San Antonio’s West End: “The Situation is Unsustainable”

pic: Daniel Espinosa
Pep Colomar, the President of San Antonio’s West End Association has spent half his life working in one the town’s and Ibiza’s most famous and busiest streets, firstly helping with the family business then taking the reins of the popular Bar Colon.

Now 37 years old, he has witnessed the evolution of San Antonio and remembers a different West End: “For years Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians came … it was very different from now.” Colomar is convinced that the return to that type tourism is possible, “it only takes the will of the people and the town hall to enforce the law”.

Here in an interview with Ibiza daily paper El Periodico he gives his views on the summer season so far.

Q: As we come into the peak season, from your experience, how do you think it’s going?

A: The Season is more or less like last year. This year started earlier and we had a pretty good May and June like last year but unfortunately we still have the same problems as every year: PR’s, illegal street sellers, prostitution, crime and theft.

Q: Last year the change of government occurred during the season but I understand that there are things that haven’t changed?

A: This winter, like every year, we talked with the Town Hall to plan the season. The Illegal PR situation had become a problem, each bar and club were allowed to have a specific number of legal PR’s in certain areas but unfortunately the old rules weren’t followed and the news rules have just aggravated the problem.

Q: How come?

A: The old rules weren’t followed and the numbers were exceeded. The Town Hall said it was difficult to distinguish legal PR’s from illegal PR’s (even though the legal ones wore reflective vests) and said it was difficult to enforce the law. On this basis the Town Hall decided to completely ban ‘dynamic publicity’.  We agreed as long as it was enforced. Now can see that it isn’t being enforced and the unfair competition is brutal. Those who fail to comply with the law have grown and become strong and it has been a huge disadvantage for those who do not have people outside their bars trying to attract customers inside.  Many are falling into despair and desperation because no correct measures are taken or being enforced.

Q: What does the Town Hall say?

A: We have talked with them 3 times since May and their consistent answer is that they are acting to enforce the law but they aren’t doing enough. This failure is causing us many difficulties and problems within the West End Association. There are people who are already saying that they can’t follow the law because their neighbours are ignoring it and they are suffering, it’s a very serious problem. They feel helpless because their neighbours have PR’s, loud music, open doors yet are calm because nothing happens, no police and no formal complaints.

Q: The problem lies in the failure to enforce the law?

A: Yes. If you have a law then you must enforce it. The laws have been passed but it is very difficult to monitor compliance if there are no police officers. We need more police in all areas and is absurd to not have enough. If there are no police on the street it is useless to have a law that penalises bars, the Town Hall should prioritise and tackle the most serious problems first. We have asked that if they can’t enforce the law then at least they should allow dynamic publicity again. Last year we hired private security guards but were told they weren’t allowed to do the work of the police so we asked the Town Hall, as an emergency measure, to let them accompany police officers but they said no.

Q: Is it increasingly urgent to change the San Antonio tourism model?

A: Yes, it’s urgent. The process needs to start so we can fix the things that are wrong. That’s not to say I just want nice families to come to San Antonio and nothing else because you can’t change overnight. If there are still these problems of public order, drugs, prostitution, crime then the model cannot change. First you have to fix all that and then the model will change automatically. It’s absurd to go to a trade fair to sell a San Antonio that does not exist. We must fix the problems first and them the model will change.

Q: How do you make the change?

A: The model change should be encouraged by both sides. The Town Hall enforcing the rules and entrepreneurs working differently, offering a higher quality product. The problem is that if the Town Hall doesn’t do enough then there are many bar owners who out of greed or whatever will continue to work illegally because it’s easier and more profitable but this shouldnt be the case. We are complementary offer. For us, if there is a change in the tourism model them it should be relatively simple to adapt to our business. This year there are 4 bars fully reformed in Calle Santa Agnès. But again, the priority is to end the unfair competition. It all starts with the rules. If you make laws then don’t enforce them you create 2 problems.

Q: So the ball is back in the Town Hall’s court?

