From the contemporary Can Xita to the traditional Finca Boscosa, Michel de Liedekerke is the man behind some of Ibiza’s most coveted rental villas. Here, he discusses what gives the island its unique appeal.
Set on the pine-tufted hillside without a soul between the pool and the glistening southwest coast, Can Xita typifies the Ibicencan al fresco lifestyle. “I was first attracted to the island by its beauty,” recalls owner Michel de Liedekerke. “It’s an island for everybody. Retirees, families, parties…”
Both a businessman and a count, Belgian native Michel spent some 20 years in banking before investing in real estate. Much has changed since he bought his first villa here in 2011. “A hippy vibe is intrinsic to Ibiza,” he explains. “It’s a bit more discreet now, but it’s in the island’s DNA. What’s changed is that Ibiza has become a global brand.”
“I was attracted to Ibiza for its beauty. It’s an island for everybody. Retirees, families, parties…”
Michel now spends three to four months of the year here, largely at Can Xita. With a 25-metre pool, outdoor cinema and its own vegetable garden, it’s a paradisical island hideout. “There are no fences, all the way to the beach,” he says. “You don’t know where the plot finishes because it’s all open. Garden, then forest, then beach.”
Michel had originally intended to buy just one villa. “I don’t think it’s possible to build something like this anymore,” he says of his property portfolio that includes a roll call of design-led spaces. It was luck, he believes, that additional plots gradually came up for sale to eventually create an area of around 17 hectares.
Among Michel’s collection there’s the historical Finca Boscosa, a 17th-century Spanish farmhouse that’s all Sabina beams, tactile stone and sweeping views. Immersed in a valley, Villa Moderna is “spiritual, calm and zen”. Meanwhile, Can Cielo has eight bedrooms as well as an infinity pool, hot tub and a rooftop area with a bar and plunge pool.
“In all the villas, I have big, covered terraces with lots of plants and lamps. It gives the feeling that you are immersed in nature.”
All of Michel’s modern villas were designed by architecture studio Romano Arquitectos. “People feel that everything in Ibiza needs to be white, but wood gives warmth to contemporary houses,” Michel says of the villas’ trademark palette.
Outside, oases of convivial comfort have been created with thoughtful design choices. “In all the villas, I have big, covered terraces with lots of plants and lamps. It gives the feeling that you are immersed in nature.”
Many of the villas have been designed with hosting in mind. So much so that Michel has become known for his hospitality. “Growing up, we always had guests at home, so it feels very natural. When I’m in London, it’s not to the great happiness of my neighbours! But it’s more of an Ibiza thing. You can invite people and create a little community around you,” he says. “Friends come without being invited, actually. You just have to make sure they have a fixed departure date before they arrive.”
Michel’s guest-lists are diverse, although he believes there are generally three types of people who move to the island. “You’ve got the business-minded people doing deals, then the gong ceremony leaders, breathwork coaches and the army of people who will make you feel better. Lastly, there are the dreamers – people there to escape urban life,” he says. “But I don’t know where I fit in. I’m a bit of an outlier.”
Not far from Vista Alegre, Michel’s villas are within easy reach of Ibiza Town and Las Salinas – with its mesmerising salt flats and long, sandy beaches. Cala Jondal is within walking distance. Its famed upscale chiringuito, Jondal, is one of Michel’s favourite spots. “I also love JUL’S,” he enthuses. “And Casa Macca for the evening.” A connoisseur of the lifestyle, Michel prefers the after-hours side to the island. “Those hot days are the price you pay for the beautiful warm nights.”
Of course, everything comes with a monetary cost too and Michel is guided by what he calls the “Pacha index” – the price of a table behind the DJ booth on a Saturday night in the world-famous nightclub. But the cost of living on the island can perhaps be explained by its setting. “Ibiza has a bit of urban infrastructure. So, you have amazing houses, services, restaurants and clubs that you would usually find in cities,” he muses. “But here, you have that in the countryside – in nature.”