Welcome to pleasure dome: El Ayoun & 10 years of Ibiza chic.

Words by: I-Voice
Posted: 14/6/08 13

Everything about Sant Rafael favourite El Ayoun oozes good taste. The restaurant's décor is luxuriant without being overstated, colourful without being gaudy, modern without trying too hard. And judging by the understated urbanity of owner Charles good restaurants truly reflect their owners.

A former fashion designer from Belgium, Charles Delfortrie came to Ibiza "on holiday, like everyone else" 11 years ago, bought a rundown trio of restaurants, knocked the walls through to form one expansive site, and began a new life as restaurateur at El Ayoun. Wednesday, 18 June is the lavish 10th anniversary party of his Arab-influenced retreat - and a tribute to Charles' wilfulness, vision and, above all, unflappable cool in the face of adversity.

Sporting Marc Jacobs flip-flops and a precision haircut, he wafts through the cluttered office (an iron, boxes of biscuits and CVs from potential staff members fight for space on sleek glass surfaces) onto the private roof terrace, lights a Philip Morris cigarette and swivels to ask: "what is it you want to know?"           

So, you came, you saw, you opened El Ayoun… makes it sound easy. Was it?
"No! It wasn't. It was hard. A lot of bad things happened. We open six months in the summer and I spend the other six months looking for a solution to the problems."  

What was the impetus behind El Ayoun?
"I was inspired by the first Moroccan restaurant back in Belgium, but I wanted it to be more about style, presentation. More fashion. There was no Moroccan restaurant in Ibiza before so it seemed like the perfect opportunity." 

How has El Ayoun evolved over 10 years?
"When we started it was a restaurant, simple. No bar, no music. Five years ago I opened the bar, which took us in a new direction. Now I've changed the food and wine too. It's Mediterranean, and we've just added a Sushi bar. We want to take it in a new direction: better service and more style."  

Clubs in Ibiza are famously back-stabbing. Is the same true of restaurants?
"Not at all. We're friends, not rivals. My publicity manager used to work for L'Elephant, but I didn't steal her!" 

How have you built El Ayoun's reputation as a glamour destination?
"Through our service, I think, not advertising. We give special attention to the jet-set."  

"Our 10 Years birthday? The party is called Over Chic  Everyone has to dress in black, white or gold. We're having snake charmers and a live camel… Wednesday 18 June."

You have a lot of famous faces then?
"Oh yes. Tina Turner, Elle MacPherson, Valentino, John Galliano, Jay Kay. I'd love to have Robbie Williams come in, he always has gorgeous models with him." 

You became (in)famous for your after-parties. Was that something you planned?
"Not exactly. It kicked off a lot of problems. The council closed me for about 20 days [last summer]. And they made me knock down my new toilets! It cost me a fortune. Politics here can make your life very difficult. But I always find a solution." 

What treats are in store for the season?
"This year we're focusing on animation - themes like our Boogie Nights party."  

And for the 10th birthday?
"The party is called Over-chic. Everyone has to dress in black, white or gold. We're having snake charmers and a live camel… "

A live camel?!
"Oh yes. It's from a circus in Madrid. Very expensive. The first time you'll ever see a camel at a restaurant [laughs]."

Speaking of which, is the pair of gold camel statues outside related to the camels on the dancefloor at Amnesia?
"Yes. I had them imported from Bangkok. Afterwards, Amnesia wanted some too. But I had the first camels…"

Luckily, for those who love the sophisticated ambiance of El Ayoun Charles has no plan to expand his empire. "I have to be here. Everything here is part of me," he states firmly. And with that he whisks downstairs, pops into the steaming hot kitchen, claps the sushi chef on the shoulder, sorts out a booking mix-up… always keeping a finger on the pulse of his beloved business. Ten years ago he set out to create a "fashion" restaurant but El Ayoun is more. It has style and substance. Chic and soul, if you will. Happy birthday!

More photo at the gallery

El Ayoun | C/Isidor Macabich s/n, San Rafael, 07820 |
www.elayoun.com  | reservation@elayoun.com  | Tel: 0034 971 198335


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