Vote 2019 – The Only Ibiza Voice You Have

This isn’t a begging letter, it’s a wake up call. For those who like to avoid these things because it’s ‘not your thing’ or you don’t want to ‘get involved’ it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

I’m going to be honest with you, aa a foreigner in Ibiza we’re a 2nd class citizen, the authorities will tell you otherwise but that’s the plain truth. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s always been but it’s OK because there’s plenty of us in it together.

But here’s the good news, voting in the local municipal elections is your ONLY way to make a real difference in Ibiza. Your democratic right as a citizen of your municipality means that you have the choice of who to vote for, who leads your local council.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, that’s a deeply personal decision, I may campaign at a later date for a political party but my passion is to see British & other foreigners at the polling station come Election Day in May 2019, making a difference.

The British in Ibiza are a strange bunch, I know I’m one of them. We’re not terribly keen to ‘get involved’ hoping that others will sort the problems for us. Most Brits don’t even speak the local language very well, a problem when your mother tongue is the worlds language and you can get by without it, although this is no excuse.

Other foreign communities on the island such as the the Rumanians understand the power of the vote and get organised, negotiating with parties and block voting. Clever people those Rumanians.

But let me be clear. As an immigrant It’s all we’ve got.

We can’t vote in the Spanish general election. We can’t vote for the island council. We can only vote in the municipal elections. 1 paltry vote but what a vote it is! The power to help decide who runs your local council and who makes the big decisions that you have to live with on a daily basis.

To me it’s quite a simple analogy. If you don’t vote you forfeit your right to complain. You forfeit your right to have a voice. You’re invisible.

It’s such a simple procedure too. As long as you have a residency card and are registered at your town hall, all you have to do is walk in and fill out a form. Takes less than 5 minutes to do it but it can make a world of difference and the politicians know it.

Nobody knows what will happen in the 2019 municipal elections, history hasn’t been written yet but one thing for sure is that the silent majority will decide as they always do. The silent majority are those who register to vote and make an informed decision but don’t shout about it. These are the ones who make the big difference, just make sure you’re one of them

European citizens have until 30 January 2019 to register to vote at their local town hall. To be able to vote you must have a green residency certificate plus be ’empadronado’.

10 Iconic Ibiza Live Performances

Ibiza is in the middle of a huge debate about the importance of live music, for some it’s the soul of the White Isle for others it’s a noisy nuisance. Live music has played a massive part in the evolution of the island over the last 40 years as this list of 10 Iconic performances clearly shows.

1. Bob Marley & Wailers at the Bull Ring, Ibiza Town – 28 June 1978

Bob arrives at IBZ airport – 1978

Ibiza welcomed a 33 year old Bob Marley at the very height of his popularity, this became the only concert he ever gave in Spain but curiously it wasn’t a full house as many locals still didn’t know who he was and the 1000 pesetas entrance fee was very expensive for the time. A performance that is still talked about to this day especially as 3 years later Marley would be dead from skin cancer aged only 36.

2. Robert Plant at Amnesia – 13 August 1978

Robert Plant

After Led Zeppelin’s 1977 world tour, Robert Plant made his first public performance in a spontaneous jam session in Ibiza playing a number of rock and roll classics such as Johnny B Goode with Phil Carson on bass and a local band called the Feelgoods. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would return to Ibiza in August 1984, performing a set with Phil May and various members of The Pretty Things at Heartbreak Hotel in Port des Torrent, a club run by Carson.

3. Spandau Ballet at Ku – 10 July 1981

Spandau have a look round D’alt Vila -1981

As the New Romantic movement started to take over the world Spandau played a one-off gig at Ku as part of a mini European tour to promote their new single. When the band visited the club the night before the gig they found 3,000 fans waiting for them including the new Basque owners, who released a bull in the club to mark the occasion which ended up in the pool. “We couldn’t believe it, I guess it fitted in with the idea of a club where anything could happen.” said Gary Kemp.

4. Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé at Ku – 30 May 1987

Freddie & Montse rock Ku – 1987

After Queen emerged triumphant from Live Aid their lead singer took a major left turn and teamed up with one of his heroines to record an operatic number. The song was performed live for the very first time in Ibiza with footage being used for the extravagant video. The song would go on to become an anthem for a city and the 1992 Olympic Games.

5. Kylie Minogue at Privilege – Summer 1995

Kylie works it on stage in Ibiza – 1995

In 1994, as the rave scene faded, the legendary Ku re-opened its doors once again but this time re-naming itself as Privilege. As Manumission and Cream changed the clubbing landscape, Privilege also hosted some live performances including Kylie Minogue in summer ’95 (who had reinvented herself with Deconstruction Records) doing her little sexy stuff on a round stage in the middle of the swimming pool. Unbelievably it fell to the the diminutive Australian to put live performances back on the Ibiza map.


6. MTV at Sa Pedrera Quarry, San Antonio – Summer 1999

Faithless steal the MTV show – 1999

In the summer of ’99 as the world was gripped by the prospect of a new Millenium, MTV threw a massive party at an old disused quarry in San Antonio with Paul Oakenfold, David Morales, Faithless, Orbital, the Jungle Brothers and Chicane providing the entertainment for the all-night party. Footage from the night subsequently became an hour-long special for the channel showing raving on the White Isle in all it’s sweaty, blissed-out glory. MTV would return to the quarry for a 2-day festival in 2000 but the 2001 edition was moved to Privilege at the 11th hour after San Antonio Town Hall refused to issue a licence due to noise complaints from local residents (sound familiar?).

7. Artic Monkeys at Ibiza Rocks – 01 September 2007

Monkeys on stage at Ibiza Rocks Bar – 2007

The Ibiza Rocks product was still in its relative infancy when this gig made the world stand up and take notice. The Monkeys were arguably the worlds coolest band in the world when they performed this intimate gig in front of a thousand people with their mates the Reverend and the Makers as support. As the crowd, including Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson, Zane Lowe and Fatboy Slim, looked on a new live music dawn engulfed the White Isle.

8. Lady Gaga at Eden, San Antonio – 24 July 2009

Lady Gaga at Eden – 2009

Gaga was at the very top of the tree when it was announced that she would play a one-off promo gig at Eden Nightclub in San Antonio as part of their Wonderland production. Some of the largest queues ever seen in the town saw the club packed to the rafters as her ladyship performed many songs from her debut album. An unforgettable occasion for all those lucky enough to get in.

9. Ibiza 123 Festival with Sting, Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Labrinth, David Guetta, Fatboy Slim, Tiësto, Tinie Tempah, Steve Angello, Luciano and others – 1/2/3 July 2012

Ibiza 123 line up – 2012

The biggest live music event ever to be staged on the White Isle saw the waste ground next to Cafe Mambo transformed into an amazing venue as promotors ‘Live Nation’ delivered a defining weekend of live music with 3 world superstars as headlining acts. Unfortunately Ibiza’s answer to Glastonbury wasn’t particularly well marketed and met with some local opposition meaning this became a one off event rather than the promised annual occurrence. Ibiza shooting itself in the foot yet again.

10. Avicii at Ushuaia – 28 August 2016

Tim’s final show – 2016

When multi award winning Tim Bergling, better known by his stage name of Avicii, announced his retirement from live shows citing health problems nobody realised that this would in fact be his final ever performance. Tragically one of EDM’s brightest stars took his own life in April 2018, an unbelievably sad end to a glittering career at the age of only 28.

Strategy Meeting Highlights San Antonio Divisions

Toni Ramon, Josep Tur, Xescu Prats, Ricard Santoma, JL Ferrer

There are few places in the world as conflicted as San Antonio as was proved yet again last night in a meeting discussing how to improve it’s tourism model.

As part of its Stategic Plan the town’s council had invited tourism expert Ricard Santoma from the Ramon Llull university in Barcelona to give examples and background on how other destinations had changed their focus in a positive way.

After a brief introduction by Mayor Josep Tur “Cires”, Sr Santoma got to his feet and was an assured speaker explaining in a simplified manner how you had to give tourists positive experiences over time to change their perception of a destination. He clearly stated that it wouldn’t happen overnight and had to be a collective effort. So far so good.

