Hï Ibiza Win Confines Space to Memory

In 2016 when it was announced that Space Ibiza was closing for good there was an outpouring of grief similar to the death of a revered head of state. To many Space wasn’t just a club, it was a beacon, a way of life, a shining light of how it used to be when life wasn’t so serious although in truth it had become a slick commercial operation still marketed as a no-holds barred escapist paradise.

When Space finally closed its doors for the very last time at midday on Monday 3rd October 2016 not only did the mourning start but also the rumour mill of what would happen next to this famous site owned by the Matutes family who also owned Ushuaïa Beach Hotel.

While the chatter circulated and many old school ravers declared that Ibiza would never be the same again, Yann Pissenem the creator of Ushuaïa got to work creating another marquee brand, a new kind of club for a new kind of Ibiza.

Construction work on the site started straight away and the first hint was when the exterior became a large patio, giving it a grand Vegas-style entrance. The rumour mill went into overdrive especially about the new name, (what could possibly replace Space?) so when a very slick video dropped on 01 Feb 2017 announcing the name ‘Hï Ibiza’ the world had its first glimpse of Yann’s vision and what would become the future of Ibiza clubbing.

What no one realised back then was that this wasn’t a continuation of the Space ethos, this was a whole new concept in clubbing. Pissenem had done the air miles and his homework and knew exactly what he wanted to deliver. A new experience in clubbing run by a professional team creating a brand new experience. He wasn’t going to equal Space, he was going to better it for the next generation of clubbers, many who would be experiencing Ibiza for the first time.

Space was a time and place in Ibiza history, it was the heart and soul of hedonistic clubbing on the island long before it got hijacked by certain DJ’s. Although the outpouring of grief for its demise was genuine there was also a real need to up the ante in the new era for an Ibiza that was being compared to Las Vegas, Dubai and other emerging clubbing destinations on a daily basis.

When Hï Ibiza finally opened its doors on 28 May 2017 there was a mixed reaction, of course there was. It wasn’t Space any more, in fact it was a million miles away from Space and for some that was never going to be acceptable but Hï hit the ground running with its own identity and it was slick, very slick. No rough edges, more VIP, no more terrace but introducing new funky elements which the worlds clubbing fraternity would soon be talking about and adopting.

Hï was doing it their way and even though some were (and still are) dismissive of the shiny decor and new vibe you couldn’t argue with the talent on show. The music policy was on point introducing new acts and combining them with the iconic showstoppers that Ibiza had become famous for.

It’s hard to believe that Hï Ibiza has only been open for 3 summer seasons (in real terms little more than 12 months) yet it has taken the clubbing world by the scruff of the neck and propelled Ibiza to a new level. Even the most ardent Space-lovers have begrudgingly acknowledged that Hï has carried on where Space left off. Meanwhile other Ibiza clubs have followed suit and raised their game meaning that it’s been a win/win for the Island while other destinations throw money at their product in a vain attempt to compete with the White Isle.

Last week Hï Ibiza won Best Club in the World for the 2nd year in succession to keep Ibiza firmly at the top of the clubbing tree. Operations Manager Charlie Tatman accepted the prize on behalf of all the people that made it possible. In the list of TOP 100 CLUBS Ibiza has 4 entries in the top 8 and 9 in total, more than any other destination and although the list is highly objective, it can only be a good thing for Ibiza on the world stage.

It’s been an incredible journey in a very short space of time (pun intended) and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but the biggest compliment you can give to Hï Ibiza is that it doesn’t get compared to Space anymore. It just happens to be located at the same place but it has it’s own identity and the clubbing world loves it.

Ibiza clubbing constantly evolves, it never stops and you either change or die. Space was amazing for many years and will never be forgotten but l, nostalgia aside, the King is dead, long live the King.

