Troublesome Transport 

  

When tour operators ruled the roost in Ibiza, you (or probably your parents) booked a week away in the sun with a local travel agent (foreign weekends away were unheard of), got on a chartered flight, had your meal in a tray, came through Ibiza airport (usually making a comment about the hot weather), walked up to a holiday rep in a white shirt and red tie who ticked your name on a list and directed you to a large coach. You then sat on the aforementioned vehicle for an hour while it went around 10 hotels dropping off 4 people at a time. Ahhh the nostalgia!!

Fast forward to 2015 and you book your flight and hotel online, cram all your belongings into your hand luggage, sit on a flight full of lunatics then arrive at Ibiza airport to be greeted not by a smiley man in a red tie but a long queue with 100 people waiting for 1 taxi.  Brits love to queue but other nationalities sometimes have difficulty with the meaning of the word’. NIGHTMARE! 

Too many people, not enough taxis is the simple equation especially during the peak summer months and because the ‘taxistas’ only have the same short amount of time to make money their customer service can sometimes be ‘slightly lacking’.

If you come to the white isle in April, May, early June, late September or October then taxis are everywhere. It’s a role reversal as 100 taxis wait for 1 person, Ibiza truly is nothing if not an island of contrasts. Come in the peak 10 weeks, late June to early September, and taxis (or the lack of them) can ruin your holiday unless you are organized. It’s tough to remain calm when you can’t get a cab, it’s 35 degrees and you only have 30 mins until they give away your VIP table.

I have sympathy for the taxi owners. They pay several hundred thousands of euros for the license and then the drivers get abused by shirtless, drug addled tourists who don’t know where they are going after a 2 day bender. I’m being extreme but you know where I’m coming from (don’t you?). My taxi driver friend Pablo Alvarez tells me his stories of the back street drivers screaming and shouting, comatose clients and downright dangerous behaviour. Not all the time but ‘omnia nimi’ (everything in excess) could be Ibiza’s Latin catchphrase for the peak 10 weeks. 

Even though local councils issue emergency licenses during the busy weeks there still isn’t enough supply for the demand so the end result is an overworked, inefficient and expensive taxi service offering a substandard product to clients paying more than ever to come to the white isle. The tourist once again is the one who loses out: a dangerous scenario when you forget who or what is the most important piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

The lack of availability and poor customer service has inevitably led to the rise of the ‘Pirate Taxi’, something that has escalated beyond control in recent years, now so blatant that there’s 20 of them waiting to pounce in the arrivals hall at the airport. Supply and demand means that they are all busy using uncontrolled vehicles earning untaxed money. No wonder the legal taxis are going loco.

Blame the Pirates if you will however everybody knows where and what they are doing so can they presume that through administrative silence and inaction of the local authorities that they are doing nothing wrong?  

However some of the pirates are of dubious nature so we MUST put the customers first, the best transport services in the world are those that are ambassadors for their destination, an extension of the hospitality service, sharing advice and helping wherever possible. 

So is there a solution? Well to start with through controlled deregulation we can look to solve some of the issues with licensed public Mini Cabs/Vans to fill the void between taxis and coaches. Make it easier for individuals and companies to offer legal transport services but also ensure that their vehicles are legal and roadworthy. Charge the Mini Cabs/Vans a reasonable license fee to cover any additional costs and specify that a quality product must be offered. Have a web portal to monitor quality service so the good can prosper and the bad can be removed. Like most things in life the best ideas are the simple ones. More transport, more wealth creation, more taxes, more jobs, better service, happy customers. 

Or am I missing something? 

West End: Does it have a future? – Guest Blog by Juan Pantaleoni

  WEST END WEEK – DAY 5 

Juan Pantaleoni Rosello is an ex-politician and West End entrepreneur who’s larger than life personality and outspoken views have had a polarizing effect over the last 12 years. Opponents make him out as a pit-bull but he possesses a razor sharp mind that has allowed him to stay ahead of the game – his Soul City bar continues to be a success story. Here, in my final installment on San Antonio’s West End he exclusively shares his views for the future. 