A: Aida Alcaraz (Councillor for the Interior) tells us that they are making policing arrangements, but the reality is that the same problems are still here. It’s not enough and the situation has got worse. There is good dialogue with the Town Hall but this in itself is not enough, specific actions are required. I understand that we demand a lot but this is because they do little. Always they argue that their hands are tied by the law but as entrepreneurs we must demand certain things as we pay taxes and they have created rules that have not been met and have in fact had a perverse effect. If you create rules and can’t enforce them then that is making the situation worse as well as committing an injustice. They must be realistic about the strength of the local police, they say there are more agents than ever in San Antonio but the reality is that there are clearly insufficient. In addition agents do jobs that aren’t theirs, they are overwhelmed.

Q: Despite all these obstacles, it is possible to change San Antonio?

A: I think so. Everyone in San Antonio wants better and if everyone pushes in the same direction then the model change is possible. We agree with the rules but when you do not know how to enforce the remedy then it becomes worse than the disease. We understand that the police are overwhelmed but employers also also overwhelmed with a sense of desperation that the rules are not being enforced and some people do exactly what they want. They say complaints for non-compliance will be processed faster but nothing has changed. The situation has reached a point that is unsustainable and changing the tourism model is urgent.

Source: El Periodico

Original interview: in Spanish

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. 

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.

El West 1: Go West por Martin Makepeace

 

El municipio de Sant Antoni de Portmany tiene 129 km², una población superior a los 20.000 habitantes y se extiende desde las playas de Cala Gracio y Cala Salada hasta la preciosa campiña de San Mateu y Santa Inés; un área que solo ocupa el 0,0001% y tiene 150 metros de largo y apenas 3 calles de ancho, pero que predomina en la percepción y opinión que tiene del pueblo todo el mundo. Son solo 2 palabras y 7 letras que dividen la opinión, generan un intenso debate y representan de dónde viene San Antonio e indican hacia dónde va.

*
El paso adelante del famoso “WEST END” de San Antonio

Nos guste o no, el West End está aquí para quedarse, de modo que ¿por qué esta pequeña área emborrona la opinión de tanta gente sobre el pueblo en general? Si hablas de San Antonio, mucha gente hará gestos de desaprobación (especialmente los que nunca han estado allí), y el principal foco de sus prejuicios es el West End, una fuerza polarizadora en un pueblo al que todo el mundo le encanta odiar.

El West End de 2015 tiene su propio ecosistema y microeconomía, y es un indicador de si el pueblo ‘va bien’. Antes había restaurantes buenos, pero ahora hay principalmente bares y establecimientos de comida rápida, un subidón de azúcar para los yonquis de la adrenalina y las bebidas energéticas que pasan noches enteras de fiesta por relativamente poco dinero; si tu presupuesto es ajustado, este es el lugar para ti, de ahí que San Antonio sea el primer destino de vacaciones en el extranjero para muchos jóvenes. ‘Entrada gratuita’, rezan los carteles de los bares y pubs, que además anuncian ofertas de bebida barata, como ‘3 cervezas y 3 chupitos por 10 €’. El problema es que si adaptas tu negocio para captar este tipo de mercado, es difícil que puedas reinventarte más tarde. Este mercado centrado en el precio hace que en los momentos duros algunos bares reduzcan el precio o den la bebida gratis. Algunos lo llamarán efecto reclamo; otros, suicidio comercial.

Prepara un cóctel con vendedores ambulantes, mujeres de dudosa reputación, el típico mangante y ‘bodegas’ 24 horas que venden alcohol aún más barato; todo ello conforma una mezcla muy interesante con la que nunca te aburrirás. Normalmente es bastante seguro y un lugar excelente para ir a observar. Mantente alerta y disfruta, pero si eres poco aventurero y no te va mucho salirte de lo habitual puede ser un sitio peligroso también, pero se podría decir lo mismo de cualquier lugar del mundo occidental si estás demasiado borracho para hablar y ni siquiera recuerdas tu nombre. 

He pasado muchas noches en el West End cuando era joven, así que jugó un papel muy importante en mi educación ibicenca; por eso, siempre lo defiendo y me enfado cuando los periodistas estivales cargan las tintas contra él. Sin embargo, también debemos reconocer que la mayoría de lugares en Ibiza han avanzado y mejorado, mientras que el West parece estar anclado, pues cada año abren más bares que ofrecen bebidas más baratas para cada vez menos gente, debido a la creciente competencia de Ushuaia, Ocean Beach, Hard Rock, Sankeys y Space, por mencionar algunos. 

