Proposed ‘All-Inclusive’ Alcohol Ban for Balearics

“All inclusive’ holidays have always been a polarising subject in the Balearic Islands and it’s now become a political hot potato after the Balearic Government in Palma announced plans to outlaw the serving of alcohol within the all-inclusive package.

‘All inclusive’ is a flat fee where you can eat and drink as much as you want on a daily basis for the duration of your holiday, it mainly appeals to those who want to manage their budgets, such as families.

The concept originated in long haul destinations such as the Caribbean with isolated hotels in remote places having to offer the service as there was limited food options within the area.

Hoteliers soon realised that having a captive audience was good for the balance sheet so rolled out the concept worldwide however it greatly affected surrounding businesses in European resorts where whole areas became ‘all inclusive’.

In the Balearics the anti-All Inclusive lobby has been around for years but nothing has ever been proposed on a political level until now.

As is usual in these fractious political times the announcement has been welcomed by some and berated by others. In the Balearic Government the opposition PP party has accused the socialist coalition of harming Balearic competitiveness saying “All-inclusive is not a problem, the problem is being created by the (Balearic) Government “.

PP deputy leader Miguel Jerez went on to say “To try to modify this situation by punishing all the hoteliers who choose to offer this regime is not only unfair, disproportionate and interventionist but is like killing flies with cannon fire”.

In Ibiza it has also led to a political crisis after the coalition island government asked for the White Isle to be excluded from the new law seemingly without approval from their governmental partners.

This led the ‘Guanyem’ party to issue an official statement asking the island government to refrain from announcements until the subject has been debated in chambers.

The left wing Guanyem are strongly in favour of this initiative and have been highly critical of Ibiza’s tourist minister Vicent Torres Benet’s stance saying “we consider that the practice of All-inclusive constitutes an attack against the interests of the local economy, of small commerce and of the working class in general”.

Miquel Vericad the Guanyem leader in Ibiza went on to denounce this type of tourism for linking alcohol consumption to family holidays “where children can watch their parents drink without control”.

Vicent Torres Benet explained that “this regulation is out of place in Ibiza because All-inclusive is a minority on the island and is focused on family tourism and, therefore, it does not generate any problems”. According to Torres its application would greatly harm family tourism on the island although he acknowledged that “Mallorca does suffer from this problem”.

La estupidez de la ley

Cuando el primer teniente de alcalde del tripartito de izquierda de Sant Antoni, Pablo Valdés, obligó mediante una ZPAE a cerrar todos los bares y discotecas del “West End” antes de las 3 de la madrugada, estoy seguro de que su intención era buena.

Después de todo, un electorado ferviente y apasionado (y principalmente joven) lo colocó en su actual posición política cansado del ruido constante y los problemas asociados en un área ya famosa por … el ruido y sus problemas asociados.

El Sr. Valdés parece ser un idealista que busca soluciones rápidas a problemas enquistados desde hace muchos años y cuya solución requiere del largo plazo. Por ejemplo: ¿Cambiamos el modelo de turismo de San Antonio? Es fácil, simplemente cerremos todas las empresas que no encajan con el ‘plan’ …. Pero no tan fácil cambiar de un dia para otro cuando no se tiene la infraestructura adecuada para mejorar la calidad de la oferta destinada al nuevo cliente que se quiere atraer. Cerrar y prohibir sin tener nada en la reserva sería un suicidio comercial. Sin nada para reemplazar lo actual no tiene ningún sentido.

¿Demasiado ruido en el West End? ¡Eso es fácil otra vez! Cerremos todos los bares 2 horas antes y el ruido simplemente desaparecerá, ya que todos se irán a la cama rápido y de forma ordenada. Una solución relativamente simple para un problema importante que ha evolucionado durante más de 50 años. Como hemos visto durante todo el verano y especialmente esta ultima semana, esta decisión ha fracasado derivando en circunstancias dramáticas y trágicas.

