No More Beach Clubs for San An?

San Antonio has become the 2nd island council to actively take steps to curb the effect of the existing Tourism Act that allows hotels to also have nightclubs and beach clubs on their premises.

At a fractious meeting on Wednesday 31 Aug the ruling left wing council voted by a majority for a motion to urge the new Balearic Government to amend the existing law to prevent the opening of any future hotels who intend to also have discotheques and/or beach clubs as secondary facilities.

The council’s motion is in direct response to the news that ‘Space Ibiza’ is planning to open a 5 star resort hotel in the town which will also include a nightclub/beach club. As the plans for this were submitted in July 2015 the council say they are powerless to legally stop it but also say that they don’t view it with “good eyes”.

The leader of the opposition, Pepe Sala, urged Juanjo Ferrer, head of town planning, to tackle the issues himself rather than wait for central government intervention. Sala said “there’s no need to ask for anything from the Balearic Government as the town council already has the legal instruments required to decide on these issues”.

Juanjo Ferrer promised to study the resolution that Santa Eulalia passed in 2013 which was specifically designed to prohibit the proliferation of beach clubs with exterior music.

Noise Pollution

“One of the main problems for residents is noise. Music playing at all hours of the day in every corner of the island both in the town and in the country. There are beaches that become chill outs with DJ’s, restaurants offering techno music sessions and hotels that become open air discos…” said Ferrer adding that “in recent years various laws and regulations have given more and more freedom to tourist establishments in allowing these secondary activities”.

Residents v Tourists

These latest developments are part of an ongoing ‘battle’ between residents and tourists with neither side wanting to compromise. San Antonio’s 3 party coalition council assumed control in June 2015 promising to protect residents rights.

‘Geordie Shore’ Filming in San An

Those ‘cheeky’ Geordie Shore reality TV ‘stars’  (and I use the term very loosely) have been spotted in and around San Antonio surreptitiously filming for their new series.

After being refused permission to film in Mallorca it appears the production company have come over to the White Isle (and more specifically San Antonio) in search of some sexy footage to engage their viewers for the new shows that will air on MTV and if rumours are to be believed they are staying on a CAMP SITE in the north of the island! 

Meanwhile on social media Island residents have been almost unanimous in decrying anyone or place that ‘collaborates’ with the series claiming that they highlight the negatives. Some bars have even threatened to sue the producers of Geordie Shore for filming covertly without permission. This has resulted in the filming being very hush hush and mainly on private premises.

San Antonio councillor Aida Alcaraz has had various meetings reminding local establishments that the programme doesn’t have any permission or licence to film in the public domain but admitted they cannot stop it inside private premises. Sra Alcaraz has also reportedly asked the British Consulate to speak to the producers to confirm if they are filming on the streets and if so to stop immediately. 

Even though they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity it’s the latest rejection by island residents and politicians who are tired of TV companies pillaging Ibiza purely for ratings. Last year the Ibiza government banned MTV from filming MTV’s Spanish version called “Ibiza Shore” after a similar outcry.

Ibiza with its beach clubs and vibrant nocturnal scene is gold dust for many reality TV series as it appeals to a similar demographic even though ‘TOWIE’ left the island with their collective tail between their collective legs claiming that they weren’t ‘made to feel welcome’ in Ibiza.

El West 3: ¿El Fin? Blog Invitado por Colin Butts

  Colin Butts llegó por primera vez a Ibiza como coordinador turístico en los años 80 y se valió de esa experiencia para escribir la novela superventas ‘Is Harry on the Boat’, que más tarde se llevaría al cine y a la televisión. Residente en la isla desde hace ya muchos años, es una cara conocida en el circuito de San Antonio y divide su tiempo entre escribir, finalizar su nueva película y el Plastik Bar, del que es copropietario. En exclusiva para mi blog, Colin escribe sobre el futuro rumbo del West End. 

Colin: Todo llega a su fin: la hegemonía del Manchester United o Breaking Bad por ejemplo.

En los últimos años mucha gente habla de que se acerca el fin del West End de San Antonio. ¿Hay algo de verdad en esto? ¿Está la Parca del turismo acechando entre las sombras? ¿O se trata simplemente de Peter Hankinson dando tumbos hasta su casa tras tomar unas cervezas y arreglar el jardín con una guadaña en la mano?

Hankinson explicó maravillosamente la evolución del West End en su blog invitado. Aquellos días en los que un ibicenco podía convertir su garaje en un bar; simplemente abrir las puertas y ver cómo entraban desbocados y eufóricos visitantes del norte de Europa llevados allí por guías turísticos para dejarse el dinero que habían estado ahorrando todo el año y que ese ibicenco no tuviera que volver a ver un almendro en su vida.