Blog Post no. 299

From Ibiza to Tokyo (and back again)

It was always my intention to visit Japan one day so when the England Rugby team qualified for the World Cup final in Tokyo and I found reasonably priced last minute flights the excitement got the better of me. I love the nervous excitement of discovering a new country and a new city, the people, the smells, the sounds. It’s a sensory overload and the land of the rising sun didn’t disappoint.

Flying to any long haul destination from Ibiza is always a hassle but I didn’t realise just how far away Japan is, a mere 10700 kms. So after a 27 hour journey I found myself in Tokyo.

The first thing you notice is how calm everyone and everything is. Trains have constant reminders to not talk loudly, to keep your phone on silent. No public displays of emotion, everything is kept under check, eye contact kept to a minimum. A calmness that I hadn’t seen anywhere before and a million miles away from the always overly dramatic Ibiza.

Japanese are friendly and polite in the extreme, it’s an important part of their culture, pleasantries are exchanged at all times. Everything is orderly and organised for convenience with the minimum amount of fuss. This is a very focussed country, built on rules and regulations.

Uniforms are everywhere, from parking attendants to bus drivers to road sweepers to the guy who holds up the sign that says ‘end of queue here’. If builders are working in the street then there’s several uniformed personnel hovering around with illuminated batons making sure that nobody is under any doubt about it.

The public transport system in and around Tokyo is superb if slightly baffling although every major city is confusing at first. If there is a problem there’s always a uniformed officer on hand to help, with friendly politeness of course.

One thing you can’t help notice is that fashion is taken very seriously in Japan, it that thrives on it, embraces it, loves it. It’s edgy in a way I’ve never seen before in Asia. They may not display their emotions publicly but in their fashion a freedom of expression is shown, it’s also androgynous at times with some blurred lines.

Food is everywhere. All convenience stores sell hot, delicious offerings and there’s more restaurant choice than you could ever need and it doesn’t have to be expensive either, a delicious bowl of noodles costing around 800 Yen, less than 7 euros.

What is abundantly clear is that Japan takes its collective personal hygiene very seriously. Faces masks are always in sight especially on public transport, this is a country that has a germ phobia. Public toilets are easy to find at all times with soap and tissues always on display. Inside the toilets cubicle the wonderful lavatories offer you a wide range of ‘services’ including shooting a jet of water to clean your behind.

Technology is an obsession. Robots clean floors, machines take your restaurant order. Mundane human chores have been alleviated in so many ways.

One thing I couldn’t get used to and was like a step back in time is that Japan still allowed smoking in bars and restaurants. As a vehement anti smoker it was like a horrible memory being revisited when the person on the next table lights up while you were still finishing off your meal. Very strange for a country so serious about its hygiene.

The Rugby World Cup in Japan was an amazing success and it was a pleasure to see it first hand (even though my team didn’t win). Japan has been on my to do list for many years and it was great to finally see it. It’s no wonder that everyone I spoke to raves about the county. It’s one of the safest in the world, the people are friendly and polite, the food is delicious, transport is easy and accesible and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Recommended!

‘Mini Tornado’ Hits San Antonio

22 October 2019 – Mother Nature showed her teeth today in devastating fashion as a ‘mini tornado’ caused extensive damage to the Cala Gracio/Can Coix/Calo des Moro areas of San Antonio.

The storm hit at about 11.30am leaving a trail of devastation in it’s wake. The roof of the Can Coix sports complex was blown almost completely off with many trees uprooted as the storm headed towards Calo d’es Moro where many hotel terraces were decimated, the Hotel Tanit being hit hard.

Social media was soon awash with photos of streets strewn with debris, skips overturned, broken balconies, roofing in tatters and tales of many lucky escapes as news began to break. Other areas on the island experienced the bad storm but managed to avoid the carnage of the mini tornado.

The local council and civil protection agency mobilised quickly sending reinforcements to the zones and controlling the exit of schoolchildren from local schools close to the affected areas.

Ibiza is known for extreme weather but this was a spectacular reminder that we are all at the mercy of nature. Thankfully there has been no reported injuries so far.

