An Idiot’s Guide to Ibiza Politics

It’s been a busy year so far for the local politicians on the White Isle and it’s just about to get a whole lot busier – whoever said politics is boring obviously wasn’t referring to Ibiza.

After the May elections it’s Spanish tradition to give new local governments a 100 day grace period but that time is now coming to an end so buckle up and expect plenty of mudslinging as the gloves come off and island politics gets a little tasty again. Having been involved in the last election campaign and having been referred to as an idiot on more than one occasion here’s my own unique overview of how the island currently stands after the euphoria and disappointment of the elections followed by the June inaugurations.

* denotes incumbent ruling party/parties

CONSELL INSULAR (IBIZA ISLAND COUNCIL)
IN: Vicent Torres (PSOE) – OUT: Vicent Serra (PP)
Popular Party: 6 seats
PSOE*: 4 seats
Podemos*: 3 seats

Vicent Torres

Points of Order
: The socialist PSOE party and left wing Podemos finally joined forces after some protracted and fractious negotiations to oust PP President Vicent Serra.  PSOE’s Vicent Torres became island president whilst Serra resigned as president of the PP taking the blame personally for his party’s poor election results. He will carry on as opposition leader in the council but has been replaced as President by Jose Vicente Mari Boso.

Any Other Business: New president Vicent Torres speaks perfect English and is a former Director General for Balearic tourism and was the person who signed the winter flights agreement with Ryanair back in 2007. Torres will also oversee tourism whilst Podemos leader and Vice President Viviana de Sans will be in charge transparency, participation, good governance and employment/training.

Chance of Success: 6/10 – Torres is a good man but this well meaning coalition could flounder if Podemos decide to throw their toys out of pram.

EIVISSA (IBIZA TOWN)
IN: Rafael Ruiz (PSOE) – OUT: Virginia Mari (PP)
Popular Party: 8 seats
PSOE*: 8 seats
Guanyem*: 4 seats
MC Epic: 1 seat

Rafael Ruiz

Points of Order
: Rafa Ruiz of PSOE and Joan Ribas of left wing ‘Guanyem’ got up close and personal to get rid of PP Mayor Virginia Mari promising to restart the many projects that were mothballed by the previous administration.

Any Other Business: The previous PP led council had been mired in scandal and had no fewer than 3 Mayors during it’s 4 year administration. Marienna Sánchez-Jáuregui resigned after 2 years due to an ‘irregular payments’ scandal then Pilar Mari was forced out after sending insulting text messages. Virginia Mari was the 3rd Mayor but her tenure lasted less than 10 months.

Chance of success: 7/10 – The new government will appeal to Ibiza Town’s multi cultural electorate and in any case can’t be worse than the previous fiasco, can they?

SANT ANTONI DE PORTMANY
IN: Jose Tur (PSOE) – OUT: Pepita Gutierrez (PP)
Popular Party: 8 seats
PSOE*: 6 seats
Reinicia*: 4 seats
El PI*: 3 seats

Juanjo Ferrer, Jose Tur, Pablo Valdes

Points of Order
: The white isle’s 2nd largest town saw a cataclysmic shift as the smaller parties buddied up to form a 3 party coalition to remove the PP for the 1st time ever. Jose Tur (aka Pep Cires) became Mayor with Pablo Valdes (Reinicia) becoming deputy Mayor and Juan Jose Ferrer (El PI) as 2nd deputy mayor. The biggest shock here was the new people’s party ‘Reinicia’ who came from nowhere to claim 4 seats using strong rhetoric and propaganda mainly through social media.

Any Other Buisness: Previous Mayor Pepita Gutierrez was de-selected by her own party causing a split in the ranks from which the party never recovered. Ex bank chief and new mayor Jose Tur Pep Cires is technically retired and doesn’t take a salary as he already receives a pension.

Chance of Success: 6/10 – rising star Pablo Valdes of Reinicia is one to watch for the future but may be dragged down by internal conflicts. Lots of potential surprises in store especially in years 3 & 4.

SANTA EULARIA DES RIU
NO CHANGE: Vicent Mari (PP)
Popular Party*: 12 seats
PSOE: 5 seats
Guanyem: 4 seats

Vicent Mari


Points of Order: Ibiza’s sweet seaside town saw PP Mayor Vicent Mari re-elected for his 3rd straight term but this time with a lower majority. Although he said he wouldn’t run in 2015 he was ‘persuaded’ to change his mind and promised to keep on working hard and take up the challenge of the ‘second revolution of tourism’ (whatever that means).

Any Other Business: Talamanca, Jesus and Can Furnet might be overlooking Ibiza Town but all are in the municipality of Santa Eulalia.

Chance of success: 9/10 – this staunchly conservative municipality may struggle to work with the socialist island government but should consolidate their position as Ibiza’s most pleasant tourist resort.

