The infamous West End area of San Antonio, the Ellis island and entry level for many British holidaymakers to Ibiza, looks back in business for next summer, after the local PP led council last week relaxed the draconian laws introduced by the previous socialist Government and allowing Bars, Clubs and terraces to open late to 5am, returning the West End, to its traditional business hours. While its for the winter months, it is expected that the laws will apply for next summer also. There is now an air of optimism around San Antonio as its new Mayor, Marcos Serra, has engaged with local business owners, responding intelligently to their concerns for the future direction of the resort. The genial IT worker, a fresh face in politics, seems to have earned majority support from the long term business residents who have witnessed the failures of past governments as they tried to clean up its streets and make it a nicer place to live. But the draconian laws introduced in 2017, which cut prime trading hours for employers with knock on consequences for its employees and trade, has served to remind the people of San Antonio, the importance of the tourism industry to jobs and employment in the locality.
I have always enjoyed the West End, my local bar, The Mermaid, is located on the original West End strip Calle Colon, but in recent years, the pueblo had become dilapidated with run down empty buildings, less tourists and a seedy element creeping in from Eastern Europe – a far cry from its glory days during the 60’s and 70’s, when San Antonio was the party capital of Spain with the Franco regime turning a blind eye, permitting a liberal amount of freedom compared to the rest of Spain ensuring it was Europe’s first openly Gay friendly destination in the 80’s. One feels The West End is now ripe for investment and a well deserved upgrade to its business model, which the current local government seem happy to promote and encourage. Already the Es Vive boys, who sold their Figuretas Hotel to footballer, Lionel Messi, are rumored to be investing in the old Don Juan Hotel located opposite KFC.
This multi million euro investment will only encourage similar investment projects, as local Ibicenco businessmen like, Juan Pantaleoni, follow suit, currently refurbishing his old landmark Hotel Portmany, (pictured above) with a four star makeover. The Ibicencos of San Antonio are a progressive and modern community, well versed in dealing with tourists, especially the UK market and they think differently from the rest of the island. This is where I feel the future lies for San Antonio, with investment into the 4 star market, delivering a quality product at a good price, something that Javier Anadon of Cafe Mambo has being championing for the last 25 years. The Mambo group are leading the way in San An with some stylish refurbishments of old properties like Sa Clau, Las Mimosas and Hostal La Torre. They also own the old live music bar Hogans ( now empty) located near their famous Scottish Bar Kilties. While not cheap, its not uber expensive like Playa Den Bossa, which is pricing much of the middle British market out with its expensive product. The Matutes group can see this happening and I feel it may be a reason why they are becoming active in San Antonio, after lying dormant for decades focusing their attention on developing PDB.
That is all about to change, as the influential and powerful Ibicenco company now own Privilege nightclub, a big greenfield site next to Cafe Mambo and a multi million euro redevelopment of two of their old hotels in Cala Gracio which starts next summer. With the Matutes Group now in the game, it may signal the start of a Klondike Gold Rush into the beautiful sunset resort. Good news for all the business owners in The West End, who are sitting on potentially valuable real easte. The UK market will be key to area, as the island knows only too well, that British tourists are top spenders while on holidays compared to the safe spending Italians, Dutch and Germans. The resort of San Antonio already has a strong British infulence in situ, so its only natural to build on that foundation and offer a new and improved product for a more discerning crowd.
While the 18-30 market will still find plenty to attract them to The West End, alongside that market, I expect to see more trendy, health conscious and better capitalised projects taking over the closed up buildings there, hopefully returning the resort to its glory days of the 70’s and 80’s when it was a vibrant hub of international cosmopolitan hospitality. If its current Mayor, Marcos Serra, can form a steering group with the resident business owners, kick out the pirates and implement a plan that works for everybody going forward, then the future looks bright for San Antonio. With political stability comes inward investment and I get the impression that the current government in San Antonio will see out a second term in office, especially after the socialists blotted their copybook with the Cala Gracio affair, an incident the PP party wont let them forget any time soon. With the winds now clearly in its sails and a political will to encourage fresh investment in the area, expect to see a new look West End developing over the next few years.