‘Ibiza Winter Residents’: You couldn’t make it up!

  When Facebook was just a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye could he have ever imagined the unstoppable train that he would unleash on the world for those wanting to share, to get things off their chest, those with a particular axe to grind and those with nothing better to do than surf social media all day whilst basking in the sun (that would be me then). Of all the social media groups and forums that I have joined and participated in, one is simply head and shoulders above the rest.

On a small island in a smallish sea there is a Facebook group called ‘Ibiza Winter Residents’ and I ask you, neigh beg you, to join it with the utmost urgency and become immersed in the weird and wonderful world of the Ibiza native: Those who love to share strange experiences, those who care more for animals than humans, no post is too sensitive for offensive remarks and those who can turn any gentle conversation into a slanging match. This group ensures that the term ‘pointless Ibiza question’ is now extinct. 

IWR has replaced the supermarket cafe with regards to recommendations, hearsay, conjecture, rumours and downright lies. Don’t take it too seriously and you will be amazed at the hourly posts and comments and I challenge you not to be doubled up with laughter on a daily basis. A word of caution though: Take this group too seriously and throw in a few bad comments about animals (especially cats) and you will have sworn enemies for life and an Ibiza Fatwa put on your head. 

Group admin Brian Beezwax told me “My friends were always asking for advice on how to do this or where to find that so a few years ago I decided to start writing it down in Ibiza Winter Residents whenever I had a little bit of success with Ibiza red tape, to give me something to refer to if I had to do the same thing again or if someone else asked. Thankfully it eventually started to catch on and other people started to share their experiences and advice too. Now in the space of a year the group has swelled from less than 3000 people to over 18,000 and we appear to have created a monster!”

Brian continues “There are lots of very different tribes on this island and Ibiza Winter Residents is one of the very few public spaces that they have to share. The odd verbal scrap is inevitable but most people seem to be able to look after themselves – at the end of the day it’s just words on a screen! Some people seem to think that the group should be heavily moderated like most forums on the internet but I’m adamant that it should remain lawless as it is – I think it’s important that there is a place where people are free to say whatever they like…….”

IWR reaches its target audience immediately (you’re probably reading this link now through it) and can be a fantastic source of information and a fact sharing site which can be very important on a small island but also no subject is too trivial and no comment is too gentle for it not to be misinterpreted by a diverse Ibiza population of different nationalities, backgrounds, languages and from contrasting social spheres. The group could almost have the sub heading ‘Lost in Translation’. 

Certain issues are no-go areas (cats again!) unless you are a true masochist and God forbid you suggest that the bus timetable in Santa Gertrudis isn’t good enough as this will unleash a tirade of ‘get back to your own country’ and ‘this isn’t London! ‘ type comments. I have even started using “IWR’s” as a collective term to describe a specific Ibiza demographic. 

Only Ibiza could give birth to this group and although some posts are cringeworthy and slightly mad it’s a fantastic medium for sharing first-person opinions and recommendations. I applaud it as a celebration of the islands dysfunctionality, and the strange thing is that I’m almost addicted to it so to all you IWR’s out there please keep on posting, ranting, swearing, informing, criticizing, praising, threatening, recommending, belittling, laughing and most of all championing our Island as I, for one, simply can’t get enough. MM

The BOSSA FACTOR

  When I first arrived in Ibiza in 1991 (as a clueless holiday rep) the island dynamic was very straight forward. Youngsters went to San Antonio, families went to Playa d’en Bossa/Es Cana, and couples/seniors went to Santa Eulalia. I’m generalizing but you get the idea.

Playa d’en Bossa (or just plain Bossa) was predominantly a family resort but did have THE club in Space which opened at 6am and went straight through until the evening. Space opened its doors in 1989 and quickly gained an ‘anything goes’ reputation with the open air terrace being the place to be on a Sunday for sun, drinks, drugs and the best music in the world.

The families directly across the road in the hotels Bahamas and Don Toni were all a bit bewildered but Ibiza is nothing if not tolerant. Bossa continued developing at a rapid rate until 2011 when the Fiesta group got into bed with the Ushuaia beach bar and turned one of their family friendly ‘Fiesta-land’ hotels into the Ushuaia Beach Hotel, something that is commonly known as a GAME-CHANGER. Ushuaia Tower quickly followed and then with the 2014 addition of the Hard Rock Hotel (the only HR hotel outside of North America) the transformation was complete: quiet family resort to full on party paradise in less than a generation. 

For me it’s been hard watching the rise and rise of Bossa whilst San Antonio has remained more or less the same but now with the added influx of seasonal ‘workers’ (but that’s another story which I will blog about later this week). 

