Fiona Gibson on reinventing the girls’ holiday once the children have flown the nest
Holidays have changed so much for me and my girl gang – Jenny, Kath and I met at work in the heady eighties – from raucous weekends to Amsterdam, Florence, Barcelona and Berlin in our early twenties to family holidays with the kids in tow in various Yorkshire cottages (husbands were left at home, obviously not loving the peace and tranquility at all), and everything in between.
Fast-forward to our fifties – and with our children largely bailing out of our escapades in favour of embarking on adventures of their own – we wondered what a holiday is this decade and beyond would look like.
‘We could still go away,’ Jenny was the first to tentatively suggest. ‘But the kids think we’re embarrassing and tedious,’ I pointed out. ‘They don’t even want to do the Whitby Dracula tour.’
‘No,’ she said, ‘I don’t mean a donkeys-and-Dracula kind of holiday. I mean the three of us. Just… us.’
Now that sounded enticing… and also rather naughty, to go away unencumbered by children just for – you know – fun. ‘Maybe we could meet at a Travelodge somewhere halfway?’ I suggested, tentatively.
Stuff that, my friends retorted. We were off to Ibiza, I was to shop for non-industrial swimwear immediately and leave my hair-shirt at home. And so we headed, not to a chain hotel off M6 but Santa Eulalia, on Ibiza’s east coast.
Stay in style at Aguas de Ibiza Grand Luxe hotel
As we arrived at the spa hotel of Aguas De Ibiza, I remembered the whole point of going away with one’s best women friends. It’s to relish maximum uninterrupted time together – hence our requested three-bedded room, its balcony overlooking the beautiful twinkling town – and to simply kick back, with no demands whatsoever. While families are welcome at the hotel, its relaxed luxury vibe is perfect for couples or a bunch of friends like us who, actually, deserve a treat.
Guests lounged at the poolside in landscaped gardens ablaze with bougainvillea. We lazed and we chatted, pausing only to be handed some delicious treat by a passing waiter (a plate of tiny pastries with drinks, or dinky skewers of fresh pineapple). In those Yorkshire cottages we’d cook up vats of spag bol, or roast three chickens, and dole it all out like in a school canteen. Here at our hotel’s sun-dappled outdoor restaurant, as we lingered over squid, lobster, salads garnished with flowers and exquisite desserts involving chocolate sand, we decided that we really didn’t miss everyone back home terribly much at all.
I had a heavenly massage in the dreamy spa, and we all felt obliged to take in the eye-popping view (and several cocktails) from the hotel’s rooftop bar where, conveniently, there is another pool, for adults only. And while we might not have been chasing flirty-eyed waiters this time, we happened to note that the staff, who wafted around charmingly in white linen pyjama-style uniforms, were as eye-pleasing as the island itself.
Exploring Ibiza Town
When we could bear to venture beyond the hotel, we explored Ibiza town, its twisting streets wending between beautifully craggy, sun-faded houses and numerous alluring tapas bars. We loved laid-back Santa Eulalia, the perfect town if you’re more into relaxing than whooping it up every night, and shopped for pom-pom embellished baskets, delicate jewellery and the prettiest embroidered dresses I’ve ever seen. Away from the younger, clubbing hoards, the Ibiza vibe is the right side of hippy – less batik trousers, more floaty linen and cottons, and so achingly pretty that you just want to buy everything, whether or not it would be befitting Glasgow’s grey skies.
Sun, sea and sand at Cala Nova Beach
Cala Nova beach, with its silky sand and scattering of restaurants, was well worth the 15-minute taxi hop. All of this was a world away from San Antonio, the island’s clubbing capital, the thought of which had triggered a nervous rash when my friends had first mooted Ibiza as a destination. In fact there is far more to ‘the white isle’ than partying all night – although we do find ourselves venturing to Pikes Hotel, the infamous venue for Freddie Mercury’s 41st birthday bash, from which the firework display could be seen nearly 200km away in Majorca. Even more thrilling to us, it was also the location for Wham!’s Club Tropicana video.
Here, fuelled by espresso martinis, we somehow found ourselves dancing for hours, until I stopped and noticed that it was actually… daylight. I hadn’t danced all night since I was twenty years old. How could this be possible? Then I looked at the two friends beside me, who have been my partners in crime for our entire adult lives, and thought: oh.
So, what are we doing next year?