SANT JOSEP DE SA TALAIA
IN: Josep Mari Ribas – Out: Neus Mari Mari
PSOE*: 9 seats
Popular Party: 6 seats
Guanyem*: 4 seats
Alternativa Insular: 2 seats

Jose Mari Ribas

Points of Order
: PSOE and Guanyem joined together to make Josep Mari Ribas (aka Agustinet) mayor once more. It was a sweet victory for Agustinet after a motion of censure removed him from the Mayors office in December 2011 when the PP and the ‘Alternativa Insular’ party ganged up and outed him.

Any Other Buisness: San Jose Town Hall has been bogged down for many years with court cases and corruption claims. Agustinet has promised to address issues of public transport, noise pollution (especially beach bars/clubs) and water distribution over the next 4 years.

Chance of Success: 6/10 – Agustinet will want to settle scores from 2011 so expect some fireworks. Never a dull moment in Sant Josep and there could be major headlines from the municipality regarding beach clubs.

SANT JOAN DE LABRITJA
NO CHANGE: Antonio Mari (PP)

Popular Party*: 9 seats
PSOE: 2 seats
Guanyem: 1 seat
MEC: 1 seat

Antonio Mari

Points of Order
: Sleepy northern municipality Sant Joan is about a safe a seat as you could wish for with Antonio Mari Mari (known locally as ‘Carraca’) being returned for a 5th straight victory. He has promised to maintain the municipality as a quality touristic destination but also concentrate on local issues such as transport and sporting infrastructure.

Any Other Business: Sant Joan has only 3500 registered voters making it the smallest municipality in terms of voters, it also has the largest Romanian population who take their voting responsibility very seriously.  The surname ‘Mari’ features in 8 of the 13 PP councillors names.

Chance of success: 10/10 – ‘Carraca’ to continue his strong leadership over the north of the island with his bull terrier attitude. He knows that the north is the relatively untouched gem of the island so cross him at your peril.

I know it’s not Ibiza but also let’s not forget…..

FORMENTERA
NO CHANGE: Jaume Ferrer (GxF)

GxF* (People for Formentera): 9 seats
Popular Party: 4 seats
PSOE: 2 seats
CompromisFormentera: 2 seats

Jaume Ferrer

Points of Order
: Formentera continued to be the only municipality in the archipelago that is ruled by it’s own autonomous party, shrugging off interference from outside and returning Jaume Ferrer again as it’s leader but now with his own majority. The 4th Balearic island continues to be a world class destination with its feet firmly in the eco-friendly camp. A shining light in local politics that, strangely, nobody else seems to want to replicate.

Any Other Business: Most of the candidates and parties share a common goal and cross party agreement is quite normal only arguing over the detail.

Chance of success: 9/10 – Formentera hearts and souls are firmly fixed inwards rather than to Ibiza, Palma or Madrid. The jewel of the Med continues to shine bright with it’s own autonomy.

So there you have my personal overview of where the island currently stands but there will be plenty of twists and turns ahead so expect daily headlines with accusations and counter accusations from all the usual suspects, smoke screens and mirrors and even the occasional agreement. Ibiza is many things but it is never dull and that is also reflected in the corridors of power. We are watching!

The Ibiza Flight Price Rip Off

  

UK flight only prices have hit an all time high all over Europe but especially for Ibiza, in this blog I analyze the situation and study its effect on the island. 

It wasn’t so long ago that you could jump on a cheap one-way flight to Ibiza then pitch up at the airport again a few days later and ask around a few desks for a £50 ‘standby flight ticket’.  Unfortunately 9/11 changed the whole face of air travel, tightening up all the regulations and changing it from perceived glamour to a tedious security laden process.

Then in the early noughties the Internet revolution came with ‘low cost carriers’ offering super cheap lead-in prices. They bucked the market and turned it on its head because their business model meant that the longer you waited the more you paid, the complete opposite to the traditional tour operators who dumped seats and holidays at the last minute to put bums on seats. Now 15 years down the line the tours operators are hanging on by their fingertips whilst the airlines have become the mainstay of the Ibiza market 

Flight prices have steadily risen especially over the last 5 years and now we are at the crossroads. a quick look at most flights for September will see that the cost is anything from 200 – 400 euros ONE WAY with the higher prices coming from the so called ‘low cost carriers’, oh the irony

  
The rise of the premium flag carriers into the island has increased prestige but also hiked up prices especially for weekend traffic at good times. Early lead in prices are attractive but soon the prices start to become eye watering so a last minute decision to have a weekend in Ibiza will cost you roughly about the same as a weekend in New York or Moscow or LA or Sydney for that matter.