To compare the 2 places is difficult: San Antonio is an urban nucleus with it’s magnificent bay and natural harbour but has fallen down the party pecking order through lack of investment and 2 ‘super’ clubs that appear to care about everything apart from client enjoyment. Bossa is a purpose made tourist resort that now has top notch bars and restaurants along its mile long beach and the world class venues previously mentioned.

Although it’s billed as a mini Las Vegas any night in Bossa will also confirm your worst fears. A claustrophobic environment with hawkers and pushy PRs on every street corner. Of course we have some of the same issues on the west coast yet Bossa NEVER gets the bad publicity that San Antonio does, it would appear that memories are short as long as you have a few world class venues on your doorstep. 

So as Ibiza enters a new political era with elected socialist leaders in San Jose (Bossa’s municipality), San Antonio and also the island government it will be interesting to see if there are any major plans for Ibiza’s two biggest party resorts especially as San Antonio’s new Mayor Pep Tur ‘Cires’ has ‘promised’ a change of direction for San An tourism, this will be very interesting to watch.

Also it’s worth mentioning that Vicent Torres the probable next Island President was a former tourist minister for the Balearics and was the man who signed the Ryanair winter flights agreement back in 2007. 

Fiesta group led by billionaire Abel Matutes continues to push for more changes in Bossa and has also unveiled plans to invest €40M in the hotel Tanit at Cala Gracio making it a ‘mini Ushuaia’ which will include a beach club, will this be the touch paper that San Antonio needs to reclaim its historical place as the entry level Ibiza resort for all 18-25 year olds? Like most tourist destinations Ibiza needs needs to continually evolve especially with regards to quality so we can compete with the emerging gateways and for this to happen we require our tourism leaders to be strong, innovative and creative not just stick their heads in the sand and expect Ibiza to continually ride on the crest of a wave. MM

Ibiza Clubbing: Why June ain’t wot it used to be  – Guest Blog by Kirk Field

  Following on from my post about the Challenge of June for Ibiza Business, here is Kirk Field (writing exclusively for my blog) with his unique take on Ibiza Clubbing in June and the emerging festivals and destinations who are snatching ‘our’ talent (!). 

Kirk: From visiting Ibiza since 1990 as a journalist for Mixmag, I realised that June was the perfect time in the calendar to run large group events. The weather was fantastic, flights abundant and cheap, hotel owners welcoming with hotel beds at decent prices and more importantly, the superclubs weren’t road-blocked, meaning they’d do business; give my promoters slots and deliver fair group ticket deals.

For the first ten years all was good. Numbers growing year on year at my opening parties week package ‘Ibizan Heat’ (many years ago, a respected promoter at Space once emailed me as he did his listings, “My spell check says there’s no such word as Ibizan”. Well I’m not changing it to ‘Ibicenco Heat’, I replied. Years later on noticing ‘The Ibiza Sun’ had re-launched as ‘The Ibizan’, I sent him a copy!)

Success always breeds imitation, and often that imitation is pale. The clubbing travel market is no exception. In this case it means selling a package which is centered around one hotel (effectively ‘all-inclusive’), meaning the 400 students rarely leave the hotel, as it caters for their every need; daily pool parties, concerts at night…even their own boat party. Whilst this is a smart move on the part of the hotel, it doesn’t help a myriad of small businesses or venues who would normally benefit from their presence.

Coupled with the pre-determined itinerary clubbing packages include, it means that recent years have witnessed a noticeable absence from ‘walk up’ customers at superclubs in June.

However that in itself doesn’t explain why some superclubs have been quieter than expected in recent early seasons. The answer lies across the pond…

The rise of EDM in America has led to Ibiza being displaced as the preferred booking for DJ’s. There’s a saying that goes, ‘every cloud may have a silver lining, but every star has an agent’. And agents will go where the money is. And for the last few years, that money has been not Euro’s but Dollars…and lots of them.

Despite an anticipated increase of Americans (prepare for loud voices complaining about the service in beachside restaurants), the U.S’s belated discovery of dance music has not all been good news for Ibiza…

In the next seven days, at least 4 major festivals –  FireflyElectric DaisySummerfest and Paradiso – all take place in the States. Each one bursting at the seams with a stellar line ups. Take a look at the party calendar on Ibiza Spotlight for next week; no Steve Aoki or Ferry Corsten…at their own parties. A similar thing happened at times last year with Carl Cox and David Guetta. Meanwhile over at mighty Ushuaia, flagship Swedish residency ‘Departures’ is absent from its traditional opening shindig on the last Wednesday in June…coincidence or proof that la Isla Blanca isn’t Numero Uno any longer in the DJ’s schedules?

It’s not just the weakened line-ups which are affecting informed clubbers from booking in June. The resulting delay in announcing line ups is, I believe, a major factor in June’s reduced appeal for discerning clubbers. Each year the line up confirmations get later and later, now nothing is signed until after WMC in late March at the very earliest. At the same time flight prices rise and rise…as they become fewer; snapped up by musically less discerning visitors; typically hen and stag parties many of whom have never heard of Darius Syrossian or Seth Troxler.