Para callar a los críticos, normalmente basta con un simple ‘pues no vayas’; no obstante, es una parte integral del turismo de San Antonio, pero ¿cuánto tiempo puede sobrevivir con su formato actual? Pep Cires, el nuevo alcalde, ha prometido cambiar el ‘modelo de turismo’ de San Antonio, y la verdad es que no hay que adivinar en qué estaba pensando cuando dijo eso. Reinvención es una palabra muy gastada, pero procede en este caso. ¿Cómo es posible que la misma gente que bebe champán en el Ocean Beach y presume de fotos en Facebook luego pasee por el West End buscando las ofertas más baratas? Una vez más, todo se reduce al ambientecreado.

Algunos propietarios y encargados tratan de cambiar las cosas, pero otros parecen estar atrapados en un túnel del tiempo con muy poca inversión y el ansia de llenar sus bares solo para fastidiar a su competencia, sin importar el coste. El West End no es distinto de ningún otro mercado, y la selección natural garantiza que los mejores bares siempre estén llenos y aquellos que no ofrezcan nada distinto se marchiten y mueran hasta que los vuelva a abrir otro ilusionado arrendatario con un alquiler muy caro. 

La mayoría de las ciudades tienen su propia versión(el Bigg Market de Newcastle o el Temple Bar de Dublín), pero estos sitios están bien vigilados y los clientes disfrutan mucho. Sería estupendo que pudiéramos crear este tipo de entorno en San Antonio, pero la escasa presencia policial le da otro ambiente al lugar. En 2015 se ha contratado una empresa de seguridad privada para aumentar la visibilidad, algo que solo puede ser positivo, pero parece una solución a corto plazo muy cara para un problema a largo plazo. 

Nos guste o no, el West End es San Antonio y San Antonio es el West End, así que todos debemos tomar partido por el bien de nuestro municipio. En mi opinión, el ingrediente clave es priorizar la calidad sobre la cantidad, y contar con una gran variedad de productos para atraer a un público más amplio. Todo producto debe evolucionar, aprender de sus errores y mejorar en su ámbito. San Antonio cuenta con la mejor oferta de actividades nocturnas en la isla, pero también necesita quererse un poco más y enorgullecerse de lo que ofrece. Como ya hemos visto con el auge de las discotecas de playa y la cultura VIP, el dinero ya no es el factor determinante; en la isla blanca, todo gira en torno a la oferta. 

Por supuesto, para mí es muy fácil decirlo y este blog plantea más preguntas que respuestas, pero si nunca nos ponemos en marcha nunca llegaremos. Ya no basta con un lavado de cara rápido. Como ya se ha demostrado con otros locales y resorts: invierte, construye y vendrán.

West End: Does it have a future? – Guest Blog by Juan Pantaleoni

  WEST END WEEK – DAY 5 

Juan Pantaleoni Rosello is an ex-politician and West End entrepreneur who’s larger than life personality and outspoken views have had a polarizing effect over the last 12 years. Opponents make him out as a pit-bull but he possesses a razor sharp mind that has allowed him to stay ahead of the game – his Soul City bar continues to be a success story. Here, in my final installment on San Antonio’s West End he exclusively shares his views for the future. 

Juan: I was born in San Antonio, I have businesses in the West End and I was also involved in politics at San Antonio Town Hall for 8 years (2004-2011) so my views are clearly influenced by these 3 factors but I will try and explain in the few words available about our future.

The West End has existed for many years and to change its dynamics will also take time and time is what we need. For many years there’s been talk of the ‘problems’ of the area and the big mistake that’s been committed time and time again is to believe that these problems can be solved from one year to the next. In my opinion, this is the wrong view and we won’t be able to push forward until we all sit down and design a detailed plan with a realistic time frame adapted to the reality, complexity and scale of what we decide should be improved.

I’ve been asked to give my views on the future of the area but it’s also important to know how the West End has developed and become what it is today and to understand a little more of its history and how this negative image has formed so I read with interest the blogs of Martin, Peter, Nathan and Colin over the last few days.