Juan: I was born in San Antonio, I have businesses in the West End and I was also involved in politics at San Antonio Town Hall for 8 years (2004-2011) so my views are clearly influenced by these 3 factors but I will try and explain in the few words available about our future.

The West End has existed for many years and to change its dynamics will also take time and time is what we need. For many years there’s been talk of the ‘problems’ of the area and the big mistake that’s been committed time and time again is to believe that these problems can be solved from one year to the next. In my opinion, this is the wrong view and we won’t be able to push forward until we all sit down and design a detailed plan with a realistic time frame adapted to the reality, complexity and scale of what we decide should be improved.

I’ve been asked to give my views on the future of the area but it’s also important to know how the West End has developed and become what it is today and to understand a little more of its history and how this negative image has formed so I read with interest the blogs of Martin, Peter, Nathan and Colin over the last few days.

It’s hard to get rid of the prejudices that have been reinforced over many years thanks to the dedicated work of several journalists and some residents who, having rarely been to the area, have dedicated themselves to drag the West End and San Antonio’s image through the mud each year. There are genuine complaints from some people with goodwill but there are also others who blame everything on the West End when really they should focus on an inability to manage their own business, it’s also evident that for certain parts of the press San Antonio is an easy target and it’s productive for them to always focus on the negatives. Such is life but unfortunately this approach contributes to generate the largely negative views that makes it so difficult to find consensual solutions that are fair and beneficial to all.

Above all, the first thing I must do is to recognize that the West End needs to change and that this change will only be possible and genuine if itinvolves all sectors, and by that I mean public institutions, private business and the local population in general. 

The West End has a big future and should remain an important part our town and tourist industry. It already is an area of huge attraction as you can witness every day and night of the summer by the visitors in their thousands. The first problem that we need to work on is the negative perception of an area that also has many residents making it tough to reach a broad consensus on how to face the future but I am convinced that this future exists and is very promising. Why? Because the West End offers a unique product designed towards the enjoyment of young people that simply cannot be found anywhere else on the island, a product especially adapted towards and especially designed to take advantage of the predominant type of accommodation and the complementary services that San Antonio and the Bay has to offer.

One thing is clear: If you think that we can survive on ‘luxury’ tourism alone then you are very wrong!

The starting point to is to address and isolate the basic problems affecting the area: An oversupply of bars which generates a price war, closing times of the bodegas (small supermarkets selling alcohol), the need to totally eliminate illegal street/ticket sellers/PR’s, increased security, greater cleanliness and a general aesthetic improvement of the area and its establishments. Is this possible? Undoubtedly YES, employers in the West End have shown that sustainable investment can improve safety and the health care of visitors. The remaining problems have solutions that are easier and cheaper but it is the institutions that must lead and provide the necessary resources. I know that West End employers are heavily involved in implementing these and other improvements so now is the time for the institutions to overcome prejudices, understand the real truth about our town and get to work to improve an area that anybody with any intelligence can see, is a massive opportunity for San Antonio. Enough of the defeatism and whining, if we all work positively together then it will benefit all of us!

The West End business community is the first to be interested in improving the area and will join forces with those who propose realistic solutions but equally we oppose and are totally against those who transmit an image of decay and decline, either through ignorance or by misconduct, which is in no way representative of the reality of the situation.

I encourage everyone to spread the word about all the good things that the West End has to offer as our future also depends on winning the communication battle and we will only achieve this by working together in a positive manner and not giving in and accepting some of the shameful media campaigns that come our way every summer.

I am proud of the West End, are you?

Panta relaxing

West End, tiene futuro? – Blog invitado por Juan Pantaleoni 

  
Soy nacido en Sant Antoni, tengo negocios en el West y además he ejercido responsabilidades políticas durante ocho años en el Ayuntamiento, es evidente que mi punto de vista estará influenciado por estas tres circunstancias.