The packed auditorium was polite in its response although many were scratching their heads with a volcanic food analogy from Sr Santomà but the message was clear, diversify your product, give positive experiences, treat your clients with respect then reap the rewards over time.

Then the real ‘fun’ began. A round table interview was conducted between Mayor Tur, Sr Santoma, Toni Ramon from the San Antonio hotel association and journalist Joan Lluis Ferrer. This was moderated by another journalist Xescu Prats who decided to do it in Catalan.

Now if I tell you that JL Ferrer has written books entitled ‘Trash Tourism’ and ‘Ibiza: The Destruction of Paradise’ you will understand where his mindset is. To put it mildly he is the main San An hater and enemy number 1 to many in the town frequently using the his Diario de Ibiza column to highlight the negatives, never bothering with the positives. Why let the truth get in the way of a San An hating story? He is the self styled expert on British youth tourism who’s probably never been to the UK.

The decision to put Sr Ferrer on the panel meant that the crowd were baying for blood. Mayor Tur gave an impassioned speech on why the tourism model must change highlighting the challenges the town faces but refrained from giving any actual solutions to the problems. It appeared this wasn’t an evening for solutions, only to tell the world what a terrible place San Antonio is.

Every pantomime needs a villain and JL Ferrer was perfect for this performance. His solution to the problems in San Antonio was to close more bars whilst referring to young British tourists as drunks and hooligans.

Toni Ramon did a good job of countering Ferrer’s arguments with his own impassioned speech highlighting how San Antonio is improving year on year especially with the investment coming into the hotel sector.

But the show was stolen by a man in his 70’s sitting directly in front of me who as soon as the floor was opened up to questions stood up and and went into an angry monologue aimed at JL Ferrer. “You have no f**king idea, sitting there telling me how bad my town is”.

“In the 50’s we were starving, then came tourism and now look at us” the crowd started to buzz. The angry man wasn’t finished “San Antonio is a great town and we have always overcome our problems”

Cue spontaneous applause. Some took exception to angry man’s manner but the majority of questions thereafter continued the theme of how precious tourism is to the town.

God only knows what Lloyd Milen, the British Consular General, thought sitting in the front row listening to San Antonio’s finest telling him how much they didn’t like the British tourism they have handed to them on a plate especially after his Brexit meeting in the morning was full of gushing praise for the British market in Ibiza. It was definitely a game of 2 halves.

Nobody seemed to have worked out that people behave as they are treated and that the same San Antonio people who go to Pacha and Ushuaïa behave entirely differently in the West End where they are pushed and prodded like cattle with a wallet.

But that’s San Antonio for you. A town that seems to have forgotten its roots. A town that doesn’t like the only commodity it has, the very same commodity that made it rich beyond their grandparents’ wildest dreams. A town that invites a wolf, in the shape of Jose Lluis Ferrer, into the sheep’s pen. Strange, very strange indeed.

The Balearic Ecotax Conundrum

The Balearic Govt has this much common sense

On Friday evening (16 Nov 2018) I was interviewed by Jesus Rumbo for TEF (Television Eivissa Formentera) talking about the Balearic Ecotax levied on all adult tourists staying in licensed accommodation on the islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The full interview (in Spanish) can be viewed via this link TEF interview 16 Nov 2018 but here’s a transcript of the interview.

Jesus Rumbo: Martín, at the World Travel Market there was much talk about the Balearic ‘Ecotax’. Why is there so much controversy about this tax?

Martin Makepeace: This is a very hot subject at the moment, I’ve spoken to my friends (in travel) who were at the World Travel Market (in London) and there was lots of talk about it.

JR: Good or bad?

MM: Both to be honest but I think the majority is negative because it’s a tax that isn’t transparent, the word I hear most is transparency, I think the tourists understand they have to pay but don’t know why or where the money goes.

JR: So it’s a tax they don’t understand?