How did this happen and what impact has it has on the white isle? Specialist tour operator Kirk Field told me: “my numbers are down by 50% this year. Every day I hear of people not booking because return flights are unprecedentedly high”

So Ibiza is not only pricing itself out of the market but it also losing its last minute arrivals, those who decide a few weeks before. Everything now has to be planned months or even years in advance to avoid the sky high late prices (pun intended). 

This early stimulation is good for forward planning and cash flow but limits the spontaneous last minute market that is important especially in early and late season. San Antonio Bay bar manager Sue Pritchard said “The flights have been crazy prices this year, so many of our regular visitors have gone else where…”

When checking the prices you can’t help thinking there is a conspiracy (or blatant profiteering) when it comes to Ibiza. Look at prices from London to Mallorca compared to London to Ibiza and you will see a sizable difference. Now before you start screaming ‘it’s just supply and demand’ you can’t help feeling that it’s also about maximum yield, in other worlds, what price Ibiza people are prepared to pay as opposed to other destinations. It would seem that the Ibiza ceiling is much higher than anywhere else, are the airlines reading the press and saying “well if they can afford a table in Ushuaia then I’m sure they can afford £300 for a one-way flight”? The probable answer unfortnately is yes and yes. 

It’s no wonder that youngsters and families are deserting the white isle to go to emerging destinations such as Croatia where prices for flights, accommodation and living costs are considerably less. UK travel agent Karen Cianfini: “These prices are one of the main reasons that families can not travel to Ibiza in low season, I could book so many but end up sending customers to Mallorca as much cheaper”. 

Once again this ‘system’ is squeezing the middle market with some not baulking at £500 for a return weekend flight from London City but it will also cost a couple over £2000 for a weekend on the white isle during June or September, hardly a drop in the ocean.

The only ‘solution’ is for travelers to understand the system and for Ibiza business people to cut their cloth according and jump on the early booking bandwagon and don’t expect too much last minute action. For value for money it’s all about early bookings, of course the island will go through peaks and troughs but for now we are going through a major peak so the age of the £50 flights during the 4 peak months is a thing of the past.

San Antonio: The Great Closing Time Debate

 Last week Duane Lineker (Ocean Beach), Clodagh Enright (Flaherty’s Irish Bar) and myself were present at a meeting chaired by Deputy Mayor Pablo Valdes for local businesses to have their say on the way forward for San Antonio. Many subjects were discussed such as refuse collection, noise pollution and public image however the media (who are a good barometer for local issues) were only interested in 1 topic and that was bar and club closing times.

There’s been much heated debate about this since former Mayor Pepita Gutierrez took it upon herself to change the West End bar closing times from 6am to 5am without formal consultation. Her reasoning was that if the bars closed at 5am then local residents wouldn’t have to face the remnants of a night out on their way to work the following morning but the 5am closing doesn’t appear to have stopped all the people from partying, some carry on drinking at the local beach therefore moving the ‘problem’ from a contained environment to a public place. 

It wasn’t that long ago that Ibiza bars could open as and when they wanted including ‘after hours’ from 6am but now there are several different rules governing 1 town. For example, a large nightclub on the outskirts of San Antonio is allowed to close its doors at 8am whereas one in the middle of town needs to be closed by 5am. Daytime has also been restricted so music can’t be played until after 4pm.

Our newly formed British Association has many members who are bar owners and they consistently point to their restricted opening hours as reason for them going through tough times. 

Nathan Seal from Viva Bar told me “In 2013, the last full year of 6am opening, we took enough money between 5am and 6am to cover around 50% of the entire wage bill for the year”

He continued “The other issue is the stealth change to the opening hours. All music bars (known locally as ‘cafe conciertos’) went from opening 12pm- 6am to 4pm-5am so we have actually lost 5 hours, not just the 1 hour everyone is shouting about”

To throw more fuel on the fire San Antonio is no longer the preferred Ibiza destination for many of the traditional 18-35 market and the new resorts don’t seem to worry too much about noise pollution. With all the competition and local law changes there has been very slim pickings on offer for bar owners over the last couple of years. 

The new 3-party coalition governing San Antonio was voted in after promising local residents a fundamental change but it appears that in all the debates, accusations and counter accusations many local people have forgotten that San Antonio relies solely on tourism and, rightly or wrongly, became famous as a the town where you could party until sunrise (if you wished). Now in many cases the UK licensing laws have been relaxed whilst Ibiza’s has been tightened, a role reversal. 

Social media has also given a clear voice to local San Antonio residents who have made it perfectly clear that they voted for change and that is what they expect and they are pointing the finger at the British community as the cause of most of the noise and control problems but when the majority of tourists are from 1 place then that is always going to be the case. 