En lugar de resolver el problema del ruido para un centenar de residentes, la decisión de cerrar los bares y discotecas antes ha tenido 2 importantes consecuencias para la comunidad local. En primer lugar, obligó a miles de personas a salir a la calle al mismo tiempo, por lo que en lugar del filtro natural de años anteriores donde la gente empezaría a abandonaba paulatinamente los bares a medida que se cansaba de la fiesta y la ciudad se iba poco a poco apaciguando, hoy la multitud animada sale toda ella a la calle exactamente a la misma hora lo que conlleva que los niveles de ruido ahora se salen de la escala sonométrica, exactamente lo contrario de lo que la nueva ley pretendía.

En segundo lugar y más en serio, este cierre adelantado ha empujado a la multitud expulsada de los locales a encontrar nuevas formas de continuar la diversión. En lugar de permanecer en una zona controlada, lo que inevitablemente sucede es que se dirigen a espacios públicos como las fuentes, la playa, el puerto o de regreso a su hotel. Como Hemos visto, las 3 de la mañana es demasiado pronto para terminar la diversión en una isla que realmente no cobra vida hasta la medianoche.

Y aquí viene la gran advertencia que no parece haber sido pensada adecuadamente: empujar a varios miles de personas a las calles oscuras de Sant Antoni en las primeras horas de la madrugada tiene consecuencias, especialmente cuando esas calles no son el lugar más seguro en el mundo. No me malinterpreten, no estamos hablando del Bronx de los 70, pero hay personas sin escrúpulos que buscan aprovechar la situación.

Por supuesto, la multitud de la fiesta siempre podría volver a sus camas o a un club y algunos residentes locales pueden decir que si los turistas se emborrachan y se ponen en peligro, son ellos mismos los que tienen la culpa, pero como hemos visto durante las últimas dos semanas el obligar a las personas a salir de un entorno razonablemente controlado dejando que se las arreglen solos, con poca presencia policial puede tener repercusiones trágicas.

Como hombre honorable, estoy seguro de que el primer teniente de alcalde de Sant Antoni reconocerá que debe haber una mejor solución a la situación actual que es insostenible. Un político sin escrúpulos podria intentar aprovechar la situación y culpar aún más a las empresas legales locales por las molestias que sin duda genera el ocio, pero eso sería como culpar a los jóvenes por tener la audacia de tratar de pasar un buen rato mientras están de vacaciones y nadie es tan estúpido … ¿verdad?

3am Chaos in San Antonio: The Folly of ‘Valdes’ Law’

When San Antonio’s left-wing Deputy Mayor Pablo Valdés quickly pushed through a new law to close all ‘West End’ bars by 3am I’m sure he did it for all the right reasons as he saw it.

After all he was put in his current political position by a fervent and passionate (and mainly young) electorate tired of the constant noise and associated problems from an area famous for…..noise and it’s associated problems.

Sr Valdés appears to be an idealist looking for quick solutions to long term problems. For example: Let’s change the tourism model of San Antonio? That’s easy right, just close down all the businesses that don’t fit in with the ‘plan’……but actually not that easy when you don’t have the right infrastructure to improve quality overnight. Closing and prohibiting with nothing in reserve is comercial suicide, diminishing your product with nothing to replace it with doesn’t make any sense.

Too much noise in the West End? That’s easy again! Close all the bars 2 hours earlier and the noise will simply disappear as everyone files home to bed early in an orderly fashion. A relatively simple solution to a major problem that has evolved over 50 years but as we have seen this week this decision has backfired in dramatic and tragic circumstances.

Instead of solving the noise problem for a few hundred residents the decision to close bars earlier has had 2 massive knock-on effects for the local community. Firstly it’s forced thousands of people on to the street at the same time so rather than the natural filtration of previous years where people would start drifting off after 3am and the town would wind down gradually the lively crowd all hit the street at exactly the same time so the noise levels now go off the scale, the exact opposite of what the new law intended.

Secondly and more seriously it has pushed the party crowd to find new ways of carrying on the fun. Instead of remaining in a controlled zone it means that they inevitably drift to public places such as the fountains, the beach, the harbour or back to their hotel. As we have seen, 3am is way too early to finish on an island that doesn’t really come to life until midnight.

