One thing I love about Ibiza are her people. To truly understand the Island, I feel, one has to first connect with its people. I always try to promote local business, as its allows a person to interact with a community and understand its culture and values. Coming from a small Island myself, with a similar culture to the local Ibicenco one, I can relate to many of the values that small communities, where everybody knows each other, can have. Today, we start a series of stories about local business men and women on the Island of Ibiza, people who have built up their family business from scratch, serving the tourist trade for most of their lives. The first business we feature is Moto Luis., a car rental company I always use when I visit Ibiza. Lovely people and its always great to meet them at the airport where they have a smile, warm welcome and a car (with a fulll tank of gas) waiting for me. There is a lot to be said about a personal service, built on trust and respect. Dont forget, Moto Luis, has kindly offered a discount of 10% to all readers of the blog when renting a car or bike in Ibiza. Just mention the Dannykay Blog when booking to receive the exclusive discount.

Mariano Roig Ribas – Moto Luis.

Mariano Roig Ribas

As a young child, Mariano,was born into a traditional, Ibicenco family lifestyle. The year was 1946 and Ibiza did not have much to offer in the way of employment. Its main economic revenues were coming from the salt and wood trade, along with subsistence farming. Families lived a simple life and working on the land was hard work. Marianos parents were farmers, as were most of the population on the Island. Fishing and farming were the two main staples of traditional, Ibicenco life. Mariano was a bright child and ambition for a better life for him and his family, coursed through his veins from an early age. In 1956, at the age of ten, Mariano left his home, to walk the journey into Ibiza town, where he started his first job, with a small bike rental company, called Casa Valentin. There he serviced and fixed bikes, earning the princely sum of 10 pesetas a week. Two years later, he made the move to San Antonio, where his hard working ethos was noticed by Antonio Romero, of Moto Antonio, who employed the young Mariano at his hire company. That business was then sold and became Moto Reco.

Mariano on the Left at Moto Antonio.

It was at Moto Reco, that Mariano first saw the profits that could be made by renting Vespa bikes to tourists. Each day, he would stand under a tree at Hotel Cala Gracio and Hotel Tagamago, waiting for tourists to rent the bikes from him, as an agent of Moto Reco. There was no offices back then and rentals would go to the customer looking for sales, signing and completing the contracts on the seat of the bike. In 1960, San Antonio had only nine hotels and just a few Bed and Breakfasts; Hotel Cala Gracio, Hotel Ses Sabines, Hotel Bahía, Hotel Tagomago, Hotel Playa, Hotel Tropica, Hostal Maricel, Hotel Portmany, Hotel Sant Antoni, Pensión Esmeralda, Pensión Tarba, Pensión March, Pensión Mallorca and Pensión Norte. Mariano soon became the go to guy in San Antonio, when a tourist needed to rent a bike for transport around the Island. As he neared the adult age of 18, business was good and the company was growing, along with Mariano’s ambition to start out on his own. He needed capital and formed a partnership with Luis Lopez, which was to prove instrumental in the birth of the Moto Luis we know today.

The Douglas DC3 The First Tourist Plane into Ibiza

The partnership of Mariano and Luis, proved a formidable combination. Luis provided the premises, secretarial and office backup and Mariano, went out and did the ground work, concentrating on sales and attracting business to the fledging company. The partners worked long hours to establish Moto Luis and by 1963, Moto Luis, was in the enviable position of being able to purchase their first motor cars, two Seat 600’s (pictured above with Mariano). By 1964, the fleet had grown to seven and life was looking good for Moto Luis. International flights and tourists from France and Spain, aboard DC3 and DC4 air planes, began arriving from Palma, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. It heralded the beginning of the Islands first tourist boom. Ibiza airport was little more than a dusty landing strip, with just a beach style chiringito as its terminal building, only a handrail separated the runway from the tables and chairs of the chiringito. Mariano would wait there for the planes to land, ready to sell his cars and bikes to the disembarking tourists. Like the tourist trade, business was booming for Moto Luis. Then, Mariano was called to serve compulsory Military service, spending four months in exile from his beloved Ibiza and Moto Luis. In his absence, the company had to close, as there was nobody capable of filling his shoes on the ground.

When Mariano returned from Military service, he once again rolled up his sleeves, determined more that ever, to make Moto Luis a success. His partner Luis Lopez, was much older than Mariano and both men had a close relationship. Luis viewed Mariano as a son and respected him for the hard work he contributed to the establishment of the company. Each year from 1964, Moto Luis bought new cars, always reinvesting their profits back into the company. They soon began to hire staff, as the Tour Operators began to arrive on the Island, paying big deposits to local Hoteliers, so that they could build more hotels to cater for the rise in popularity, of Ibiza as a tourist destination. This ensured that the Hotel rooms were always guaranteed for the Tour Operators, until they could be paid back over time. San Antonio, was soon a skyline full of cranes and new buildings, as the Island embraced the tourist industry with open arms. After the death of his old partner Luis Lopez, Mariano took over control of the company. He honoured a promise to his old friend and partner, that the company would never change its name, as long as Mariano or his family had control of it.

Marta far left Marga far right.

Today, Moto Luis stands proudly in San Antonio, as a testament to the hard work and vision of both men. From humble beginnings, Mariano built a company through hard work and graft. Moto Luis now has a fleet of over 500 cars, employs 39 people, and has earned its respect, as the Islands best, Car Hire company. On February 11th, 2011, after 44 years dedicated to Moto Luis, Mariano retired, handing over the company to his two beautiful daughters, Marta and Marga. They now proudly continue the family business, operating from the same offices that Mariano and Luis opened over five decades ago. Like Mariano, they still wait at the airport to greet clients with their cars, honouring an age old tradition. Mariano, remains a big part of the company and he can still be seen, coming and going from the offices each day, keeping an eye on his two girls. Their enthusiasm and love for their work, reflects an ethos that their father gifted them. For me, Moto Luis, is more than just an ordainery car rental company, its a lovely slice of typical Ibiza culture. Its something that sets them apart from all the other cold, soulless, multi national companies, who use their power to try and beat them. For me personally, Moto Luis is a child of Ibiza, and it is to Ibiza, I wish to give my support and friendship and not some franchise or greedy