Intentar hablar en pocas líneas del West no permite desarrollar el tema en profundidad, el West existe hace muchos años y cambiar sus dinámicas también llevará tiempo, y tiempo es lo que nos hace falta. Ya desde hace muchos años se habla de los “problemas” de la zona y el gran error que se ha venido cometiendo una y otra vez ha sido el creer que estos problemas se pueden solucionar de un año para otro y esto es una visión equivocada y no avanzaremos en tanto no diseñemos un plan con un “timing” adaptado a la realidad, complejidad y dimensión de lo que decidamos debe ser mejorado.

Hablar de la historia del West no es objeto de este articulo pues lo que me ha pedido Shaggy es mi visión sobre el futuro de la zona, de todas formas no estaría de más apuntar que sin conocer la historia de como se ha ido desarrollando el West hasta llegar a ser lo que es, para entender un poco mas la historia y el cómo se ha ido formando esta imagen negativa es muy interesante leer lo que en este mismo blog nos cuentan Martin, Peter, Nathan y Colin.

Es difícil desprenderse de los prejuicios que hemos ido interiorizando durante muchos años gracias a la abnegada labor de varios periodistas y vecinos interesados, que habiendo pisado muy pocas veces la zona se han dedicado año tras año a arrastrar por el fango la imagen de la misma, hay quejas de gentes con buena voluntad, otras de otros que descargan en el West su incapacidad para gestionar sus propios negocios, también es una evidencia que para cierta prensa es muy fácil y productivo hablar de lo malo de los sitios aunque por desgracia este enfoque contribuya en gran medida a generar opiniones negativas que ahora son las imperantes y que dificultan mucho la búsqueda de soluciones consensuadas que sean justas y beneficiosas para todos.
Pero ante todo, lo primero que debo hacer y reconocer es que el West precisa un cambio de rumbo y que este cambio solo será posible y real si se consigue la implicación de todos los sectores involucrados y con esto me refiero a las instituciones públicas, sector empresarial y pueblo en general.

El West tiene futuro, el West es y debe continuar siendoparte importante nuestro pueblo e industria turística. Ya lo es, ya es una zona con un enorme atractivo para nuestros visitantes, no hay mas que ver las miles de personas que diariamente lo visitan. El primer problema en el que se debería trabajar es en el de la negativa percepción que de la zona tienen muchos vecinos cosa que dificulta mucho el llegar a consensos amplios sobre cómo afrontar el futuro, pero yo estoy convencido de que este futuro existe y es muy prometedor pues el West ofrece un producto de ocio nocturno orientado a los jóvenes que no se puede encontrar en ningún otro sitio de la isla, un producto adaptado al tipo de alojamiento y oferta complementaria predominante en Sant Antoni y su bahía, aprovechemos esto.

Si pensamos que Ibiza puede vivir solo del turismo de “lujo” estamos muy equivocados.

El punto de partida para encarar el problema sería la detección de los problemas básicos que afectan a la zona: Exceso de oferta que genera una guerra de precios y ofertas a la baja, horario de cierre de bodegas, necesidad de eliminación total de los RRPP ilegales, incremento de la seguridad, mayor limpieza y mejora estética de la zona sus establecimientos. ¿Es posible hacer esto? Indudablemente si, los empresarios de la zona West hemos demostrado que con inversiones completamente asumibles se puede mejorar la seguridad y la atención sanitaria de los visitantes. El resto de problemas planteados también tienen soluciones sencillas y baratas pero son las instituciones las que deben liderar y poner los medios necesarios. Me consta que los empresarios están muy implicados en implementar estas y otras mejoras, ahora es el momento de que las instituciones venzan prejuicios, conozcan la zona de verdad y se pongan manos a la obra para mejorar una zona que alguien inteligente veria como una oportunidad para Sant Antoni. Ya está bien de derrotismos y lloriqueos, trabajemos juntos en positivo y todo Sant Antoni saldrá beneficiado

Los empresarios somos los primeros interesados en la mejora de esta zona y estaremos al lado de todos aquellos que propongan soluciones pero de igual forma, estaremos en frente y en contra de aquellos que bien por desconocimiento, bien por mala intención se dedican a transmitir una imagen de decadencia que para nada se corresponde con la realidad del West.