And here comes the big caveat that obviously wasn’t thought through properly – pushing a few thousand people onto the dark streets of San Antonio in the early hours of the morning has consequences, especially when those streets are not the safest place in the world. Don’t get me wrong we aren’t talking about the New York Bronx of the 70s but there are unscrupulous people out there looking to take advantage of the situation.

Of course the party crowd could always go back to their beds or on to a club and some local residents may say that if tourists get blind drunk and put themselves in a position of danger then they only have themselves to blame but as we have seen over the last couple of weeks forcing people out of a reasonably controlled environment and letting them fend for themselves with little police presence can have tragic repercussions.

As an honourable man I’m sure the Deputy Mayor of San Antonio will acknowledge that there must be a better solution to the current untenable situation. An unscrupulous politician may take advantage and heap further blame on to local legal businesses for creating this environment but that would be like blaming youngsters for having the audacity to try and have a good time whilst they are on holiday and nobody is that stupid…..are they?

¿Por qué al ayuntamiento de Sant Antoni le disgusta tanto el turismo británico?

Las nuevas ordenanzas de ruido para San Antonio significan que todos los bares y clubes en el área de West End deben cerrar antes de las 3 de la madrugada y las terrazas deben retirarse antes de las 12:00 de la medianoche. Esto solo se aplica al West End, que ocupaca unas pocas manzanas, pero constituye el corazón del “casco antiguo” de Sant Antoni.

Para que la nueva ley se apruebe lo más rápido posible antes del verano de 2018, el Consejo de coalición tripartito ha designado al área del West End como una “zona de protección acústica especial” debido a los altos niveles de ruido durante el verano.

El West End y San Antonio dependen en gran medida del turismo británico, alrededor del 75% de todos los turistas que visitan el pueblo son británicos y muchos son jóvenes de entre 18 y 25 años que viven su primera estancia en el extranjero atraídos por su sol, reputación, clubes y los nombres más importantes en la música de baile. Llegan a Sant Antoni porque cumple todos los requisitos para su edad y presupuesto, y muchos regresan una y otra vez.

San Antonio siempre ha sido una puerta de entrada para este tipo de turistas, aquellos que no pueden pagar las grandes opciones de dinero que otros resorts e islas ofrecen. Siempre ha sido así porque esto es lo que ofrecen los hoteles locales. San Antonio solo tiene tres hoteles de 4 estrellas en todo el pueblo y esto se refleja en el tipo de turismo que viene aquí. A pesar de que los hoteles locales han invertido en reformas durante los últimos 15 años, todavía están a un millón de millas de ser calificados como de “clase mundial”.

Así que a menos que en los próximos 10 años se abran una serie de resorts de playa de 5 estrellas, Sant Antoni seguirá ofreciendo el mismo tipo de habitaciones a precios razonables que atraen a un cierto grupo demográfico, el mismo grupo demográfico que Valdés y sus caballeros de diversión politica claramente nobquieren. Incluso si las grandes cadenas de hoteles quisieran crear un país de las maravillas de 5 estrellas, el gobierno isleño socialista tiene una prohibición de construcción vigente, por lo que no se construirá nada en los próximos años y actualmente se tardan más de 2 años en solicitar y obtener una licencia para reformar un hotel.

Para aquellos que vienen a Sant Antoni y no tienen dinero para reservar mesas VIP en los súper clubes de Ibiza, el West End ofrece bebidas y luces brillantes que son un faro de diversión a un precio muy razonable. Amarlo o detestarlo, siempre ha tenido un lugar en la dinámica de la Isla … hasta ahora.

En los últimos años es triste decirlo, pero el West End se ha derrumbado rápidamente, degenerando rápidamente en un ghetto donde rara vez se ve a la policía dejando un vacío sin ley. El hecho de que el West End no se haya controlado a sí mismo ha resultado en 4 problemas principales:

1. Los operadores de bares sin escrúpulos y sus relaciones públicas forzando acuerdos de bebidas baratas a jóvenes ingenuos que terminan en estado de embriaguez.

