Ibiza and British Tourism: A Short History

As the UK sees an outpouring of patriotism for the platinum jubilee now is as good a time as any for a short history of Ibiza’s relationship with British tourism.

After the bitter Spanish civil war and extreme poverty Ibiza finally woke up to find that its white sandy beaches, 300 days of sunshine per year, liberal attitude and cheap living costs was a magic formula for an economic miracle and the British (along with other sun-starved north European tourists) were at the centre.

Like most relationships it had a strong start, the courting and heavy petting came in the 60’s and 70’s when mass tourism found its way to the island. While the Germans invaded Mallorca (pardon the expression) British tour operators such as Thomson Holidays started bringing over plane loads of eager holidaymakers to newly built hotels while their reps happily sold sangria filled, cheesy excursions to travellers waving fistfuls of travellers cheques.

The package holiday revolution had begun. Most Brits went home happy clutching a stuffed donkey, a bullfighting poster and sunburn, it’s cliched but thanks to my late parents I’m talking from personal experience. That was the 70’s for you.

For 2 countries only a thousand miles apart geographically the culture differences were huge but the pay off for both sides was immense. British tourists lapping up the the sun, sea and sangria while local businesses prospered with plenty of pesetas. British entrepreneurs started to settle on the island, young ladies met future husbands.

The British package holiday or ‘square deal’ to Ibiza was a simple formula that continued to evolve but like most relationships there were some bumpy times ahead. In the late 80’s Ibiza became the victim of its own success. All night opening hours and cheap drinks led to excessive behaviour which the UK tabloid press jumped all over framing a narrative of drink and drug excess. In truth it wasn’t a million miles away from reality due to Ibiza’s liberal attitude that was in stark contrast to the starched shirt, stiff upper lip way of life of Thatchers Britain trying desperately to clamp down on the blossoming rave culture.

Suddenly the ‘drunken Brit abroad’ went from hero to zero. Local Ibiza businesses were earning too much to care but it still wasn’t prepared for the shitstorm that followed and the repercussions to its reputation that still rumble on to this day.

In the mid 90’s the Island exploded. Edgy clubs became accesible not to just the cool kids but to a core British audience – Manumission at Privilege became the biggest club night in the world with it’s infamous sex show broadcast weekly on ‘Ibiza Uncovered’ – the ground breaking Sky TV series. It brought Ibiza directly to British living rooms destroying plenty of myths along the way but creating a boom in demand especially from a young British audience desperate to be part of the story. Ibiza had landed on the world stage but mainstream had its price and it’s reputation suffered a little but it would bounce back.

As a new Millenium was ushered in, Ibiza and the world had no idea that firstly the internet and then social media was about the change the game. Within a decade the tourism business model that had existed for nearly 40 years was to become extinct as the traditional 7, 10 and 14 night ‘package’ holiday became a thing of the past. It was now all about short breaks and weekend fun in the sun.

British short haul tour operators began to disappear, no more plastic trays with processed food and holidays reps with clipboards, low cost airlines Ryanair and easyJet became the new ‘no frills’ public transport to the sun with daily flights from nearly every UK airport. Hotels were now bookable online, who needed a tour operator any more? The opening up of the skies saw record numbers of Brits flowing into Ibiza airport, the upward trajectory of an island finally unshackled was limitless or so we thought until a Chinese bat threw a very large spanner into the works.

Suddenly the British market was taken away from Ibiza by a clueless British government that went from green to amber to red in little over 2 weeks whilst instilling a fear of travelling. Ibiza without Brits was like fish without chips, bread without butter, spotted dick without custard (you get the idea). Some welcomed the change of dynamic but some businesses didn’t even open – the simple economics has been undisputed for decades – nobody spends money like Brits abroad. Self survival kicked in and many critics of British tourism were soon pining for their return. Nobody denies that the relationship between residents and tourists can be fractious but this 2 year period taught us to be careful for what you wish for. The British market doesn’t always cover itself in glory but no relationship is ever perfect.

Summer 2022 has started like a runaway train, fuelled by a pent up demand for fun in the sun that’s been lacking for 2 long years. It’s back to business as usual but with more positivity than ever before. Over the last few years the White Isle has seen unprecedented investment in its hotel infrastructure and food and beverage sector. There’s more options than ever which can only be good for the consumer. Ibiza is right at the top of its game. More connectivity than ever before, world class venues, hostelry and cuisine offering a product and service like never before and right in the very middle of all this are the British tourists who come here in their hundreds of thousands every summer.