The Downfall of Tour Operators – The Best Thing for a Modern Ibiza

In the early 1990s when I first arrived in Ibiza, just like the previous 2 decades, the Island was totally controlled by tour operators. There was no such thing as an independent traveller. Hotels negotiated a pitiful guaranteed price with a tour operator then waited for the airport transfer buses to arrive every Saturday and Wednesday.

They weren’t hoteliers they were glorified receptionists but in the early 2000’s everything changed when the low cost carriers started to fly into the island and tourists suddenly had a choice of where to fly from and how long to come for. Short durations and long weekends became a possibility for those who couldn’t get time off work.

The traditional tour operators weren’t prepared for this sudden shift and many went out of business in quick succession. Hotels started losing their guaranteed income, some panicked and some decided to invest and make their product better. Those hoteliers who couldn’t think outside the box saw their product progressively get worse while those who grasped the nettle soon realised that new avenues were opening up without the need to go through a middle man.

As hotels raised their prices and loaded their beds on internet sites, Ibiza became accessible to all and what was once a closed shop suddenly became open all hours. The Island that was once the sole domain of the British and German package holidaymaker became a truly international destination.  Tour operators, the driving force behind bringing the Spanish Costas to the mass market, had served their purpose in Ibiza but weren’t relevant any more.

As hotels started to see the fruits of their investments the White Isle grew in strength, many wised up quickly after years of doing very little – why invest after all when tour operators paid you very little in a price-driven market and still filled your hotel week in and week out regardless?

Tour operators, faced with this changing shift had to find a relevance and did so by buying their own hotel complexes and shifting capacity to other emerging destinations while investing heavily in family all inclusive units, some focussed on long haul where long weekends and no-frill flights weren’t an option. Some gained traction and carved out new markets while the ones who didn’t diversify withered.

While Ibiza prospered the tour operators and their brightly clothed representatives became less & less visible until there remained only 2 of the traditional main players: TUI (formerly Thomson’s) & Thomas Cook then another player emerged. Jet2 Holidays picked up the baton and redefined the package holiday market by offering multiple airports, flight times and hotels all at the click of a button in your living room. This was a new type of tour operator who didn’t horde tourists around like cattle but gave them a real choice. This was the beginning of the end for Thomas Cook (you don’t see any Jet2 agents on the high street).

Ibiza’s smaller family run hotels, through Booking dotcom and Expedia, were now finding their own markets and charging 10 times what they received from tour operators, the profit now going into the hoteliers pocket and being reinvested back into the island.

The hotels sector went from strength to strength as well as the villa market as flights were more available and affordable than ever. Hotels soon learnt that weekends were of higher demand so adjusted the prices accordingly, earning as much for a long weekend as for a 7 night stay.

As Ibiza became a marquee brand investment companies from all over the world came looking for hotels, snapping up basic properties and turning them into luxury retreats. The circle was complete.

Ibiza isn’t any other destination, it’s a very special place because of what it has to offer. In the space of 15 years it went from offering bucket and spade mainstream holidays to a truly world class destination with first class hotels and a unique mix of beautiful nature and unrivalled nightlife.

It’s journey started with tour operators and as sad as the demise of Thomas Cook and others are, the relationship was always a double edged sword and it was only after it threw off those shackles that Ibiza started to realise its full potential.

Thomas Cook Demise No Surprise

Too big to fail! That’s what they’ve said about many companies over the years but the sad collapse of the travel company Thomas Cook proves that if you don’t change with the times then you are never too big to get caught in the crossfire.

Woolworths, HMV, Blockbuster, Nokia, Motorola, Pan-Am and many more have all proven that business can change almost daily especially in the 21st century and unless you have a dynamic approach and a controllable cost base then you are always at risk.

