A group of prominent San Antonio & Cala de Bou residents and business people have launched a new association to try and give the local British and Irish community a voice over the coming years.
I am honoured to be the inaugural President serving alongside Nathan Seal as Secretary, Julian Cobby as Treasurer with Duane Lineker and Peter Duncan completing the executive committee.
With a significant shift in political power on the island we all believe that now is the time to get organized and be part of the solution for the future of our town and to create a channel of communication from street level to the offices of power.
We have purposely included residents and businesses to try and cover as many demographics as possible and although we have called it the British and Irish Association we will also be reaching out to other English speaking residents if they want to become involved and if we can help in any way possible. We also hope that this is a blue print for other local communities on the island to form their own associations over the coming years.
Forming an association is the easy part but more importantly you must have the passion to stand up for what you believe in. A collective speaks for its members and can have more of a voice than a single person when confronting situations that need addressing.
The association will be having its first fundraising event this Friday at the workers party at Fantasyland (home of the Zoo Project) and over the coming weeks and months we welcome all those who want to be involved in this exciting new era to get in touch so together we can grow organically and go forward with a clear objective and a firm voice.
After many years without a clear voice the British and Irish community of San Antonio and Cala de Bou has come together to form an association to represent the interests of the residents and businesses of this area.
“Asociación de Residentes y Empresarios Británicos en San Antonio y su Bahía (AREBRI)”
The association has been put together by local British and Irish people with a passion for San Antonio & Cala de Bou who want a voice and who want to help in any way possible especially by bringing certain things to the attention of the Town Halls and Consell that directly affect the way we live and work on the island.
The British and Irish community, through this association, is committed to San Antonio and Cala de Bou and wishes to make a significant contribution to it’s future.
Evolution is an amazing thing. They came to the White Isle in the 60’s, mostly by mistake – some stayed and some left and it’s been happening every year ever since. Here is a light-hearted look at the San Antonio Worker over the ages and their place in modern day Ibiza.
HIPPIES – 40 years plus on the island. Came to Ibiza to discover themselves and never left. Still wear lots of denim and speak like Keith Richards, smoke spliffs and/or ducados (local cigs). Most likely to say: Brigitte Bardot; now there was a woman! Least likely to say: That new road is a great addition to the islands transport infrastructure
DINOSAURS – 30 years plus on the island. Love to talk about the late 70 and 80’s with a nostalgic tear in their eye, name-dropping the Gibb brothers, Ku and Club Tropicana into every conversation, lamenting the “good old days”. Tony Pike is their hero. Most likely to say: Forcing the clubs to cover their terraces was the beginning of the end Least likely to say: Ibiza is so much better now than it used to be
VETERANS – 20 years plus. Usually ex-reps and bar managers. The 90s is their favourite topic and they discuss the Rave/BritPop era as if it was their own. Not quite as bitter as the Dinosaurs but on the verge of becoming one (although they would never admit it). Most likely to say: Manumission, Carry On at Space and then Bora Bora…the party never used to end… Least likely to say: The lack of air-con never bothered us back then…..
KNOW IT ALLS – 10 years plus. They encompass the noughties and still perceive themselves to be down with the kids. Too old to be part of the in-crowd, too young to be a veteran, they know everything that you did or didn’t want to know about the island and will lecture you at any given moment. Most likely to say: What time’s John Digweed playing? Least likely to say: Atlantis? I’m not sure I know how to get there by road
SERIOUS ONES – 5 years plus. They’ve seen it all and know it all but haven’t yet found their way out of San Antonio. They look at the Know it All’s with envy, the Veterans with disdain and sneer at the Dinosaurs. Most likely to say: Let’s meet out of town for tapas at Tapas. Least likely to say: Let’s meet out of town for tapas in San Carlos
WANNABES – 2 years plus. Busy trying to make a name for themselves and desperate to be taken seriously by the Serious Ones. Usually found behind a bar or on the door of a club telling all the Returning Workers what it was like ‘back in the day’. They can’t even bring themselves to talk to 1st Year Workers. Most likely to say: Marco Carola is God Least likely to say: David Guetta is God.
