Words by Alexea Grech, Co-Founder of Hotique and Founder of Likeminded People
“The soul of the world is stirring. The definition of luxury travel is changing fast and Ibiza is at the heart of it – it’s all about the people, the community, the experience… “
When I first landed on the White Isle, Ibiza was already a trailblazer in the travel industry. Now the demand for conscious, ethical and sustainable experiences in Ibiza are impossible to ignore, and new businesses do so at their peril.
There has been a huge shift in the definition of the word ‘luxury’. Less is more and for the discerning traveller, luxury is moving away from the number of hotel stars, VIP tables and hotel fripperies towards barefoot, life-enhancing experiences. Travellers want to dance the night away under the stars, wake up in nature, spend their afternoons swimming in secret coves and connecting with likeminded people.
Discerning travellers to Ibiza are moving away from one-off expensive venues and looking for transformative and extraordinary experiences through cultural activation. Some travellers are confronting their existential crisis and are paying travel designers to get lost from their world of structure. They are in search of the hidden gems and off-grid experiences which enrich their lives. There is a rise in the popularity of cultural events merging music, art and communities. In Ibiza we have seen the rise in popularity for authentic outdoor back-to-the-island gatherings such as Ethereal at Nagai, Woo Moon at Cova Santa, Namaste at Las Dalias, foraging walks, wellness sessions and ceremonies. Cultural activation has the ability to connect people in ways that traditional mediums and luxuries cannot. For me, this is the most exciting time in travel because it is about authenticity and creativity, which supports the local community as well as leaving the travellers fulfilled and inspired.
We are seeing a rise in popularity for simple nourishing fresh food, from farm to table in the campo and sharing bare-foot lunches on the beach. It is all about eating locally sourced seasonal products, sharing delicious plant-based dishes, organically raised meat and wild non-farmed fish. Ibiza Produce is dedicated to connecting farmers, producers, chefs and consumers who care where their food comes from and how it’s nurtured. We are also seeing a higher demand for natural, organic and bio-dynamic wines and the emergence of purpose- driven distributors such as Bernat from B&Me and Anders from SOMM in Santa Gertrudis. The luxury is in the simplicity and local produce which supports the local community as well as nourishing bodies and souls.
Travellers want to wake up in the middle of nature in agrotourismos and dispersed hotels in undisturbed areas where rooms are dotted across the land. The island is seeing a burst in solo-travellers, global nomads who want to stay in places which attract likeminded people. Travellers are more fluid as the line between travel, holidays, work and lifestyle is blurring. They could be travelling for a weekend or the whole summer or even year. We are seeing them travelling solo to experience, grow, and reconnect to themselves. Global nomads are running their businesses on the move as they travel between Ibiza, Tulum, Portugal, LA and Costa Rica.
Generation Z and the children of Ibiza are already not focused on material possessions, ownership and material luxuries, but rather about ‘being’. For them, time and money will be spent on conscious movements and experiences. Travel is becoming a way of life, and will become more regular, cheaper, focussed on people, sharing properties and homes, decentralised communities and experiencing life to the maximum. The global nomad communities are on the rise. The luxury in leisure travel will be in the people, connections and experiences. We are seeing a rise in decentralised concepts where sharing is key, and experiences are maximised. In the luxury segment we are already seeing a fall in brands and chains and a rise in personalisation and owner-managed movements, hotels and experiences. We see more soft-power movements by the people for the people because with that comes excellence, relevance, transparency, authenticity and sustainability.
What works for international brands in other destinations rarely works in Ibiza. Many new enterprises, hotels, and international brands fail because they do not to align to Ibiza. The secret to success is building a team of locals to build the business in alignment with the island, engage with locals who understand, from producers, to distributors, artists and performers to promoters in the know. International brands on the island like Six Senses, Nobu, Sabina and W are a great example of this as they have all engaged with islanders to ensure there is personality and local authenticity in their businesses. The brands are brought alive because of the people behind them.
The hospitality business needs to ensure they are conscious about being sustainable, implementing no-plastic policies, efficient water and waste management along with striving for carbon neutrality and bio-architecture. Sourcing produce locally from organisations such as Ibiza Produce who can tailor-make their planting season based on the local demand from hotels, restaurants and venues. Hotels can also work closely and support foundations such as Ibiza Preservation, Plastic Free Ibiza and Save the Posidonia projects. We want to see hotels redefine the traditional concierge and work closely with local insiders to recommend authentic Ibiza experiences.
For a business concept, venue or experience to succeed it has to be aligned to the island. On a micro-level, you need to be a trailblazer to survive on the island. We need support islanders and purpose driven businesses which respect the island as well as inspiring travellers.
So, what can the government do to help support new enterprises in the tourism sector and how are they being responsible?
The Ibiza Tourism representatives are fantastic at representing Ibiza at the International World Travel forums, pushing sustainable tourism and experiential experiences from within the island and the Baleriacs. Ibiza has always been and will always be all about the people, the personalities, the artists, hippies, black sheep, farmers, yuppies, the recluse, the dreamers and lovers of life. Anyone connected to the island is already truly blessed to feel and have lived the magic
Alexea Grech, island connector and experiential wizard, worked in the worldwide luxury travel industry for the last 20 years and shares some of her insights on how Ibiza is at the forefront of how luxury travel is changing.