A funny story was told to me, late one night, in a small bar, deep in the countryside of Santa Agnes. The bar was filled with the smell of smoke and Tapas, as the locals played cards in the corner and watched a Spanish football game on TV. The story involved a powerful business man, a towering hotel, a WW2 General, a revolt by the people and 300 kilos of the explosive TNT. The year was 1970 and the Hotels name was the Hotel Augusta. It was built, over 16 floors high, right next to Ibiza Airport by the patriarch of the Island’s most powerful family, Don Abel Pedro Matutes. In fact, in true Francis Ford Coppola style, he was a real life “Don” of Ibiza but without the violence. To this day, the family remain one of the most influential and powerful on the Island, owing large areas of land, clubs, bars and Hotels. The Hotel underwent construction and was unveiled as a modern day work of art, which would be testament to the Islands growing stature in Spain. It was a proud moment for Don Pedro Matutes when he officially opened the Hotel in 1971, but little did he know, that in less than a year, he would be forced to demolish his pride and joy with explosive TNT.
|General Julio Salvador in his flying days.|
The story goes that the Hotel Augusta, was so tall and imposing, that pilots flying into Ibiza Airport, considered it a dangerous night time hazard, as it was directly in the flightpath of their landings. They complained to Air Traffic Control at Ibiza Airport, but they refused to take their concerns seriously and said there was nothing they could do about it. The Pilots then went to Madrid, to report the Hotel to the Spanish National Air Authority, who sent their Minister, General Julio Salvador, a pilot himself, to investigate first hand the complaint. He captained a flight into the Airport and straight away labelled the Hotel a flight hazard and ordered that it be demolished. Don Pedro Matutes, would not agree to this, citing Political and personal reasons, as the motive for the call to demolish his Hotel. A tense stand-off then ensued as Don Pedro refused to comply with the instruction. In retaliation, Madrid closed Ibiza Airport to all night time traffic. The effect of this closure of Ibiza Airport to the livelihoods of the many hotels and businesses on the Island, was immediate and costly. The people revolted and demanded that the Hotel Augusta be demolished, in accordance with the wishes of Madrid so that their businesses could be protected.
|Ibiza’s First Minister Don Able Matutes|
In February 1971, Don Pedro, under immense pressure from both the Island and the Madrid Government, relented and sadly had to watch as his brand new Hotel and personal vision for the Island, was reduced to rubble. He resigned as Mayor of Ibiza over the costly affair, upset that the people of Ibiza, did not support him on the issue. To this day, Ibiza still has no Airport Hotel. The Augusta was its first and its last. It is highly unlikely that any will ever exist there, as long as Don Pedro is alive. In 1996, Don Pedro rose to become the Spanish Foreign Minister, the Islands first and to date, last son, to hold such a prestigious position in the Spanish National Government. The story may sound a little far fetched, but after researching Stephen Armstrong’s excellent book on Ibiza, The White Isle, I found, it was in fact, true. Today in Ibiza, there is still lingering resentment about the whole affair that feeds into the Islands unique cultural and political fabric. Like all insults that cut close to the bone, they may fade away into time, but they are never forgotten.