‘Meon Villas’ to Close Down

 Another Mediterranean villa provider has announced it’s closure today after large tour operating group TUI confirmed it’s ‘Meon Villas’ product will close in October. This comes after Ibiza specialists ‘International Villas’ suddenly ceased trading at the end of July just as the market was entering it’s peak period.

Susan Allan from TUI said “The market for villa holidays has changed over the years. We have as a result reviewed our business model and taken the decision to no longer operate the Meon Villas programme post October 2015.  The outcome has not been taken lightly and we would like to thank you for your support and commitment over the years.”

TUI says that it will now go forward with it’s Sovereign brand and although Meon stopped offering Ibiza a few years ago it is yet another example of tough trading conditions for traditional tour operators who can’t offer the flexibility that private villa owner/managers can.

Airbnb and small businesses now dominate the segment offering maximum flexibility and prices without any add-ons. Ibiza has seen a large rise in holiday villa rentals over the last 5 years as laws have been simplified and investors turn traditional family homes into state of the art holiday villas with all mod cons.

The good news is that the consumer has never had a wider choice of accommodation options but the bad news is that the market will continue to be squeezed so expect more ‘consolidation’ in the coming months.

Read my previous blog: Ibiza Villas: Stick or Twist

50 Reasons why Ibiza is STILL the Best Place in the World!


To celebrate my 50th blog here’s 50 REASONS WHY IBIZA IS STILL THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. Don’t believe everything you read in the press but do experience it for yourself. Remember though that it’s a game of 2 halves – quiet winters followed by busy summers so choose your dates wisely and find the Ibiza that is right for you.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this list via social media – all photos my own.