The relationship between Ibiza and British tourism goes back over 4 generations and is ingrained in the identity of the Island. The journey hasn’t always been easy but the friendships and the shared history together can never be forgotten or devalued. There will be challenges ahead – there always is, but coming out of it’s darkest hour the future has never been so bright.

Great Start but same old challenges for the White Isle

Taxi queue at Ibiza airport

The summer season is finally under way after what feels like a lifetime standing on the starting line and it’s been a busy start for Ibiza, there’s a crackle in the air as the island gets back to normal.

The traditional club opening weekend was brought forward by a month by eager club owners and promoters wanting to make up for lost time. The atmosphere has been electric, 2 years of hurt just a distant memory.

For us 80’s children Duran Duran at Ushuaia was pure hedonistic nostalgia and kudos to the International Music Summit for pulling it off and spreading the love across the weekend (and age spectrum) including the now iconic show under lights at the top of Ibiza old town with the famous cathedral and marina as it’s backdrop.

Other clubs have opened their doors too including DC10 and if you were unfortunate enough to travel on a flight the day after there were plenty of casualties indicating that the Ibiza business of pure pleasure is definitely back with a bang.

The not so good news is that even after 2 years of waiting for this moment some of the same old problems have raised their ugly heads as local businesses jostle for position to try and take advantage of the pent up demand for all things Ibiza.

There’s a a continuing housing crisis with a lack of affordable accommodation for seasonal workers with rooms in shared apartments being offered online at 900 euros per month plus bills. These high living costs means that finding staff is becoming more and more difficult especially now that Brexit has ruled out the young British ‘workers’ who used to come over in their thousands.

Car hire prices are off the scale and early season tourists have been greeted by long taxi queues during peak hours. Whether it’s a lack of planning, incompetence or something more sinister it doesn’t look good and marginalises our greatest commodity within minutes of them arriving. Local officials say more seasonal taxi licences will be issued but for now it’s long queues and long waiting times. Not a great first impression.

Meanwhile I have been contacted by a prominent local resident about parking in San Antonio which isn’t getting any easier and finding a genuine parking place is like winning the lottery. The blue zone payment system that’s works so well across the island has been removed meaning that some cars rarely move decreasing the availability of parking which is a major problem. The waste-ground at Ses Variades has been a welcome solution but with some cars being damaged by over exuberant local teenagers many are reticent to park there.

A few years ago I challenged Ibiza’s then environmental councillor about putting a cap on vehicles on the island and was met with blank stares and excuses so unless more parking is forthcoming the problem isn’t going to get any better. Formentera has put a limit on cars so it can be done.

So as usual it’s a mixed bag to kick off the summer but positivity is in the air and it looks like it’s going to be one to remember with high early season demand from tourists after 2 tough years. It may only be May but there’s already a peak season feel to the place. The summer won’t be without its challenges but with a few proactive tweaks the new normal could see records tumbling across the island.

Early April in Ibiza Taking Tourists for Fools

It’s been a strange couple of weeks on the White Isle. The start of daily international flights coupled with inclement weather has meant that tourists have had a challenging time.

When I say tourists I’m not talking about friends and families of residents who enjoy the quietness of the low season but genuine tourists who have read so much about Ibiza and are visiting, possibly for the first time.

One evening last week I saw a group of young females, all in their mid 20’s and dressed to the nines, wandering around the cold, dark streets of San Antonio desperately trying to find somewhere to eat and drink. I bet they couldn’t believe what they were seeing, one of Ibiza’s main resorts in darkness and nearly everything closed.

Many of us have spent years calling for winter tourism in the Balearics yet we can’t even get the low season off to a good start. There are many factors of course but surely this is where the Balearic Tourism board need to be more actively involved. This is the same Balearic tourism board who go to all the major travel shows (all expenses paid) with the specific objective of promoting low season travel. Go figure.

More synergy is required between all the moving parts. The tourist board while promoting the islands needs to do its best to ensure that the main resorts are relatively open and functioning by acting as a conduit between local businesses such as bars, hotels restaurants and the main travel providers like airlines, tour operators and transport companies.

