Ibiza Returns to Relative Normality

Finally after all the ups & downs of the last 18 months, the Balearic government has finally lifted most restrictions that signal the beginning of the end of living in a pandemic.

The big news of course is that Ibiza’s world famous clubs are able to open from 8 October however ‘can’ and ‘will’ are 2 very different words. It takes so much energy and expense to open a large discotheque that they may decide to wait for next summer.

The final decision on nightclubs is still subject to a judicial ratification in the next few days that will establish the rules of opening such as whether vaccine certificates will be required and if masks are obligatory in certain areas. It won’t be how it was before and the purists are already kicking off online but it’s another move in the right direction.

Pubs and bars are also now able to open until 4am as long as they have the relevant licence. This will be good news for owner/operators although with only a few weeks of the summer season to go it will also be a bittersweet moment thinking what could have been.

For an island such as Ibiza to ban dancing is tantamount to torture. The White Isle was built on a freedom of expression especially during tough times when people could come here and lose themselves in hedonistic pursuits and dancing is right at the heart of that.

The Balearic Government in all its pomposity seems to have forgotten what’s important and while other tourist destinations were quick to lift restrictions the Balearic have lagged behind.

Despite the Balearic gov’s lack of teeth it’s important not to forget how far we’ve come in such a short space of time and the fact that we are talking about ‘relative normality’ is a massive step. 2021 has been another rollercoaster year but it’s finishing strongly and there’s plenty of momentum going into summer 2022.

Now as restrictions come tumbling down the aforementioned momentum is so important and who’s to say that this season can’t be extended into winter. The weather is still glorious and there will never be a better opportunity but, as always, it depends on connectivity from the airlines so the hope is that they will be brave and play ball or at least give it a go.

The island of dance has finally been given the green light to reopen its dance floors. It’s been a long time coming but 2 years after they last opened their doors the dream has now become a reality.

Ibiza 2022 looks like it will be back to business as usual but for now let’s see if there’s a collective will to take Ibiza kicking and screaming into its first ever viable winter tourist season, something I thought I’d never see. Strange times indeed.

Busy September for Ibiza

We have seen another manic August come and go on the White Isle. The island was over 90% occupied during the busiest month with numerous nationalities enjoying themselves with packed beaches and restaurants there for all to see. Ibiza is now a truly international destination.

Even in these difficult times some businesses have thrived with the new regulations, maximising their time management and workforce. Restaurants are the new nightclubs, eating out is the ‘new’ thing to do. Dancing in chairs has become the norm…for now.

During the peak season the Brits have been noticeable by their lower numbers compared to previous years. The traditional British market is important to the island but none more so than San Antonio which had to find ways to diversify its market when the British government all but banned international travel up until the start of July with its convoluted quarantine requirements

Now we are well into September, the month that Brits usually arrive in big numbers and 2021 looks like it might follow suit, relatively speaking of course. Prices come down, the kids are back to school, the island becomes a little calmer as it takes a breather after the ‘chaos’ of August.

Summer 2021 has once again been affected by travel restrictions and even though Ibiza airport is showing stats similar to 2019, final tourist numbers will be down due to lower load factors but any spike in late season demand is more than welcome and further proof that the island is well on the way to recovery. Ibiza Town is as busy as ever with San Antonio and the Bay still ticking over.

If the weather continues to be good then we could see unprecedented numbers arriving in October as travellers rediscover their mojo and come to the realisation that flying isn’t as difficult as portrayed by the media. Some airlines are already offering direct international flights well into November

In a seasonal economy a strong finish to the summer can make a big difference and the hope now is that as local restrictions ease and international travel becomes more accessible, September, October and possibly even November can be the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake in a year that started without us even knowing if summer 2021 was ever going to happen.

20 years on…

Garlands at the Bahia 11/09/2001

Monday 10 September 2001 in Ibiza was like any other late summer night. August was over but September was firing on all cylinders, San Antonio was awash with young Brits as was the norm for that time of the year. The West End was rocking in the prime of its life.

20 years ago Ibiza was a very different animal to what it is today. There were no beach clubs or daytime distractions, some still call it the glory years with world class, era-defining promotions every single night of the week in the planets best clubs. We never had it so good although we didn’t know it at the time, you never do.

Mondays in Ibiza was all about Manumission at Privilege, the worlds biggest promotion at the worlds biggest club. This particular night was ridiculously busy as was usual for the 2nd week of September, the crowd being whipped into it’s usual frenzy by their resident DJ’s and as the sun appeared through the iconic dome the party moved on to Carry on at Space and then Bora Bora for the hard core.

11 September 2001: I remember it as a normal morning. Crisp blue skies, I was tired from August and looking forward to the end of the summer, very similar to today. Then around lunchtime everything changed.

Sky News is always on in my house, it’s background noise. Feet up on the sofa thinking about a siesta when Kay Burley announced that an aeroplane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

We all know what happened next so no need to go through the painful details here but as the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground I knew that life had changed forever. There was no WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter or smartphones so it was all about 24 hour news. CNN gave us the heartbreaking US perspective, a nation and the world in a state of shock.

I went back to my office late afternoon and tried to carry on regardless but the mood on the streets of San Antonio was like I had never seen before. The first call I made, Maxine, the young lady on the other end of the phone, was trying to work but openly weeping. As she talked to me I could hear the tears falling.

That night was the Garlands party at the Bahia Hotel (now Ocean Beach Hotel) but there was some confusion about whether it would go ahead but word soon got out that it was happening.

So on the evening of 11 September 2001 after watching in disbelief at so much pain unfolding on our TV’s, myself and several hundred others gathered under the stars and partied like we’d never partied before.

The late great Dave Booth and Huey Garry were on the decks with Grandma Funk doing guest vocals ‘shaking that ass’. Judge Jules and others were at the bar, Ibiza’s response was to go harder than ever before. It was a surreal atmosphere but the mood was upbeat, glad to be alive, this might be the last party for a while so let’s make the most of it.

Recent events have taken over our lives and sometimes it’s easy to forget but every anniversary I always remember those poor innocent lost souls and the time we partied under the stars in Ibiza like there was no tomorrow, because we weren’t sure there would be. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that fateful day, a lot has changed in 2 decades but lest we forget.