MM: Yes and my personal opinion is that it’s unfair, if they said it was a hotel tax I can accept it but they say it’s a tourist tax yet the majority of tourists don’t pay it, only those that stay in legal establishments. So there’s a transparency problem plus the tourists that do pay don’t understand.

JR: So in the UK when they are explaining this tax, what do they say, what’s the message?

MM: The message is that it’s an ecological tax, the tax is to improve the infrastructure of the island, they have sold the idea on this theme but this is clearly not the case. Looking at the list of what they are going to spend it on, it’s not all ecological, so there’s a communication problem.

JR: Have you noticed that because of this tax there’s been a drop in business

MM: I think it affects things, we have lots of competition from other destinations and in the end the small things can have a big affect. A family of 4 who come to Ibiza with 2 teenage children could be paying more than 200 euros extra for their holiday which could affect their decision. I don’t like how they apply the tax as it affects the mentality of the tourist (who might come here).

JR: Is there a better way to apply the tax or to explain it?

MM: A tax is a tax but the problem here is they have sold it as an ecological tax and looking at the spending list it’s not. We have problems here on the island with sewage and if they spend it on this then great, it’s improving the island but they aren’t, they are spending it on cathedral windows, 19 houses for social welfare and they are spending it on the San Antonio promenade. I’m very happy that they are spending this money in San Antonio but is this ecological? I don’t know.

JR: From your perspective and the British perspective what a good use of this money?

MM: We have to improve the Islands infrastructure, we have the to improve Las Salinas for example, this is ecological, in the peak months the island is full of people and traffic. The money should be spent to improve the overall experience of Ibiza.

JR: Do you think it was a good idea that the Balearic Hoteliers brought so much attention on the tax at the World Travel Market or did they shoot themselves in the foot?

MM: I think it was a bad thing for Ibiza, now the island is in the press only for the bad things not the good things. The problem is that the hoteliers have been pushed and have had enough (of the tax) and I understand their position. I agree with them because it’s not clear what the money is for, there’s no transparency so I agree with the hoteliers but to go so strong against it in London, I’m not sure that was a good idea.

JR: Is British Tourism ecological and sustainable?

MM: Yes of course, the British love Ibiza, they will always return even with Brexit but as I said before, the small things matter, psychologically they affect us more, with the British the small things are sometimes more important than the big things.

JR: The brand of Ibiza is everything?

MM: The Ibiza brand and product is world class but we have to focus more on the tourist, they are the only commodity we have and I don’t like that we are putting this tax on them.

JR: The last question, in your opinion, do we continue with this tax or get rid of it?

MM: I think we should get rid of it, it’s an unfair tax.  Many people come here and don’t pay anything, we have a rich island yet many people don’t pay any taxes at all, we have to find another way to raise this money, we shouldn’t put it on to the tourist.


NOTE: The Balearic Ecotax is charged as follows (applicable to adults only – 16 years of age and over)

5 star hotels/apts: 4 EUR per person per night
4 star hotels/apts: 3 EUR pppn
1,2,3 star hotels/apts: 2 EUR pppn
Licensed Villas: 2 EUR pppn
Rural hotels: 2 EUR pppn
Cruise boats: 2 EUR pppn
Hostels, pensions, campsites: 1 EUR pppn
10% IVA (VAT) should be added to all taxes
75% discount in low season (01 Nov-30 Apr)
50% discount from the 9th day when staying in the same establishment

Ibiza 2018: Top 10 Talking Points

1. WEST END WOES AND HOES

The 3am closure of San Antonio’s infamous West End had a wide ranging affect on many not least driving the party crowd to places they’ve never been before and upsetting even more neighbours. This polarising decision by a left wing council (who clearly don’t like the tourism the town has always existed on) created more talk on the West Coast than any other but at least Mrs Fernandez’s cat at number 25 is now getting a good nights kip!


2. CALA GRACIO SHACK ON THE ROCKS

Whilst in opposition, San Antonio’s Deputy Mayor, Pablo Valdes organised a rally against more building at Cala Gracio so when a wooden beach bar miraculously appeared overnight on the rocks and then it was discovered that he had personally signed it off there was the expected outcry from bemused local neighbours and a massive gathering (30 people!) from those laid back tourist lovers from Prou! Instead of standing firm the lily-livered government performed a dramatic U-turn and refused permission for the bar to open even though it had all the necessary paperwork in place. This messy affair is now in the courts with the bar owners claiming sizeable damages from the Town Hall.