You can’t blame local business owners for not opening in April when numbers are low and costs are high so we are in a catch 22 position. Genuine tourists arriving on planes being met by hundreds of empty taxis and being taken to closed resorts.

This is where the island council and local government can play a more pivotal role to incentivise local businesses to open at the start of April. Make it easier for them, give them a sweetener on local taxes, favorable advertising terms, allow them to use the walkway for a limited time, anything that might make them think favourably about opening their doors in April.

The challenges over the last 2 years has seen pro-active local authorities thinking outside the box and that’s what we need to get the summer season off to a good start with some added stimulus. It’s what you might call a win/win.

It’s Easter in a couple of days, the biggest Spanish holiday of the year and Ibiza has plenty going on. The weather forecast is good and many sporting events are planned but we should never rest on our laurels especially during the shoulder months. If this was a school report on the first 3 weeks of tourism on the island it might read: very capable, outstanding ability but application at times is questionable. Can do much better.

Time to Show Ryanair Some Ibiza Love

It’s that time of the year in Ibiza once again but after a challenging couple of summers it feels different. Anticipation is high but there’s also some slight trepidation hanging in the air after so many false starts.

Winter in Ibiza feels like a cozy club that only a few are invited to mainly because it’s so tough to get here due to a lack of international flights however that dynamic is about to dramatically change by the airline that splits opinion right down the middle.

Back when tour operators ruled the roost, international flights to the White Isle before May were few & far between but now, from late March, Ibiza is connected to Europe with daily flights to airports in England, Italy, Austria, France, Holland, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium and Denmark….all from the same airline.

Love them or hate them, Ryanair don’t do things by halves and they are single-handedly responsible for extending the early and late Ibiza season, operating a flight schedule with a connectivity that could only be dreamt about a few years ago and what’s more have you seen the early season prices? The island that everybody says is ‘too expensive’ can be accessed by flights for as little as 10 euros return at a time when you need to take out an extra mortgage to fill your car with a tank of petrol.

So why is Ryanair such an emotive issue that everyone has an opinion on? For every lover there’s an equally passionate hater but what you see is what you get, it’s a flying bus. There’s no secrets, it’s all there on their website. Pay for exactly what you need, download your boarding card and away you go. There’s not much TLC as you get herded on to the plane but who needs that anyway.

The problems with Ryanair start if you don’t correctly book what you want or need. If you don’t pay for seats next to each other then you will pay the consequences later when one of you is in 2A and the other is in 42D. Don’t/won’t pay for luggage but can’t fit all your clothes in a carry on or even try to fit everything into a rucksack (which is the only luggage you get for free these days) then expect issue at the check in.

The Ryanair staff aren’t known for their charm and will robotically charge you for any misdemeanour especially extra luggage (which they seem to enjoy) but the booking conditions are very clear and if you do end up paying extra at the check in it will be because you booked the wrong things either by mistake or trying to be clever and trying to be clever with Ryanair is a very dangerous business.

I’m a self confessed Ryanair fanboy, I use them all the time but even I have been caught out on occasion. It happens and when it does I only have myself to blame. My advice for a stress-free Ryanair journey has always been to book everything you need – priority boarding (if that’s your thing), leg room or specific seats, carry on luggage, hold luggage – throw the kitchen sink at it if you have to but don’t try and ask for something you didn’t pay for because it ain’t gonna happen.

Their business model is stack it high and sell it cheap but then charge for every little extra that means by the time you get to the online checkout it wasn’t that cheap after all.

Ryanair are hard to love but need to be appreciated because a tourist island is only as good as it’s connectivity especially during the shoulder months and that’s what Ryanair gives us. Whether you like them or loathe them they have changed the face of travelling to Ibiza and after the previous 2 years we need them more than ever.

10 Reasons Why Ibiza 2022 will be Better than Ever


1. Demand: As the world gets back to normal and restrictions become a thing of the past, the pent up desire and demand to tick the boxes is off the scale and Ibiza as a world destination is top of many peoples to-do list so expect plenty of #YOLO & #Ibiza posts on your summer 2022 feed. Bring it on!