It’s hard to get rid of the prejudices that have been reinforced over many years thanks to the dedicated work of several journalists and some residents who, having rarely been to the area, have dedicated themselves to drag the West End and San Antonio’s image through the mud each year. There are genuine complaints from some people with goodwill but there are also others who blame everything on the West End when really they should focus on an inability to manage their own business, it’s also evident that for certain parts of the press San Antonio is an easy target and it’s productive for them to always focus on the negatives. Such is life but unfortunately this approach contributes to generate the largely negative views that makes it so difficult to find consensual solutions that are fair and beneficial to all.

Above all, the first thing I must do is to recognize that the West End needs to change and that this change will only be possible and genuine if itinvolves all sectors, and by that I mean public institutions, private business and the local population in general. 

The West End has a big future and should remain an important part our town and tourist industry. It already is an area of huge attraction as you can witness every day and night of the summer by the visitors in their thousands. The first problem that we need to work on is the negative perception of an area that also has many residents making it tough to reach a broad consensus on how to face the future but I am convinced that this future exists and is very promising. Why? Because the West End offers a unique product designed towards the enjoyment of young people that simply cannot be found anywhere else on the island, a product especially adapted towards and especially designed to take advantage of the predominant type of accommodation and the complementary services that San Antonio and the Bay has to offer.

One thing is clear: If you think that we can survive on ‘luxury’ tourism alone then you are very wrong!

The starting point to is to address and isolate the basic problems affecting the area: An oversupply of bars which generates a price war, closing times of the bodegas (small supermarkets selling alcohol), the need to totally eliminate illegal street/ticket sellers/PR’s, increased security, greater cleanliness and a general aesthetic improvement of the area and its establishments. Is this possible? Undoubtedly YES, employers in the West End have shown that sustainable investment can improve safety and the health care of visitors. The remaining problems have solutions that are easier and cheaper but it is the institutions that must lead and provide the necessary resources. I know that West End employers are heavily involved in implementing these and other improvements so now is the time for the institutions to overcome prejudices, understand the real truth about our town and get to work to improve an area that anybody with any intelligence can see, is a massive opportunity for San Antonio. Enough of the defeatism and whining, if we all work positively together then it will benefit all of us!

The West End business community is the first to be interested in improving the area and will join forces with those who propose realistic solutions but equally we oppose and are totally against those who transmit an image of decay and decline, either through ignorance or by misconduct, which is in no way representative of the reality of the situation.

I encourage everyone to spread the word about all the good things that the West End has to offer as our future also depends on winning the communication battle and we will only achieve this by working together in a positive manner and not giving in and accepting some of the shameful media campaigns that come our way every summer.

I am proud of the West End, are you?

Panta relaxing

West End, tiene futuro? – Blog invitado por Juan Pantaleoni 

  
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

Yo estoy orgulloso del West. Y vosotros? 

Panta descansado

West End: The End? – Guest Blog by Colin Butts

  West End Week – Day 4

Colin Butts first came to Ibiza as a holiday rep in the 80s and used that experience to pen the best selling novel ‘Is Harry on the Boat’ which was later turned into a feature film and TV series. An island resident for many years, he’s a familiar face on the San Antonio circuit dividing his time between writing, finalizing his new feature film and Plastik Bar which he co-owns. Here, exclusively for my blog, he writes on the future direction of the West End. 

Colin: Everything comes to an end: Manchester United’s dominance; Breaking Bad; John Bishop being funny (actually, no, the latter never even started).

In the last few years, many have been saying the end is nigh for the West End of San Antonio. Is there any truth in this? Is the grim reaper of tourism lurking in the shadows or is it merely Peter Hankinson stumbling home after a few beers and a bit of gardening with a scythe in his hand?

Hankinson wonderfully described the evolution of the West End in his guest blog, the days when a local could convert his garage into a bar, simply open the doors and watch in slack-jawed euphoria as tour-guided Northern Europeans handed over the money they’d been saving all year so said local would never have to look at an almond tree again.