Animo a todo el mundo a enseñar todo lo bueno que tenemos y que estamos ofreciendo, nuestro futuro también pasa por ganar la batalla de la comunicación y esto solo lo conseguiremos trabajando todos juntos en positivo y no escondiendo la cabeza ante campañas vergonzosas como las que cada verano algún medio de comunicación nos dedica

Yo estoy orgulloso del West. Y vosotros? 

Panta descansado

West End: The End? – Guest Blog by Colin Butts

  West End Week – Day 4

Colin Butts first came to Ibiza as a holiday rep in the 80s and used that experience to pen the best selling novel ‘Is Harry on the Boat’ which was later turned into a feature film and TV series. An island resident for many years, he’s a familiar face on the San Antonio circuit dividing his time between writing, finalizing his new feature film and Plastik Bar which he co-owns. Here, exclusively for my blog, he writes on the future direction of the West End. 

Colin: Everything comes to an end: Manchester United’s dominance; Breaking Bad; John Bishop being funny (actually, no, the latter never even started).

In the last few years, many have been saying the end is nigh for the West End of San Antonio. Is there any truth in this? Is the grim reaper of tourism lurking in the shadows or is it merely Peter Hankinson stumbling home after a few beers and a bit of gardening with a scythe in his hand?

Hankinson wonderfully described the evolution of the West End in his guest blog, the days when a local could convert his garage into a bar, simply open the doors and watch in slack-jawed euphoria as tour-guided Northern Europeans handed over the money they’d been saving all year so said local would never have to look at an almond tree again.

Ibiza has become so VIP orientated in recent years (are there now more concierge operators here than tourists?), that it is perceived as being too expensive for the traditional, young, San An visitor. They’ve de-camped to places like Sunny Beach and Kavos, both of which had recent TV series showing how cheap it was to get pissed and how easy it was to get laid: Teenagers deserted Ibiza and booked flights before you could say, “two pints of very cheap lager and a packet of condoms.”

The primary problem for the businesses in the West End and many other parts of San Antonio is that whilst the traditional tourist has gone, they are not being replaced by anyone else, due to the notorious reputation it has acquired over the years.

San Antonio used to be cool. Hankinson described how A list celebs were regular visitors in the 70s. When I worked here in 87 & 88, Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway et al didn’t head straight for Amnesia to kick-start the rave revolution. They began their journey in Nito’s/Nightlife (now VK bar), drank and “dropped” in the Charleston (now Trop’s store room) and the Madhouse (now The Boozer). They even opened their own bar, the basement Project Bar, which is now Nirvana Tattoo shop (which should have a dance music equivalent of a blue plaque – worth popping downstairs for a look).

Club 18-30 culture was at its peak in the 80s BUT (and here’s the key) IT WAS CONTROLLED by the reps as opposed to the feral anarchy of recent years, plus it was more than offset by the pony-tailed, dungaree-wearing, super-cool ravers swarming to San Antonio.

This in many ways points to the reason why the superclub and beach club owners who are currently gloating over their full VIP areas and not caring about the possible demise of San Antonio do so at their short-sighted peril. Many of the 30-60 year-olds now paying thousands for a table or bed are the same San An “oiks” who were here in the 80s, 90s and noughties.

Cut off the funnel of youth that feeds the island and see what happens. The globalization of Ibiza is contributing massively to its success for the time being but for how long? If your first experience of Ibiza is to have your trousers taken down and be royally shafted without any charm or appreciation, would you be rushing back? Would you be recommending Ibiza to your friends? Would the island enter your psyche in the way it would if you came on a journey of self-discovery as a youngster?