2. Hotels: WOW!!! Ibiza has had an awakening. Never in the history of the White Isle has so much money been spent on making your holiday ‘home’ into a luxurious, comfortable and interesting place to stay. From quirky concept hotels to uber decadent getaways to solid family pensions, the choice at the click of a mouse has never been so varied and luxurious

3. Clubs: The 2 year government imposed hiatus has come to an end and line ups are being announced. There’s the usual rumours, lies and hearsay but the planets are aligning and 2022 will be the year of the club comeback but expect it to be more quality less quantity. A beautiful island with the best nightlife in the world, hello!!

4. Food: Ibiza has experienced a big shift over the last 2 summers and restaurants came out of it better than most. The Island has always boasted some incredible restaurants but now some of the world’s best chefs see it as a showcase for their talent, not to mention a client base that is suitably disposed to fill their tables every night of the summer. If fancy food isn’t your thing don’t forget the delicious ‘menu del días’ (daily menus) served in most local restaurants where 3 courses and wine will cost you less than a starter in top end eateries. It’s all about options! Check out the Menu del Dia app for more details

5. Weather: 300 days of sunshine per year says it all. The Balearic climate is a thing of beauty in its own right with a fresh and clear spring, a hot & steamy summer and a mild autumn. After all those great days back home, what’s not to like.

6. Proximity: While long haul destinations have suffered, Ibiza’s geographical location of only 2 hours from most major European hubs means that you can get here in less time than it takes to make a motorway journey back home. Long weekends on the White Isle are going to be high in demand in Summer 22

7. Nature: Unlike other destinations that shall remain nameless, Ibiza’s soul has never been in doubt and this is squarely down to old Mother Nature. Sandy beaches, lush green countryside, crystal clear turquoise waters. It’s the defining difference that makes the Ibiza experience like no other.

8. Price: Before you start shouting at your phone remember that it’s the market that decides the price but as Ibiza begins its grand resurgence there’s still some great options for a reasonably priced getaway especially out of season when the island is, arguably, at its best. Yes, the VIP culture had got out of hand but prices reflect the clientele plus there’s always the old adage that it’s reassuringly expensive . If you want cheap then Ibiza might not be for you but there’s still some surprising options when you take the plunge.

9. Making new memories: We all know that person who tells you that ‘Ibiza isn’t what it was’ but every generation has its heyday and what was cool in the 80’s might not be applicable to the Island in 2022. It’s all about the future and enjoying special moments on the island you love. So many options, so many good times to be had, so many selfies, so many instagram opportunities, so much good food, so many world class clubs, so many good times and so many new memories to be made.

10. Less is more: The world has changed and so has the White Isle so expect things to be slightly different as some businesses have sadly been unable to get through the last 2 years while others have surged ahead. The good news is that the ‘new Ibiza’ is exactly the same as the old one just a little bit more experienced and a lot more confident. What are you waiting for!!

Less is More for ‘The New Ibiza’

Do you even remember Ibiza 2019? So much has happened since then, but it was one of the busiest summers on record for the island. New venues, fine restaurants, concept hotels, even customer service was improving (honestly). But it was manic, really manic.

We all know what came next and against the odds Summer 2020 happened for 6 ‘glorious’ weeks. It was unexpected, restrictions were suffocating but it was also beautiful and more than welcome. Last summer was a surprise success that nobody really expected especially after so much trepidation and stress and now Summer 2022 is around the corner.

What can we expect? It’s the 64 thousand dollar question but there’s definitely a change in the air taking into account the last 2 summers when, to nearly everyone’s surprise, Ibiza managed just fine without the super clubs (who weren’t allowed to open). World class entertainment never hurt any destination but the lack of nightlife concentrated the mind in other directions.

Summer 2021 was when Ibiza came of age and grew in confidence to not just fall back on the ‘we have the best clubs in the world’ monologue whilst actively encouraging people to see the island through the bottom of a premium bottle of vodka. Nature became the new scene and eating out became the new rock n roll.

Ibiza’ gastronomy has always been a badly kept secret but now with 2 Michelin starred restaurants it’s culinary reputation is out the bag and growing worldwide. New restaurants are popping up plus the old favourites that never went away. If you’re a foodie then welcome to the pleasuredome.

It’s refreshing that other options are finally being explored although we can never underestimate that importance of Ibiza’s nightlife scene, it’s what put the island on the hedonists map back in the day and the big announcement last week was that clubs can reopen from April although we don’t know under what conditions. There will be mixed feelings on the island but it’s not before time as other destinations opened up earlier and started to make inroads into Ibiza’s core summer market.