Ibiza se ha orientado tanto al público VIP en los últimos años (¿hay ahora más operadores turísticos que turistas?) que se percibe como un destino demasiado caro para los jóvenes visitantes tradicionales de San Antonio. Han huido a lugares como Sunny Beach y Kavos, destinos que han aparecido en series de TV recientes donde se mostraba lo barato que era emborracharse y lo fácil que era echar un polvo. Los adolescentes abandonaron Ibiza y empezaron a reservar vuelos en menos de lo que se dice “dos pintas de una cerveza muy barata y un paquete de condones.”

El principal problema para las empresas en West End y en muchas otras partes de San Antonio es que el turista tradicional ha desaparecido y nadie le ha sustituido, debido a la reputación que ha ido adquiriendo a lo largo de los años.

San Antonio era un lugar cool. Hankinson hablaba de los famosos de primer nivel que venían frecuentemente en los años 70. Cuando yo trabajaba aquí en el 87 y el 88, Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway y compañía no fueron directamente al Amnesia para iniciar la revolución juerguista. Iniciaron su viaje en Nito’s/Nightlife (ahora bar VK), bebían y se colocaban en el Charleston (ahora almacenes Trop) y el Madhouse (ahora The Boozer). Incluso abrieron su propio bar, el Project Bar, en un sótano que ahora es el Nirvana Tattoo (un lugar que debería tener el equivalente en la música dance a una placa conmemorativa; merece la pena bajar las escaleras para echar un vistazo).

La cultura de Club 18-30 estaba en su apogeo en los 80, PERO (y he aquí la clave) ESTABA CONTROLADA por los coordinadores turísticos y no era la anarquía salvaje de los últimos años. Además, estaba más que compensada por los fiesteros supercool con coleta y vestidos con monos que acudían en manada a San Antonio.

Esto nos da una idea del motivo por el que los dueños de las discotecas de lujo y de playa que fanfarronean en sus zonas VIP sin importarles la posible muerte de San Antonio no aciertan a ver el riesgo que corren. Muchos de los clientes de entre 30 y 60 años que pagan ahora miles de euros por una mesa o una cama son los mismos “paletos” de San Antonio que estaban aquí ya en los 80, 90 y la década de 2000.

Corta el flujo de jóvenes que dan vida a la isla y verás lo que pasa. La globalización de Ibiza está contribuyendo enormemente a su éxito de momento, pero ¿durante cuánto tiempo? Si tu primera experiencia en Ibiza fuera que te bajaran los pantalones y te jodieran sin ningún tipo de miramiento, ¿volverías corriendo? ¿Recomendarías Ibiza a tus amigos? ¿Entraría la isla en tu memoria del mismo modo que si fueras en un viaje de joven para encontrarte a ti mismo?

Entonces, ¿cuál es la respuesta? Desde luego, el alojamiento debe mejorar y muchas empresas tienen que modificar su oferta para bien. Seguramente, la respuesta esté en su historia. San Antonio ha sido siempre un destino para los jóvenes y, por lo tanto, tiene que volver a centrarse en recibir a jóvenes COOL. Están aquí, solo hay que ver el Ocean Beach.

Andy McKay, propietario de Ibiza Rocks, dijo hace poco: “¿Por qué los mismos chicos que se alojan en nuestro hotel van a Pacha y se comportan de una manera, pero luego vienen al West End la noche siguiente y se comportan de un modo vergonzoso?”

Todo es cuestión de crear el entorno adecuado. Podrían servir de ayuda unas políticas más efectivas, o quizás poner seguridad privada controlando los puntos de entrada principales al West End, para que la gente sepa que no se van a tolerar determinados comportamientos. Los propietarios de los bares deben poner de su parte y vender alcohol solo para refrescar un poco la noche, no ahogarla.

Entonces, ¿estamos hablando del fin del West End? Actualmente, los propietarios originales rondan los 70 años y están cediendo sus bares a la nueva generación, pero éstos no quieren un bar anticuado, así que tienen tres opciones: alquilárselo a un guiri ingenuo que tardará un par de años en fundirse los ahorros en su sueño; actualizarlo, una inversión arriesgada en los tiempos que corren; o cambiar su uso. Tengo la sensación de que en los próximos años vamos a ver muchos más locales haciendo esto último.

San Antonio puede volver a ser cool y la clave para ello está en la juventud. La gente joven y cool no quiere estar de fiesta en una especie de Disneylandia de la música dance con banqueros maduritos de 45 años. Sería un error fatal que San Antonio tratara de emular al Bossa, y no solo para San Antonio, sino para toda la isla.

El cambio DEBE surgir de los jóvenes. ¿Acaso a una persona mayor de la isla se le hubiera ocurrido una idea tan exitosa y original como el Skinny Kitchen? Claro que no. Los jóvenes aportan las ideas y los empresarios mayores y con más dinero las copian, las adaptan y las convierten en tendencias.

