Hashtag Life Flew to Ushuaia, Ibiza this summer in comfort and ease via Monarch Airlines
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Ibiza from Birmingham, London Gatwick and Manchester airports during the summer season with fares, including taxes, starting from £39 one way (£110 return)
We had stepped into the Hollywood Filmset of one giant fraternity and sorority house spilled into one.
Hours earlier I remember the transient sense of calm, quiet, and innocence as we’d snoozed by the beautiful pools at the Ushuaia Tower Hotel, and lay on the large white beds, with draping sashes creating a mist between us and the surrounding beach.
We’d had a mishap with our flights meaning we’d arrived as zombies, hours ahead of our checkin. The kind and sympathetic staff at Ushuaia told us to feel free to wait/sleep/nap/rest wherever we deemed comfortable.
I wandered around the eerie stillness of what looked like the aftermath of one giant party setting from Baz Lurhman’s Great Gatsby production, trading the 1920s decor for 2016’s. There were poignant red statues of two-legged cats dressed in tuxedos and bearing trays in their hands lined up along the walkway from the reception to the outdoor bar area, and as I walked past them I sensed I was being watched. I’d also mistaken them for little devils before realising they were in fact cats, through a quick flash, having not wanted to stare for too long and accidentally summon them to life. Past the secretly-alive statues were round glass tables scattered around the bar with seats shaped with the outline of men’s bottoms. A large beautiful crystal bar stands to the right. The pool ahead is bluer, clearer, and more tempting than any pool I’ve seen, and the large white day beds around it more royal than any as well. Behind us was the open view of the sandy, stunning Ibizan beach lined with palm trees and scattered with a yacht here and there along the glistening waters of the early morning. It really did look like the aftermath of a millionaire’s mansion party. We watched the sun rise: a beautiful water-paint of all the oranges, pinks and purples you expect from the dawning of a new day.
A couple of hours later we were notified by an unendingly considerate and helpful Andreu from Front Desk that he had checked us in early, and into a double room at the club side of the hotel with stage views. This, I believe, is when the cameras started rolling for the filmset we were about to step onto.
We walked through the beach onto the first set of the movie.
Scene 1: The Ushuaia Breakfast.
The Breakfast terrace is set along the beach: white washed wooden floors with white drapes along the frames and open views of the sea all form the seating area. Behind this area are endless stations, to the right, left, and winding all the way down ahead of you. You find little “mock trucks” which double as sweetie-stations, another life-size-truck has a table built into it stacked with sweets, pastries, croissants and endless other goodies.
There is an entire wall – literally a wall – with Nespresso machines mounted along it and 100 of possibly every Nespresso capsule created, to choose from. There is a kebab station with a kebab on a spit and a friendly chef who will make you what ends up looking like toasted kebab paninis. I was never brave enough to try these but their owners always seemed to walk back to their tables content with their purchases. There is a sushi table where the chef makes fresh sushi on demand, and even “dessert sushi” if you fancy rice and strawberries wrapped in seaweed with your morning espresso. Espresso Martini, that is. They have 3 bars, at least, and every morning they serve a selection of pick me up cocktails – on the house – nearly always featuring one coffee based choice. If that’s not for you buckets of unlimited prosecco and rosé cava on ice stack the main bar on entrance.
A large black door in the shape of a key, Alice in Wonderland style, separates the self-titled Unexpected Breakfast area from what lies beyond. You need special keys called “The Red Keys” to unlock the wooden door marked with a warning about taking cameras beyond this point in the day and age where the iphone and android both qualify as actual living beings. We unlock the door and instead of falling down a rabbit hole, which I’m still slightly disappointed didn’t actually happen, we were greeted with the large empty outdoor club which fills itself with devoted ravers each night.
A huge stage, the largest I’ve seen, booms over the the floor area which is formed by a standing area, rows of white VIP tables within a glass enclosure, and, of course, a huge clear blue pool. The formation of any good outdoor club. The “club rooms” of this side of the hotel form a U-shape around the out door club and each floor cascades with a row of stage facing rooms whose balconies overlook the mighty stage. We walk into our room, a double, and the room is less than ample sized (think London university accommodation) but absolutely spotless, and of course, white. I suspect that this is largely due to the fact that absolutely no one spends any time in their room when they have wonderland outside and/or a balcony to view it from. Our luggage gets lost for a few hours so we do what anyone in our position would do: sit out on the balcony and watch the team set up for the night’s spectacle, yelping, deafeningly, when we see Tinie Tempah emerge for a quick rehearsal and sound check.