Despite all the fanfare and headlines it’s hard to envisage the big clubs (Amnesia, Privilege, Ushuaia, Hi, Pacha, DC10 plus Eden and Es Paradis) being able to run 7 nights a week to packed houses. Some might even decide not to open and for the rest it could become a hotly contested bloodbath that causes a casualty or 2, Let’s not forget that Pacha recently had an emergency loan of 18 million euros from the Spanish government so pressure will be on them to start turning a profit.

The biggest surprise has been how well the island performed over the last 2 summers under very difficult circumstances. 2020 was short and sweet but ran at about 40-50% of pre-pandemic levels, 2021 was about 75% so what lessons have we learned from this challenging experience? Mainly that we don’t ever need to sell our souls again for the tourist dollar. Create a destination that welcomes all types of tourism, make hay while the sun shines by all means (August is August after all) but quality over quantity wins the race. How do we know? Well that’s exactly what has happened over the last 2 summers even though it wasn’t in the grand plan.

We have to take the positives, even from one of the the most challenging times in living memory and as anticipation and excitement rises for the new summer it’s worth remembering that sometimes less is more. It’s a concept that the white isle has struggled with over the years but the reset that has been thrust upon Ibiza can now be used to build a truly world class destination where tourists and residents can co-exist.

Ibiza has all the ingredients – a spectrum of hotels and villas to suit all tastes, fine restaurants, world class beach clubs and nightlife, a local culture steeped in tradition and heritage, white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters – after 2 tough years and with a fresh approach the island now has a unique opportunity to fine tune the recipe.

Ibiza 2021 – It’s been different!

January 2021

After Xmas, New Year and Kings Day celebrations Ibiza has record covid numbers but countless infractions are still being reported daily. – Ibiza doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do. Education bosses report that too many teachers are on sick leave and the month ends with Can Misses declaring that hospital services had ‘collapsed’ and national news reporting that Ibiza Town as the ‘most infectious town in Spain’ due to a spike in numbers. Ibiza goes to Level 4 restrictions. As the song says…..Things can only get better

February 2021

The constant barrage of numbers from the 3rd wave continues but cases begin to lower and Can Misses hospital starts to recover. Mass testing in Ibiza takes place with a highly coordinated effort. Ibiza (like the world) is consumed by bad news but UD Ibiza football club continue their charge in the league. Ibiza is declared as Spain’s epicentre of the ‘British variant’ (remember that?). Hotels and bars are still closed but the natives are getting restless as livelihoods suffer. Investment in Ibiza carries on unabated as hotels change hands and many carry out big refurbs. The covid vaccination is finally rolled out but a couple of cheeky politicians jump the queue causing widespread anger. Naughty naughty!

March 2021

There’s good news that national travelers can now enter Ibiza without showing a negative test but many international flights are cancelled until May. As cases plummet but restrictions continue there’s a demonstration in Ibiza Town calling for bars, restaurants and hotels to be able to open. The extended promenade from Cala Gracio to Port des Torrent gets the green light with work slated to start in 2023 and new hotels, the 5-star OKU and the 4-star Stic Urban in San Antonio are previewed to the world. The Ibiza vaccination program is ramped up after its reported that the island has the slowest roll out in Spain as covid related deaths pass 100. German tourists return to Mallorca and the month ends with an order that a face masks must be worn at all times even outdoors. Oh Dear!

April 2021

Easter time but restrictions still in place including a complicated curfew with restaurants and bar interiors remaining closed. As many destinations prioritise vaccinations for those that work in the tourist sector the Balearics resist calls to do the same. Weather is getting better and the island seems busier with French, German, Swiss and Dutch but where are the Brits? Still confined to their homeland. Sacre bleu!

May 2021

EasyJet and Ryanair start international flights, 50% of Ibiza’s hotels get ready to open for summer. Sant Joan Sunday market reopens, bar and restaurants reopen interiors and terraces now allowed until late evening and Island President Vicent Mari declares that the island is ‘open and is a safe destination’. Have we turned the corner? The Brits are still not allowed to travel so the island and especially San Antonio looks to attract a more international crowd. In sport, UD Ibiza finally gain promotion to the 2nd tier of Spanish football at the 3rd time of asking. Meanwhile there’s trouble brewing as Space Ibiza owner Pepe Rosello starts court proceedings against the Matutes Group claiming they have slandered him. Diddums!

