By Carey Camel
MIDSUMMER madness is upon us, bringing British holidaymakers stumbling in gutters, German tourists bagging the best sun loungers and the annual descent of the Madrilenos to the Costas.
But there’s one hotspot that raises the absurd to a whole new level during the holiday month of August: Ibiza.
The party island attracts world-famous celebs and multimillionaire Russian oligarchs like an eight-digit bank account to a gold digger.
Nowadays it’s not unlikely to see Naomi Campbell catching up with Kate Moss on a stroll down your local beach, while a pair of pop stars come to blows on a night out.
Indeed, the ‘White Island’, as its known, is so packed with celebrities that they can’t help but cross paths… and occasionally swords.
Only this month, it became the gladiatorial arena for ‘history’s most pathetic celebrity scuffle’ when US pop sensation Justin Bieber ran into his love rival, British actor Orlando Bloom.
The encounter at Ibiza’s favourite star-studded eatery, Cipriani, prompted the Lord of the Rings star to throw a punch at the baby-faced pop sensation. And all allegedly over a girl, Bloom’s ex Miranda Kerr.
But they are anything but the only A-listers to grace the Balearic beaches so far this summer with Lindsay Lohan, Bruce Springsteen, Will Smith, Paris Hilton, Jared Leto, Zac Efron, the Kardashians and Kate Moss all making a beeline there.
It has certainly been a vintage year for Party Island Central, particularly when you add Adele, Neymar and Lily Allen to the mix.
But in fact, it is nothing new. The island has been a celebrity party destination for decades.
In the 1950s, it was practically owned exclusively by the super rich.
The renowned Australian playboy Errol Flynn could regularly be found sipping an Old Fashioned by the pool, accompanied by fellow screen stars Elizabeth Taylor and Ursula Andress, the Swiss-American Bond girl turned international sex symbol.
Stars such as comedian Terry Thomas, film director Orson Welles and even punk legend Sid Vicious moved to the island.
Ibiza rocked and rolled all the way into the 1980s, when the legendary Pikes Hotel (now reborn as the exclusive 25-room Ibiza Rocks Hotel) was a regular waypoint on rock stars’ tour schedules.
Even to this day, Ibiza Rocks proudly flaunts its celebrity status. The lobby sports wall-to-wall pictures of former guests including Mick Jagger and the Spice Girls, and it is rare to find fewer than half a dozen superstar DJs staying there.
The island had a second boom in the 1990s when house culture turned the island into the hippest place on the earth to party.
The island’s famous clubs, like Pacha, Space and DC10, created their own unique vibe (and house/trance sound) and a number of famous DJs upped sticks to live on the island.
However, the party island lost momentum in the early 21st century, becoming more ‘cheap thrill’ than ‘chill’ when the rich and famous were replaced by the young and reckless, particularly in the downmarket package resort of San Antonio (Ibiza’s very own Magaluf).
Ibiza became a victim of its own excess when drug-fuelled teens desperate for a party nearly destroyed the island with night after night of debauchery and excessive drinking.
The tarnishing of its reputation was largely ignored by the authorities, and celebs fled the vomit-splattered streets of San Antonio for more salubrious destinations, not realising that the north and centre of the island were still incredibly unspoilt and exclusive.
So how did the island bounce back? Why is Ibiza again THE place to been seen and heard?
Its sensational return to form is partly down to the work of the Ibiza Rocks Hotel, which transformed the island’s rundown image and reintroduced it as the music centre for the world.
Since 2005, the courtyard of the hotel has become a social magnet for its eponymous Ibiza Rocks party.
Attracting big names like the Prodigy and Arctic Monkeys, the venue saw countless musicians and DJs experimenting with new sound mixes, pioneering the now world-famous electronic dance music craze.
Ibiza once again became the place to experience cutting-edge house music, and underground dance parties sprung up all over the island. Many of its clubs – such as Cafe del Mar and Amnesia – have become international brands. The latest hip spot is Ushuaia, a super exclusive (and costly) restaurant and club, while next year Spain’s most famous chef Ferran Adria is set to open the country’s most expensive restaurant on the island.
This creative yet upmarket vibe helped bring about the island’s renaissance, attracting thousands of better quality tourists in its wake. Gradually, the glamour has returned, with today’s late-night parties being hosted by famous artists like DJ David Guetta and singer Lily Allen, who performed on the island in July.
The parties still go on til dawn (4am is often when things start kicking off) but they attract a smarter set.
However, this fashionable and elitist new party scene has its downsides.
The extravagant lifestyles of the mega rich have caused a dramatic price surge in both property, hotels and food.
Now many hardcore Ibiza enthusiasts long for the good old days when things were cheaper and less exclusive.
Pacha – a popular haunt for glamorous night owls – charges an entrance fee of more than €60 and you can forget about saving money on drinks.
A bottle of water alone will set you back more than €6 and a reserved table well into the thousands.
But this is the new era of Ibiza, where VIP lounges are back in vogue and thousand-euro magnums of bubbly are on ice to rake in the cash.
Celebrities have come back to the island to splash absurd amounts of cash on these luxury items, which stimulates the Spanish economy and the tourist industry.
For what it’s worth, Ibiza will cost you an arm and a leg. But with its massive music scene, Unesco World Heritage architecture, stunning beaches and unrivaled opportunities for stargazing, that’s the price you pay.