Aeronautical engineer by profession, hotel manager by vocation. Born in Holland, Joost Kruissen’s career has unfolded within various contrasting landscapes. From the Canary Islands, with a sojourn in Mexico, he decided to settle in Formentera because of his love for the Pitiusa Islands. Passionate about his work, he is fortunate enough to be doing what he loves in the place that he has chosen.
How did your career in the hotel world begin? Was it always your passion?
When I completed my aeronautical engineering degree in Holland, I decided to take some time to work out what I really wanted to do, and where my passion lay. The hospitality industry had always attracted me, and I went to try my luck in the Canary Islands, in the entertainment team of a big hotel in Tenerife. What was supposed to be a temporary, 6-month contract became my passion, my life. Nineteen years on, I’m still in love with the industry, with its people and with the art of welcoming guests. So my career path began in the Canary Islands, with spells in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Later on, I went to Madrid, and then 10 years ago I began to explore the Pitiusa Islands where, in addition to the hotel sector, I discovered a mental attitude and a lifestyle that drew me in, and eventually rewarded me with a lovely family.
What brought you to Gecko Formentera?
Before coming to Gecko, I spent a year in Mexico, and while I was there I was taken on for this project. I already knew Gecko from my years in Ibiza, so when I then heard rumours that there was going to be a major refurbishment of the facilities and an overhaul of the product, I felt that it was the ideal place to continue my career, and we very quickly reached a collaboration agreement. My background is in resort hotels and large hotels, and I was captivated by the idea of a boutique hotel here. It is very rewarding to be able to get to know all your guests, and to offer a prestigious, personalised service.
What particularly impressed you about Gecko Formentera and the island of Formentera itself?
I’ve been a fan of the Pitiusa Islands for many years; the mentality and the ability to reinvent itself and to create unique products is in its DNA. The islands attract a unique type of visitor who looks for a superior standard of service. I always say that Formentera today is what Ibiza was 30 years ago, but with one big problem: Human resources. The staff team at Gecko impressed me: it is a hugely talented and motivated team, loyal to the hotel and to the company. Without question, it is an enormous asset, and we will go on working to encourage and retain it.
Tell us about the cuisine on offer at Gecko. And what is your philosophy?
Apart from the extensive breakfast menu available on the terraces by sea, we offer 2 main menus at the Beach Club and the Restaurant respectively. Both are focused on Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, local ingredients and they respect the basic traditions, while offering a fusion with the finest international cuisine. Our range of fish and rice dishes is outstanding — we always source our raw ingredients from these islands, and adhere to one of our principal values: zero food miles. Gecko is proving especially attractive to yoga enthusiasts and the wellness trends of the last few years, and this has led us to specialise increasingly in vegetarian and vegan options, so that we offer an extensive range of these types of dishes.
What are your own favourite dishes from your restaurant?
From the wide-ranging menu of over 50 options, I would choose the sea bass and red prawn ceviche, followed by a prawn and sticky rice dish, accompanied by a good rosé wine.
To you personally, Joost, what would be the perfect Gecko experience?
To wake up in the Gecko Loft with direct views over the Mediterranean Sea, and my private swimming pool, all in the company of my family. I’d go downstairs to the gardens and enjoy a quiet morning before calling into the restaurant for lunch while enjoying some good music and sea views. My wife would indulge in a Spa experience while I spent some time on the beach with the children. We’d move on to an evening eating espetos [fish roasted over coals] and listening to live music before going to bed.
Which are your favourite restaurants on Formentera?
Depending on the occasion, I love an informal but extraordinarily good meal at La Pezquería o Ceferino in Sant Francesc — and for an extra-special, sophisticated and different occasion, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose A mi Manera.