At time of writing, one of the club nights for my group next week has still not announced its line up…less than 6 days away, while another one major night was only confirmed in the last ten days. This isn’t because the promoters in question are lazy or incompetent; on the contrary, both work to a high standard and have been bending over backwards to get the talent confirmed, but I understand have struggled because of Ibiza falling down the pecking order in the big scheme of things.

Together @ Amnesia announced headliners last Autumn and published (strong) weekly line ups in place by Valentines Day – so it can be done!  By comparison, other promoters and venues appear to act like its 1995 and only start work on 1st April!

For folk to book a clubbing-orientated holiday with specified line ups, in June, the balance needs to be paid 6 weeks prior to departure, which is early April. So you can appreciate it puts operators like myself in an awkward position; asking for balances for an event at which the content is not clear – would you book that holiday?

This delay in clarifying which parties are happening on which nights, and what line ups people can expect has led to me deciding, after fifteen years, not to work in June anymore. OK, so it’s only 4-500 people, and Ushuaia won’t be requesting a overdraft upon hearing this, but my groups are indicative of the type of visitor the superclubs need in June; music-savvy, cool 20-35 year old’s, who book more than three nights, and who typically visit a major venue most nights, spending a considerable amount of money in the process. What’s more, these are the type of guest who stay all night, rather than ‘swing door’ it after taking a selfie at the back of the dancefloor and are in bed for 2am ready for another day’s posing at Blue Marlin.

I think this is a pattern which has already happened; September is the new June; line up’s have been announced, people know what (and who) they’re going to get to see play…and they can still go to Glastonbury or Euro ’16.

Their seats on the plane’s will doubtlessly be replaced by eager Hen and Stags, so visitor numbers won’t reflect the change, but don’t be surprised if more and more of the big players don’t open their doors until July next year. KF

Kirk Field has championed Ibiza since discovering it in 1990. For the next decade he covered the island positively for Mixmag, Time Out and various National newspapers and magazines. In 1999 he set up Radical Escapes – the UK’s first independent clubbing travel company who have been instigating international insomnia (in Ibiza specifically), ever since.

Ibiza Business: The Challenge of June

 

We are now well into the summer season and the streets of Ibiza seem busy yet I’m hearing the same story from a lot of local businesses: takings down, profit down. 

Here at Ibiza Property Shop we had a great start to the year with villa holiday rentals performing well however since April it’s been a struggle with heavy discounts in May & June. I spoke to traders in Ibiza Town and San Antonio this week who tell me the same story: Lots of people around but takings down is the recurring theme. 

Of course the super clubs and beach clubs are doing very well but that’s like saying Old Trafford is busy on a Saturday afternoon when Man U are at home. The world class venues will always perform well but it is the smaller local traders and family businesses that are concerned that the same few get the lions share of the pie. We all know that from mid July to mid September the island is going to be madness, it always is, but how can local business survive on 60 days per year? it’s the shoulder periods that we need to maximize for us all to have a truly good year.

Why?

I can only put it down to the shifting patterns of tourism with long weekend breaks now becoming more prevalent and tourists spending all their money on 2 or 3 major events then cutting back during the rest of their stay. Many now want to stay close to the big venues such as Ocean Beach, Ushuaia and Hard Rock and there is definitely over capacity in the villa rental market, where there used to be a few hundred villas for rent any search will now give you over 3000 options. It also appears that the mid market is deserting the island so as a business you’ve got to be either bargain basement or top end. 

Aviation continues to be a problem with Ibiza flight prices being higher than our competitors who also enjoy better flight times. This is a historic problems but the simple fact is that Ibiza people will put up with flights at ungodly hours whereas Mallorca and Marbella people won’t. 

The changing dynamic to weekend breaks has taken the traditional businesses a little by surprise so we are playing catch up but Ibiza doesn’t stay behind for long. The White Isle is constantly evolving but the increase in competition on the island and by emerging destinations means that we need to consistently up our game and be more flexible especially during the lower and mid seasons months. 

Ibiza continues to enjoy incredible growth but as with in any competition there are always winners and losers and June has proved that so far.

Ibiza and the Press – Guest Blog by Paul Ambrose

 

Paul Ambrose (aka Pabs) started his overseas career in Corfu in 1992 and eventually found himself in Ibiza in 1996 working for several holiday companies along the way. He is a qualified ski and snowboard instructor and his summers are spent mainly on the water but he has also been known to do the odd bit of work at Ibiza Property Shop where he is a partner. 

Paul: As a long term resident of the Island I am often infuriated by the way the Island is portrayed in the British press. Today I read about the demise of the Island in the Evening Standard as the so called party set move to Mykonos to be replaced with health freaks!