  1. LIBERAL ATTITUDE – turning a blind eye is a way of life
  2. THE PEOPLE – the weird & wonderful are welcomed and accepted with ‘open arms’IMG_6203
  3. RELAX  you can always find your special place even in the height of summer
  4. AGELESS – sexegenarians dancing at super clubs is standard
  5. SUNSET – one of the worlds best (I’m yet to see better)  
  6. DJ’s – the island is their Mecca, from the wannabe’s to the world famous
  7. FASHION – achingly trendy people of all ages everywhere
  8. LOCAL DISHES – paella/sofrit pagès/arroz de matanza/bullit de peix to name just a few – local food lovingly created then lovingly scoffedIMG_5829
  9. SANGRIA DE CAVA – with fresh fruit on a hot day mmmmm
  10. BENIRRAS DRUMS – experience the true hippy flavour, getting into the rhythm is compulsory
  11. ES VEDRA – a truly magical place, feel the magnetism as it draws you in
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  12. ATLANTIS  – this mythical place actually existsIMG_0030
  13. NUDISM – walking round naked without a care in the world on one of the islands many nudist beaches
  14. TAPAS – a couple of euros will buy you tasty delights that will put a smile on your face not a hole in your pocket
  15. MARKETS – Las Dalias, Sant Jordi, Punta Arabi, Cala Mastella, Forada – dig deep for hidden gems
  16. VILLAGE SHOPS – usually run by the older generation whose local knowledge knows no bounds
  17. CHURCHES – breathtaking historical buildings that light up at nightIMG_5107
  18. IBIZA WINTER RESIDENTS – the only Facebook page to follow (Read my IWR Blog)
  19. MUSIC – It’s a way of life from live vocals to EDM to folkloric flutes, it’s everywhere!
  20. THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH – Ibiza keeps you young, fact! (ask Wayne Lineker)
  21. HIERBAS IBICENCAS – the local liqueur that’s good for the heart but not the headliqueur-hierbas-ibicencas
  22. AUGUST FIREWORKS – San Ciriac in Ibiza Town then San Bartolome in San Antonio, incredible displays watched by thousands
  23. LOCAL FIESTAS – every town and village has one and the whole population comes out to eat, drink and party
  24. AMAZING VISTAS – the island is still mainly untouched when you get out of the 3 largest towns
  25. BEACHES – white sand, blue sea – stay away from peak season and have one all to yourselfIMG_2195
  26. CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS – better than the Caribbean?IMG_9325
  27. FORMENTERA – the jewel of the Med is only 25 mins away by fast ferryIMG_0267
  28. SPRITUALITY – more yoga retreats than California, feel the aura….
  29. SEMANA SANTA – Easter celebrations see the island shut down for 4 days and hooded take over the old town
  30. SUNSHINE – an average of 300 days per year speaks for itself
  31. LOCATION – barely 2 hours from most European capitals – quicker to get to the white isle than a few junctions around the M25
  32. CLUBS – the worlds largest, best and outlandish, all on a small island, equals a Clubbers Paradise
  33. ANIMAL PASSION – cats and dogs are more cared for than humans (see point 18)IMG_2786
  34. CAN RICH – local winery on the outskirts of San Antonio
  35. FLAO AND ENSAIMADAS – local bakeries making tasty treats
  36. MENU DEL DIA – a delicious 3 course meal with a bottle of wine for less than €10 (who said Ibiza was expensive?)
  37. WINTER CYCLING – fun races such as the ‘Porquet’ or amazing trails leading to incredible viewsporquet
  38. SPORTS – football, cricket, rugby, polo, basketball and much more, sport heaven 
  39. GETTING AROUND – less than 30 mins to anywhere on the island, except August of course
  40. FEBRUARY CARNIVAL – while the English eat pancakes Ibiza comes alive with floats, fancy dress and dancingDSC_0589
  41. HIPPY SPIRIT – they came in the 60s and never left, passing on their spirit to future generations  
  42. D’ALT VILA – Ibiza’s stunning old town and world heritage site with it’s fantastic cathedral at the top 
  43. ALMOND BLOSSOM – take a romantic walk through the groves in February
  44. FOLKLORIC DANCING – history and culture combined with high kicks and athleticism to penny whistles and drums  
  45. WINTER – no VIP just the real Ibiza
  46. MATANZA – the traditional slaughtering of the pig to keep your winter shelves stocked, a necessity back in poorer days and still a tradition todayIMG_3089
  47. VINO PAYES – potent homemade wine that’s very warming come January (sometimes better with lemonade though)
  48. BOATING HEAVEN – from superyachts to llauts to pedalosIMG_9421
  49. GIRLS AND BOYS – quite simply the best looking people in the world
  50. IBIZA LOVE! – so much love for 1 small island from so many peoplelove

¡Ibiza Shore Cancelado!

  

De manera sorprendente los productores del propuesto show de la MTV “Ibiza Shore” han anunciado la repentina cancelación del reality show televisivo citando “circunstancias más allá de nuestro control”.

El show iba a empezar a ser grabado en las próximas semanas y la cancelación viene después de que el Presidente de la Isla Vicent Torres dijera que cualquier establecimiento que colaborara con los productores seria sujeto a rigurosas inspecciones. Bora Bora renunció rápidamente a su colaboración junto con otros establecimientos de Ibiza… También ha habido una ola de histeria colectiva de los isleños enfadados con este tipo de show que continuamente resalta el sexo, las drogas y la cultura discotequera de la isla.

 El show es la versión española de “Jersey Shore”(EEUU) y “Geordie Shore”(Reino Unido) y sigue a un grupo de individuos atractivos documentando sus subidones y bajones y las relaciones personales dentro del grupo. Por más que los productores intenten decir “es una montaña rusa emocional” no hay duda que es valor de choque, un accidente de coche televisivo.

La pregunta ahora es donde ponemos el límite. Eso significa que TODOS los reality televisivos son persona non-grata o hay una norma para unos y otra para otros. No hay duda que mientras algunos estarán celebrando otros estarán preocupados que esto marque un peligroso nuevo precedente contra la Televisión, que estimula interés a muchos millones de personas diariamente.

