For better or for worse, depending on which side of the fence you prefer to sit, the Balearic island of Ibiza has completely transformed over the past few years.
Left drained, depleted and relatively unknown at the close of the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, it gradually gained its place on the tourism radar and earned favour with film stars escaping prying eyes, alongside bohemian hippy types enchanted by the rolling countryside, pine forests and deserted white coves.
In the 1970s, three landmarks arrived that would change the face of the ‘White Isle’ forever – Pachá (opening in 1973), Amnesia (in 1976) and Privilege (in 1979 under its old name, Ku Club). ‘Hedonism’ became the new buzzword and the European jetset decamped to party under the stars to the soundtrack of world-class DJs.
Today, they still come to party but the number of tourist arrivals and the prices have both gone stratospheric. More than 7.4 million passengers came through Ibiza’s airport last year, up 14.5% on 2015, and they’re now frequenting new establishments such as the Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel which has hosted everyone from Avicii to David Guetta since opening in 2011, Sublimotion at Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza which is said to be the world’s most expensive restaurant at 1,500 euros per head, and HEART Ibiza at the Gran Hotel, a creative partnership between Cirque du Soleil and the multi-Michelin-starred Adrià brothers which opened in 2015. The Island may be transformed, but it’s still offering visitors the chance to have the best time of their life and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Hand in hand with celebrity and wealth of course comes yachting. Back in 2003, Sean ‘Puff Daddy, P Diddy’ Combs cruised into Ibizan waters and that heralded the start of a flow of famous faces choosing this Balearic island to drop anchor. Olivia Palermo, Paris Hilton, LeBron James, Rafa Nadal, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Orlando Bloom, Kate Hudson, Madonna, Kylie, Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Cara Delevingne, Mariah Carey and Cristiano Ronaldo (who is said to be opening four hotels on the Island) have all been seen soaking up the rays onboard luxury vessels in recent years, and you can bet your bottom dollar there will be a slew more as summer 2017 cranks into motion. And the ‘in’ place to moor up? Marina Ibiza.
Set towards the more fashionable Talamanca ‘end’ of Ibiza town, directly opposite UNESCO-protected postcard-perfect ‘Dalt Vila’ (‘Upper Town’) with its ancient defensive walls, castle and cathedral, Marina Ibiza occupies the ideal strategic location.
Known as the Island’s ‘VIP’ marina, this latest-generation facility wasn’t always this way. The site was acquired by the IPM Group (also responsible for Marina Port de Mallorca, Marina Palma Cuarentena, STP Palma, Varadero Valencia and Varadero Ibiza) and IMG Group (encompassing Insotel Hotel Group, the Trasmapi fast ferry between Ibiza and Formentera, Island Bus and travel agent Viajes Ebusus) in 2008 and, after 34 million euros of investment, was officially inaugurated in 2011.
There are now 425 moorings accommodating yachts up to 100 metres; in fact more than 50% are dedicated to boats over 20 metres, with provision in place for visiting megayachts of even larger dimensions.
Marina Ibiza’s whole raison d’être is to attract the high end of the nautical market, those who would previously have been unable, or unwilling, to visit Ibiza due to a lack of luxurious facilities to cater to their needs and tastes. And attract them they have. The port now trips off the tongue as one of the Med’s most exclusive, and plenty of the world’s finest superyachts offer Marina Ibiza repeat business – year in, year out. Amongst them are billionaires, celebrities, lynchpin businesspersons – not that management would ever reveal their names, as discretion and privacy form cornerstones of the Marina Ibiza experience.
In terms of services, Marina Ibiza has many that you would expect – a fuel station with high-flow nozzles, in-berth fuelling, wi-fi, 24-hour security with swipe-card access, CCTV surveillance, secure car parking, a harbour master, reception, toilets/showers, laundrette, laundry service, first aid station, waste, bilge and sewage collection, chandlers – and others you perhaps wouldn’t.
First is a comprehensive ‘one phone call’ Concierge Service which will open the doors to Ibiza’s finest bars, clubs and restaurants on your behalf. Lourdes García, Concierge Manager, makes it her mission to get clients whatever their heart is set on – from the mundane to the mad, no matter how hard it seems – from a massage to a private jet, a personal shopper to a chopper.
Gonçalo Lemos, Captain of MY Chakloo, is a regular client of Marina Ibiza and has been using the Concierge Service for two years. “I found out about the Concierge Service when checking in at reception. I needed to buy Nespresso capsules – a product that’s not easy to come by in Ibiza – and just one hour after requesting them I had them on board. On occasions I place my order before arriving at the Marina, and when I check in they have it waiting for me. It’s a luxury. Lourdes always fulfils my requests amazingly well, she does a great job, like in a six-star hotel.”
Second is a full-service boatyard – on site. Just a few short years ago it was almost ‘normal’ to take your boat off the Island for repairs, consuming tank-loads of fuel in the process, but now you can get it shipshape at the heart of the city centre. Forming part of Marina Ibiza, 5,500 square metre Varadero Ibiza handles maintenance and repairs of all kinds of boats and can lift out up to 160 tonnes (maximum 45 metre length, 10 metre beam) thanks to its modern travel lift. Ideal for summer emergencies and routine winter maintenance, Varadero Ibiza can offer painting, carpentry, engine repairs, electrical and electronic systems, mechanical and hydraulic installations, antifouling, pressure cleaning – you name it – total peace of mind for visitors to this prized part of the Balearics.
But of course, there’s more to a marina than keeping the boat in the lap of luxury, there are discerning owners and guests to consider. Marina Ibiza doesn’t disappoint. The port offers a raft of leisure and pleasure outlets with Lío, the fantasy restaurant-club-cabaret from Grupo Pachá, as the centrepiece. World-famous for its originality, style and sophistication, with draw-dropping dance shows and incredible vistas of Dalt Vila, Lío alone has been enough to put Marina Ibiza on the map. As if that weren’t enough, it also has a Blue Marlin, the international beach club with outposts in Dubai, Mexico and Turkey, and Calma Bistró, famed for its relaxed quayside Ibiza-style cuisine and some of the best fresh fish on the Island. Balearic-born Cappuccino Grand Café also has a place, right alongside Lío, offering its much-loved take on laidback finesse. To satisfy hungry fashionistas, names such as Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta, Philipp Plein, Ermanno Scervino and Giuseppe Zanotti showcase their latest designs within Marina Ibiza and have been known to stay open as late as 4am – proof that Ibiza is always alive, no matter what the time.
Marina Ibiza has received just rewards for its efforts having earned a five-star Blue Star Marina certification (one of only three in Spain) from International Marine Certification Institute and a Blue Flag (the only one in Ibiza) an eco-label acknowledging a commitment to the environment, water quality and safety. Furthermore, the Marina continues to work on new initiatives with the aim of continually improving the environment in which we all sail – and who could argue with that?
Sarah Drane, email@example.com