So what’s the answer? Accommodation certainly needs to improve and a lot of businesses need to up their game. Surely though, the answer lies in its history. San Antonio has always been a resort for young people – it just needs to go back to being a resort for COOL young people. They are here – look at Ocean Beach.

Andy McKay, owner of Ibiza Rocks recently said, “Why do the same kids staying in our hotel go to Pacha and behave in one way but then come to the West End next night and behave disgracefully?”

It’s all about creating the right environment. More effective policing or perhaps even private security manning the main entry points to the West End would help, so people know that certain behaviour won’t be tolerated. Bar owners need to play their part by selling alcohol to lubricate a night rather than drown it. 

So, is it the end of the West End? At the moment, those original local owners are moving into their 70s and passing their bars to the next generation who don’t want out-of-date bars so there are three choices: Rent it to a gullible guirri who will last a couple of years before blowing their savings on their dream; upgrade it, a risky investment in the current climate; or change use. Over the next few years I have a feeling we are going to be seeing ever more venues doing the latter.

San Antonio can become cool again and the key to that is youth. Young, cool people don’t want to party in the dance music equivalent of Disneyland with 45 year-old, daddy dancing bankers. It would be a fatal mistake for San Antonio to try and emulate Bossa, not just for San Antonio but for the whole island.

Change HAS TO come from young people. Would an old local have come up with such a successful and original idea as Skinny Kitchen? Of course not. Young people bring the ideas then older, wealthier businessmen copy them, adapt them and turn them into trends.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) the old West End model won’t work because those holidaymakers are only ever going to diminish in number. It’s a fact and one that those who enjoyed the halcyon days find extremely hard to accept. Some serious PR needs to be done to change the perception of San An and the West End and that PR has to also happen in countries other than the UK. Perception is everything for San Antonio. It can still be fun. It can still be cheap. It can still be youth orientated. It just needs to be cool.

Manchester United haven’t come to an end, they’re simply re-organising. Breaking Bad may come back but has shifted emphasis for the time being and returned with Better Call Saul. San An needs to do the same, change emphasis, re-organise.

One thing is certain though. John Bishop will NEVER be funny.    

West End: The Bar Owners View – Guest Blog by Nathan Viva


WEST END WEEK – DAY 3

Nathan Seal came to the island as a club promotor but saw a gap in the market for a bar that reached out to San Antonio’s summer migrant population. His Viva Bar is a daily sanctuary and party HQ for hundreds of workers and his Viva Voyages are infamous summer ice breakers. Here, exclusively for my blog, he writes about the challenges of staying ahead in an already saturated market.

Nathan: Ibiza: the white isle, the Mecca for clubbers. Famous for its beautiful beaches, VIP areas full of the rich and famous, world class nightclubs (and day clubs for that matter) and unparalleled hedonistic reputation. But in amongst all this is nestled the holiday resort of San Antonio, and right at its heart is the area known as the West End. What part does it have to play in the new glitzy and modern Ibiza of the 21st Century?Its easy to criticise, and my word do people not hesitant to do that, but the West End offers what no other resort in Ibiza does, or even can. You can have your Playa d’en Bossa with its beach bars and drinking bars, but they don’t have a street entirely dedicated to offering up what amounts to FREE nightclubs. Every bar has a DJ, every bar has music to dance to. Some are bigger than others, but the jist is the same, come in, have fun, leave your worries and your pretentions at the door. The West End at its best is plain, simple FUN.

So why does the West End get such a bad reputation? I believe its more out of habit than anything, its easy to knock what you don’t know or what you once had a bad experience from but what is not really indicative of the actual day to day state of affairs. I’ve been an integral part of the West End for 11 years now and currently own (or part own) 3 bars here so I feel I have a good idea of what is going on and the image that is shoved down people’s throats is not that of reality. Yes we have problems, but where are there not? Which Utopian society do these people who criticise us hail from I’d like to know?