2. Las prostitutas organizadas en cada esquina que molestan a los transeúntes y roban a los que están demasiado borrachos como para darse cuenta o defenderse.

3. Las mismas pandillas de carteristas que esperan cerca de la parada de Taxi todas las noches se aprovechan de los turistas jóvenes que acaban de pasar un buen rato.

4. Los vendedores de gafas ahora están vendiendo gas de la risa a jóvenes ingenuos, aunque es ilegal las autoridades locales no parecen demasiado interesados ​​en abordar el problema.

Sin embargo, estos asuntos no son diferentes a muchos otros resorts mediterráneos que no hacen frente a los delincuentes e infractores. El vicealcalde Valdés ha declarado la guerra a los bares del West End y penalizará a los turistas que los frecuentan y disfrutan, la mayoría de los cuales son británicos.

Al Sr Valdés claramente no le gusta el turismo que en San Antonio ha prosperado durante décadas y ha utilizado las quejas de los residentes ‘147’ para justificar sus acciones. Dejenme que profundice un poco: 147 residentes que viven en un área que es famosa por los bares y lo ha sido durante casi 50 años. 147 residentes en una ciudad que depende 100% del turismo. 147 residentes que necesitan protección pero también que viven en medio de un pueblo fantasma durante 7-8 meses al año. Su petición de solo 170 firmas se ha tomado más en serio que las 1300 presentadas por los empresarios y las mías, más de 2000, pidiendo acción contra los agresivos vendedores callejeros, ni siquiera recibí una respuesta.

Realmente ya está casi todo inventado, pero esa es la contradicción de Sant Antoni, Ayuntamiento que constantemente muerde la mano que lo alimenta y que anhelan a esas familias ‘agradables’ y parejas de mediana edad / ancianos que eligen visitar Santa Eulalia por 4-6 meses al año.

Mientras Sr Valdés enfoca su ira en los turistas británicos, sacrificando el disfrute de los jóvenes y arruinando los medios de subsistencia de muchos honestos dueños de bares (españoles y extranjeros), los verdaderos criminales no han sido mencionados, así que estarán libres para deambular y hacer sus malas acciones con muy poca presencia policial.

Esto es imperdonable: este Ayuntamiento a quien le encanta quitar pero no devolver nada. 147 residentes pueden verse afectados por el ruido extra durante 4 meses, pero ¿cuántos turistas jóvenes se ven afectados semanalmente por los delincuentes indisputados? Me imagino a muchos más de 147, pero no son votantes, y probablemente estaban ebrios y se lo ” merecían ” a los ojos de este equipo de gobierno.

Sin duda, Sant Antoni necesita una limpieza y ese es el trabajo del equipo de gobierno elegido, pero debería empezar por abordar los problemas reales primero en lugar de centrarse en negocios legítimos construidos durante décadas, que emplean a muchos y aportan al pueblo . Sant Antoni tiene muchos problemas que deben abordarse, pero unos cuantos decibelios adicionales durante 4 meses al año no son el verdadero problema aquí.

The Strange Case of Es Paradis

Clockwork Orange at Es Paradis – 20 July 2018

Clockwork Orange back taking over San Antonio’s Es Paradis Nightclub for 1 night has stirred something special in many people.

Full to the rafters with a good crowd listening to great music reminded us of days gone by when Ibiza was a whole different animal. It reminded us of long queues, of Danny Gould holding court with his goatee beard and cheeky grin and that Essex twang rising above all the other voices, everyone trying to get his attention for a freebie on the door (the term ‘guest list’ wasn’t around then).

But most of all it reminded us that Es Paradis is probably the most beautiful club in the world. Yes you read that right.

The 2018 Clockwork Orange experience has brought back all those memories of the amazing Es Paradis nights of Black & White, DJ Sammy, Clockwork Orange, UFO, Twice as Nice and the world famous ‘Fiesta del Agua’ water party.

