Its been a seismic week on the white isle, where a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck ibiza clubland. The quakes epicenter occurred in Palma, the administrative capital of the Balearic islands, after it ordered its trendy neighbor Ibiza, that in line with its consistent health priority directive since the start of the Covid 19 Crisis, that it was keeping the clubs closed this season on health and safety grounds. In one short sentence, billions were wiped off the local economy balance sheets and thousands of people were left unemployed. Before I go any further with this blog, please let me make it clear that I am advising my readers not to travel to Ibiza this year, if the sole reason to visit is to party like Ibiza of old. I would love to say yes come on, its the easy thing to say, as its plays to a populist and economic agenda, but in all honesty and in the interest of duty of care, I would advise you to stay at home, keep safe and save your holiday money for next year when the island can provide the full on party experience without any restrictions, because right now partying in a mask or in a box painted on the floor, is too conformist for my personal taste. The local police and Guardia Civil have already demonstrated that they will not suffer fools gladly and have been issued with special powers to enforce the law. On top of the local police there is a local residents group named PROU ( Catalan for Enough) who are against mass tourism on the island and only last week, denounced a party gathering in San Antonio due to abuse of social distancing regulations. The owner was fined €12,000 on top of fines of over €20K for the owners of restaurants in Marian Botafoch and Cala Vincent who were also flaunting regulations.
I can understand why some Ibiza based media outlets are being economical with the truth when they publish vague headlines and attack anybody, including the local Spanish press, who doesn’t agree with their agenda, screaming negativity and pointing to us as if we were traitors to the island we love. In fact I find this type of comment both hurtful and offensive, to anybody who loves the island and its people as much as those who it’s been thrown at. We are all loosing things because of Covid 19, but its our choice as to how we personally deal with it, whether we let go of the outcome or complain incessantly giving the impression that we are the only ones suffering during this crisis. Locals are commenting that some of the cheesy video content doing the rounds on the island right is misleading at best and not in the true spirit of the island and they want to distance themselves from its message, which lacks any detail or information on the restrictive health and safety measures attached to groups gathering during a pandemic, not even a sign of a mask which will become compulsory to wear from July 1. I feel certain individuals are writing their own online epitaphs, they are so much out of touch with local sentiment on Covid 19, preferring to see it as a financial crisis rather that a health and community centered one, fearful of change or what they can loose, rather than gain. That doesn’t surprise some, who say they are living in a bubble of yes men and cheerleaders, egging them on to see if they can achieve anything, when its clear local government has a different message. Like many of the island’s workforce, they are struggling to make ends meet and they all depend on tourist footfall to make a living as they have fingers in many pies. The locals in San Antonio know who’s behind certain businesses and some have already been shut down by its Mayor Marcus Serra Colomar, a real beacon of light for the town. The chickens are coming home to roost for some in San Antonio, and I expect to see some old scores being settled over the next few seasons as locals reclaim property that was dubiously protected in the past.
I commend them for their tenacity, resilience and get up and go attitude, something I shared at the start of the campaign. Not to let fear beat us and always believe in hope. However the current social, economic and political environment has put paid to any sort of party happening in Ibiza this summer, as all the signs and directives from local government and Spanish press have been that Ibiza will not put up with drunken, party tourists as from experience, they know how difficult it is to control this disruptive and disrespectful element in normal circumstances. Local politics on the island also seem fractured, as on the West side the PP led coalition are supporting the call for bars, clubs and restaurants to open, while on the East side of the island, its sending out a completely different message via its loyal supporter the Matutes Group, which have aligned themselves to the local governments policy of safety over economy. That would lead one to deduce that somebody is being played here, and as they say in poker, if you cant spot the mark in the room, then the mark is you. It was clear from the beginning, as far as the islands most powerful business group were concerned that in their professional opinion, they felt it would be very doubtful that the season could open in its traditional form, adopting a typical Catalan phrase, Poc a Poc , which translates as step by step in the manner they deal with the crisis. Who knows what will happen in in the future. It was one of the clearly visible signposts that the island gave to the World but went unnoticed due to all the confusion and noise of others.
