|Artists Impression Palladium White Island.
The Palladium Hotel group which is controlled by the Matutes family, have unveiled plans to transform the old Fiesta Palm Beach Hotel in Playa den Bossa, into a luxury 5* All Inclusive resort called The Grand Palladium White Island and Spa. It will become Ibiza’s largest Hotel resort, as it will incorporate the neighboring, Grand Palladium Palace Hotel, to offer a staggering 841 rooms at the complex. Both hotels will share facilities and will open for the 2015 tourist season in Ibiza which starts on May 1. The development comes after the upgrading of the Fiesta Club Playa den Bossa in 2011 to Ushuaia and in 2013, the Hotel Playa den Bossa became Ushuaia Tower. Last year, the old Don Toni Hotel was upgraded to Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, in a move that was not well received by customers and islanders alike. What was once a family resort back in the 80’s and 90’s, has now been transformed into an upmarket luxury resort by the next generation of Matutes family, who built their Hotel empire on the traditional 3* and 4* family market.
The main drive of the ambitious re-development of Playa den Bossa has come from, Abel Matutes Jnr, the managing director of the Palladium Group and sole male heir to the Matutes fortune. While his father was happy to do business in the family market, Able Jnr, has shown a keen interest in upmarket hotels and restaurants and is at the forefront of the charge to sell Ibiza to a luxury, cash rich market with plans for more golf courses and shopping centers. The island has not been so enthusiastic about the plans, but the offer of job security and extra employment is the carrot on the stick to local government. The Hard Rock Hotel has had a rough ride to date and reduced its 5* prices to 4* to attract business last season. The Ushuaia Tower had to do likewise but is performing better than Hard Rock into its second season. Matutes will be hoping that Hard Rock will have a better season this summer after teething problems are ironed out as over €30 million was invested into that project alone.
While the old don, Able Matutes Juan, was a cautious businessman, his son is much more ambitious and has a clear vision for the island. Whether it is the right one remains to be seen but the development is a risky venture, as it is entering unknown territory in Ibiza. While the Palladium group have been successful in the Caribbean with an upmarket product, Ibiza has always been a horse of a different colour. It is a unique island, that responds to individuality and personal character, rather than large, soulless corporate identity. This new 5* business model is not tried and tested in ibiza and while ambition and progress has to be commended, there is a fine line between success and failure in the hotel industry, as there are external factors that can influence trade. There will be more people lamenting the loss of the old hotels and their simple, traditional concept of Ibicenco hospitality, than there will be welcoming the new. They say time reveals all things, the next decade will be an important one for the islands future and its most powerful family.