LA GRANJA, Ibiza | Created by Design Hotels' founder and travel guru Claus Sendlinger, this finca in a hamlet in the hills is setting new standards in authentic experiences. Here, guests buy into a simple, pared-back rusticity filled with ‘original moments’.
Just as when Sendlinger saw the need for boutique hotels 15 years ago, he is now predicting a trend where hotels produce environments where guests can interact, to gain a longer-lasting connection. He’s trialling this concept at La Granja, where true to its namesake, these experiences and interactions are focused around the heart of the property — the farm that stretches out in neatly sown rows of vegetables, plants, and fruit trees. Every view, whether it’s from the volcanic stone swimming pool or the rustic-chic tree bar backed by ancient Barbary Fig cacti, is filled with La Granja’s immaculate terraces that fan out like fingers from the 300-year-old finca.
How does this member of Design Hotels connect guests with this enticing but possibly inaccessible landscape of rural Ibiza? Firstly, the farm provides all the food for the restaurant’s Farm Dinner menu — it’s delicious and dug straight from the earth, which gives guests an immediate connection to the land. If they glance down to the terraces below them, they’ll see pathways winding through them, encouraging exploration.
When they do, they quickly realise this is not just a pretty scene. There’s serious work going on here. La Granja’s master farmer Andy Szymanowicz, an upstate New Yorker who has been farming for 20 years, practices biodynamic farming. And this is about as good an example of it as you can get. You’ll see Andy and his bronzed team of workers getting to it and many guests interact here, learning that there are no pesticides, obviously, only probiotic spray, and that the soil is nutrient-rich due to compost made from food waste. Plants are placed ‘companionably’, for example the shady leaves of the Amaranth keeps the sun off thestrawberries. Lunar cycles decide when planting and harvest occurs, as the moon affects the moisture in the earth.
La Granja takes the interaction with the farm one step further by utilising the rural scene to connect with nature by performing ‘rituals’. At dusk, guests can grab a mezcal cocktail from the tree bar, built around the trunk of an old carob, and wander down to semi-circular stone steps which face the cultivated terraces. In the distance, the sea sparkles, the sun starts its decline, a DJ discreetly set up by a hay bale plays out some Ibizan chill… sometimes these evenings lead onto a chanting session, on other days a full moon is celebrated with upbeat music. At dinner, slow food is heaped onto communal dining tables, provoking more conversations.
A harmony between the land and the guests is created here, and Andy understands the need to keep extending this to the local community, 'We need to act and work together, we are not self-sufficient. Without community, we cannot do this', he says. A collaboration with Friends of a Farmer came from this mission to connect with locals in a meaningful way, and locals gather for convivial evenings at La Granja for good food and music, and after dinner, farmers are invited to share their expertise of agricultural practices. La Granja also helps the local community by giving to the Ibizan Preservation Fund, which contributes to preserving the island, including promoting of sustainability initiatives.
Inside the thick whitewashed walls of La Granja, sustainability is paramount: the hotel have a no plastic policy, amenities are locally made and organic and there’s a pared-back, less-is-more aesthetic. Within this back-to-basics, wholesome environment, encircled by the flourishing farm, Sendlinger has created a new template for hotel experience.