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

¡Ibiza Shore Cancelado!

  

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

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

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

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

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

IBIZA 1 – REALITY TELEVISIVO 0

SANZ, DE LA SOUL, SPANDAU, ALBORÁN: A 10 DAY LIVE MUSIC BONANZA

  

Last night saw famous Spanish crooner Alejandro Sanz kick off an incredible 10 days of performance led live music on the White Isle as he played his 1st concert in Ibiza for 20 years as part of his ‘Sirope’ world tour. The Madrid born singer is famous for his flamenco based ballads – ‘Sirope’ is Spanish for ‘syrup’ – so this might give you an idea of his musical style

The concert took place at The Can Misses football stadium in front of 6500 noisy fans, 1500 tickets remained ‘unsold’ causing Sanz to comment at the start of his performance that ‘everyone was still on the beach’. Funny Guy. He played for 2 hours in high temperatures to an the audience made up of residents, tourists and few famous faces and formed the 1st part of a massive Latin double bill as 26 year old heartthrob Pablo Alborán will play the same venue on Thursday 20th August. The Malaga born singer will be sure to cause a stir especially with the local Spanish female population. 

On Wednesday 12 August Ibiza Rocks welcomes New York Hip Hop pioneers De La Soul for a much anticipated live show at their Hotel in San Antonio. The band have been together for nearly 30 years and are about to release their 9th album. This promises to be memorable in a streetwise, quirky lyric type of way.

Then the BIG one (for me anyway) is on Wednesday 19 August when the iconic 80s band Spandau Ballet perform at Ibiza Rocks Hotel in what promises to be one of the highlights of the summer for those New Romantics of a certain age. To Cut a Long Story Short this should be pure Gold, as after many years of infighting and all the band being a bit Highly Strung, they have literally gone Through the Barricades to reform and take on the world yet again. This really could be a new Lifeline for them. True Story!

Spandau have strong links to Ibiza: Steve Norman lived on the island for many years and all the ‘Boys’ have The White Isle firmly engraved on their memories from their glorious 80s and early 90s heyday. Tony Hadley even performed many solo shows here too back in the noughties.

So in the space of 10 days Ibiza Town and San Antonio play hosts to 4 massive concerts which will see plenty of arms in the air (like they just don’t care) waving from side to side with fans reliving their youth and singing at the top of their voices – the Nostalgia will be cranked right up. Ibiza isn’t about any one genre of music or entertainment and as it continues to reinvent itself every year, the White Isle truly has something for everyone! 

Ibiza Villas: Stick or Twist?

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Top 5 AMAZING BOATS in IBIZA 

  

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

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

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

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

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

Wow Factor 10: It has a fully equipped nightclub

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

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

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

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

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

Wow Factor 9: It has 12 statement staircases

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

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

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

Todo Incluido: ¿Aquí para Siempre?

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

R U VIP? – Guest Blog by Ray Davison

 Ray Davison* works in the Ibiza VIP industry and comes into contact with the high rollers and hangers-on every day so is perfectly placed to give his views on a culture that doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. 

Ray: I wasn’t here in the last century. A time of draft dodgers, dirt roads and donkeys. No Wi-fi, no greed, no rush. I’m sure it was a simple life back then with shared experiences. A common bond and folks helping each other to get by without looking for 10% commission or a finders fee.
I settled Ibiza in 2012 , the year Ushuaia opened it’s doors. If Shaggy’s sliding scale of workers is to be used as the new benchmark for island hierarchy, then I’ve one foot in the Wannabe camp and one foot in the grave. The VIP experience is a big part of my Ibiza journey and I’ve never known Ibiza BR (Before the Rope).

What is it about three letters that send so many people who remember those halcyon days, the Hippies, Dinosaurs and Veterans into such an incandescent rage? A length of velvet rope strung between two chrome poles that has brought a perceived division to Ibiza, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. All that is wrong with Ibiza summed up in three letters with many wishing that V.I.P would R.I.P.

During my time here I’ve heard people blame the VIP culture on certain clubs and promoters but it’s unfair to single out any one person or organisation. They’re simply using a marketing vehicle to promote their establishment above the competition and now it’s been copied by others seeking to re-capture the lost trade. There has always been a grading culture and it’s exactly the same as the grey suited men who ran a hotel chain in America in the 1950’s. Seeking to promote their brand above the competitors they awarded their hotels stars. This was soon copied by the competition and it is now a worldwide scheme of defining hotel quality.