June 2021

Ibiza’s bars and restaurants can now open until midnight (whoopee). The Ibiza nightlife association pushes back on the idea that Ibiza is ‘better without discotheques’ as the British government delays its decision to allow international travel until the end of June. Illegal parties in private houses are daily news and UD Ibiza football club upsets local rivals (who also use the facilities) by signing an agreement for the exclusive use of the Can Misses stadium for 2 years. The Balearics goes to the top of the class in the vaccination program. The Dutch become major players in the tourist market but the Brits come crashing back as Boris puts the Balearics on the green list plus the welcome news that masks don’t have to be worn outside. And breathe!

July 2021

The Balearic Supreme Court overturns the order that saw the closure of San Antonio’s West End terraces although business owners in the area doubt they will be able to open this summer due to ongoing restrictions. The political killjoys of Sant Joan declare that the famous drum fiesta on Benirras beach is illegal and there’s problems in Ibiza Town when bars close at 2am and hundreds start gathering in the harbour area carrying on the party. What did they think was going to happen? It’s now mid-summer and temperatures hit almost 40 degrees Celsius and 2 weeks after getting the green light the British government change the Balearics to amber – WTF Boris! The health ministry say that the reopening of nightclubs isn’t viable and a famous poker player on a private jet is busted for a case full of drugs – how the other half live. Ibiza has a 4th wave of infections or is it the 5th wave, who’s even counting anymore? Bars and restaurants back to 1am closing. Gotta love Summer!

August 2021

12–15-year-olds can now get jabbed as the Ibiza government brings in fines of up to 300.000 EUR for illegal villa parties which are being openly sold in the street even though the police are now using drones to try and detect them . The island is busy busy. The good news is that more flights are arriving than in August 2019, the bad news is that there are less people on them. The UK keeps Balearics on the amber list and San Antonio breathes a collective sigh of relief. Football fever hits the island as UD Ibiza host their first ever game in the professional ranks versus Malaga, the game ends in a 2-2 draw. The month ends with the usual heavy rainfalls and also a bad ferry accident when the ‘San Gwann’ runs aground on its way to Formentera. Oh Captain!

September

Bars and restaurants get an extra hour so can open until 2am (whoopee again) and Ibiza’s nightclubs ask for permission to hold their closing parties in October even though they never opened in the first place, confused? Ibiza’s hotels report a better August than they expected and Ibiza Pride hold a large concert on the beach in San Antonio but everyone is seated, and dancing is frowned upon. Covid seems to be largely forgotten about. Pressure builds on the island government as entrepreneurs voice their concern that other destinations are holding large scale electronic music events while Ibiza is languishing behind, they finally relent, and it’s announced that nightclubs can reopen from mid-October. Bars and restaurants can also open until 4am. Thank the lord!

October

The summer dawdles to an end but not before Amnesia, DC10 and Hard Rock Hotel hold big parties. DC10 opens its doors for a 12-hour bonanza that sees queues as far as the eye can see – Ibiza clubbing is back baby! Sporting events are everywhere in October – Marathons, triathlons, road races, cycling, car races and plenty more. All restrictions are lifted on bars and restaurants and Pepe Rosello announces he is to open a ‘musical restaurant’ on San Antonio’s sunset strip and that he’s close to finding a venue for Space on Sunday – cues a social media frenzy. Meanwhile Naomi Campbell’s ex-boyfriend, the multimillionaire Vladislav Doronin is fined 1M euros for illegal work carried out on the villa he purchased from Elle McPherson. How’s that for name dropping!

November

The month starts quietly and then the rain comes which isn’t unusual but it doesn’t stop which is very unusal. A court rules that the Matutes Group can legally purchase the remaining shares and become the outright owner of Privilege, the worlds biggest club. It’s still raining. Vaccinations are now available to the under 12’s and the covid passport is needed to enter establishments which hold more than 50 people. Pressure builds on UD Ibiza manager Juan Carlos Carcedo as the team records only 3 points from a possible 15. The rain has finally stopped!