This won’t be of any comfort to the thousands of hardworking Thomas Cook staff with mortgages to pay that find themselves without a job this week and who were the backbone of a business that had been swimming against the tide in recent months.  Let’s not also forget the thousands of holidaymakers who have had their plans seriously disrupted but hopefully the majority will be covered by the much maligned ATOL scheme which is designed for moments like this. The wave of nostalgia has been immense but there’s no room for nostalgia in a dog eat dog industry where every man and his dog is now an ‘online travel agent’.

Thomas Cook’s (TC) woes have been well documented but as the dust settles over the coming days the finger pointing will start and answers will be demanded. Many other businesses will also be out of pocket and some may even face potential bankruptcy as a consequence

TC’s unwillingness to fundamentally change their business model will ultimately be seen as the reason for their failure. As others were redefining the travel industry Cooks were too bogged down with a high cost base and a structure and culture that wasn’t open to change.  As one leading industry figure told me “buying Airtours and the Co-op travel agencies were 2 deals that defined the demise of this well known institution. Buying bricks and mortar when all forward thinking travel companies were investing in cutting edge technology was always a baffling decision”.

The merger with MyTravel (previously known as Airtours) was particularly harmful to TC and obligated them to a mountain of debt and lumbered them with crippling interest payments. Why they decided to merge with MyTravel rather than let them fail then pick through the bones may well lie in old school tour operator values where market share and bragging rights in the boardroom was favoured over bottom line principles.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you live and die by your decisions and TC had an extended period of making the wrong ones.

Recent senior management for all their well meaning bluster (and inflated pay packets) couldn’t cut the mustard or radically change the company for the better even with their own fully functioning airline. The rise of online travel agents, no frills airlines and accommodation only websites offering great deals for direct customers married with Cooks unwillingness to streamline led the company to the precipice and when the banks asked for an extra 200 million pounds to cover potential winter losses the writing was on the wall. After the UK government refused to cover the shortfall it was game over.

For those, like myself, who have worked in the travel industry this isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last but this could be a watershed moment for short haul tour operators who don’t have a nimble structure. As a major hotelier commented to me “in a time when people can build their own holiday experiences via multiple travel websites and apps, Thomas Cook didn’t adapt and found themselves down the pecking order when people booked their holidays.”

Like all those aforementioned businesses it was the paying public who ultimately sealed TC’s fate by not buying enough of what they had to sell during changing times and tastes. Cook’s inability to be flexible costing them dearly not to mention over 500 high street stores with agents sitting around waiting for potential customers to walk through the door.

It’s a sad time but also a sobering reminder that business doesn’t stand still and although doors will open for other entrepreneurs to fill the gap other operators and carriers will be raising their prices with glee in the short term.

Thoughts are with everyone affected at this difficult time but the UK travel industry is a resilient and dynamic beast and if history has taught us anything it’s that it will bounce back stronger but this time in a leaner, more efficient way.



Never too old for Ibiza…..or are you?

A phrase that’s been said many times but what’s the reality?

A good friend of mine nearing his 60th birthday has just departed after a busy 1 week holiday and here are his thoughts on the matter…


They say that age is just a number but that number can affect people in different ways. When visiting Ibiza age doesn’t matter if you’re spending time with friends and family by the pool, at the beach and in the restaurants but that’s not what attracted you to the White Isle in the 1st place as a spotty faced youngster!

No, it was the West End bars of San Antionio and the lure of the Super Clubs and boat parties, if it was good enough for George Michael and Freddie Mercury…

As you move through the years these places become a long lost memory rather than relevant to you. As you gather your own money progress is made to rent your own villa in the hills, dinner at Pikes, book a VIP table at Hï or Pacha or a daytime bed at a swanky beach club like Destino, all of which have sprung up as you have made it to your later years.

Everything was fine as you cruised through your 30’s and early 40’s but you now avoid the strip of Playa den Bossa and West End of San Antonio as it’s full of ‘kids’ and you start to venture to other parts of the island like Blue Marlin, Ushuaia, Pacha and more recently Lio.

