Balearics Must Tackle Other Issues as well as Anti-Social Drinking

The Balearic Government’s new laws designed to crack down on alcohol excess have made front page news around the globe and started off many debates. 

Balearic politicians have decided to target bar crawls, happy hours, ‘balconing’ and party boats in 3 specific geographical areas, namely Magaluf and Arenal in Mallorca and the West End of San Antonio in Ibiza.

It’s no secret that these areas have a reputation for cheap alcohol coupled with a clientele of mainly young British tourists on a limited holiday budget. 

While some will see this as negative press others will see it as an overdue crackdown and many resorts around the world will be watching closely to see whether these new laws could be useful in their own tourist hot spots. 

The frustrating thing from a local perspective is that while the selling of cheap alcohol is undoubtedly an issue there are other problems in these areas such as pickpockets, prostitutes and illegal street selling that seem to be continually overlooked.

Ironically when questioned local politicians say that they are inhibited by existing laws. Double standards? When you live and work in these areas and your teenage kids roam the same summer streets as tourists then you want zero tolerance on the most important issues and excessive alcohol sales isn’t top of the list.

Here in San Antonio bar crawls haven’t been around for years but unscrupulous bar owners offer ridiculously cheap drinks deals to passing youngsters that can only result in one outcome so any new laws against this are welcome in my opinion.

Party boats aren’t a massive issue as most are well controlled after previous unsavoury incidents required them to get their house in order whilst anything that deters youngsters from jumping from one balcony to another can only be a good thing. 

But what will it really mean after the furore has died down? The reality is that laws are only effective if they are implemented with vigour, fairness and stealth and this is where we have previously come unstuck in the Balearics and it’s worth noting that San Antonio already has a shortage of local police officers. 

Ultimately it is local business owners who need to self police to ensure that not only do they protect the reputation of the resort but also the welfare of youngsters, many who are on their first ever holiday abroad.

Getting the balance right is the biggest challenge and anything that focuses on protecting young tourists whilst also trying to change the perception of much maligned resorts should be applauded however the jury is still out as to whether this is a serious initiative or just political rhetoric that will soon be forgotten about.

Written exclusively for the TTG – Read article here

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.

Amnesia Last Minute Schedule Change

The standoff between Amnesia & San Antonio Council has taken another turn with the announcement that the SuperClub has changed its hours for its widely anticipated opening party. 

A statement from the club explains that it has decided to open from 4pm on 28 May and continue until 6am because it has been denied a morning licence and “despite the continuous obstacles and disadvantages….we will fight so that the magic continues in Ibiza and make sure the music never stops” encouraging people to use the hashtag #youwillneverdancealone 

This is part of an ongoing row which has seen the club continually flout the law by closing late and then paying the ensuing fines. Amnesia has had 31 sanctions over the last 2 years paying fines totalling 102,000 euros leading to San Antonio Town Hall’s decision to refuse the extended hours application for its owning party. 

Opening at 4pm is a surprising turn of events but Amnesia was left with no other option under current legislation if it wanted to extend its hours. Mirroring Space’s opening hours model is a risky strategy especially as other opening parties are on the same day however Amnesia has consistently delivered the goods and is rated by many as the best SuperClub opening on the White Isle.

San Antonio: The Great Closing Time Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one said it was going to be easy. 

British Bobbies on the Ibiza Beat

From 17 August 2015 – for 1 week only – Officers Sergeant Brett Williams and PC Martina Anderson of West Midlands Police are about to become ‘famous’ on the streets of San Antonio as they patrol in 2 shifts, from 7am until 10pm, and assist local law enforcers in investigations where British holidaymakers are offenders or victims. The officers will wear full British uniform in what is being described as a ‘trial operation’.

The 2 British ‘Bobbies’ (who will have already done a week in Magaluf, Mallorca) will be accompanied by 2 specially designated Guardia Civil officers and will be housed in 4 separate hotels donated by the San Antonio hotel association.
It’s an interesting and brave initiative that has been funded and planned with help from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office that will see British and Spanish law enforcers join together for the first time in Ibiza’s 2nd largest town that has a far from untarnished reputation.

The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, said: “The presence of UK police officers will help to remind British holidaymakers of the importance of respecting local laws and customs, ensuring that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday, free from trouble and crime.”

Andy Marshall for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Their presence will offer reassurance to both locals and UK citizens in areas that significantly increase in population during the busy summer holiday season and provide support to victims of crime during what can be a traumatic experience, especially when away from home.”

What will be interesting is the inevitable difference in approach from the Spanish and British officers on the streets to problems that can sometimes be controlled through clearer communication yet are often exacerbated by language and cultural barriers. It is hoped that the Spanish police might learn some techniques in quickly solving confrontations that just involve over zealous holiday makers.

In 2013 I accompanied a group of influential local San Antonio businessmen to Newcastle for an invited weekend and they were amazed how the local police force were high profile on the streets yet easily communicated with the party crowd often diffusing situations quickly and positively in the town centre adding to the atmosphere rather than taking away. Seeing that there are parts of San Antonio that have little or no police presence at crucial times of the day any help in this direction can only be positive.

San Antonio councillor Aida Alcaraz commented “This is a pilot project, we hope the ‘Bobbies’ take away a clear picture of the situation and return next year at the start of the season”.

Some parts of the British press have been critical calling it a ‘farce’ and a ‘paid holiday’ however only time will tell whether this is just a political PR exercise or a project that can grow and evolve into helping Ibiza and specifically San Antonio during the busy summer months.

Watch this space!

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.

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.