 

3. IBIZA TOWN LOSES IT’S HIPPY MOJO?

From hippy hangout to millionaires playground, D’alt Vila and La Marina are still part of a beautiful port full of couture boutiques, eye watering super yachts adorned with helicopters and beautiful people wandering the streets but where’s the transvestites, those outrageous queens demanding attention at every turn, the funky street parades and the quirky individuals who previously defined the islands capital, Mykonos or Croatia maybe? 

 

4. SAN AN DEATHS

There was a time this summer when there seemed to be an avoidable west coast death every few days. The dangerous mixture of very little control (due to very little police presence) and the excessive tendencies of young, mainly British and Irish holidaymakers, meant that San An captured headlines for the very worst reasons over the summer. Interestingly, stats show that youngsters are most at danger on the very first night of their hols where they over indulge far too much. Stay safe people please, it a marathon not a sprint!! 

 

5. ISLAND POLITICS

The last full year before municipal and island elections has seen the gloves come off as all sides weigh into each other with gusto. Island council president, Vicente Torres, declares it a “very successful year for Ibiza” and a thousand small business owners scratch their collective heads in confusion. Ibiza sometimes makes Trumps America seem normal but the 2019 elections will define the Island for the foreseeable future so lots is at stake. With Spanish politics fractured from left to right we can probably expect another coalition council but will it be more effective than the last one. Buckle up and watch this space.

 

6. IBIZA SUPER CLUBS

Las Vegas has Casinos, New York has skyscrapers, Monaco has extreme wealth and Ibiza has the world’s best clubs. Pacha had a big refurb, DC10 is still the purest club on the Island, Eden performed well in their big comeback year (Es Paradis who?) and Hï continued to impress but with daytime fun at Blue Marlin, O Beach and Ushuaia continuing to encroach on the evenings activities it’s been a tough year for some Discotheques (even though they won’t say it). It’s always been a bloodbath but if 2018 is anything to go by then 2019 could get very tasty! We will be watching.

 

7. RENTAL PRICES

Simple economics of a growing population (now over 200K) and a lack of affordable housing has created a crisis that few saw coming however with the government declaring war on apartment holiday rentals, prices have stabilised a little but are still extremely high compared to the average wage (which nobody seems to question with any force). It’s a conundrum that doesn’t look like it will be solved any time soon unless the government start to build social housing, which they won’t.


8. POSTING YOUR BILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If you’re not complaining about sky high prices on Facebooks ‘Ibiza Winter Residents’ are you even a bonafide islander? 1 euro for ketchup, 8 euros for a skinny latte, 20 euros for a water……cue 100 comments on why Ibiza has gone crazy and isn’t the place it used to be but begs the question…why not just look at the price list before sitting down at the table? There’s still plenty of places for cheap food and drink on the island but where’s the fun posting about that.

 

9. BREXIT

How will it affect the British on the island? Will Brits have to join a separate queue at the airport (shock horror!)? Will Spanish in the UK be affected? Will there be a people’s vote? Is Boris Johnson a raving lunatic? British Consulate staff are doing their best to keep a brave face and calm the nerves but nobody really knows what’s going to happen (apart from Boris definitely being a lunatic). Don’t you just love Democracy!

 

10. THE NEW SPACE

Self anointed Saint Carl of Playa den Bossa puts out a press release saying a few middle aged men have a dream to ‘build’ a new Space but can’t say anything until 2019 and social media goes into overdrive and the herd have a meltdown . A cunning media stunt, wishful thinking or a genuine proposal?  I‘m smelling something here but hope to be proven wrong especially as Space owner Pepe Rosello would love to open it in San An. Only time will tell but does Ibiza really need any more clubs?