Then the big 50 comes and goes and you’ve now lost at least 50% of your original group of friends so you try to find some younger mates to hang out with so you can still raise your hands in the air and sway from side to side in a hot sweaty super club (VIP of course for anyone over 35).

You’ve been coming for so many years that you eventually find a mate with a boat; not because you like him, or he’s funny, witty or engaging. It’s just so you can impress anyone you meet with the opening line ‘at our age we really only come over to meet up with our friends that live here…. only to drop into the conversation later .. oh yes he’s got a speedboat if you fancy coming out with us for the day’.

So, when are you too old to party like you did when you were 21?

If you were back in the UK then similar cool bars wouldn’t even let you in if you looked remotely over 30 let alone staring 60 in the face!

So what? Give up coming at 50?

If you attempt to go anywhere near a dance floor approaching 60 you will look like a rabid ‘dad dancer’ on ketamine but somehow you can still turn up at certain places in Ibiza and be welcomed with open arms as there is a tolerance of people of any age, creed or sexuality which just doesn’t happen in most other countries ‘party places’.

So if you choose your ‘itinerary’ carefully, you can still enjoy the party at any age. You maybe conscious of being on the outside looking in but the really great thing about Ibiza (and why us old farts keep coming back) is that no one else will care except you…

RP (a 59 year old Ibiza hipster)

‘Ibiza….it’s not what it was’

There’s no doubt that the White Isle is rapidly evolving but the one phrase I hear more than any other these days is that Ibiza ‘isn’t what it was’.

I started coming to the island in the 70’s as a small child with my family for the typical bucket, spade and sangria holiday, I missed out on the 80’s but came over in the early 90’s and never left so when it comes to Ibiza’s recent history I can happily say I had a front row seat.

It’s not easy to objectively compare different eras but this debate has been raging since I first set foot on the white Isle, in fact I clearly remember being told that ‘Ibiza isn’t what it used to be’ in my first few days here, the cycle repeats itself every year.

Ibiza constantly changes, it’s a self perpetuating micro experiment of life and always will be. One of the worlds most beautiful islands run by the offspring of farmers and fisherman who had the spotlight thrust on them. In terms of a brand it’s massive, if Ibiza was a Fortune 500 company then it would have a hot-shot CEO but it hasn’t yet it still works.

There’s no debate that the island has changed beyond recognition especially over the last 10 years however every era has its place clearly etched in history.

For those who ‘discovered’ the island in the 60’s there’s still that romantic vision of free love, living in the countryside and big lunches with friends that cost next to nothing but when you analyse it every era has its pros & cons.

When you’re young and fearless with no ties you have an attitude that is totally different to when you’re middle aged with a couple of kids but the island’s magic repeats itself for every generation in different ways. What some see today as a backward step is viewed by others as exactly the reverse.

Like those from the 60’s we all have romantic visions of a time in our lives that was special to us and Ibiza is that seminal place that makes memories for a lifetime so if you return and it’s changed beyond recognition of course it’s not what it was but it doesn’t mean it’s worse, it’s just different.

The early days when I came to Ibiza will forever be a magic time in my life but you could also only get flights for 7 or 14 nights, the roads were death traps, the hotels were basic with no air conditioning and the big clubs were inaccesible to many, mainly through lack of knowledge (no ‘influencers’ in those days!).

Those long mornings on Space terrace can never be repeated but have now been replaced by daytime concerts attended by thousands, beautiful beach clubs and world class nightclubs showcasing the biggest DJ’s as well as emerging talent, it’s different but the joy and the thrill remains the same with the hands in the air moments creating an adrenaline rush and memories to last a lifetime.

The Ibiza of today isn’t without challenges but it’s still an amazing place, making an indelible mark on every generation. The social media obsessed world we live in has created different needs and the ‘new’ Ibiza is just a reflection of that but scratch below the surface and the island still retains the charm and beauty it always has, you just have to stop being part of the herd and work a little harder to find it. Of course Ibiza isn’t what it was, it’s better.