December

It’s Christmas!!!!! Festive lights are switched on in San Antonio as fake snowflakes fall to the delight of the crowd. A new bishop of Ibiza is appointed (still big news over here) and the first case of the Omicron (the what?) variant is found in the Balearics. A new law that requires a covid passport to enter all bars and restaurants sees a 3-fold increase in vaccinations. Infection numbers start being a thing again (to the press anyway) as the 6th wave (I think) takes over the island. UD Ibiza sack their manager after 6 games without a win. Ruthless. The year ends as it started with ibiza partying hard and numbers rising. Ho-ho-ho.

Happy New Year!

Ibiza Moves to Level 3 Restrictions

Ibiza has moved to level 3 restrictions after exceeding 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days, a four fold increase since the start of December.

Covid certificates will now be required for all bars and restaurants regardless of capacity although this still needs to be ratified by the Balearic Supreme Court for bars with a capacity of less than 50. Covid certificates will also be needed to enter cinemas, cultural establishments where food and drink is served, gyms and fitness centres, dance academies, gambling halls and clubs for the elderly.

With regards to indoor and outdoor sporting events and competitions, participants over the age of 12 must demonstrate that they have been fully vaccinated, are fully recovered in the last six months or a have had a recent negative test.

In addition, planned street parades such as Kings Day can go ahead but must be carried out “in a way that is as serene and relaxed as possible and with the maximum of common sense; therefore, it will be necessary to avoid crowds and be as static as possible “. These are the words of Josep Marí Ribas, formerly mayor of San Jose and now the Balearic Minister for mobility and housing. The measures will come into force immediately (except those that require authorisation from the Balearic Superior Court) and will remain, in principle, until the end of January.

With regards to the thorny issue of masks outdoors Mari Ribas said “where there are crowds and the safety distance cannot be safeguarded, the use of a mask is a good thing but we have also clearly argued that when there is a considerable distance from others a mask is not necessary”.

Mariano Juan, Vice President of the Ibiza Council, added “to say that a mask should be used at all times outside doesn’t make any sense but it’s logical in outdoor spaces where there are crowds or risk situations”.

Original article in Periodico de Ibiza (Spanish)

Things to do in Ibiza over the Festive Season

The festive season is now upon us so it’s time to kick back, relax and indulge in some naughty and nice pursuits that only Ibiza can offer

San Antonio Christmas Market
The San An Xmas Market is back again after it’s surprise success in 2019. Live music on stage in front of the the wooden cabins serving food and drink, the wonderful Christmas tree and sparkly lights throughout the town square surrounded by palm trees, not forgetting Santa’s house and the brand new sledge run. There’s a full program of events in San Antonio but it’s the Xmas Market that brings the town alive from 5pm every day.

Ibiza Town Funfair
It’s not the holiday season without an old fashioned funfair and Ibiza Town’s offering near Can Misses ticks all the boxes and much more. From the dodgems to the haunted house to the gravity defying ‘Carcel’ there’s fun for all the family. Plenty of fast food is available and even faster ways to spend your money at the many booths and rides scattered about the busy fairground. The fair is open daily from 5-11 pm until 19 January (winning a large fluffy toy is compulsory).

Cava and Oysters at Hostal Parque
It’s a bit of a tradition so pull up a chair at the best viewpoint in Ibiza Town’s busiest square and order a glass of cava and a dozen oysters and enjoy the moment. Personally I like tabasco on my oysters and then let them slide down but everyone is different. As we get closer to Xmas the atmosphere starts to crackle with fun and excitement as Ibiza gets busier and busier. Better than summer? It’s a good debate but both are very different.

Shopping in Ibiza Town
Long gone are the days when Ibiza’s shops in winter didn’t have much to offer and over the holiday period the islands capital is buzzing with both residents and tourists finishing off their xmas shopping looking for gifts, ideas and couture clothing in the famous avenues and alleyways. From cheesy souvenirs to high end labels there’s plenty on offer so bring your credit card and finish off the evening having a look at the stalls on Vara de Rey and then some tapas and vino in one of the local bars.

New Years Eve at Lio
Okay, the drinks might be eye-wateringly expensive and whole concept scandalously indulgent but Lio is up there as one of the most amazing venues in the world nestled amongst the super yachts with the famous Ibiza Old Town is it’s backdrop. Dress code is ‘Elegant’ so dress to impress and throw away your inhibitions for what is sure to be an evening to remember. Tickets are 70 euros per person for entrance and a drink.