Huge Investment for San Antonio Hotels

More than a dozen businesses in San Antonio will refurbish their hotel establishments this winter for an approximate value of 40 million euros, according to Juanjo Planells, owner of the Hotel Florencio and President of the San Antonio Hotel Association.

Last year 34 hotels from the municipality presented their projects to the local council to improve their businesses with a total value of 70 million euros taking investment over the last three years to around 150 million euros, according to Planells

In addition to this investment the town will have two new hotels including a boutique hotel on Calle Ample, opposite San Antonio’s magnificent church, in the historic centre of town. This hotel will be opened by the Bellamar group.


These reforms are part of the plan to “change the tourism model of San
Antonio” explains Juan Planells, an image that the hotel sector wants to change. “It is our main objective. San Antonio keeps renewing and investing and we believe that by offering higher quality hotels we can change the profile of the tourist that comes to the town, “says Planells.


Asked if “changing the tourist model” refers to changing the West End, which has
been in the eye of the hurricane this summer due to the type of tourism that frequents it, and the new law changes implemented by the Council, Planells emphasized the need for “public and private investment to rediscover the West End of the 80s.” Planells said the idea is “we do not want the West End to disappear”, but that the area should be transformed. “We believe it should be an important tourism asset”.

Source: Periodico de Ibiza

Local Supermarket Closure Highlights the New Ibiza

Casa Alfonso to Close
The closure of Casa Alfonso supermarket in San Antonio has been met by much sadness from the local community with some even suggesting it’s another nail in the Ibiza coffin.
..
Casa Alonso was a family run business in the heart of San Antonio, part shop, part delicatessen, part meeting point. It had been open for over 100 years but as a medium size supermarket it found itself stuck between the big boys of Mercadona & Lidl and the small specialists who serve specific areas.
..
For years this type of small family business was protected by a local law that meant it was forbidden for big national chains to open in Ibiza but this was changed a few years ago so the Island became fair game for the big names to come and open their football pitch sized businesses.
..
Decathlon opened as did Zara and Mango. Mercadona and Lidl also hit the island hard opening in multiple locations. With all the new competition certain businesses struggled. Sports shops were especially hit hard as Decathlon had everything under one roof plus plenty of staff on hand to help out.
..
The locals, who had previously had to fly to Barcelona, Madrid or Palma, lapped it up after years of having to shop at small local stores with not a great amount of choice, higher prices than the mainland and that famous Ibiza level of service.
..
Some businesses changed their strategy. The La Sirena and Art stores for example, went from selling cheap sports gear with some tacky souvenirs thrown in to offering more quality brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Quiksilver and Billabong. They went from sports shop to lifestyle boutique and didn’t even stop for breath while the ones who carried on selling cheap sportswear were closed within a year as Decathlon do an industrial scale.
..
For every success there’s also a failure but that’s business for you, especially retail with so many fighting for your money. Adapt or die, find a way, survival of the fittest, use any cliche you want, the business jungle is a tough place all over the world but on a seasonal island it’s especially ruthless where numbers go through the roof for only 100 days a year.
..
I’ve seen it myself first hand. In 1999 I opened Ibiza Travel Shop specialising in last minute flights buying at £50 and selling af £99. We had unbelievable growth until the internet decided that everyone could become their own travel agent. Out went handwritten flight tickets and high margins and in came full transparency with no place to ‘hide’ the profit. We went from glory to closure inside 5 years.
..
It was a harsh lesson but the market changes and you have to diversify at worst and preempt at best. If you think you can carry on doing the same old thing forever then you will get a rude awakening at some point and Ibiza is no different.
..
The modern day Ibiza now has Decathlon, Mercadona, Lidl, Zara with more to come. They here employ many local people using many local products. It’s also worth mentioning that Leroy Merlín has recently closed down. Competition is competition no matter what your size.
..
The bottom line was that the law that protected local business also removed competition and created monopolies with poor service. I for one took great exception to my choice being limited not because of market forces but because of self serving laws.
..
Of course it’s a shame that a small and friendly family business at the heart of San Antonio is closing down but it’s also another example that Ibiza is now fully integrated into the real world where you have to constantly improve and diversify or ultimately fail.
..