RETURNING WORKER – 1 year plus. King of the world because they made every mistake in the book and not only lived to tell the tale but came back for more. They take advantage of 1st Year Workers and drop C-list names into conversation even though they don’t know or have never met them. Steer clear. Most likely to say: I can take you to the airport for €20. Least likely to say: No I haven’t got a taxi licence, my car isn’t insured and I’m still buzzing from Sankey’s last night
1st YEAR WORKER – 1 month plus. Achingly trendy with no apparent desire to work but usually has a first class degree in blagging. Likes to act like a Returning Worker but doesn’t have the knowledge so looks stupid especially in front of the Wannabes. Most likely to say: …then we watched the sunrise down at Mambo. Least likely to say: A packet of disposable razors please shopkeeper.
1st YEAR WORKER – 1 week plus. A clueless individual who arrives with a dream that turns into a nightmare within 10 days. Will be ripped off by a Returning Worker then have wallet/iPhone/passport stolen whilst dropping first ever pill. Will call mummy in tears begging her to book a return flight asap. Most likely to say: I’m living the dream. Least likely to say: I’m having a nightmare.
1st YEAR WORKER – wannabe dealer. Lowest rung on the worker food chain. Talks big, promises lots but always lets everyone down. Mentions Peru with a knowing smirk, usually has scabby skin and a pocket full of 5 euro notes. Do not approach this person under any circumstances. Most likely to say: mandy…charlie…pills…ket? Least likely to say:…all of which I regularly take too much of
This coming Friday 17 July is the annual ‘SH1T Party’ that takes place at Fantasyland, home of the Zoo Project and will see well over 1000 summer transients party through the day and night. This infamous island party was started by the San Antonio workers so what exactly is a “worker”…….
The term ‘worker’ usually implies that you have a job and do some work however as you may already be aware normal rules don’t apply in Ibiza and definitely not in San Antonio. Back in the 90s there were only a handful of workers mainly in the West End PRing outside bars and selling the odd substance to get by. There were no season passes to clubs but there was the numbered ‘Space tag’ – allowing free entry into the worlds best club – the holy grail for all workers! Holiday reps ruled the roost as they controlled tourists and tourists meant bar crawls and bar crawls meant money. Bar owners fussed over Holiday Reps who in turn sneered at workers.
Ibiza in those days was (and still is) a mythical place: No internet, no mobile phones and no social media meant that the myth was based purely on word of mouth and first hand experience but by the end of 90s came the Internet revolution where tourists didn’t need holiday companies any more and the independent travelers came to the fore with Ibiza being one of the first destinations to see an influx of low cost carriers and cheap hotel beds costing a few hundred pesetas per night.
The Internet explosion soon sent the message far & wide and the message was that Ibiza was a party paradise that you could enjoy for 3 months, would cost you very little in real terms and you could get by on doing a few odd jobs such as selling tickets or dragging people into bars. You also had the added bonus of having the chance to blag yourself into the top clubs and private parties and rub shoulders with a few A-list stars (and a few Z-listers as well). You certainly couldn’t do that at Maestros in Bradford or the MGM in Nottingham. What was not to like for a good looking 20 something with 3 months off in the summer?
Fast forward and by the mid noughties there were 3000 (that’s THREE THOUSAND by the way) young people in San Antonio not doing much work but having a life-defining summer experience before settling down back home with a serious job.
The term ‘worker’ was coined because these youngsters always intended to work even if the intent dwindled after a few days or weeks and it still makes me smile when someone introduces themselves as a ‘worker’ followed by ‘do you have any work’ – Don’t be too judgmental you just need to remember that it’s a collective term rather than an adjective.
Numbers have dwindled a little over the last few years but there are still at least 1500 of them in San Antonio alone, you can usually identify them by their wristbands, tans (or lack of one) wearing of the latest fashions and taking themselves a bit too seriously. Asking for workers discount is obligatory as is the desire not to work too much but party to the max. They pack themselves into overpriced accommodation and live in tough conditions because every morning they wake up to the sunshine and the knowledge that there’s another amazing Ibiza party that day and/or night just waiting to be posted on Facebook.
In worker terms the San Antonio worker is top of the worker food chain especially those who actually get a decent job whether it be dancing, PRing or selling tickets for one of the bars. If you don’t believe me then go to Benidorm or Magaluf and look at the workers over there. Wow!
As much as the Ibiza snobs love to hate them for me the San An worker is a vital cog in the machine. They are their own micro economy with plenty of local business’s relying on them. They keep getting put down by exploitive employers yet the good ones bounce back and the weak ones return home to the comfort of their mums cooking. Lots of workers return to the island and knuckle down to a ‘proper’ summer job and those who don’t spread the Ibiza gospel far and wide via social media. As experiences go its right up their with the best time of your life, just ask Jamie Jones and Lily Allen.