That said, a few analogies spring to mind. From the inside looking out I feel like a father would about their sickly, but favourite, child. I so desperately want it to get better, to get back to the good old days when business was booming and customers were not so hard to come by. We are constantly fighting amongst ourselves to do whatever we can to attract a lesser number of customers into an ever-increasing number of bars.

From the outside looking in, I feel people react to the West End like that crazy ex girlfriend that you broke up with, but can’t remember why; but that doesn’t matter because you just know you won’t go back there anymore… But maybe she’s changed, and I mean really changed, but you will never know as you only know you don’t want to try again

There has been investment in a number of bars, not least of all my own, and the strip does look better and the bars are better equipped than ever. Some even have VIP areas (but more for Hens and their bridesmaids than Henriettas and the social elite). But for all the good will that the bars have, and for all the good promotion that they do for their town, our town, it feels like we are hitting our heads against a brick wall when it comes to the simplest of things when dealing with the town hall and our laughably nonexistent policing.

Many of the bar owners baulk at the thought of further improving their establishments when faced with the fact that they are being hamstrung by the very government we are paying (and voting) to govern us. There seems to be total bewilderment amongst your average non West End working resident, or tourist, as to why there are quite so many Looky Looky’s, prostitutes, pick pockets, dealers and illegal un-contracted ticket sellers and PR’s. Why do WE allow this to go on? Why aren’t WE doing something about it. But this is what a police service is for, is it not? I have personally called them on a number of occasions to report one thing or another and they have come and dealt with it precisely 0% of the time. If the police have no interest in doing their jobs, then its no surprise that this month a number of the bars have gotten together to pay, on top of their already high taxes, for a private security firm to patrol the streets.

Is this the answer? No, I don’t think so. Just about every negative that you can think of could be taken care of with more policing or indeed ANY policing! The only time we saw them last year was to enforce the pointless new 5am (from 6am) opening hours as a way to further tax local businesses in the form of fines.

If we had a streets that were clean of all the unsavoury elements then we could get back to attracting the better clientele, get back to providing the best possible service but until that happens we will always struggle to shake of the negative image that has been forced upon us and therefore will always struggle to attract new customers to the resort at all. Lets push to get the basic’s right, starting with policing, and then we can make the West End a destination that we can all be proud of.

 

Nathan relaxing in Ibiza

 

Is Ibiza the new Benidorm?

  A quick sketch by my good friend Tom Knopek who worked on the White Isle in the 80’s and has been coming back several times a year ever since.

TOM: It’s 5am on a Friday morning and EasyJet, the kings of the unfriendly flight times, have a 05.35 from Gatwick to IBZ – its hardly worth going to bed but hey ho a weekend in the world’s top Island awaits

Why does it not feel like 5am? Gatwick is rammed – chaos – people “on it” and spirits are high.  I count 7 (yes SEVEN) stag/hen parties – the “victim” (groom or bride) it seems must be dressed as someone they are not – a sheik/ballet dancer/jockey (he is small)/nurse and various others. Good luck to them is my view – not my thing but live and let live – they are happy!

But I’m glad I’m going to Ibiza – the sexiest island on earth – mention Ibiza in LA or Vegas at Tomorrowland or even Glastonbury, New York or London and all humans nod in appreciation of a Worldwide Icon – a distant place from the Stag/Hen groups going to whatever downmarket cheap and cheerful corner of the Med that they are off to

Well f**k me – not 1 but all 7 stag/hen parties are on the same flight as me – to Ibiza and I’m sitting next to the jockey who is being force fed Vodka and red bull.

One guy really stands out as a bit of a weird dude – black jeans, T shirt, beats headphones, a tattoo, earring and short hair – I think he is a DJ – He must be thinking he’s on the wrong flight?????

