Ibiza Clubland Eclipsed By Covid 19
Close your eyes. Think back to the last time you were dancing inside a club in Ibiza, the experience, what it felt like, who was with you and the vibration of sound and energy of the clubs atmosphere. Now open your eyes and cherish that memory, because it’s unlikely we will ever experience that feeling in quite the same way as we did before the arrival of Covid 19. Fear of the unknown has gripped the island of Ibiza by the throat and it’s hard to know when it’s going to let go. We are facing unprecedented times, the boffins have coined the post Covid 19 era as the “New Normal” a phrase that only serves to kick the can down the road, as it tries to buy time and a foothold on shaky ground that is constantly evolving and changing. Just this weekend, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez announced that he is seeking to extend the state of alarm to the end of June, however he has promised to return all centralized power in Madrid, except for Health, back to the regional governments, a risky proposal that requires congressional approval next week. So what does this mean for clubland in Ibiza and when can the party get started again?
The Sanchez Government and that of the Catalan speaking Balearic Islands, are currently playing it safe, prioritizing the health of its people and secondly, its tourism industry. In Spain’s case, both health and economy are intrinsically linked, like twins conjoined at the hip, hurt one and it damages the other. The big Elephant in the room for the major players on the island, is the reputational impact a live case of Covid 19 will have on its business. Both the financial and reputational liability connected to Covid 19, due to lack of care or abuse of security protocols, is an issue that requires a clear answer – something that is in short supply right now. Imagine a big club or hotel in Ibiza, hitting the headlines as the epicenter of a Covid 19 outbreak?
There is currently a European legal action in progress, where 5000 people are suing an Austrian Ski resort for damages connected to contracting Covid 19 on their property. If you were the owner of a trendy Hotel or Club, would you risk taking a chance and opening with Covid 19 for a half a summer, or protect and keep a clean sheet by waiting until 2021 to reopen with clearer data, guidelines, accurate testing and Covid insurance in place. What hoteliers, restaurateurs and club owners don’t want to do is turn the famous “Ibiza Holiday” experience into a clinical one. Party People come to Ibiza to holiday with wild abandon, not to party in a hospital or sterile environment.
Expecting party people in Ibiza to respect Covid 19 restrictions when on holiday is a risky bet with tourists, as its almost certain the Covid 19 police will be out actively enforcing laws and issuing fines, especially on an island that is divided with regard to opening this season.
News this weekend confirmed that Ibiza is not on the list of early opening Airports this month. This has both surprised and angered local businessmen, notably the President of the Matutes Group, Abel Matutes, who has been vocal on social media criticising the current socialist Government and its handling of the crisis.
Will the ghost of old Space come back to haunt the Hi project for its sins?
It is no surprise that Mr Matutes is worried, the Worldwide rush by investors to offload shares in Hotels and the mass tourism market, paints a bleak picture compared to the bright one multinational hotel groups enjoyed before Covid 19. While the groups main activity is Hotels, Able Matutes Jnr, invested into the clubbing scene, when Yann Pissenman became his partner in the Hi and Ushuaia projects, demolishing the iconic Space club in the process.
They are in the dark right now, with the socialists at the steering wheel intent on changing the power dynamic of Spanish culture, which is sure to spill over into local politics, as Ibiza is currently one the wealthiest regions in Spain and aligned to the Catalan culture. The normally vocal marketing departments of The Night League, Ushuaia and Hi, are unusually quiet and not releasing any information on the season ahead.
However, the company sanctioned an interview with American News outlet CNN, a move that certainly raised local eyebrows, where they seemed to suggest they will not open any of their clubbing venues this summer without a vaccine, which would mean Hi, Ushuaia, Hard Rock Hotel and Privilege would remain closed. All capital investments and projects connected to the clubbing and mass tourism industry, are most likely on hold, as the World awaits the behavior changes Covid 19 will have on future travel and holiday plans.