Here’s a guest blog by Hannah Brooks, a ‘normal girl next door’ who has only recently discovered and fallen in love with the island. She explains why Ibiza is so important to her and why it compliments her not so secret profession.
Hi my name is Hannah and I’m an Ibiza addict.
Now I’ve got that off my chest I feel better already. I’m honoured to be doing this guest blog as I’m just the girl next door……..who gets her kit off for a living. My addiction with the White Isle started some 3 years ago just when I decided to give up my job as a Dental Nurse and jumped feet first into the world of Adult Entertainment as a ‘naughty webcammer’. In fact it all started that Xmas when myself and my husband were fed up with the 9 to 5 routine so decided to start to webcam which involved having sex and playing with an arsenal of toys for people who were willing to pay to watch. Yes that really is a job! A very fun job!
I soon realised that I needed to start doing photo shoots and this is when I discovered Ibiza. There weren’t any photographers outside of London who’s pictures I liked but a guy by the name of Chris Bevan kept catching my eye and he was based in Ibiza; San Antonio in fact. After a few emails and some very cheap flights it was booked. I will never forget my first photo shoot; I was picked up from my San An hotel in the late afternoon, Chris told me he had arranged to use an empty villa that used to belong to someone called the Bee Gees – apparently they were a group from back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the island (do you mean Peter Hankinson? MM) and Debbie does Dallas was the number one porn film! The villa was stunning but far from empty. There were a group of wealthy property developers and some “lap dancers” who had been flown out especially to entertain them. After a few glasses of champagne to calm my nerves the shoot went well. All very random but the first of many lasting memories during my visits to Ibiza.
My friends always ask me why I go to Ibiza when I don’t like clubbing or staying up late? I find myself turning into an ambassador for the Island explaining to them that there is much more on offer than just late nights and loud music. In fact last time we were over we did our first Vlog for my business but I’ve been told it’s more like a promotional video for the island. That’s what Ibiza does to you!
There are some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in. Even now when I return I’m still discovering new beaches with white sand and crystal clear waters. On my last visit I got chatting to an elderly British guy who lived on the island and had just lost his wife. After two hours of talking over copious amounts of coffee he asked us if we would join him for lunch in his favourite restaurant. I never turn down food so kindly accepted the offer and we jumped into my hire car and he directed me to what can only be described as a shack on the side of a busy road. Well it was one of the best meals I’ve had on island and it was only 12€ for 3 courses including a beer. He explained to me that these places are scattered al over the island and each one offers a menu of the day for a similar price – and they say Ibiza is expensive!
That leads me onto my number 1 reason why I feel so passionate about the White Isle and that is the amazing people who live and work there. Whether it be a local resident or a summer worker, if you take time to talk to them, you will never meet more fascinating and kind people all of whom seem to have such a positive outlook on life.
Ibiza really works for me and my business. It gives me the freedom to hire a suite in Ushuaia Beach Hotel for 500€ a night to film a naughty movie or to stay in my favourite family run hotel Hostal Adelino in San Antonio for 25€ per night which is the perfect place to base myself to go off and find secluded locations for more naughty fun. People rave about Playa d’en Bossa but it just doesn’t do it for me, IMO it doesn’t have any character unlike San Antonio which has it all for me. The infamous West End for those crazy nights out but also lots of sunset bars such as my favourite Itaca which is the perfect place to sit with a cool glass of gin and tonic after a busy day filming and just watch the world go by. I also love Tapas Restaurant which I highly recommend if you’re a food lover. They do the ultimate Sunday lunch and some of the best cocktails on the island.
I have a date in my diary which motivates me to work harder every day and that is February 2016 when I will be jumping in my car to start my epic adventure of living my dream in Ibiza. In the meantime I am accruing serious amounts of air miles with Ryanair!!
If you are 18 or over you can follow Hannah on Twitter at @HannahBrooks25 – but be careful – you’ve been warned 😊
Soy nacido en Sant Antoni, tengo negocios en el West y además he ejercido responsabilidades políticas durante ocho años en el Ayuntamiento, es evidente que mi punto de vista estará influenciado por estas tres circunstancias.
