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.

‘Instagramism’ not Hedonism in Ibiza

Over the last few years we have witnessed the biggest change ever to the Ibiza tourist demographic, especially in May, June, September and October when the weekend tourist has become the dominant  player in the market.

It’s the market segment that everyone wants a piece of, 25-50 year olds travelling without kids and focusing on a long weekend of fun with a pocketful of money to spend. 

Only a few years ago this was the scenario when booking a holiday

  1. Book a 7 or 14 night package holiday with a travel agent. 
  2. Buy a travel guide and read it before bed.
  3. Arrive in Ibiza, go to welcome meeting and book an excursions/club tickets from your rep or local outlet. 
  4. Discover Ibiza at your leisure via research or word of mouth/recommendations. 
  5. Spend your hard earned money on a mixture of local restaurants, cheesy bars and world class clubs. 

Fast forward to 2018 and this is more likely be the scenario

  1. Follow all major Ibiza clubs and events on social media
  2. Identify dates when desired Ibiza events are happening
  3. Pre-book all club tickets
  4. Pre-book restaurant reservations and beach beds 
  5. Book a dynamic package online, fly to Ibiza for long weekend with pocket full of cash

The social media age means that there are no secrets anymore plus everything is pre-planned and pre-booked for busy itineraries that leave little to chance in the short window of opportunity that a 4 day trip to Ibiza allows.

The big Ibiza players now spend millions on their social media, spoon feeding the herd with all the necessary calls to action: Big opening parties, special guests, one-off parties. The cyber-sell is constant and goes direct to your smartphone when you are on the bus in the morning, during your lunch break at work and just before you settle down to watch your evening soaps.

Once this demographic arrive on the island their itinerary goes into full swing with little time for anything else. No discovering delicious local restaurants or souvenir shopping for local wares, nothing that isn’t near the major tourist traps. Very little spontaneity.

And then it gets really strange. Enjoying yourself now ranks a poor second behind updating your own social media feed. After all you’ve spent the last 11 months being inundated with Ibiza spam directly to your smartphone and tablet and now it’s your turn to personally get involved. Facebook posts, check-ins, Instagram stories, posts and tweets. At any big event most phones are switched to live feed. And by the way I’m as guilty as anyone…”my name is Martin and I’m addicted to social media”.

The successful businesses in Ibiza are those that understand the need for social media, embrace it and force it down your throat, those that don’t are falling by the wayside.  Who doesn’t like an Ibiza summer pic on a cold rainy December day? This creates the desire to do it yourself, whether it be a sunset pic, feet up on a boat, a magnum of champagne at a beach club or body glitter at your favourite evening club, these are the things that are a quintessential part of Ibiza in the early part of the 21st century. Bragging rights now determine which businesses succeeds, Ibiza is social media gold after all.

No wonder the old school shake their collective heads at the Ibiza of 2018 because for the new generation, weaned on reality TV and smartphones, hedonism has now been replaced by ‘Instagramism’ and the search for that perfectly staged profile pic has become more important than the actual experience behind it.

Ibiza: That was the Summer but Where’s the Money?

Woohoo it’s October in Ibiza, one of my favourite months, and as we pore over the conflicting stories of the summer it’s time to look forward to winter and analyse what’s gone before us.

If you came to Ibiza this summer and hadn’t been for a few years then you would be amazed at the changing dynamic of the island. The quality is undoubtedly going up with more fine restaurants and 4 and 5 star hotels than ever before but with it has come sky high prices which has marginalised the ‘normal’ man or woman in the street gathering negative headlines.

A capital city with amazing super yachts but with a diminishing soul as the millionaires take over not to mention new noise laws that are killing live music, a staple that this wonderful island was founded on.

Ibiza is changing and it’s hard to see where it’s all going without a coherent plan. The island’s elections are here in May 2019 and you can’t help thinking that this is a pivotal time in the Balearic archipelago’s recent history. The current politicians have been favouring residents needs over the benefits of tourism and the next election will be fought along similar lines.

For the last 3 and a half years Ibiza’s island government along with the town councils of San Antonio, Ibiza and San Jose have been run by socialist coalitions who have found it tough going presiding over the biggest shift in Ibiza tourism since the 70’s bucket and spaders lapped up sangria and donkey rides. A seismic shift that Ibiza wasn’t prepared for, and still isn’t.