New Years Day Lunch on the Beach
2021 has been the year of gastronomic adventures on the White Isle so there’s no better way to start off the New Year with a long lazy NYD lunch in the sunshine. Make sure you book a table at one of the many beach restaurants (especially if the weather forecast is good) and organise a taxi so you can let your hair down and start the year as you mean to go on. This is what Ibiza is all about!

Es Vedra Walk
With time on your hands and the calorie intake rising it’s the perfect time of the year for the short hike to Es Vedra. Compared to summer there’s very few people about and the December and January skies always throw up some amazing colours especially at sunset. This is social media gold and sure to get your friends and family back home frothing at the mouth. It ain’t rocket science and a fantastic way to spend a few hours over the festive period.

Ibiza Town Kings Parade on 5 Jan
In Spain it’s tradition to give gifts on 6 January so the crowds will be out in big numbers to welcome the Royal Cavalcade on Wed 5 January from 6.30pm as the 3 Kings from the Orient come bearing presents plus boxes of sweets for the kids (and big kids). It’s a fitting end to the festive season calendar with an excited atmosphere and large numbers on the streets as the carriages file past. This is the real Spain and something that needs to be experienced at least once.

Finally……This is just a small selection, there’s so many things happening in Ibiza over the next few weeks, each town and village has a comprehensive list of events designed to keep all ages engaged so get involved wherever you can. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. The Big Man in red will be making several appearances plus plenty of things to do for the big kids once the little ones have gone to bed.

Have a great Ibiza festive season, thanks to everyone who read and commented on my Man in San An blog posts in 2021. Onwards and upwards to 2022!


Massive New Twist for Space Ibiza

An image of the the iconic ‘Space Ibiza’ logo on the giant screen of the Hard Rock Hotel in Playa den Bossa with the words ‘coming soon’ has sent the White Isle and clubland into overdrive.

The Matutes group of companies (Usuhaïa, Hard Rock Hotel and Hī) and Space owner Pepe Rosello are sworn enemies so does this mean they have kissed and made up? Seemingly not, it looks like the situation just became even more complicated.

For now the Matutes group are staying silent but with this new turn of events can we assume they have decided to relaunch the iconic brand? This leads us to the big question: Who actually owns the trademark to the world famous Space brand? Is it 85 year old Pepe Rosello, the founder of Space, or is it the Matutes company who acted as his landlord for over 20 years in a complicated profit share deal?

The previously cordial relationship soured dramatically after Space’s lease wasn’t renewed in 2016 leading to the opening of Hī, a brand new multi million euro super club in the heart of Playa den Bossa. It made perfect business sense that the Matutes Group took back control of the area with a brand new concept that created a ‘golden triangle’ but Rosello didn’t go quietly with accusations fired by both sides leading to court papers being served alleging fraud by Rosello and slander by the Matutes group.

The Space brand as a clubbing concept has been dormant since Carl Cox played the final track stood next to Pepe Rosello in an emotional 2016 farewell but it was recently disclosed that ‘Space on Sunday’ could return in 2022 with Cox back as the front man at a new venue that was later revealed to be Es Paradis in San Antonio.

However with this new dramatic giant screen twist it looks like the Matutes group has laid down a clear marker that they, in fact, own the Space trademark and speculation is now rife to where they might take the iconic brand with all eyes turned to Privilege in San Rafael.

To add greater confusion to proceedings the Matutes group are currently embroiled in their own protracted court case about the ownership of Privilege. The group already owns 45% of the ‘worlds biggest nightclub’ and a Balearic court has judged that they can purchase the remaining 55% at a price set by an independent auditor. This ruling has been challenged by the existing owners who think they might have to sell on the cheap but the group are confident that the judgment will be ratified by the Supreme Court very soon.

So many questions still remain. Who owns the Space brand? Will ‘Space on Sunday’ return in 2022? If so will it be in Es Paradis? Will Carl Cox keep his promise to only work with Pepe Rosello or will a potential Space/Privilege hook up by the Matutes group be too tasty to turn down? Will Space even go to Privilege and in what form? Will the Rosello v Matutes feud be resolved any time soon?

There’s plenty more legs in this story. Ibiza – always interesting, never dull.