What a load of Rubbish!

We seem to get one of these articles every month or so written by ill informed, lazy journalists, most of whom appear to never to have set foot on the Island.
This week it’s Mykonos, last year it was Croatia and next week it will probably be Scarborough! The rich have always had their party haunts but Ibiza’s appeal has always been that it attracts a more diverse audience, from Brits on the drink to the super rich. They have all partied together for many years. The rich are not leaving – in fact there are more than ever (the number of leggy Russian ‘workers’ in Lio and Pacha proves that!)

Who are these health freaks? Where do they hang out? If these are the future of the Island I think we are all screwed! Has Matutes missed a trick investing in Ushuaia and the Hard Rock Hotel? Maybe he should have opened a juice bar and a health food shop!  In the article there is a quote ‘You can pretty much get a green juice everywhere’??? Have these people been out in Ibiza or San Antonio? I can’t recall seeing it on the menu at Blue Marlin, never mind in the Boozer Bar at the top of the west end!

Can we please have an article about the real Ibiza. PA

The Exodus Exit

  “There are boat parties and then there are SuperYacht parties” screamed the marketing campaign over the winter. A highly organized web campaign to showcase a new superyacht coming to San Antonio purely for boat parties but the dream has now turned into a nightmare for the island organizers and also the hundreds who have booked their tickets and ‘VIP table’ as Exodus has been cancelled indefinitely citing ‘island politics’. 

It’s always a little precarious launching a new product on the white isle but anything to do with the water is especially fraught with difficulty especially with docking restrictions and strict health and safety requirements. I spoke with the local organizers of Exodus in mid-May asking whether they had all the required permissions, licenses and health and safety in place and I was assured that they had. Having had many different Ibiza businesses over the years I know first hand that if you don’t have the right paperwork and permissions then it’s a complete non-starter with competitors more than ready to protect their patch and rightly so.

The official version is that they couldn’t secure a big enough mooring however I would have thought that this would have been organized BEFORE the big marketing campaign and promises to clients and promotors. 

As the Exodus organizers and promoters lick their wounds there are internet tales of clients chasing refunds and having to pay booking fees but I sincerely hope they get all their money back for something that was beyond their control plus it’s not great advertising for our town and Ibiza parties in general.

I saw the Exodus boat moored off the sunset strip on Sunday and it cut a sad figure before making its way to Valencia the following day. Maybe it will return in the future, maybe the owners & organizers were just unlucky or maybe it will go down as a guide on “how not to do things”.

Death and Pleasure on a Small Island

  2 young British men have died over the last 7 days in San Antonio at the same hotel in two separate, tragic incidents. Fraser Gillespie, 26, died after falling from from his 5th floor balcony whilst partying with up to 20 friends, his death is not being treated as suspicious. Then only a few days later Andrew Watson, 32, was found by a friend in his room, he was unresponsive and doctors were unable to revive him, drugs are the suspected cause.

It appears that these 2 young men have died during a relentless pursuit of pleasure.

Groups of young people arrive at their UK airport ready to party. They party in the departure lounge, they party on the plane and then they come through passport control screaming and shouting. The relevant authorities have already had 3 opportunities to firmly enforce standards but most have turned a blind eye, in fact the airport bar and the low cost airline have profited from this behaviour. Is it any wonder that these young people think they are in dreamland so who can blame them when they arrive at their holiday hotel or villa and want to carry on the party but as we have seen over the last week there can be serious consequences when you have a “but this is Ibiza, I can do anything” attitude.

Ibiza and its people have always been famous for their liberal nature and easygoing attitude but is this now the root of our problems? Imagine arriving at Dubai or Miami airport half cut, screaming and shouting, they wouldn’t tolerate it and those places are all the better for it, Ibiza has always turned a blind eye but how can we carry on doing that when our streets are being filled with over-zealous partygoers who have a complete personality transplant once they step foot on the island.

Isn’t it about time we said NO? Not all the time but just now and again? No you can’t act like hooligans on the plane. No you can’t scream & shout at all hours in your hotel. No you can’t do exactly what you want in Ibiza with no consideration for anyone else.  Getting the tone right is the key as we don’t want to become prissy head teachers tutting at everyone but there has to be a line otherwise everything becomes blurred. It’s imperative that Ibiza retains its magic but it’s also important that we send out a clear message otherwise more parents will be mourning their children over the coming months. 

There is no easy solution but as we enter a new political age it’s time for the authorities to tackle the problem head on in a open and honest way as to continue to ‘turn a blind eye’ would surely be very dangerous. Ibiza’s free spirit needs to be celebrated not abused otherwise we will devalue the one thing that defines us as an island.

Recent election manifestos promised change and a better touristic model for Ibiza and San Antonio so now it’s up to our new elected leaders to deliver on those promises.