat trip along the coastline, the evening’s programme took in the spectacular setting of 7 Pines, a new resort on the west of the island. Sunset drinks on the terrace and dinner at The View restaurant were accompanied by a live DJ set, though true to legend, eyes were drawn to the the rocky outcrop of Es Vedra, said to have a mysterious magnetic pull and reputed to be the birthplace of Tanit.
The goddess made another appearance of day two of Sleepover, this time as the inspiration behind one of Ibiza’s forthcoming hotels. In a series of talks curated exclusively for Sleepover, designers Alon Baranowitz and Irene Kronenberg shared insight into the island’s next high profile opening, a 162-key W hotel due to open later this year. While many of the design details are under wraps, the duo revealed that the scheme is rich in texture, mood and engagement, and is a place where flower power meets club culture, and myth and legend amplify the brand’s enigmatic spirit.
Baranowitz and Kronenberg also spoke of the challenges of designing Sir Joan, one of Sleepover’s host hotels with a difficult roadside location. Government limitations dictated the building be refurbished rather than knocked down and rebuilt, a move that the duo believe made for a better finished product, having forced them to be more inventive and creative with their ideas.
On the theme of new openings, a presentation by Jonathan Leitersdorf, CEO of Beach Box Ibiza, revealed plans for a Six Senses hotel, set to debut in Cala Xarraca Bay on the northern tip of the island, in 2020. As the visionary behind the design and development of the project, Leitersdorf spoke of a concept that will capture the authentic Ibiza experience of community, spirituality and celebration, while focusing on wellness, sustainability and healthy living.
The final afternoon of Sleepover’s programme took place at La Granja, a farmstead hotel in Ibiza’s pastoral inlands, and looked at the evolution of the farm. Hosted in collaboration with Ibiza Preservation Foundation and Design Hotels as part of the group’s Further initiative – born from the idea that a hotel can be far more than just accommodation – the immersive programme involved talks, tours and meaningful engagement, and was an experience that undoubtedly left its mark on Sleepover attendees.
Following a welcome from Design Hotels founder Claus Sendlinger – who now dedicates his time to SLOW (sensitive, local, organic, wise) with the aim of creating unique guest experiences – the programme continued with a keynote by Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond, co-founders of The Future Laboratory. Their enlightening talk on health and wellness outlined the shift from the experience economy to the transformation economy, and set the scene for the transformative tours around La Granja and its farmlands. One took guests on a walk through vegetable plantations and herb gardens with farmer Andy Szymanowicz, who educated guests on the sustainable agriculture practices at the resort, while another showcased plans for Amorevore, a festival with food culture at its heart. Additional experiences included entrancing an meditation ritual deep in the pine forest, and an exploration of La Granja’s F&B concept, hosted by head chef José Catrimán and mixologist Greg Seider.
Sleepover’s guests also got to sample Catrimán’s farm-to-fork cuisine, with healthy dishes made from seasonal, locally-grown produce accompanying succulent cuts of lamb roasted on an open fire throughout the day. The drinks programme was equally inventive, with tonics and elixirs focusing on herbal ingredients that naturally stimulate body and mind.
And minds continued to be stimulated through the evening’s Further Thoughts talks programme, with guests gathering in the open-air amphitheatre to hear from some of the region’s leading place-makers. Chris Connors of BeBox spoke about personal wellbeing and the evolution of the self; Sanjay Nandi, Chief Development Officer of Pacha Group, and Thomas Heyne, co-founder of Mykonos beach club Scorpios, discussed the changing face of the nightclub scene; while José Corraliza spoke of the success of Heart Ibiza, a unique fusion between art and gastronomy, devised in collaboration with the Ádria Brothers and Cirque du Soleil.
As dusk fell over La Granja, the psychedelic sounds of Istanbul-based musician Islandman transformed the farm into an open-air dance floor, bringing the club-to-campo theme full circle and marking the end of a hugely memorable Sleepover.
Sleeper Media would like to thank all those involved in helping put Sleepover Ibiza together, as well as sponsors Alarwool, Artiq, Dupont, Grohe, Havwoods, Hoad & More, Kaldewei, Kalisher, Kettal, Kor, Laufen, Leds C4, Lutron, RH, Roca and Visto.