Ibiza has become so VIP orientated in recent years (are there now more concierge operators here than tourists?), that it is perceived as being too expensive for the traditional, young, San An visitor. They’ve de-camped to places like Sunny Beach and Kavos, both of which had recent TV series showing how cheap it was to get pissed and how easy it was to get laid: Teenagers deserted Ibiza and booked flights before you could say, “two pints of very cheap lager and a packet of condoms.”

The primary problem for the businesses in the West End and many other parts of San Antonio is that whilst the traditional tourist has gone, they are not being replaced by anyone else, due to the notorious reputation it has acquired over the years.

San Antonio used to be cool. Hankinson described how A list celebs were regular visitors in the 70s. When I worked here in 87 & 88, Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway et al didn’t head straight for Amnesia to kick-start the rave revolution. They began their journey in Nito’s/Nightlife (now VK bar), drank and “dropped” in the Charleston (now Trop’s store room) and the Madhouse (now The Boozer). They even opened their own bar, the basement Project Bar, which is now Nirvana Tattoo shop (which should have a dance music equivalent of a blue plaque – worth popping downstairs for a look).

Club 18-30 culture was at its peak in the 80s BUT (and here’s the key) IT WAS CONTROLLED by the reps as opposed to the feral anarchy of recent years, plus it was more than offset by the pony-tailed, dungaree-wearing, super-cool ravers swarming to San Antonio.

This in many ways points to the reason why the superclub and beach club owners who are currently gloating over their full VIP areas and not caring about the possible demise of San Antonio do so at their short-sighted peril. Many of the 30-60 year-olds now paying thousands for a table or bed are the same San An “oiks” who were here in the 80s, 90s and noughties.

Cut off the funnel of youth that feeds the island and see what happens. The globalization of Ibiza is contributing massively to its success for the time being but for how long? If your first experience of Ibiza is to have your trousers taken down and be royally shafted without any charm or appreciation, would you be rushing back? Would you be recommending Ibiza to your friends? Would the island enter your psyche in the way it would if you came on a journey of self-discovery as a youngster?

So what’s the answer? Accommodation certainly needs to improve and a lot of businesses need to up their game. Surely though, the answer lies in its history. San Antonio has always been a resort for young people – it just needs to go back to being a resort for COOL young people. They are here – look at Ocean Beach.

Andy McKay, owner of Ibiza Rocks recently said, “Why do the same kids staying in our hotel go to Pacha and behave in one way but then come to the West End next night and behave disgracefully?”

It’s all about creating the right environment. More effective policing or perhaps even private security manning the main entry points to the West End would help, so people know that certain behaviour won’t be tolerated. Bar owners need to play their part by selling alcohol to lubricate a night rather than drown it. 

So, is it the end of the West End? At the moment, those original local owners are moving into their 70s and passing their bars to the next generation who don’t want out-of-date bars so there are three choices: Rent it to a gullible guirri who will last a couple of years before blowing their savings on their dream; upgrade it, a risky investment in the current climate; or change use. Over the next few years I have a feeling we are going to be seeing ever more venues doing the latter.

San Antonio can become cool again and the key to that is youth. Young, cool people don’t want to party in the dance music equivalent of Disneyland with 45 year-old, daddy dancing bankers. It would be a fatal mistake for San Antonio to try and emulate Bossa, not just for San Antonio but for the whole island.

Change HAS TO come from young people. Would an old local have come up with such a successful and original idea as Skinny Kitchen? Of course not. Young people bring the ideas then older, wealthier businessmen copy them, adapt them and turn them into trends.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) the old West End model won’t work because those holidaymakers are only ever going to diminish in number. It’s a fact and one that those who enjoyed the halcyon days find extremely hard to accept. Some serious PR needs to be done to change the perception of San An and the West End and that PR has to also happen in countries other than the UK. Perception is everything for San Antonio. It can still be fun. It can still be cheap. It can still be youth orientated. It just needs to be cool.

Manchester United haven’t come to an end, they’re simply re-organising. Breaking Bad may come back but has shifted emphasis for the time being and returned with Better Call Saul. San An needs to do the same, change emphasis, re-organise.

One thing is certain though. John Bishop will NEVER be funny.