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Operations


Left: Interior shot of OKU Ibiza, one of only three fi ve-star hotels on the island.


Opposite page: The new hotel’s swimming pool is part of an ambitious attempt to attract a less party- driven audience.


Just as Ibiza itself has changed, its hotels and


hospitality ventures have adapted to meet changing times and fluid demographics. While younger crowds still flock to clubs such as Pacha and Amnesia, in recent years the hospitality model has adapted to suit a mature clientele with more refined tastes. That evolution has birthed VIP beach clubs and


wellness resorts that prioritise relaxation over all-night raving. These new hospitality ventures generally take the form of kitsch boutique hotels or palatial luxury villas promising idyllic views over the Mediterranean. It’s a shift in temperature that Austrian-born Enrique Mandl has seen develop since he first set foot on Ibiza’s white sands 17 years ago to take up the general manager role of Ocean Drive hotel. “Ibiza as an island is really changing,” Mandl says. “In


the last few years, a laid-back luxury feeling has been growing [as an alternative] to this kind of old-fashioned rave element. Partying is still an important part of the island and its culture, but clients are getting older and lots of parents now come here with their families.” Formerly at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, the five-star hotel


on Talamanca beach, Mandl is now COO and general manager of OKU Ibiza, a flagship hotel near the island’s traditional rave spot of San Antonio – where many of its most popular beaches reside. With its name derived from a Japanese concept meaning ‘inner space’, OKU takes the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – not to be confused with wasabi – and uses it as a reference point for a kind of ‘laid-back luxury’ that incorporates relaxed fun and wellness offerings into a 184-room hotel located on the fringe of Cala Gració bay, in the hills away from the chaos of the strip. The property alone marks a significant investment, housing a signature suite, a standalone four-bedroom


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


villa, ocean-view penthouses, two restaurants, a spa and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Cuisine comes by way of Mark Vaessen, formerly of SUSHISAMBA, who has brought his trademark fusion of Asian and Mediterranean dishes to the menu. Formerly a Casa Cook – the sub-brand launched in 2016 as an attempt to update the package holiday for a new generation – the hotel is backed by Swiss group LMEY Investments, which is also launching a 100-room hotel in Kos under the OKU name. As such, OKU is not just a new addition to Ibiza, but it marks the launch of a lifestyle brand with plans to expand across Europe. “There are certain elements of Casa Cook, but it’s a totally new rebranding, so everything will be bought to another level,” Mandl explains. “We are a five-star grand luxury hotel, which makes us one of only three [such] hotels on the island, so I think we really went from a four-star concept to a five-star one.”


Get with the times The venture is well-suited to a younger clean-living demographic or large family groups – it prides itself on “offering an alternative way to experience the famed party island of the Balearics” – but it is also selling itself more generally as an inner sanctuary from pandemic-induced anxieties. By encouraging a slower pace of life, guests will be able to take time out to switch off. Or so the thinking goes. “Those people that are coming to us after being


in lockdown for long periods have been desperately waiting for their first vacation, and what we’re trying to offer them is that relaxation element,” Mandl says. “It’s about having time to yourself. Of course, we’re respecting all the safety and distancing measures and all the necessary [protocols], but it’s really about


184 OKU Hotels 45


Number of rooms in OKU Ibiza.


Georg-Roske


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