Sometimes, when the kids barge into the bedroom to wake me up at some unholy hour, I glance at the clock, grit my teeth and think: ‘This is the time I used to go to bed.’
On occasions, I’ve found myself missing the carefree, hedonistic times of my youth, booked a babysitter (thanks, mum) and tried to make a night of it like the old days. I’ve gone out, had a great time but woken with a hangover so infernally ear-splitting that I’m forced to admit that, no, I simply cannot party like I used to.
So, when friends suggested a joint family holiday in Ibiza, my first thought was the memory of that dull ache — the hangover of a hangover. I love Ibiza; I (mis)spent a fair chunk of my 20s there and it’s where I met my wife in 1997. But take the kids? You’ve got to be joking.
My friends Robbie and Kate, however, are a persuasive pair, and managed to paint a picture of idyllic island bliss. Rather than a hotel, we’d splash out on a beautiful spacious pool villa, have a cleaner in every day, a cook on call and enough adults around to share entertainer duty when the kids got antsy. It would be the perfect family holiday, they insisted.
And you know what? They were right. Ibiza has it all — no matter what age you are — and it ticks pretty much every box on the family-holiday checklist. What’s more, everything is within a half-hour drive, so when the kids pipe up, “Are we there yet?” from the back of the car, the answer is always, “Actually, yes.”
Over the course of a week, we visited the picture-perfect beaches of Aguas Blancas, Cala Bassa, Cala San Vicente and glorious Las Salinas. We enjoyed stress-free seafront lunches at trendy beach clubs on Las Salinas and Cala Jondal, sipped rosé and nodded along nostalgically to the laid-back Ibiza tunes that soundtracked the long-gone days of our youth. After all, pulling the kids away from One Direction and Little Mix and exposing them to the ‘proper music’ that mum and dad were brought up on is one of the cornerstones of responsible parenting.
After lunch, we strolled around the island’s glitzy marinas, ogling the mega yachts and guessing (OK, Googling) who owned which. By evening, it was back to the villa for a barbecue, or over to the still-stunning Old Town for an early meal. On the one occasion, when we stayed out until 9pm, we did have a slightly tricky time explaining the procession of clubbing crossdressers strutting across the cobbles, but all good holidays are educational, right?
You can probably already tell I’m a convert, and I haven’t even got to highlights like day trips to the neighbouring island of Formentera, where the sand is so flour-soft it’s positively Caribbean and the sea gleams an impossible shade of turquoise.
But there’s always one thing that can improve any family holiday, wherever you go — a babysitter — and having booked one, we headed off for a grown-up evening at Lío. Designed for people who want a night out but rankle at the thought of starting it at 2am in the queue outside Pacha, this cabaret club is actually owned by the same people, which suggests I’m not the only one who’s begun to appreciate an early night as I’ve got older. Here, over dinner, against the golden backdrop of the Old Town, we sat and toasted an Ibiza holiday that everyone had loved and that, this time, we might actually remember.
Mr & Mrs Smith has launched a collection of family-friendly villas in Ibiza and Majorca.
Published in the Summer 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller Family (UK)