Interview with Sophie Berdah, owner of La Pandilla

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We are opening a section to introduce you to the personalities that make the island of Ibiza. ☀️

We are pleased to continue with Sophie Berdah, owner of La Pandilla, the lovely creative oasis in Ibiza.

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8 questions about Ibiza to Sophie

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When did you first come to Ibiza?

My first time in Ibiza was in 2013. At the time, I lived in Paris, which despite the size of the city felt like a small world, and Ibiza was a place to escape. 

I landed directly in Les Terrasses, a beautiful hotel owned by Françoise Pialloux near Santa Eulalia, which I think showed me all the best aspects of Ibiza.

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What was your first impression of the island?

I was hit by the spectacular greenery of the island, its wild nature. A place as quiet and peaceful as it was welcoming, warm, and full of joy. Everyone I met seemed in love with their way of life, and I quickly learned to love it too.

It felt so far from the DJ-clubs-and-drugs vision of Ibiza that many people in France can have of the island. I discovered the place through the eyes of locals, of people that had lived there for years, and they made me love the island for its authenticity.

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How did the idea of Pandilla come up?

By 2020, I’d had my hotel in Paris, Le Citizen, for about ten years, and I was looking for a new project. 

I was tempted by the idea of building something here in Ibiza, of exploring further the island and what it had to offer. 

The idea of buying a place that I could make my own and in the image of the new way of life I imagined quickly came up. When I first visited the site of La Pandilla, it looked very different than it does today, but it took me very little to know it could become something beautiful. 

The previous owner hadn’t been able to care for the place for years, yet the plants resisted. The nature there seemed indestructible, maybe because of its proximity to Las Salinas. Still, there was a lot to do and the idea of dropping everything in Paris to come live in Ibiza full-time to work on the place seemed like a big step. 

I think Covid, in a way, was the deciding factor. While the whole world stood still, I had this place I could spend all my time and energy, it was a way to stay active, keep building something, to make the most out of the situation. I had something positive to focus on while I saw the lockdowns come and go in France.

I think it’s also what made the project what it is now. After months unable to see anyone and being isolated in their houses, I felt like everyone needed to be together again, to live in groups, in gangs, in “pandillas”. It seemed natural to dedicate the site to that.

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Can you introduce it to us for those who don’t know La Pandilla?

Pandilla is the Spanish word for “a band of” (pals, bandits, or birds). But it is above all casitas designed for groups and a creative oasis with a program of workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions, and residences… Located in the middle of the Salines natural park… 10 minutes walk from the long white sand beach of Les Salines and Es Cavallet.

Here, the spaces are designed to be shared with family, friends, or co-workers, whether you are 2 or… 65! (and yes, we have 10 casitas and 65 beds in all!).

Whether it’s the creative workshops that enliven the place all year round, the whitewashed casitas surrounded by the garden, or the 100% made in Ibiza meals to enjoy on the go, at the beach, in the grand comedor, or at the pool side…

The idea is to share, build, create, dream and recharge your batteries with your crew, your team, your millefa… all those you love.

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What would you describe as to be the essence of Ibiza?

I genuinely think that the sense of community and togetherness has for a long time been the essence of Ibiza. Although I wasn’t there in the 60s, I have a clear image of hippie communities living together on the island, celebrating its beauty. 

To this day, I can’t get on a plane to Ibiza without sitting next to large groups of friends, or a big family. In the past few years, Ibiza has become a lot fancier and has seen a lot of jet-set people take over some parts of the island, and I feared that this sense of community would be lost in this new wave. 

In a way, with La Pandilla I am trying to preserve that essence, or what feels to me like a defining trait of the place. The idea is to bring people together for the sake of what living in a tight community has to offer, not for show.

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Which spots from the island do you like the most? Why?

Because of the beauty and atmosphere of the place, but also because the owner and all the team have become like family since I first met them. Les Terrasses is definitely one of my favorite spots on the island. I would recommend trying the Tuesday night couscous for a feel of the place and the people that meet there once a week.

I would recommend a stop at Santa Gertrudis. I always stop by Atelier 74 for a coffee and a peanut cookie! Checking out the new ideas and creations of Tara and her team. Then, I go to Siempre to admire the beautiful staging of their tables, get inspired, and buy some new glasses, plates, decorations, etc.

 
In terms of beaches, I haven’t found a better way to start my mornings than to walk to Ses Salines, just 10 minutes away from La Pandilla, watching the sun rise over the salt dunes and swimming in the still quiet and unbothered sea before work. If I have more time, I’ll walk the extra mile until Cala Pluma, a hidden creek a bit further toward la Torre, and lay down on the rocks.

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What makes Pandilla Ibiza an ideal site to stay?

Its location, first of all. At the heart of the Natural Park of Ses Salines, a ten-minute walk from the Salines beach and Es Cavallet, in a luxurious garden in the shadow of palm trees. The landscape alone would make your stay.

But beyond this, I have really tried to recreate in La Pandilla the atmosphere of my family house. To make it a place where everyone feels at home, free to come and go as they please yet all together and feel part of a family when they want to. We have a diversity of activities to keep everyone, whatever their age or interests, entertained and happy to be there. 

Whether you like yoga early in the morning or lazy afternoons by the pool, if you love to feast for hours or to grab a sandwich while playing cards, petanque, and pastis, or sangria and dancing – there’s something for everyone.

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Do you have any initiative to help with the island’s natural preservation?

When I got to this place, I realized that the worst thing I could do would be to force anything upon the vegetation that had grown over the years and taken its natural place on the site. 

I really wanted to preserve what existed, and help it grow. So I didn’t buy any new plants or tear anything down. I tried to work around it, to adapt the architecture to what was already there. I believe all we can do is not work against it when the Park, in its natural state, already looks this beautiful.

We also try to be conscious of our use of water, which has long been in short supply in Ibiza and encourage our clients to do the same. Finally, we are always mindful of the peace and quiet that this place is meant to preserve.

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What is your personal address in Ibiza?

I actually live in La Pandilla myself, I renovated one of the casitas as my own, and have an extra room for when my family comes to visit. When I say I like to live in groups, I mean it, I’ve chosen to do it all year long. 

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La Pandilla Site : https://pandilla-ibiza.com/

Address : Carrer de Formentera, 2-4, 07817 Sant Francesc de s’Estany, Illes Balears, Espagne

Photo: La Pandilla

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