Con más programas de Televisión y una película planeados para los próximos meses vamos a ver con qué tipo de reacción serán recibidos antes durante y después de la producción. Este ¿es un guiño por el sentido común o un guiño para la censura indebida? Solo el tiempo lo dirá así que vigilad este espacio pero por ahora el resultado es:

IBIZA 1 – REALITY TELEVISIVO 0

British Bobbies on the Ibiza Beat


From 17 August 2015 – for 1 week only – Officers Sergeant Brett Williams and PC Martina Anderson of West Midlands Police are about to become ‘famous’ on the streets of San Antonio as they patrol in 2 shifts, from 7am until 10pm, and assist local law enforcers in investigations where British holidaymakers are offenders or victims. The officers will wear full British uniform in what is being described as a ‘trial operation’.

The 2 British ‘Bobbies’ (who will have already done a week in Magaluf, Mallorca) will be accompanied by 2 specially designated Guardia Civil officers and will be housed in 4 separate hotels donated by the San Antonio hotel association.
It’s an interesting and brave initiative that has been funded and planned with help from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office that will see British and Spanish law enforcers join together for the first time in Ibiza’s 2nd largest town that has a far from untarnished reputation.

The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, said: “The presence of UK police officers will help to remind British holidaymakers of the importance of respecting local laws and customs, ensuring that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday, free from trouble and crime.”

Andy Marshall for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Their presence will offer reassurance to both locals and UK citizens in areas that significantly increase in population during the busy summer holiday season and provide support to victims of crime during what can be a traumatic experience, especially when away from home.”

What will be interesting is the inevitable difference in approach from the Spanish and British officers on the streets to problems that can sometimes be controlled through clearer communication yet are often exacerbated by language and cultural barriers. It is hoped that the Spanish police might learn some techniques in quickly solving confrontations that just involve over zealous holiday makers.

In 2013 I accompanied a group of influential local San Antonio businessmen to Newcastle for an invited weekend and they were amazed how the local police force were high profile on the streets yet easily communicated with the party crowd often diffusing situations quickly and positively in the town centre adding to the atmosphere rather than taking away. Seeing that there are parts of San Antonio that have little or no police presence at crucial times of the day any help in this direction can only be positive.

San Antonio councillor Aida Alcaraz commented “This is a pilot project, we hope the ‘Bobbies’ take away a clear picture of the situation and return next year at the start of the season”.

Some parts of the British press have been critical calling it a ‘farce’ and a ‘paid holiday’ however only time will tell whether this is just a political PR exercise or a project that can grow and evolve into helping Ibiza and specifically San Antonio during the busy summer months.

Watch this space!

Ibiza Villas: Stick or Twist?

  

A little over 10 days ago local Ibiza villa retailer ‘International Villas’ went into liquidation just as we were heading into peak season. It seemed a strange time to go under and even though there were a few sinister rumours flying about when you consider that villa payments are due by the beginning of August it was possibly just a case of negative cash flow in difficult trading conditions?

The villa market in Ibiza is now an important part of island commerce with many investors buying a 2nd home to rent out and also many locals refurbishing their inheritances for a secondary income. The recent government initiative to simplify the legalization of holiday villas has also meant that it’s now become a viable money spinner rather than a cash in hand, nod and a wink extra. 

Never has there been so many villa companies, agents and middlemen, when I started renting villas in the mid 90s there were only 45 registered properties on the island (no wonder they were mostly fully booked). Any internet search will now reveal over 3000 villas online and that doesn’t include the ones that aren’t advertised. 

Airbnb is a recent phenomenon that has become popular however there is a fundamental flaw in their system; Because the owners/retailers don’t receive any money until after the client has arrived they reserve the right to cancel the booking right up until the last minute. This is OK for a short city mini-break but not very reassuring when you are responsible for a group of 10 people for 2 weeks in August. Your money may well be protected but that’s no consolation if your booking is cancelled the day before your arrival.