It’s 5pm, we finally have our luggage, the pool and stage area is starting to fill up with attendees, we’ve showered, made ourselves look presentable for Tinie, and sit on our thrones (a plastic white armchair) on our balcony with its prime view. The music sets slowly start and the DJs begin spinning. The vibe is slow and relaxed, the air is thick and warm, and the people are beautiful and ready. We holler down at a good looking pair of guys walking past our balcony and suddenly a head pops up over the wall beside us wearily warning “no! don’t do it!” “don’t mix with the people?” I thought? Seconds later I realised what he’d been warning about – absolutely anyone that spots you on your balcony will stand beneath it, Romeo and Juliet style, and ask you for your room number so they can come and join the party. We panicked, but luckily, after a few over the wall conversations and quick calculation that our friendly neighbour was in fact friendly and not preying on our naivety, we popped round next door so we could be safe in numbers on their balcony, along with the benefit of now being a party of six. 2 guys and 4 girls: Two Germans, a Brit-Russian, a Dutch, and us. We watched the crowd get bigger, louder and more booming by the hour. Set after set remixing the best old school tracks I haven’t heard in years and DJs yelling out to ask the crowd if we’re ready for the man himself, Tinie Tempah, every 30 minutes. The answer was always a roaring YES.
When Tinie comes on, the entire colourful, en-tranced crowd goes absolutely wild. We see this and, wise enough not to throw ourselves off the balcony from excitement, rip down the back stairs and run into the crowd. We, somehow, push our way to the front of the stage, apologise politely to the men and survive the angry females who look ready to slap us all the way back into our rooms. We stand in awe like teenagers at the front of the stage, looking up at an expertly cool and controlled Tinie: conducting the crowd as he goes along. We chant back to his every request. He begins a song, we finish it; he chants a lyric, we echo it; he stops for dramatic effect and we all fall quiet. A true showman, confident artist, as though he had dreamt up Disturbing Ibiza himself and was here to execute it to his creative perfection, rap after rap, beat after beat, kept the crowd alive and roaring. We climbed onto eachother for better views, waved our trusty iPhones in the air to capture the euphoric, inebriated, happy mess that every being in the crowd resembled, and danced along. The last song ends with the lights, the screams, the chants, the confetti in the air, and a heavy unreadiness to end the night there hangs.
I fumble around for my phone from bed, what feels like 4 days later, but only translated into 4 hours after the storm of the night before. I find my roommate contemplating casually on the balcony looking out at what looks like an incredibly, incredibly bright morning sky. She hasn’t slept a wink. We grab our shades and head to the only place we know will offer any comfort: The Unexpected Breakfast. We head straight for the cava and line up a couple of flutes each before us on the table. We slowly sip away the pain. As the beach begins to fill up we head over with our glasses onto the beautiful daybeds as only a bed on the beach and the sound of the ocean will soothe our drunken souls at this stage. A lovely lady by the name of Anne comes by and offers to braid my hair – the kardashian fan and teenager in me concedes. As she begins to pull at my hair I ask myself if I will ever stop making stupid decisions having just tripled the pain my head was enduring. I wait for it to end, and the result is a neater head of hair and a forced eye-lift making me look the most awake I was going to for the next 24 hours.
The Ushuaia beach is golden and glistening and incredibly peaceful. Beats lightly play behind you and the vibe, service and people are fun, lively and sympathetic with all of last nights survivors. A few hours later we head back to the room. We bump into our roommate – also looking a little worse for wear – who casually asks us if we tried to defraud him of £270,000 last night. I blink in disbelief and answer that we did not. He happily accepts my response and says “he didn’t think so.” I shrug this off as one of those “first time for everything” moments.
I’d like to say we did the responsible thing thereafter and collected our luggage, checked out and surrendered peacefully to a more quiet hotel. But we didn’t. We did collect our luggage.. We did check out.. But we couldn’t quite turn around and leave just yet. We’d been invited by some of our new friends to watch that nights closing party from the balcony of their suite – a superior plush, luxurious space in itself – and we couldn’t just say no. I’d love to tell the story of how we found ourselves flitting between the maze of suites upstairs and the characters and stories we found behind each door, but some tales are better left a closed book. And that, is what Ushuaia is, an enigma, a wonderland, a rabbit hole, and quite understandably the No. 1 party on this addictive captive island they call Evissa.