Ibiza is an island which offers something for everyone. Families, youngsters,yoga retreats, wellness centres, green juice bars. Every day I experience the natural beauty of this island and the best daily show on earth. The Ibiza sunset. This is the true Ibiza, the real Ibiza. Peel back the wafer thing veneer of VIP and the real Ibiza still there. It always will be.

The trouble is, in my opinion, Ibiza VIP has become so diluted with pretenders, journeymen and impostors, that the essence of why it was created in the first place has been lost. All style but no substance.

Almost every business has invested in a piece of rope and two chrome poles to chase that last euro before the season ends, reinforcing the general malaise creeping into society of keeping the ‘haves and have-nots’ apart. Something that we all tried to escape from when we chose to live in Ibiza in the first place. An island of freedom and sharing. An island free of class structure where rock stars and pop idols would happily rub shoulders with the likes of you and I.

Superstar DJ’s and the VIP circus that surrounds them bring employment to thousands of people on the island every year. You may detest their music, you may loathe the very mention of the term VIP, but I wager almost everyone will have a VIP Euro, either directly or indirectly, in their pockets by the time the season ends. 

So who or what is a VIP? We talk of VIP but in my opinion, it’s become a self-perpetuating myth. It doesn’t really exist. Merely a simple marketing tool to promote one business or one person over another. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s important to remember that the only thing separating us from them is a piece of cheap, tacky, imitation, velvet rope strung between two poles. An illusion. A vast magic trick played on us all by those in the background that pull all the strings.

To quote a line from the cult film ‘The Usual Suspects’: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

And like that, poof, (blows across the palm of his hand). He was gone.

* Ray Davison is a pseudonym 

Ibiza VIP: The Rise of the Velvet Rope

  

VIP culture isn’t a recent invention although the terminology might be. Since the year dot there has always been a way for people to flaunt their supposed superiority, be it on planes or in hotels. Those who took 1st class flights (or Concorde) to 5 star hotels back in the 70s and 80s were called what? Not VIP for sure. That accolade was only reserved for politicians or genuine A-listers who had to be especially looked after.

Nowadays to be a so called ‘VIP’ you just need to pay an extra tenner to sit at the front of the plane and board first or pay an extra hundred for a ticket that allows you to stand on the other side of the rope and have the dubious honour of paying more for your drinks.

Most big Ibiza clubs have always had a roped off area, a place for the owners to invite guests back for drinks and extra entertainment, it wasn’t ruled by money just by who you knew and whether you were invited. The velvet rope usually meant ‘invited guests only’ rather than ‘how much cash you got?’

The rise of the VIP culture as we now know it in Ibiza is relatively recent. Only 10 years ago most clubs offered a VIP experience but why would you want to go to a club and sip champagne on the terrace overlooking the dance floor watching everybody having a good time? You didn’t, you wanted to be in the middle of the action, dancing and drinking and enjoying it to the max not sitting on an uncomfortable chair in a removed part of the club. So the VIP area was full of an older crowd who wanted the experience but also the space to watch on and enjoy. The beauty of Ibiza was seeing the sexagenarians dancing in the VIP – Ibiza, a truly ageless place.

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But now VIP isn’t VIP anymore because it’s mainstream and mainstream isn’t elite. When there’s more people in the VIP than in the public area; Then its not VIP by definition but irony isn’t something we are good at in Ibiza. Now there are also several forms – VIP, VVIP, Prive etc all driven by ‘how much do you want to spend?’ rather than ‘who you are’ because that’s what this is all about – money – let’s not complicate matters here in this blog.

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Like most things this money driven concept will eventually eat itself but in the meantime most bars and clubs give you the option of 1. where you can stand/sit 2. what you can drink 3. how much is your minimum spend. The result is an environment of society’s cross sections – ‘normal’ people on the dance floor, ‘well off’ people on the terrace, ‘rich’ people above and ‘obscenely rich’ where the ‘normal people’ can’t see/bother them. Obviously all groups are interspersed with the usual dealers, blaggers and chancers that only Ibiza can offer.

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We live in a social media obsessed society where for ‘normal punters’ everything is based on the next great profile pic and they are prepared to pay a premium for that. The 3 small letters justify the expense and that new Facebook pic of themselves standing in a pool or on a club terrace holding a large bottle of champagne or Grey Goose is worth every single penny because when they look back at it on a cold January day, they can smile and recount the story of the day that they were a genuine VIP in Ibiza. Good on them but let’s not confuse VIP with VIP. Wait a minute, now I’m getting confused.