Intentar hablar en pocas líneas del West no permite desarrollar el tema en profundidad, el West existe hace muchos años y cambiar sus dinámicas también llevará tiempo, y tiempo es lo que nos hace falta. Ya desde hace muchos años se habla de los “problemas” de la zona y el gran error que se ha venido cometiendo una y otra vez ha sido el creer que estos problemas se pueden solucionar de un año para otro y esto es una visión equivocada y no avanzaremos en tanto no diseñemos un plan con un “timing” adaptado a la realidad, complejidad y dimensión de lo que decidamos debe ser mejorado.
Hablar de la historia del West no es objeto de este articulo pues lo que me ha pedido Shaggy es mi visión sobre el futuro de la zona, de todas formas no estaría de más apuntar que sin conocer la historia de como se ha ido desarrollando el West hasta llegar a ser lo que es, para entender un poco mas la historia y el cómo se ha ido formando esta imagen negativa es muy interesante leer lo que en este mismo blog nos cuentan Martin, Peter, Nathan y Colin.
Es difícil desprenderse de los prejuicios que hemos ido interiorizando durante muchos años gracias a la abnegada labor de varios periodistas y vecinos interesados, que habiendo pisado muy pocas veces la zona se han dedicado año tras año a arrastrar por el fango la imagen de la misma, hay quejas de gentes con buena voluntad, otras de otros que descargan en el West su incapacidad para gestionar sus propios negocios, también es una evidencia que para cierta prensa es muy fácil y productivo hablar de lo malo de los sitios aunque por desgracia este enfoque contribuya en gran medida a generar opiniones negativas que ahora son las imperantes y que dificultan mucho la búsqueda de soluciones consensuadas que sean justas y beneficiosas para todos.
Pero ante todo, lo primero que debo hacer y reconocer es que el West precisa un cambio de rumbo y que este cambio solo será posible y real si se consigue la implicación de todos los sectores involucrados y con esto me refiero a las instituciones públicas, sector empresarial y pueblo en general.
El West tiene futuro, el West es y debe continuar siendoparte importante nuestro pueblo e industria turística. Ya lo es, ya es una zona con un enorme atractivo para nuestros visitantes, no hay mas que ver las miles de personas que diariamente lo visitan. El primer problema en el que se debería trabajar es en el de la negativa percepción que de la zona tienen muchos vecinos cosa que dificulta mucho el llegar a consensos amplios sobre cómo afrontar el futuro, pero yo estoy convencido de que este futuro existe y es muy prometedor pues el West ofrece un producto de ocio nocturno orientado a los jóvenes que no se puede encontrar en ningún otro sitio de la isla, un producto adaptado al tipo de alojamiento y oferta complementaria predominante en Sant Antoni y su bahía, aprovechemos esto.
Si pensamos que Ibiza puede vivir solo del turismo de “lujo” estamos muy equivocados.
El punto de partida para encarar el problema sería la detección de los problemas básicos que afectan a la zona: Exceso de oferta que genera una guerra de precios y ofertas a la baja, horario de cierre de bodegas, necesidad de eliminación total de los RRPP ilegales, incremento de la seguridad, mayor limpieza y mejora estética de la zona sus establecimientos. ¿Es posible hacer esto? Indudablemente si, los empresarios de la zona West hemos demostrado que con inversiones completamente asumibles se puede mejorar la seguridad y la atención sanitaria de los visitantes. El resto de problemas planteados también tienen soluciones sencillas y baratas pero son las instituciones las que deben liderar y poner los medios necesarios. Me consta que los empresarios están muy implicados en implementar estas y otras mejoras, ahora es el momento de que las instituciones venzan prejuicios, conozcan la zona de verdad y se pongan manos a la obra para mejorar una zona que alguien inteligente veria como una oportunidad para Sant Antoni. Ya está bien de derrotismos y lloriqueos, trabajemos juntos en positivo y todo Sant Antoni saldrá beneficiado
Los empresarios somos los primeros interesados en la mejora de esta zona y estaremos al lado de todos aquellos que propongan soluciones pero de igual forma, estaremos en frente y en contra de aquellos que bien por desconocimiento, bien por mala intención se dedican a transmitir una imagen de decadencia que para nada se corresponde con la realidad del West.
