Cas Gasi is a long-established rural hideaway in Ibiza but it’s now upping its efforts to be self-sufficient with the launch of a permaculture vegetable garden. Jenny Southan reports
Away from the bawdy hedonism of the coastal hotels and nightclubs, inland Ibiza is home to a trove of peaceful farmstead-style agroturismos that combine hospitality with self-sufficiency. One of the forerunners, Cas Gasi began as a family home in the late 1980s, gradually evolving into a boutique hotel run by the matriarch of the family, Margaret Von Korff, in the 1990s.
Her grown-up children are now pursuing their own careers but she still lives on the estate, which has now grown to 18 guest rooms, which are enjoy an idyllic rural setting with orchards of olive and orange trees, and a flock of free range chickens who lay eggs for breakfast.
During the pandemic, her team of gardeners set to work establishing a series of new “no dig” permaculture plots for growing organic fruits vegetables, enabling the property to generate more produce for use in its own restaurant (from this summer, it will also become solar powered).
A former Lufthansa air stewardess, Von Korff tells Globetrender: “For me, to know where everything comes from is a big part of being sustainable. Permaculture is a system that was developed by Charles Dowding and we are very excited to see how it works because we are newcomers to it – we only created the permaculture beds last summer.” She adds that also part of her vision is to set up long tables in the garden for al fresco garden banquets, and to invite guests to pick their own vegetables.I checked in with my partner and our young daughter in the spring, when Cas Gasi had just reopened for the summer season. (Located near Santa Gertrudis in the centre of the island, it’s about a 20-minute drive from the airport.)
Although it was raining, I could immediately sense this was a special place, and we were given a beautiful room in the main house with views down on to the property’s huge, ancient olive tree. In addition to an library annex, our suite had both a double and a single bed, as well as a large bathroom with a spa bath and shower. I was also pleased to find a room service menu (always handy when you have a child who needs to eat at ad hoc times). Downstairs, the living room lobby functions as the homely heart of the hotel, where a log fire burns in the evening and tables are stacked with art books. Here, guests frequently settle in with a book or after-dinner drinks, entering into spontaneous conversation with each other. I had fascinating talk about the film industry late one night with one of Von Korff’s friends, who told me that conversations “like this just don’t happen in London or LA”. There is something about the intimate, unpretentious, familiarity of the place that allows people to connect with each other. Probably because they feel like guests of Von Korff in her home, rather than an anonymous hotel.
“The energy on Ibiza is its core asset,” says Von Korff. “It attracts so many incredible people. You really feel a sense of creativity here. Somehow it inspires everybody. You feel so free because there are no standards. Nobody cares what you do – you can live your dream,” she says.
One of the best things about the hotel is undoubtedly its restaurant, which serves gorgeously nutritious food using ingredients grown on-site and from neighbouring farms. The freshly squeezed orange juice is some of the best I have ever tasted. When we visited, it was quiet so breakfast was a la carte in the mornings (I particularly enjoyed the avocado on wholegrain toast and the granola yoghurt pots) but usually there is a bounteous buffet. Our daughter loved the fruit platters. It’s not cheap (Ibiza as a whole is an expensive place to visit) but the quality of the cooking is high. Starters include organic Iberian ham with crystal bread an tomato (36), smoked sardine with roasted eggplant and spiced yoghurt (€20); Cas Gasi salad with fermented crudités and wild sprouts (€19); leek tatin with almond praline (€21); linguini with seasonal mushrooms (€22); grilled Ibizan octopus (€24) and roasted lamb (€32).
On a balmy day, reclining by the pool with a book is the ideal way to spend time at Cas Gasi. But it’s also easy to head off in a hire car to explore some of the island’s many beaches. Von Korff recommended Las Salinas to us, which offers one of the few big expanses of sand in Ibiza so is ideal for children and is surrounded by a nature reserve and salt flats.
On the main road is the Experimental Beach Club, and an adjacent grocery store that sells fantastic local crisps seasoned with salt from the nearby salt pans. Those looking to do a tour of agroturismos in Ibiza can also check into Can Lluc, Atzaro, La Granja and Es Cucons.
A tranquil hideaway in the heart of Ibiza that serves delicious farm-fresh food. It’s also a place where spontaneous conversations with fellow guests (or the owner herself) could lead to unexpected surprises. Top marks for investing in self-sufficiency, a trend we predict will be huge (and necessary) in a post-global world.