The entire villa market has also taken a PR bashing as internet shysters have been defrauding holiday makers on an industrial scale, UK’s Primetime TV show ‘Watchdog’ even ran a section on it putting the MD of Owners Direct under the spotlight and in the hot seat. Is it any wonder that tourists have decided to go back to town centre hotels especially as Ibiza is raising its game in this field. 

So taking all this into consideration the demise of International Villas isn’t too difficult to understand. 

So under these conditions is there a future for Ibiza’s villa market? Of course there is but it’s a competitive business and owners and agencies need to find a way to differentiate their product from the rest.

If you are a prospective villa client then do your homework, speak to the owner/agency in detail, ring their office, check their website and look for 1st person reviews. If you follow this advice then it will soon become clear if the person or business you are dealing with is reliable or not. If in doubt then don’t book with them as there are always plenty of other options. Don’t just take their word for it and don’t send any money to strange bank accounts in even stranger countries.

The good news is that with all the competition there are some amazing bargains to be had meaning that modern villas with private pools can sometimes be cheaper than 2 star hotels. So proceed with caution but with a little common sense you will soon be sipping cocktails in your own private pool watching the world’s most famous sunset with some extra money in your pocket and a great big smile on your face.

My Top 5 AMAZING BOATS in IBIZA 

  

Ibiza has become the playground of the seriously wealthy who descend on the party capital of the world to have fun and also show off their amazing toys. 

Amongst them is the planet’s 2nd largest privately owned yacht appeared off the coast of San Antonio. “Eclipse” – owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich – measures 162.5m/533 ft, has 2 helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, 2 swimming pools and several hot tubs. It is also equipped with 3 launch boats and a mini-submarine that is capable of submerging to 50m. 70 crew members are needed to operate the yacht and serve the guests. WOW!!!!!

“Eclipse” isn’t even the biggest yacht out there!  In a mind-blowing display of one-upmanship Khlaifa Al Nahyan, the President of United Arab Emirates, launched the €500M “Azzam” in 2013 and at 180m/590 ft ‘dwarfs’ Eclipse by 18m/60 ft.

As a ‘celebration’ of obscene wealth here’s my 5 favourite completely excessive boats that I’ve seen in Ibiza waters over the last 12 months. All photos taken from my very own insignificantly small boat.

 Eclipse – see above, Roman’s €340M floating palace with bullet proof glass, 2 helicopters and 1 submarine among it’s toys. Say no more.

Wow Factor 10: It has a fully equipped nightclub

 RC – Roberto Cavalli’s 40m/133 ft yacht named after himself (naturally) cost a relatively cheap €30M and is proof that size isn’t everything. It’s uber-fashionable with animal print furniture ,15 staterooms, a spa and optional fur coats if the weather turns a little chilly.

Wow Factor 9: It changes colour as you approach it.

 “A” – when it comes to cutting edge design it doesn’t come any edgier than this tug. It was designed by Philippe Starck and Martin Francis and delivered in 2008 at a cost of around €250M. With a length of 119m/390 ft and weighing almost 6,000 tonnes it’s named after owners Andrey and Aleksandra Melnichenko. It’s provocative styling has made it a true marmite boat with comparisons to submarines and battleships. It’s known as the “most loved and loathed ship on the sea” and can accommodate 14 guests in the owner’s suite and 6 further guest suites – it has 37 crew.

Wow Factor 10: It costs over a €1M to fill it’s fuel tanks

 Main – Giorgio Armani’s 65m/213 ft mega yacht is sharp, fit, slim and is the water version of the famous Armani aesthetic. With angular lines and an unusual dark-green color the boat is more lean, mean war machine than fat and happy pleasure cruiser. “Main” has 6 spacious guest cabins, elevator, jacuzzi, indoor gym, cinema screen, multiple bars, a gigantic sundeck.