The pyramid shaped club that dominates central San Antonio has been quiet of late, mainly down to mis-management. The years haven’t been kind to Es Paradis, other clubs have come into the marketplace and revolutionised the way we have fun. The pioneers have redesigned Ibiza, some people will say for the better and some may disagree but Ibiza is a constantly evolving destination where to succeed you have to stay ahead of the game.

Es Paradis was in a prime position to capitalise but they decided to take a different route. Who really knows why? Why would you purposely set out to upset as many people as possible. Some good people have tried and all have failed to reignite the flame. Speak to previous staff members and they will tell you the same story: You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

But San Antonio needs this club right now. The town is under pressure to compete with other resorts and destinations with a coalition council that doesn’t know what it wants. The new closing time law brought in this summer that sees the majority of bars close at 3am also means that you will never have a better opportunity to capitalise on the 3am-6am slot which is traditionally the clubbing hours on the White Isle.

Eden Nightclub’s current success directly across the road from Es Paradis has shown that there is light at the of the tunnel in making San Antonio credible in the clubbing world and that if you work hard with the right attitude then you will get your just desserts in a very tough market with plenty of competition. San Antonio needs to offer quality nights so clubbers don’t have to leave the resort and also to attract a new demographic to the town.

What Clockwork Orange has done is remind us of how Es Paradis used to be and how it should be again in the future and as a town we shouldn’t settle for anything less.

San Antonio deserves to have 2 major clubs and if the current owners of Es Paradis aren’t interested then they owe it to the town to pass the baton on to one of the many dynamic entrepreneurs who would love to be at the helm of one of the most beautiful clubs in the world…and again you did read that right. Viva San Antonio.

Ibiza: The Luxury Myth

We were sold a lie. We were told that if we built a luxury resort then we would get better people but the luxury myth and the privatisation of clubs, beaches and VIP areas aimed at wannabe millionaires has already taken its toll.

The island and its conscience is already paying an unaffordable social toll through a housing crisis for residents and seasonal workers and a dramatic cultural toll with the loss of local identity and the progressive destruction of the island’s nature. Now we need to add the side effects of selling your soul to the ‘luxury’ tourism sector.

Alarm bells have been sounded by Ibiza’s hoteliers, announcing that the room sales for July and August are ‘slower than normal’, that overnight stays have fallen again in May and June and that the main cause is the image that Ibiza projects to the world together with the competition from other emerging Mediterranean destinations. For example the local press recently published a story that for the price of a week’s holiday in Ibiza you can enjoy a whole month in Lanzarote.

Ibiza Hotels Association vice-president Juanjo Planells said that in 2018 “we will see decreases in all the statistics” and that “clients stay less and less time in Ibiza”. Even the president of the Ibiza Nightlife Association, José Corraliza, acknowledged that “there is business concern for this seasons projections” and that “the decline curve has already begun”.

Spare your tears for now as the hotels will likely be ‘saved’ once again by drastically reducing their rates in order to fill the empty rooms but the downward trend is a reality and we will have to start thinking about a strategy to reverse it.

For decades Ibiza has coexisted with the burden of an image revolving around drugs and parties without control, our two great workhorses. Administrations have spent years investing in campaigns to change the world’s perception of Ibiza away from this perpetual orgy, to try and retain European family tourism that has traditionally put bread on the table. Their stays are counted by weeks not days.

The companies that promote luxury sold it to us as the remedy that would revolutionise the tourist industry and conquer a new image for Ibiza as well as filling our pockets but this premise has proved to be essentially false. In recent years inequalities have increased, beaches and landscapes have been prostituted and the benefits have been shared among only a privileged few who have become rich beyond their wildest dreams while others struggle to find a reasonably priced roof to put over their heads.

While we have been convincing ourselves that top end luxury is the only way forward the hippy, carefree, tolerant and strong character of Ibiza has been blurred on an island where people of all conditions, social class and nationality were previously welcomed with open arms, something we have almost lost.