This British Business owners grouping, predominantly based in San Antonio, are the main driver of the Ibiza Is Happening Campaign. They have a strong social media presence and high level access to the airwaves and electronic publications in the UK. There are at least four people constantly posting on islands social media platforms updating on the crisis, with the sole agenda it seems, to get people onto the island so tourist businesses can reopen. In politics we call that owning the narrative. Feed into that the independent, underground music scene, consisting of mainly British and German music promoters (the old Space crew) who are not happy with Hi and the Night League taking their market share, and you get an idea of the protagonists fighting this war. In a short space of time The Night League have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the island, a professional, hard working and well financed team of creative and talented individuals, who employ the largest amount of people and pay the big EDM stars. Its sibling company, High Scream, also produce David Guetta’s world tour shows, impressing audiences worldwide with their son et lumiere styled digital mastery. They add value to the island reputations abroad not take from it, so when they indicate something, you tend to sit up and notice. But they will say it in a way not to offend people, which is a typical Catalan trait.
The message the island council has been promoting from the start of the Covid 19 crisis has been a safe, measured and calm one, not making promises it cant keep as nobody knows what lies ahead. One well respected figuer in the industry told me he wished he had a time machine to answer all the questions people have. The Spanish social media content has been sure footed and professionally produced, with the message that Ibiza will be waiting for you when its safe to open, but not to book anything until Spain decides the legal parameters under which hotels and local business can safely trade .For anybody to think that Yann Pissenem’s company The Night League is owned or controlled by the Matutes Group, either has an agenda to push or doesn’t know the industry very well. Pissenem and Matutes are good business partners, they have a symbiotic relationship, The Night League, creates the parties, publicity and events, that drive up the room rates of Mr Matutes Hotel empire. Mr Matutes is more interested in Hotels, Formula 1, Basketball and Baseball than he is in music, he leaves that to his talented French partner Yann Pissenem and his brother Romain to manage and the island is lucky to have such talent charting the future of the Ibiza Clubbing brand. Its The Night League that books and manages all the relationships with the big name DJ’s and they were also consistent in their message from the start, that it would be very doubtful if they could open this summer, in direct contrast to the message emanating from San Antonio, that everything is awesome come on down for a Cocktail by the Covid 19 pool, the summer its going to be a blast!
This responsible and mature lead by the Palladium Group and The Night League, is been followed by the majority of the Spanish families on the island They know what is happening and although they would prefer to open this summer, understand that there is a serious health pandemic to defend against and its impact on both their local hospitals and businesses if a second spike were to occur like what is happening in China and The States. Some are not opening this season, preferring instead to cut their losses and focus on the positives of enjoying a rare opportunity to holiday at home on uncrowded beaches during the summer. The owner of Privilege,Jose Maria Etxinaz was quoted this week as saying “not everything is about money”. For the big companies, its all about protecting brand Ibiza, keeping it safe, clean and undamaged, so that it can emerge in 2021 bigger and better than before, strengthening not weakening, consumer confidence in the world renowned Ibiza experience. I fully support this approach as its ridiculous to suggest that you can hold a party with the Covid 19 police looking in the window. Indeed, come to Ibiza and be respectful of local culture and its community and you will be welcomed and be shown around the island to discover there is another side to Ibiza, a fragile one that deserves its day in the sun to showcase different touristic options available in Ibiza by utilising its natural assets of sea and land. There is a Q of people waiting with finance and remote business concepts, to move into the rooms left vacant by those who rely on the clubbing industry to survive. We will loose people this year, but many of them are the ones who are constantly complain about local culture and how backward it is, the ones criticising current Covid 19 safety measures and why cant things be done like they are in their home country?
So in my opinion, what we are witnessing in Ibiza right now, is a changing of the guard, as a new order takes over from the old. The tectonic plates of Spanish politics are currently shifting and Ibiza is caught right in the middle of this cultural period of turbulence. The Spanish are reclaiming the islands musical direction for their own, they don’t need non nationals to bring people to Ibiza as they did in the past, now they are well capable of doing it for themselves. In my opinion, they are doing a better job at attracting the more respectful tourists and the message they are promoting is resonating with the Ibicencos regard for warm hospitality and some semblance of duty of care to its guests. They want to leave behind the drunken, careless and arrogant tourism model that once sustained Ibiza and look to a brighter future where sustainability and protection of the islands fragile environment, are key elements in that plan going forward. I feel Ibiza has had enough of the past and wants a new dawn where clubs may be a part of that future, but not as prevalent and free as they are today, because its that industry that has brought all the bad social issues and negative headlines to their homeland. But they have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and recognise that Ibiza needs an independent and underground music scene to add integrity to its brand, but judging by the feeling on the ground, that could change after Covid19.