A consensus needs to be sought that reflects the needs of the residents but also gives the bar and club owners a fair crack at earning enough money to get them through the winter. It won’t be easy but negotiations will start soon so new laws can be in place by summer 2016. New laws that are fair on everyone and reflect the needs of all the community and don’t favor residents over commerce or clubs over bars.

No one said it was going to be easy. 

San Antonio Tube Map

 

San Antonio Tube Map
 Notes

San An Line – reasonable condition, still awaiting major investment from the private sector. Union disputes commonplace. Functions surprisingly well considering extreme pressure during high season (Parcial service from 1 Nov-30 Apr)

Sunset Line – major private investment commonplace, currently under investigation by monopolies & mergers commission. 

West End Line – disembark here for outdoor theatre district, area due for major overhaul (delayed indefinitely), can be prone to overcrowding at certain times. Night service now available only until 5am. (please note: closed Nov-Apr)

Looky Line – little police presence so please be very cautious. Subject to sporadic unplanned expansion

Font/Church Line – closed Mon-Sat

Mambo Line – addition of more stations inevitable, route now extended to Ibiza Rocks House 

Food Express – saver tickets always available, high traffic at certain times so delays inevitable 

Meal Line – buffet car unavailable, comfort food available at the end of the line

Eden/EsParadis – limited service so please check timetable

Ocean Beach – beware of disorientated cattle crossing the track, especially just after sunset

Linekers/Boozer/Highlander – expect congestion on match days  

Seniors – discounts available 01/04-20/05 & 01-31/10

Saver Wristbands – only applicable at certain times. Check individual stations for details 

Ibiza Weekend Offender: The Changing Face of Tourism

As the sun finally sets on another busy August, Ibiza now has only 8 more weeks of ‘summer’ tourism until it’s time to batten down the hatches, count the pennies and relax as international tourism goes into standby mode for almost 5 months.

While the blue chip businesses have reported record numbers, others are talking of a steep decline in takings. There appears to be a big swing in fortunes which has taken many by surprise but times are changing and not least the profile of the ‘tourists’ that now grace the white isle.

Ever since the ‘low cost’ carriers began flying into Ibiza nearly 15 years ago the type of tourist has been gradually changing and now the cycle is almost complete.  The traditional 7, 10 and 14 night family package holiday is now exclusively reserved for school holidays – 1 week in May/1 week in October/6 weeks in August – so out of the 26 week ‘summer’ season there are 18 weeks where families with kids don’t come into the equation. For June, July and September Ibiza still relies on it’s traditional 18-35 market and then a slightly more mature market in May and October.

All this has given rise to the Ibiza Weekend Offender – those who are cash rich but time poor, those who pack 7 days of action into a 3 or 4 night stay, those who view a weekend in Ibiza in the same way they view a festival, those who don’t come on holiday but have a ‘weekend away’ so only need hand luggage and most importantly those who spend the same amount of money in 3 days as they would in 7.

The official government figures back this up, the average stay in Ibiza for 2015 is as follows:

Jul:  5.45 nights per person
Jun:  5.30
May:  4.79
Apr:  5.03
Mar:  4.46
Feb:  3.67

On closer inspection the average stay has been in free fall since 2008 and we can only presume this will continue as the world gets smaller. The figures suggest that we all want to travel more, to find new and exciting destinations but we also don’t want to miss out on our annual “Ibiza Fix”.  So the new profile of Ibiza tourist will now come over for a long weekend and because time is so precious the result is an overly organized trip where the same 4 or 5 venues are visited leaving no time to discover any of the other magnificent places that Ibiza has to offer.  Unfortunately spontaneity is almost extinct for the Ibiza Weekend Offender who lives on social media.

In fact for some the thought of 7 nights on the White Isle is now almost unthinkable, mainly because their health and wallet couldn’t take the pressure so weekend traffic is considerably higher than during the week. It had to happen sometime – Ibiza has grown up, it sleeps during the week and parties at the weekends.

The challenge to local business is how do you convert the near 7 million arrivals into profit as the juxtaposition is that as Ibiza becomes ever more popular it’s the same places that continue to succeed and it’s nothing more sinister than a genuine lack of time for an Ibiza Weekender Offender who can only cram in so much partying and selfies into 72 hours. So instead of seeing the beauty of the island it’s flash hotel rooms, pool parties and super clubs. Sounds great if you are in Las Vegas but surely not if you are on one of the most beautiful islands of the world.

So the good news is that Ibiza is at the top of it’s game but the not so good news is that certain sectors aren’t getting their traditional piece of the pie and don’t seem able to react accordingly. Meanwhile the top end gets more exclusive/expensive as the demand grows and the bottom end continues to cater for those who want the experience but not the cost. The bad news is that the middle market again gets squeezed out and when it comes to tourism that’s where the money is for the normal day to day businesses on the island.

‘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
    IMG_7453
  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