With the perspective of time, we now know that the island of luxury and that of the perpetual drug fuelled party are the same dog just with a more golden and tacky collar. Identical debauchery but now led by people with more disposable cash paying triple for exactly the same product as before although now it’s packaged and presented with a falsely glamorous papier-mâché décor.

The problem is not a mere question of price but the massive imbalance between quality and price plus the projected image of the island when that imbalance is so brazen. The UK travel press has picked up on it: ‘5 star Dubai is £2000 cheaper than 5 star Ibiza’ scream the headlines. But also consider the quality behind the headline and what to expect for your money in those destinations.

Ibiza has some great entrepreneurs and professionals who run establishments with enough quality to serve as an alibi for their high prices however there are many others who could be described as charlatans at best and scammers at worst offering inferior products only faintly disguised. These days almost everything in Ibiza is sold as ‘luxury’ even when the majority of the product on offer is medium or low.

While the tourists of the world continue filling Ibiza’s villas, apartments and suites and paying for cheap rooms as if they were staying at the Waldorf Astoria we will be saved but at the same time it’s a dangerous strategy similar to planting landmines for future generations. How will Ibiza attract upper-middle class families once the demand for the this quasi-luxury product diminishes? Will there still be some authentic Ibiza fragment left to offer? Will it be credible?

Some might argue that the market regulates itself and that prices will adjust themselves accordingly but the millstone of exorbitant prices will not be taken away for years to come. It’s a cycle that needs to reach its natural conclusion.

For now the challenge is how we can diversify the Ibiza product and how can we transform it’s image to anticipate and hopefully avoid the crisis that looms like a dark cloud in the sky. If you ask the Ibiza hoteliers right now they may suggest that the bubble hasn’t burst but has already begun to deflate.

Adapted from article in Diario de Ibiza

New San Antonio Noise Laws Starting to Hurt Local Business

On an island not used to rational thinking it takes a certain kind of ‘skill’ to come up with a law that not only dumbfounds but also achieves the exact opposite of what it set out to do.

When San Antonio’s left wing coalition council first proposed earlier closing times for bars in the ‘West End’ it cited noise issues as the main reason. After much debate and lobbying they decided to enforce a 3am closing curfew on only a small area meaning that some bars close at 3am while others bars only metres away can stay open until 5am.

The 3am closing means that the party has to stop just as it’s getting going and as numerous videos on social media clearly show it also means that thousands of young holidaymakers are being ushered into the street at the same time increasing the noise levels substantially. The partygoers then find the new bars or go to the beach or carry on back at their hotels.

Contrary to many residents’ opinion the majority of these young holidaymakers aren’t drunken hooligans on a nightly rampage but normal people trying to enjoy the famous Ibiza ambience and wanting to have a little fun with money in their pockets.

San Antonio’s West End, world famous for its nightlife now has stricter opening hours than in the UK and the new laws have increased the potential for noise rather than decreased it. I’m voting this as the most ridiculous law ever (and that’s saying something).

Meanwhile over in San Antonio Bay the local authorities are busy installing sound limiters in all music venues. The limits they are enforcing are proving unworkable for some bars such as the family friendly ‘Old Tavern’ famous for its live entertainment and karaoke. It has had a sound limiter fitted with an inside limit of 74 decibels before 11pm and 64db after. To put this into perspective an average dishwasher makes 75db of sound.

The strict policy is starting to affect local livelihoods and some bars will inevitably close, staff will become unemployed and suppliers will lose contracts. One local bar owner is even suffering from serious health issues due to the prejudicial new laws. The list goes on but the main people affected are the tourists who will be sat in lifeless bars and wish they had gone somewhere else…..and they eventually might.

The new noise laws are an example of residents taking back control of ‘their’ town but without tourists there won’t be any residents and the new noise laws are simply unworkable to many. It appears that Ibiza has forgotten how it got into it’s popular position in the first place: offering good old fashioned fun in a laid back manner for 4 months of the year and then living in tranquility for 8 months, compromise is a dirty word these days.