My personal blog represents a tourists viewpoint and my first loyalty is to my readers. If people don’t like what I say then please unfollow me as I don’t post my articles on other public forums for debate or exposure. In my opinion and from an integrity point of view, I do not feel comfortable advising my readers to travel to Ibiza this summer without being aware of all the facts which are changing on a daily basis. I believe in freedom of speech and I dislike tourist trapping, as I have been a victim of it many times in the past, as I tried to navigate the shark infested waters of the islands pirates. There are two viewpoints on the island this summer, the non national one that’s still shouting and screaming for people to come without informing them of the full facts and their local knowledge with regard to the attitude the local police are taking to drunken party tourists. Spain has just come out of an extreme State Of Alarm period that all Spaniards do not want to return to. So you can understand why they don’t want to risk opening any venues that attracts groups of people congregating, especially after what happened in the Catalan town of Lleida where an illegal Villa party was responsible for escalating the region into a high risk zone due to the number of infections traced to it. Last week in San Antonio, a party for a new business opening was shut down due to drunken behavior and lack of social distancing by island residents, not tourists. In Ibiza town and Cala Vincent, similar police raids were made on tourist establishments. This is they type of news certain people don’t want published and label it as “negative”. It’s not negativity its reporting the news that happening on the island, but some would prefer that they control the media output that support economic agendas. I expect to receive the same abuse people like Darius Syrossian and Simon Dunmore endured when they tried to convey an opinion that didn’t fit with their agenda. Its a global issue right now as we are witnessing really powerful people being taken down by other powerful groups.
Yesterday morning I spoke to an old friend of many years,who runs a small bar in San Antonio. She told me she will be handing back in her keys and closing down after 33 years due to the current restrictions making it impossible for her to deliver a quality product and experience to her clients. To all those genuine, real people who will face some very difficult times and decisions ahead, our message is of compassion and empathy but encourage them to be brave and united and know that change should not always be feared as it can lead to new opportunities and silver linings. Something Ibiza knows all about. There is a local belief that says, Ibiza gives in one hand and takes in another, so make of it as you please. Here is a link to a story that helps express that point. The Monk, the cow and the cliff.
So just to underline and repeat for the slow learners at the back, IBIZA IS OPEN for general tourism, its beautiful beaches and local restaurants, its bars and outdoor activities, but I would not advise travelling for clubbing related activities mainly for the reason that the local community and government are not on side with it. They want to protect what they have, as they are extremely well positioned to contain future outbreaks being a small island. If wanting to book anything this season be sure to wait, pay last minute and book through reputable booking engines like Ibiza Spotlight who have clear and defined refund policies and who can be trusted to represent their clients with respect, as does the Defected Records Label who are closely associated to one of the islands most respected families, the Mambo Group, follow these experts for real time info on whats happening in Ibiza musically. Also the protection that package holidays and charter flights provide, is a positive asset to have on your slide especially those based in the UK as they offer legal protection under British law, not Spanish.
I have worked with Jet 2 on the ground in Ibiza, and we were trained to ensure the customer always comes first. To go the extra mile and ensure they have a good and safe holiday. To provide protection and offer genuine advice and at all times, we had to deliver a high duty of care to ensure our clients were protected and not abused by pirates. So forgive me if I have a different view to some, its just I have experienced how being open with your clients and informing them of the full facts, so they can make an informed decision, is the best policy to have in today’s modern society. It nurtures loyalty and respect and its the rock that companies like Jet 2 and Mambo have built a successful business model upon. There was a reason why the nasty 18-30 business model folded in recent years. The best way to be protected in Ibiza this summer, is to travel with a package tour company as they provide the strongest legal and health protocols and will offer some great deals on rooms which they have pre-booked from last year. I hope all sectors of Ibiza society can come together and build a brighter future for the island and that you can support the Ibiza this summer by visiting and taking advantage of a rare event in its colorful history – Ibiza without the party of old.