Animo a todo el mundo a enseñar todo lo bueno que tenemos y que estamos ofreciendo, nuestro futuro también pasa por ganar la batalla de la comunicación y esto solo lo conseguiremos trabajando todos juntos en positivo y no escondiendo la cabeza ante campañas vergonzosas como las que cada verano algún medio de comunicación nos dedica
Nathan Seal came to the island as a club promotor but saw a gap in the market for a bar that reached out to San Antonio’s summer migrant population. His Viva Bar is a daily sanctuary and party HQ for hundreds of workers and his Viva Voyages are infamous summer ice breakers. Here, exclusively for my blog, he writes about the challenges of staying ahead in an already saturated market.
Nathan: Ibiza: the white isle, the Mecca for clubbers. Famous for its beautiful beaches, VIP areas full of the rich and famous, world class nightclubs (and day clubs for that matter) and unparalleled hedonistic reputation. But in amongst all this is nestled the holiday resort of San Antonio, and right at its heart is the area known as the West End. What part does it have to play in the new glitzy and modern Ibiza of the 21st Century?Its easy to criticise, and my word do people not hesitant to do that, but the West End offers what no other resort in Ibiza does, or even can. You can have your Playa d’en Bossa with its beach bars and drinking bars, but they don’t have a street entirely dedicated to offering up what amounts to FREE nightclubs. Every bar has a DJ, every bar has music to dance to. Some are bigger than others, but the jist is the same, come in, have fun, leave your worries and your pretentions at the door. The West End at its best is plain, simple FUN.
So why does the West End get such a bad reputation? I believe its more out of habit than anything, its easy to knock what you don’t know or what you once had a bad experience from but what is not really indicative of the actual day to day state of affairs. I’ve been an integral part of the West End for 11 years now and currently own (or part own) 3 bars here so I feel I have a good idea of what is going on and the image that is shoved down people’s throats is not that of reality. Yes we have problems, but where are there not? Which Utopian society do these people who criticise us hail from I’d like to know?
That said, a few analogies spring to mind. From the inside looking out I feel like a father would about their sickly, but favourite, child. I so desperately want it to get better, to get back to the good old days when business was booming and customers were not so hard to come by. We are constantly fighting amongst ourselves to do whatever we can to attract a lesser number of customers into an ever-increasing number of bars.
From the outside looking in, I feel people react to the West End like that crazy ex girlfriend that you broke up with, but can’t remember why; but that doesn’t matter because you just know you won’t go back there anymore… But maybe she’s changed, and I mean really changed, but you will never know as you only know you don’t want to try again
There has been investment in a number of bars, not least of all my own, and the strip does look better and the bars are better equipped than ever. Some even have VIP areas (but more for Hens and their bridesmaids than Henriettas and the social elite). But for all the good will that the bars have, and for all the good promotion that they do for their town, our town, it feels like we are hitting our heads against a brick wall when it comes to the simplest of things when dealing with the town hall and our laughably nonexistent policing.
Many of the bar owners baulk at the thought of further improving their establishments when faced with the fact that they are being hamstrung by the very government we are paying (and voting) to govern us. There seems to be total bewilderment amongst your average non West End working resident, or tourist, as to why there are quite so many Looky Looky’s, prostitutes, pick pockets, dealers and illegal un-contracted ticket sellers and PR’s. Why do WE allow this to go on? Why aren’t WE doing something about it. But this is what a police service is for, is it not? I have personally called them on a number of occasions to report one thing or another and they have come and dealt with it precisely 0% of the time. If the police have no interest in doing their jobs, then its no surprise that this month a number of the bars have gotten together to pay, on top of their already high taxes, for a private security firm to patrol the streets.
Is this the answer? No, I don’t think so. Just about every negative that you can think of could be taken care of with more policing or indeed ANY policing! The only time we saw them last year was to enforce the pointless new 5am (from 6am) opening hours as a way to further tax local businesses in the form of fines.
If we had a streets that were clean of all the unsavoury elements then we could get back to attracting the better clientele, get back to providing the best possible service but until that happens we will always struggle to shake of the negative image that has been forced upon us and therefore will always struggle to attract new customers to the resort at all. Lets push to get the basic’s right, starting with policing, and then we can make the West End a destination that we can all be proud of.
West End legends aren’t made overnight but after 30 years on San Antonio’s most famous street there’s nobody better than Sr Peter Hankinson to give us a unique insight into it’s history. He arrived on the island in 1971 in an old minibus and quickly carved out a niche as one of the faces of the west end. Over the years he has worked at or ran Hanoi, Capones, Nito’s, Extasis, Es Paradis, Star Club, Trops, Tropicana’s, Sgt Peppers and Krystal’s to name but a few.
