Ibiza Service Levels: Good Enough?

Having travelled extensively around Asia over the last 5 years I’ve been amazed at how good the service levels are in the private hospitality sector of that part of the world. Nothing seems to be too much trouble, professional people taking pride in their job and delivering quality service. Then once I return to Ibiza it’s the not the same, some staff even scowling and begrudgingly serving you.

Now before you write that comment below, not all places in Ibiza are like this but to be a truly world class destination too many still are in my opinion. Many businesses on the island are a well oiled machine and like anywhere in the world successful businesses have a team of fully trained, dedicated, motivated staff who are the most important part of the magic formula. As any owner will tell you, their business is only as good as the people who work there.

A Spanish friend who runs a very successful restaurant told me his story recently. Out of his 40 employees he has 20 hard working, dedicated ones who return every year. Another 10 are OK but their focus is not specifically on work but that’s understandable and as for the other 10; they couldn’t care less just taking the wage as a means to to getting out and about on the island.

The irony is that I constantly get asked about work in Ibiza: Are there any jobs? How difficult is it to get work? When I reply that there’s always a shortage of dedicated staff I get an incredulous response especially when I tell them about the average wage.

It seems that many dream of living and working on the White Isle yet don’t want to take the leap of faith required to move here full time. Then again many who say they want to work on the island don’t actually want to work, they want a summer of fun but also earn a little pocket money to get them by in between guest lists. This is no good for serious employers who need dedicated staff.

So an idea for our Island government (in between murdering goats, changing pedestrian crossings to non-gender symbols and constantly bickering with the opposition), why not set up an elite training school or college for those wanting a genuine career on the island in the service industry. Not one forced upon the unemployed but somewhere that breeds success. This could be a good way of attracting quality staff which could be used as a breeding ground for future generations. It’s a win/win/win. More staff to choose from, service levels go up and client satisfaction goes through the roof.

It’s very dangerous to view our biggest and only commodity as walking wallets who are only there to put money in pockets. Tourists are more wise nowadays and if any product doesn’t consistently improve then others will always grasp the initiative.

Cream to Leave Amnesia: End of an Era

It hasn’t been officially confirmed yet but news has leaked out that Cream is set to leave Thursdays at Amnesia after a massive 22 years at the Ibiza super club.

The Cream in Ibiza story started in 1994, the year that saw 2 giants – Cream on Thursdays and Manumission on Mondays – start their residencies at Privilege, the worlds biggest nightclub which had just reopened and rebranded after being previously known as ‘Ku’.

After just 1 summer at Privilege, Cream switched across the road to Amnesia in 1995 where it stayed for 23 fun filled and action packed summers. As other promoters came and went, Cream became stronger even when their spiritual home in Liverpool closed down. It was a phenomenon in Ibiza and world clubbing terms as they always stayed ahead of the game (even featuring heavily in the ‘Kevin and Perry Go Large’ movie in 2000).

Cream Ibiza were the first to focus on DJ’s rather than brand names, until then it was all about the night rather than the name. In many ways it was Cream who invented the superstar Ibiza DJ as they focused on the headshot and personality rather than the whole nights package.

Behind the scenes it was the late great Mo Chaudry who was largely responsible for getting Cream Ibiza into its lofty position in the clubbing world using his dry Scouse wit and relentless personality. He stamped himself all over the brand and made it into a world class success before handing over to Nick Ferguson who brought youth, enthusiasm and guile to the night and took it to whole different level.

Paul van Dyk, FatBoy Slim, Paul Oakenfold, Calvin Harris, Above and Beyond, Armin Van Buuren, Tall Paul, Seb Fontaine, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Laidback Luke, Ferry Corsten, Sasha, Jason Bye, Sander Van Doorn, Eddie Halliwell and many many other Ibiza legends owe a debt of gratitude to Cream as they were able to showcase their talents to huge crowds on the Amnesia terrace on a weekly basis, many then went on to host their own nights on the White Isle.

Cream’s August Radio 1 parties will go down in history as a ‘I was there moment’ as the brand went from strength to strength however all good things come to an end and Ibiza’s shift to daytime pursuits plus serious competition from other clubs with deep pockets saw summer 2017 turn into a bit of a struggle.

When you look at Ibiza’s recent clubbing history Cream was there right at the beginning and even though it’s rumoured to be heading to Hï on Sundays it’s the end of an era in many ways.

Cream was the last of the big 90’s mega-nights that started it all, along with the previously mentioned Manumission at Privilege, We Love Sunday’s at Space, Judgement at Eden, Miss Moneypenny’s at El Divino, Clockwork Orange at Es Paradis and Ministry of Sound at Pacha, these were the club nights that created the Ibiza brand around the globe and made it into the clubbing capital of the world that it is today.