For anyone who has a connection with Ibiza from the 80s of Wham to Calvin Harris today there is a sense of being part of something special – unique – precious.

So am I too protective of my memories, have I become an Ibiza snob? It’s mine and I want it to stay special!

Or – Is Ibiza wandering towards Benidorm??

p.s. the jockey is now asleep on my shoulder 😦

TK chilling at Vedra

West End: The Beginning – Guest Blog by Peter Hankinson

WEST END WEEK – DAY 2

West End legends aren’t made overnight but after 30 years on San Antonio’s most famous street there’s nobody better than Sr Peter Hankinson to give us a unique insight into it’s history. He arrived on the island in 1971 in an old minibus and quickly carved out a niche as one of the faces of the west end. Over the years he has worked at or ran Hanoi, Capones, Nito’s, Extasis, Es Paradis, Star Club, Trops, Tropicana’s, Sgt Peppers and Krystal’s to name but a few. 

Peter: Having read many people’s informed opinions of the West End in San Antonio, as an original founder member I would like to take the opportunity to speak a little of its history. I opened my first bar in the West End in 1971 and continued working at various establishments off and on until 2005 so I have a unique perspective of this area of business. 

In the early 70’s San Antonio was the centre of all tourism in Ibiza and was made up of various nationalities, ages and people of all backgrounds who had discovered the laid back charm of the island and came from all over the island to enjoy its unique atmosphere. 

In 1973 a group of 12 businesses decided to form a society to benefit the area. One of the reasons for this was that beach party sellers would bother and harass the clients at the bars and restaurants. At a meeting it was agreed to call the area the West End, after the West End in London due to its image (although some wanted to call it the East End!).

The businesses, among others, were Celler el Refugio (now Temptation) – regarded by many as the best restaurant on the island), Nitos (now VK Club), Chac Mool (now 80s/90s/00s), The Music Bar (now Joe Spoon’s), Kings Bar (now Stereo), Babalu, Hanoi Bar (now The Huddle), La Reja (now Kilties) and Cortijo Tristan (now Revolutions) among others, all of which have now changed their names and in some cases their usage. Each business had an illuminated sign and the society employed its own PRs to push the area and for a few weeks in the summer even ran its own beach parties, unlike today the bars generally worked together.

The atmosphere in the newly named West End was very cosmopolitan and most of the youngsters were Scandinavian, German, Dutch and British with a smattering of genuine A-list stars such as the Gibb brothers, Robert Plant and Lulu, wandering around amongst them. Most bars were busy, the average taking in my small Hanoi bar was about 30,000 pesetas (about 5000 euros in today’s money) on a good night. The main difference between then and now was the mentality of the clients with hard drugs (such as amphetamines and cocaine) being almost non-existent. The policing of the area was by the national police who came over from other areas of Spain for a couple of months, they were high profile but had a good attitude and were respected by the public and bar owners. If you called them, they came. 

Due to the success of the area all the different shops and houses in the area gradually became bars so the West End expanded outwards even though when I built the original Capone’s in 1974 it was regarded as being ‘too far out’, how things change!

During the 70s and 80s the West End continued to do good business but the clientele gradually changed from an international crowd to a mainly British market with tour operators becoming very popular and bar crawls gaining so much importance that having the best bar didn’t really matter but having a good relationship with the tour operators was imperative. As the West End grew it started to gain notoriety in the British press towards the end of the 80s when societies problems were reflected on the streets although this image wasn’t representative of the place that I knew. The 90s saw a massive rise in the drug culture and with it the atmosphere began to change in ‘Europe’s premier youth resort’.

Times change and the West End of today is a completely different place and it is facing big challenges over the next few years against increasing competition on the island but my memories are mostly fond as I loved my time there and still love San Antonio. I wish everyone all the best for the future as this area has been good to me and continues to be very important to our town.

Peter Hankinson

Peter (front right) giving some words of wisdom
 peterhankinsonibz@hotmail.com