Peter: Having read many people’s informed opinions of the West End in San Antonio, as an original founder member I would like to take the opportunity to speak a little of its history. I opened my first bar in the West End in 1971 and continued working at various establishments off and on until 2005 so I have a unique perspective of this area of business.
In the early 70’s San Antonio was the centre of all tourism in Ibiza and was made up of various nationalities, ages and people of all backgrounds who had discovered the laid back charm of the island and came from all over the island to enjoy its unique atmosphere.
In 1973 a group of 12 businesses decided to form a society to benefit the area. One of the reasons for this was that beach party sellers would bother and harass the clients at the bars and restaurants. At a meeting it was agreed to call the area the West End, after the West End in London due to its image (although some wanted to call it the East End!).
The businesses, among others, were Celler el Refugio (now Temptation) – regarded by many as the best restaurant on the island), Nitos (now VK Club), Chac Mool (now 80s/90s/00s), The Music Bar (now Joe Spoon’s), Kings Bar (now Stereo), Babalu, Hanoi Bar (now The Huddle), La Reja (now Kilties) and Cortijo Tristan (now Revolutions) among others, all of which have now changed their names and in some cases their usage. Each business had an illuminated sign and the society employed its own PRs to push the area and for a few weeks in the summer even ran its own beach parties, unlike today the bars generally worked together.
The atmosphere in the newly named West End was very cosmopolitan and most of the youngsters were Scandinavian, German, Dutch and British with a smattering of genuine A-list stars such as the Gibb brothers, Robert Plant and Lulu, wandering around amongst them. Most bars were busy, the average taking in my small Hanoi bar was about 30,000 pesetas (about 5000 euros in today’s money) on a good night. The main difference between then and now was the mentality of the clients with hard drugs (such as amphetamines and cocaine) being almost non-existent. The policing of the area was by the national police who came over from other areas of Spain for a couple of months, they were high profile but had a good attitude and were respected by the public and bar owners. If you called them, they came.
Due to the success of the area all the different shops and houses in the area gradually became bars so the West End expanded outwards even though when I built the original Capone’s in 1974 it was regarded as being ‘too far out’, how things change!
During the 70s and 80s the West End continued to do good business but the clientele gradually changed from an international crowd to a mainly British market with tour operators becoming very popular and bar crawls gaining so much importance that having the best bar didn’t really matter but having a good relationship with the tour operators was imperative. As the West End grew it started to gain notoriety in the British press towards the end of the 80s when societies problems were reflected on the streets although this image wasn’t representative of the place that I knew. The 90s saw a massive rise in the drug culture and with it the atmosphere began to change in ‘Europe’s premier youth resort’.
Times change and the West End of today is a completely different place and it is facing big challenges over the next few years against increasing competition on the island but my memories are mostly fond as I loved my time there and still love San Antonio. I wish everyone all the best for the future as this area has been good to me and continues to be very important to our town.
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.
As it comes to silly season for the UK press some mid 30s journalists sitting at their Apple Mac computers in their Primrose Hill townhouses have made an amazing discovery: Apparently there is a new destination that is going to give the white isle a serious run for its money this summer. This place is a small island in the med boasting glorious sunshine for most of the year and will amaze all who arrive there especially those with a sense of adventure. It’s not Mykonos or Croatia or Santorini or even Las Vegas but a gem that is definitely worth your consideration.Stay away from the usual tourist traps and the people are friendly with an easygoing and tolerant attitude and there’s lots of different things to do when you get there. There’s also a strong rumour that Jade Jagger and her west London friends holiday there and we all know how important that is to the hacks who don’t leave their living room whilst pontificating about holiday destinations they know very little or absolutely nothing about.
Initially it might appear expensive but scratch the surface and there is a whole different world that costs very little if you are willing to look a little harder and not follow the crowd. The nature is simply spectacular with beautiful countryside and crystal clear blue waters but before I tell you I want you to close your eyes and imagine a paradise where you can be yourself, relax, let off steam in amazing surroundings, eat delicious local food and wines and mix with respectful locals who won’t judge you (no, I said its not Mykonos!)
Get ready because the new Ibiza is……Ibiza. Beware of expensive imitations because there’s only one – it’s a unique island with something for everyone so don’t believe everything you read in the press.
Surprised? Well maybe you just didn’t look hard enough.
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