Note: on 09 March it was announced that Cream would be at Hï Ibiza on Sunday nights

Ibiza Housing ‘Crisis’: Leap of Faith Required

As we approach March, the month that direct international flights start in earnest, the Ibiza housing ‘crisis’ shows no sign of easing. I have seen this first hand in my own office as we have at least 4 walk-ins per day asking about rentals, not to mention all the email enquiries.

A temporary ban on construction plus an increase in demand has seen rental prices rocket over the last few years meaning it’s difficult to find summer or anual accommodation at reasonable rates.

A search on social media sites will see that 1 bedroom apartments are now fetching around 800-1000 euros per month all year round and up to double that for summer only. Renting a property in Ibiza now accounts for a massive 82% of salary even though the the EU recommends a maximum of 40%.

Although rental prices have increased, wages have remained stagnant widening the gap of affordability. A recent study revealed that in the modern Ibiza it can take up to 20 years to purchase a property with an average salary when financial guidelines recommend 4 years.

The good news is that not all landlords are rip-off merchants so it’s still possible to find decent lodgings especially when sharing. Ibiza prices have now become like all major cities of the world but as the government crack down on holiday rentals in communal blocks it’s hoped that more beds become available at affordable rates.

The even better news is that the main reason for the housing crisis is the high demand due in no small part to Ibiza’s incredible quality of living. So if you own property on the island or have a reasonably priced rental then you might consider yourself ‘lucky’ as others look for a way in.

If you are thinking of relocating to Ibiza for short or long term then don’t be too disheartened as it’s still possible to do so without breaking the bank although you may have to spend more in the short term to get your foot in the door until you have built up enough contacts to source more reasonable rates.

Living on a small island can be challenging and is not for everyone but the rewards are numerous, it just requires a small leap of faith.

New Cemetery and Crematorium for San Antonio

San Antonio council has gone into more detail about plans for a new cemetery and crematorium to be built near the Can Coix sports complex.

The project has been around for the last 10 years but was only given the go-ahead at last months council session even though some members of the coalition abstained during the vote citing a lack of details and costs.

The island currently has only one crematorium in Santa Eulalia and the existing cemetery in San Antonio isn’t big enough so the new installation will look to solve these challenges.

Not everyone is happy though with some residents concerned about building a crematorium so close to a sports centre and 2 junior schools while others are concerned about the moving of their loved ones from one cemetery to another.

Mayor Josep Tur hosted a public meeting yesterday and was unequivocal in his support for the project. “Society demands a place where they can cremate their loved ones, so when a new cemetery is built it is advisable to create a crematorium taking into account that there is no harm to anyone”.

On the question of emissions, funeral services consultant Pedro Valencia said people should “be calm because all crematories have to have approval from the health authorities. The regulations are increasingly demanding”.

Work is planned to start in late 2018 and completed within 18 months.

Ibiza to Zermatt: The Price Myth

When organising this years annual ‘lads’ ski trip (average age over 50!) we had a split in the camp. Not everyone has as much disposable income as the next person so when Zermatt in Switzerland was mooted as our next destination a couple in our group decided it wasn’t for them.

Luckily we had a tenacious character in our ranks who wasn’t taking no for an answer so after sourcing more economic accommodation along with a little arm twisting we all finally got together and embarked on our week in the Swiss Alps.

I’d heard a lot about Zermatt from friends so was keen to experience it for myself: This world famous alpine village 1.6 km above sea level that banned motor cars as long ago as anyone can remember using only electric 6-seater buggies to ferry the hordes around in a quiet, eco-friendly way.

Interestingly the similarities between Zermatt and Ibiza are there for all to see. Small, famous, world leaders in their respective fields and ‘expensive’. Not forgetting that both have a geological talisman in the Matterhorn and Es Vedra respectively.

It wasn’t hard to see why Zermatt is up there with the very best of them. From the moment you arrive at the station on the perfectly timed trains to the second you leave you are treated with respect and care by all you come across, never once feeling like a commodity or someone there purely to fill the pockets of local families.

But the biggest surprise was the cost. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t a place paved with gold, reserved only for multi-millionaires but somewhere that you could get a reasonably priced meal and have a cold beer in a world class bar or restaurant for surprisingly little. Don’t get me wrong we aren’t talking Benidorm prices but after all the hype it was nowhere near as expensive as anticipated.

When I mentioned this to our young, intelligent, multi-lingual and slightly geeky hotel owner he gave me a knowing smile and then the penny dropped. Just like our own small island, the ‘extortionate’ prices is a well sold myth that keeps the 2 places at the top end of world destinations and on everyone’s lips.

A private in-joke that keeps away those fusspots over focused on money rather than having a good time. Just like Ibiza it’s possible to enjoy all that Zermatt has to offer but not have to apply for a 2nd mortgage.

