Ibiza Journal: Waiting for Paris Hilton

[Flower Power: The scene last month at pricey nightclub Pacha]

Part of an occasional weekend series about Ibiza.

No surprise here: Sparky and I didn’t make it to Matinee last night, the big weekly dance/Ecstasy chowdown held at megaclub Space. We would have spent about $140 for tickets, and lord knows how much more for drinks. When American friends and I attended rival club Pacha‘s Flower Power party last month, three drinks — a sparkling water, a beer, and a vodka and Red Bull — cost a jaw-dropping $54. And we’d just gotten started. (My friends graciously paid the bill.)
Those sky-high prices illustrate the stakes in the tourism-based economy here on the Spanish island of Ibiza, one of Europe’s most popular Mediterranean getaways. Yet, they also explain why some workers dependent on tourism, like our new friend Sandra, complain that business hasn’t been as good this summer. That’s a worrisome sentiment this weekend, the start of the most lucrative part of the summer. Other people told me the same thing: With consumers growing more cautious, $12 bottles of water are moving slow. 
Some of the same forces pressuring Gannett are being felt thousands of miles away from McLean, Va., on Ibiza: A slowdown in the global economy; the real estate market’s mortgage-related implosion; tumbling stock prices, and ebbing consumer confidence. Sandra, 40, a server at the high-profile Croissant-Show cafe, says celebutante Paris Hilton (left) was here last summer and in 2006 — but hasn’t been seen this summer, a sign Ibiza may have lost some of its luster.

Europeans still vacation in droves during August — patronizing hotels, restaurants, beaches, and big nightclubs like Space and Pacha that partly serve as the island’s pricey financial anchors. We just returned from Es Cavallet beach, where services aren’t cheap, either: Two lounge chairs and an umbrella cost $25 for the day. (We bring our own gear.) That might explain why the beach wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder crowded, as we found it a year ago.

While that’s not bad for Sparky and yours truly — August can be absurdly overcrowded — it’s bad news for the Sandras of Ibiza, trying to eke out a year’s income in just three months. As it unfolds, we’ll see what this make-or-break month brings.

A video of the Matinee opening party (above) at Space this summer.

[Images: Flower Power, Pacha; video, Matinee Group]

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