Por desgracia (o por fortuna, depende del punto de vista), el antiguo modelo del West End no funcionaría porque los turistas cada vez serán menos. Es una realidad que a los que vivieron los días idílicos les cuesta mucho aceptar. Hace falta hacer un gran trabajo de relaciones públicas para cambiar la percepción que se tiene de San Antonio y el West End, y ese trabajo debe hacerse en países que no sean el Reino Unido. La percepción lo es todo para San Antonio. Aún puede ser divertido. Aún puede ser barato. Aún puede orientarse a los jóvenes. Solo tiene que ser cool.

El Manchester United no ha llegado a su fin, simplemente se está reorganizando. Breaking Bad podría volver, pero de momento ha reorientado su impulso y ha vuelto con Better Call Saul. San Antonio tiene que hacer lo mismo, cambiar el impulso y reorganizarse.

Go WEST! 

  WEST END WEEK – DAY 1

The municipality of Sant Antoni de Portmany is 129 km2, has a population in excess of 20,000 and stretches from the beaches of Cala Gracio and Cala Salada to the beautiful countryside of San Mateu and Santa Ines yet an area which takes up only 0.0001% and is 150 metres long and barely 3 streets across dominates everyone’s perception and opinion of the town. These 2 words and 7 letters is a topic that divides opinion, creates heated debate and represents where San Antonio came from and is indicative of where it’s going.

Step forward San Antonio’s famous “WEST END”

Love it or loathe it the West End is here to stay so why does this tiny area cloud so many peoples judgement of the whole town? Mention San Antonio to many and their eyes will roll and their heads will shake (especially those that haven’t actually been there) and right in the middle of their pre conceived ideas is the West End – a polarizing force in a town that everybody loves to hate.

The West End of 2015 is its own eco system and micro economy and is representative of whether the town is ‘doing well’. There used to be fine restaurants but now it’s mainly bars and fast food outlets, a sugar rush for adrenaline/red bull junkies who like to party the night away for relatively little money – if you’re on a tight budget then this is the place for you hence why San Antonio is many young people’s first holiday abroad. ‘Free entry’ say the signs to the bars and pubs who also advertise cheap drink offers such as ‘3 beers and 3 shots for €10’. The problem is that if you set your stall out to capture this end of the market then its tough to reinvent yourself at a later date. This price-driven environment means that in tough times some bars just reduce the price or even give it away for free – some call it a loss leader others might call it commercial suicide.

Throw in a cocktail of looky looky men, women of ill-repute, the odd petty thief and 24 hour ‘bodegas’ selling even cheaper booze and it all adds up to an interesting mix with never a dull moment. It’s usually quite safe and an excellent place to people watch. Keep your wits about you and enjoy but if you are too worse for wear and wander off the beaten track then it can also be a dangerous place but you could say that about anywhere in the western world if you are too drunk to talk and can’t even remember your own name. 

I spent lots of nights down the West End in my younger years so it played a very important part in my Ibiza upbringing hence why I always defend it and bristle when summer journalists use it for ink-bait but we also have to recognize that most places in Ibiza have moved onwards and upwards yet the West seems to mainly stand still with more bars opening every year offering cheaper drinks to less people because of increased competition from Ushuaia, Ocean Beach, Hard Rock, Sankeys and Space to name but a few. 

To those who criticize a simple ‘well don’t go there’ retort usually shuts them up however it is an integral part of San Antonio tourism but how much longer can it survive in its present format? Pep Cires, the new Mayor, has promised to change San Antonio’s ‘tourism model’ and no prizes for guessing where he was looking towards when he made that statement. Reinvention is an overused word yet seems valid in this case. How is it that the very same people who drink champagne at Ocean Beach and proudly post pics on Facebook then stroll down the West End looking for the cheapest offers? Once again it comes back to the environment created.

Some owners/managers are trying to change things but others appear stuck in a time-warp with little investment and craving to fill their bars just to upset their competitors no matter what the cost. The West End is no different to any other market and natural selection ensures that the best bars will always be busy and those who don’t offer anything different just shrivel up and die until it re-opens with another eager tenant paying an expensive rent. 

Most towns have their own version (Newcastle’s Bigg Market or Dublin’s Temple Bar) however these places are positively policed with customer enjoyment paramount. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create this type of environment for San Antonio but very little police presence has ensured an other-worldly feel to the place, 2015 has seen a private security firm being contracted to raise visibility, this can only be a positive but appears an expensive short term solution to a long term problem. 

Whether we like it or not the West End is San Antonio and San Antonio is the West End so we all need to take an interest for the good of our town. IMO the key ingredient is quality over quantity and a range of diverse products to entice a broader cross section of people. Any product has to evolve, learn from its mistakes and get better at what it does. San Antonio has the best range of nocturnal activities on the island but it also needs to love itself a little more and take pride in its offerings. As we have seen with the rise of the beach clubs and VIP culture, money isn’t the driving factor anymore, on the white isle its all about what’s on offer. 

Of course this is very easy for me to say and this blog raises more questions that answers but if we never start then we will never finish. A quick paint job isn’t good enough anymore and as other venues & resorts have proved, invest in it, build it and they will come. 

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 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”.