Like any world destination there are top end places you can spend a fortune at and champagne in the top bars isn’t cheap and there’s a smattering of world famous celebs dipping in and out all the time but it’s still possible to be a part of it all, experience breathtaking nature, feel special and have an experience second to none. This easily applies to both Ibiza and Zermatt.

There are some places in the world that you have to go and see for yourself and not get too bogged down that you might spend an extra few euros over the course of a weekend but the payback is enormous.

Those who take the leap of faith are rarely disappointed (just ask our two friends) so if Ibiza is on your to-do list this year then it’s probably time you came and experienced it for yourself rather than listen to those sheep who just follow the herd. You know the ones who come to the white isle, go to beach clubs by day and super clubs by night and then like to tell anyone who’s listening how expensive the island has become but if you want to party like a rock star then be prepared to pick up the bill.

The reality is a little different but the price myth of both Ibiza and Zermatt is a finely told tale that ensures both get a reputation to keep them at the very top but it’s a myth none the less.

As I discovered over the course of an incredible week in one of the worlds most beautiful countries the leap of faith is richly rewarded and the skiing wasn’t bad either.

Ibiza and Formentera: Population in Numbers


143,856 inhabitants

73,519 Male (51.1%)

70,337 Female (48.9%)

33,828 Non-Spanish extranjero (23.5% – 7th straight year it has decreased)

1,670 More Spanish than in previous year

121 More foreign inhabitants than previous year

723 aged 90 or over

17,282 aged 65 or over

22,237 under the age of 16

4,625 Italian

4,157 Moroccan

3,966 Rumanian

2,549 British

2,136 German

1,763 French

1,759 Ecuadorian

1,328 Argentinian

1,229 Paraguayan

408 Chinese

Proportion of Non-Spanish ‘extranjeros’ per area

San Juan 33.7%

Santa Eulalia 24.8%

Ibiza 24%

San Antonio 23%

San Jose 18.8%

Balearic Islands 16.75%

Spain 9.82%


12,280 inhabitants

3,838 Non-Spanish extranjero (31.25% – 76 less than previous year)

55 aged 90 or over

1,554 aged 65 or over

1,638 under the age of 16

1,196 Italians

537 German

432 Moroccan

385 Rumanian

248 Argentinian

Notes: Population figures are for 2017 compiled by the Institute of National Statistics. Ibiza and Formentera has a large transient population especially in the summer that won’t be represented by these numbers. ‘Extranjero’ means foreigner and is a word widely used in Spain that describes non-Spanish.

The End of Lad Culture?

The Presidents Club scandal in London has had widespread condemnation and appears to be a watershed moment for the British psyche.

The annual gathering of the UK’s fattest tomcats with the sole aim to get them oiled up on alcohol and encourage them to spend as much money as possible on a charity auction whilst surrounded by attractive females (paid to be there) has come to a crashing end after complaints that some female hostesses hired for the evening were subject to unwanted sexual advances.

The sensationalist stories that came out of the evening were reminiscent of a Roman orgy with fat rich men pawing over young innocent females. This version of events has been strongly denied but the damage has been done.

Anyone who has worked in the Ibiza, Las Vegas, Dubai, Miami, London, even Mallorca club/bar scene will know the scenario well. Rich (and usually older) men getting more and more inebriated and more and more suggestive while they are served with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages at a premium price.

So where’s the line in all this? The objective after all is relieving the paying guest of as much cash as possible in the least amount of time whilst giving them an experience to remember. In the Ibiza version the hosts and hostesses usually wear flattering or revealing clothing as a uniform and have a twinkle in their eye. The odd hand may slip somewhere it shouldn’t but they are professionals and are trained at not getting too emotional about this yet still making the the guests feel special so they can spend even more money and hopefully leave a big tip.

(Please note the above paragraph applies to both male and female – sometimes the girls can be far worse than the boys)

The key to all of this is employing the right person for the right job. VIP areas in Ibiza’s clubs are full of strong independent hosts and hostesses who know their job inside out and more importantly know how to lay down clear boundaries in a professional manner. Rather than being victims they are well paid professionals.

The Presidents Club recruiters obviously didn’t follow these guidelines hiring quantity over quality and therefore playing into the hands of the moralists who were rightly outraged at the stories that came out so playing directly into the hands of the tabloids.

Is this the end of lad culture? Of course it isn’t as long as everyone is fully aware of the situation and briefed accordingly with sufficient security in place. Make a suggestive comment to a VIP hostess in Ibiza and she will laugh it off, put your hand somewhere where it shouldn’t be and you’ll probably be escorted outside without delay by a couple of man-mountains. It’s always been this way and will continue to be this way. Business is business after all and the business is money.

Fun can quickly turn sinister without proper training and guidelines in place and this appears to be the case with the Presidents Club. Just a shame that all those UK charities will now suffer because the organisers forgot the basic principle that everyone should have a good time, staff included.