The average stay on the island is now down to 4 nights which gives the paying clients only a small window of opportunity to do things and spend their hard earned money and in this social media fuelled world it’s the same old venues reaping the rewards of these short duration holidays.

Arrive, check in to a 4 star hotel, straight to Ushuaia or Hard Rock then over to Hï into the small hours. Up and out to Blue Marlin, followed by Pacha or Amnesia. Day at Ocean Beach or Nikki Beach followed by nothing much else then it’s almost time to go home. No time to discover this beautiful island or the scores of incredible restaurants for the Weekend Warriors but more than enough time to drop a couple of thousand euros at the same places, in fact the spend per person has never been as high but only a few are benefitting.

Whatever your political viewpoint the island has seen changes beyond our wildest dreams or worst nightmares. Some businesses have surged ahead while other predominantly small family traders are scratching their heads as their traditional market dissipates beyond all recognition as they struggle to come to terms with the changing market. It’s safe to say that 2018 has been a polarising year in many ways.

So as we relax a little in October and pick the bones out of another summer it’s difficult to envisage where it’s all going to end. With every boom comes a bust and with every VHS story there’s also a Betamax equivalent but also don’t be too fooled by the ‘Ibiza is 20% down stories’. Ibiza has experienced incredible growth in recent years and it was impossible to remain on this upward trajectory. A bad year in Ibiza is a good year anywhere else in Spain.

It’s an uncertain world out there and Ibiza is no different. Let’s hope the new breed of 2019 politicians address the real problems and come up with a coherent and focussed plan that protects locals but also embraces our only commodity although if recent history is anything to go by then let’s not hold our breath just yet. At least you can never accuse Ibiza of being boring.

My Secret Ibiza Monthly Diary

October is here! Every month in Ibiza is completely different, here’s a snippet of my secret monthly diary from the White Isle, a snapshot of living here 12 months a year…..

January – Post Xmas blues are kicking in, kids are back at school and it’s cold (well 12 degrees). Funds running low after an excessive festive season so time to hibernate and plan for the summer. Must do those house jobs I meant to do in November.

February – Carnival time on the island but money running really low now, it’s cold outside (well 11 degrees) so my box sets are getting plenty of action. Thank god for Netflix and chill. Is it summer yet?

March – Weather picking up, bank account is on empty but past caring. Ryanair international flights starting so light at the end of the tunnel. Time to visit friends in UK (not that they are bothered) and try and convince them not to come in August.

April – Easter is here and the island is starting to come alive, Better start all the jobs I should have done in November. Island gets busy for 4 days then goes back to relative normality. Not sure I’m ready for summer….

May – Summer is finally here and who are those people walking around in shorts and flip flops on a chilly day (I’ve got a fleece on). I don’t want to share my island just yet but business is business so think of the money and crack on. Traffic getting bad.

June – Clubs are open and the island is getting busier by the day. Weather is great but the traffic is getting worse. Kids have broken up for nigh on 3 months (WTF) and the tourists are starting to annoy me a little but need to stay focussed. How long until winter?

July – Wow it’s hot! Island is busy busy and I’m now on autopilot. Need to get out and do more things or it will be winter soon. Oh no what’s that I see on the horizon, it can’t be surely but oh yes it’s Au…

August – The month that seems to last a year! The Island is FULL. International tourists are everywhere, are they scowling at me or am I getting paranoid? Must be the sun! Time to grit your teeth and get on with it between friends and family arriving on an almost daily basis (god bless them). Phone ringing every 30 seconds. Dreaming of winter…..

September – Can’t believe I got through another August without committing first degree murder, it’s such a relief but island still busy and everyone seems nicer (or is it just me?). Clubs are closing, it’s nearly all over and I haven’t done anything of note so time to panic and go on a 10 day drinking binge!

October – The beginning of the end of summer and everyone seems happier. Weather still good so will definitely do some things this month including those jobs. Clocks go back and now it’s dark at 6.30pm – how did that happen, it doesn’t seem like 2 minutes since August.

November – and breathe! But most of the shops & bars are closed and nobody is on the streets. Not sure I like this to be honest, bring back those pale folk in inappropriate clothes, I’m missing them (and their money) already.

December – It’s cold (well 13 degrees) and dark at 6pm. The central heating has been serviced and the firewood has been purchased. The tree has gone up by the fountains and Amazon is getting hammered for Xmas presents. Funds are running low already. Dreaming of summer….

Happy October everyone!