Wow Factor 9: It has 12 statement staircases

 Tiara – this amazing 55m/178 ft sailing yacht is not just a passing visitor but an island resident and is moored permanently off the coast of Cala Tarida right opposite its owner Guy Laliberte (Cirque du Soleil founder) huge hillside mansion. “Tiara” provides 5 luxurious staterooms for 10 guests. The owner’s ‘apartment’ is on 2 different levels and features a superb lobby and study. The master stretches the width of the boat and features a large marble bathroom and king sized bed. There are 4 further spacious staterooms plus accommodation for it’s crew of 12.

Wow Factor 8: Rental is a cool €180,000 per week (plus expenses of course)

For everyone else there is the euromillions draw every week……..
  

Todo Incluido: ¿Aquí para Siempre?

  

Todo incluido: Nunca 2 palabras han causado tanta consternación en los principales resorts turísticos del Mediterráneo. Ibiza, Tenerife, Mallorca, Benidorm, Costa Brava: Todos los grandes están “sufriendo”. Algunos resorts ya establecidos de antaño se han vuelto pueblos fantasma parcialmente ya que las una vez vibrantes zonas han sido abandonadas por turistas que prefieren quedarse en su hotel bebiendo y comiendo “gratis”.

Por mucho que denunciemos el producto, el problema es que el mercado decide y las familias y grupos han decidido que quieren saber exactamente por lo que están pagando y quieren que sus hijos puedan tomar snacks y helados a cualquier hora del día sin tener que constantemente meter la mano en el bolsillo.

No oirás mucho “Ibiza es caro” alrededor de algunos hoteles todo incluido mientras Mamá y Papá se relajan en un entorno seguro sabiendo que el 80% de su presupuesto está asegurado. Aun hay negocio a hacer ya que el otro 20% será gastado en viajes en barco, días fuera, alquiler de coches y actividades en la playa.

El reto para los resorts del Mediterráneo es posicionar correctamente su producto y lugar ya que el Todo Incluido tiene una demanda real y si Ibiza no lo ofrece, otro lugar lo hará sin dudarlo. El nuevo resort ‘Sensatori’ en Cala Tarida está recibiendo críticas buenísimas ya que siguen el probado y testado modelo de largo plazo de una localización playera, entretenimiento sobresaliente, una variada selección de comida y excelentes servicios para familias. Un buen ejemplo de dar al publico lo que quiere, que con una familia de 4 miembros costando más de 6500 euros la semana en agosto llega a ser un Premium. El Seaview Country club es también un conocido todo incluido de Ibiza ofreciendo diversión familiar en la playa y recientemente ha añadido su propio parque acuático, añadiendo mucho valor para Mamá y Papá. Estos productos no son baratos pero como con muchas cosas en la vida, recibes por lo que pagas.

Desafortunadamente estos 2 resorts hoteleros son la excepción en vez de la norma en la Isla Blanca con muchos otros que ofrecen un producto inferior en un lugar inferior por mucho menos dinero mientras tratan a sus clientes con agresividad territorial pasiva. Tienen el dinero por adelantado así que abusan de ese privilegio “regalando” comida y bebida de baja calidad” – igualmente, ¿que sabrán los Británicos de comida? Si haces las mates es una ecuación simple: ofertas baratas de todo incluido = comida/bebida barata = turismo barato. Esta es una mentalidad perdedora para la isla como nos hacen saber las fiables críticas de “Trip Advisor”.

Nos guste o no el “Todo Incluido” esta prosperando en todo el mundo (especialmente en resorts emergentes) y definitivamente esta para quedarse. Mis recientes blogs han tocado sobre “Vips” y trabajadores de temporada que más o menos representan el nivel alto y bajo del mercado pero si Ibiza quiere seguir atrayendo el importante mercado medio entonces es Ibiza que va a tener que cambiar y no el modelo todo incluido.