“When can I go on Holiday to Ibiza this summer”
So while you may ask “When can I go on Holiday to Ibiza this summer” much of that question will be answered by your own personal situation. With unemployment on the rise, can you afford higher travel costs and accept the added security measures around international travel this summer? Will you have a job to return to? Can you live with social distancing and wearing masks on Holiday? Are you prepared to risk your health and that of your friends and neighbours by travelling abroad? Will you risk becoming a social pariah by holidaying during a deadly pandemic? These are some of the questions you will have to ponder before making a final decision. In Northern Europe, there are early signs that people are beginning to write off the 2020 Holiday season, as the public considers staycations and saving up for next year.
If you do decide to travel to Ibiza, then I expect the island to be open to international travel from July onwards, if the infection rates remain static. I don’t expect the two week self quarantine rule to be in situ by August 1, or do I expect any of the clubs to open in their present format, as they simply cant make it pay due to the expensive fees associated to premium DJ’s and the law in Spain making it difficult for them to do so. I spoke to a number of promoters on the island about the season ahead, with one respected industry expert stating “the first half of the season unfortunately looks like a write off. We can hope and pray that the second half can happen in some way, but this will rely on tourists being allowed to fly in and the venues being able to operate on at least 50% capacity. It is becoming apparent that various brands and even venues, are unlikely to operate this season but there is a real appetite from many key businesses to salvage what we can, and also ideally extend the season. You will start seeing more projects aimed at the local residents and Spanish tourists in time”. While very hopeful for next season and understanding the need to protect the worldwide “Ibiza” brand, the longer this pandemic goes on, the more important it becomes to protect the islands excellent low risk Covid 19 profile. The last thing Ibiza wants is another serious cluster incident like the Kings Club in Korea, which was responsible for an outbreak that has infected 130 people and sparked a surge in homophobia. This type of incident happening to any big brand name in Ibiza, is the main fear of the islands blue chip companies right now.
This issue is not such a problem for smaller venues and I do know that many promoters in Ibiza are looking at ways to monetise the small and beautiful concept. This concept can work with the support of a talented local DJ and promoter pool on the island. These guys are Ibiza veterans, with lots of friends in the UK and excellent networks on the island. They already know the venues that the small and beautiful party concept can work in and I would look to them for creative direction – now is their time to shine. It is important that Ibiza maps out a path for the rest of the electronic world to follow. Ibiza is the Dance Music Capital of the World, so the spotlight is on the island to offer solutions. If Ibiza fails, what kind of message does this send out to the industry? A build it and they will come ethos but it will be very underground and local, which may not suit everybody. So private villa parties, beach chiringuitos, bars and restaurants with terraces, will be the order of the day. Although there has been no official announcement, I do expect clubs like Amnesia, Ibiza Rocks, DC10, Eden, Es Paradis, Ocean Beach and Octan, to open in some reduced capacity format from July onwards. once the restrictions affecting locals traveling between regions is lifted. I would guess the party will shift from night to day and to the open air beaches and terraces. It will be different, so please do not be under any illusion that it will be like the Ibiza of old.
So in light of the Spanish Government’s decision to prioritise the health and safety of its citizens and extend the state of alarm to June, its going to be really difficult for mass tourism to operate this summer. It’s going to be more costly and harder to get here, but on the flip side of that coin, is the prospect of a tourist free island and all the advantages that provides. This hopefully is a rare event, so you will never get a better opportunity to enjoy Ibiza and Formentera in all its natural and pristine glory in peace. The crisis offers opportunity to those who want to change their life’s direction. Discounted holiday rental accommodation is flooding the market and landlords are keen to enter into long term contracts . If you were ever thinking of moving to Ibiza, now is the perfect time to do so, especially if you can work remotely or bring to the party a Covid 19 related business that solves or fixes a problem. Its time for those in Ibiza who are constantly complaining about Spanish culture and government, to come up with solutions rather than burdening the systme. It’s now ripe for a new generation of Ibiza entrepreneur to invest in a Covid19 friendly businesses on the island, hopefully bringing fresh new ideas and concepts for I think it will take a period of time to return to the Ibiza we used to know.
Update 19/5/20. Amnesia release new super value ticket that covers you for this summer and next season. Read full details
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