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Tuesday 16 April 2024

Interview with Zara McDermott - Ibiza: Secrets of the Party Island

Ibiza's upscale evolution unfolds as Zara McDermott delves into the island's pulse, exploring its exclusive clubs, luxurious villas, and elite yachting scene alongside essential police and emergency services.

The series charts Zara's journey through the island's economic landscape, from street-level spenders to the opulent hillside estates where wealth congregates. Embedded with law enforcement, she uncovers efforts to safeguard affluent tourists from theft and disrupt the local drug trade.

Benefiting from unparalleled access, Zara navigates Ibiza's famed day and nightclubs like O Beach and Pacha, alongside encounters with both local and national police. A parade of celebrities, from David Beckham and Leonardo DiCaprio to Ed Sheeran and Shakira, adds to the island's allure, drawing countless others in their wake.

What captivates about Ibiza, and for how long will its traditional British partygoers remain the cornerstone of its summer allure?

What drew you to making the documentary?

Over the years, I've always  been  really  interested  by  documentaries  that  have  been  made  on  party  islands but I  wanted  to  make  something  that  was current and looked into  some  of  the  issues  that  the  party  islands  are  facing  today.

Ibiza particularly drew me in as I love the island and I've been going  there  for  years.  Nearly a million Brits a year head to Ibiza, and it's been a go to destination for generations of holiday makers looking for a particular combination of sunshine, great beaches and all night partying.

I've been able to watch it change and elevate over time and I realized  that  this would  be  a  really exciting  place  to  start  looking  into  the  effects  of  its changing  culture  and  how  it's  evolving  going  forward.

What's your personal experience with Ibiza?

I think Ibiza is one of  the  most  amazing  places  in  the  world  because you  have  everything  on  your  doorstep.  If you  want  to  go  and  find  a  remote  picturesque  beautiful  beach,  you  can but if you  want  to  go  and  party, listen  to amazing  music and  mingle  with  people  from  all  over  the  world, you  can  do that too.

I remember  going  to  Ibiza  about  two  years  ago with my partner for a last minute getaway and found that it had changed drastically from the last time I was there. It felt like everything had ballooned in price and many hotels on the island were completely full. I read that Ibiza had become the third most expensive destination in the Med after St Tropez and Capri and it made me wonder what had changed.

How did you go about making the documentary?

Our first step was finding people who knew the island inside out and we met some amazing people in the initial stages of filming that we were able to return to through the summer. We built good relationships with the emergency services and it was important for us to build that trust and assure them that we were there to share their experiences and show a truthful insight into what they do across the summer.

We also formed relationships with the clubs, especially Tony Truman and Wayne Lineker who run O Beach in San Antonio and they gave us incredible access. I really wanted to make a documentary that's observational and shows the reality including what draws people to the island. The reality for most people who visit Ibiza is that it's light, fun, exciting, exhilarating and the best time of their lives which some can save up for sometimes a year or even years to be able to experience.

What did you learn whilst making the documentary?

I did know that O Beach is seen as one of the top party hub hotspots of the island – especially amongst the Brits as it's run by two British guys - but I wanted to dig a little deeper into how that worked. Seeing how it operates through high season was super interesting.  I also learned a lot about the pressure on emergency  services. I  came  away  from  the  documentary  feeling  really  empathetic towards the officers in the Guardia Civil who are the national police and the local police who work on the island.

I  could see how overwhelming it was.  One evening, I went out with the local police to Playa D'en Bossa, the heart of clubland on the island. Throughout the summer season there are up to 30,000 party-goers there a night, and often as few as four police officers. It  felt like  the  pressure  was  just  immense  on  them. It did leave me with further questions on how emergency services will evolve with the increasing demands of tourism and wondering if something could or would change.

Was there anything that particularly surprised you during your time on the island?

The level  of  wealth  really  shocked  me. I was told about people willing to pay an extraordinary 30,000 euros for a table at their favourite club. When you see large amounts of money being handed over in person and start counting how many people are on the beach or in a club, you start to think how much money can be made there.

The industry there has done a really brilliant job of capitalising on British tourists coming  over to Ibiza wanting that 'VIP' experience. They've made a really unique niche experience that  you can't really get anywhere else. The 'day parties' which are now really popular on an island which previously had more of a nighttime party scene - they've done an amazing job  at  monopolising  that.

What do you think makes Ibiza so appealing to holidaymakers in particular young people?

I  think  there  is  an image  that  a  lot  of  people  want  to  try  and  achieve.  The island used to be seen as quite a 'hippie  island'  with  a  lot  of  natural  beauty  and  over  time it's been seen as a  place  where  you  can  go and  be  free, leaving your inhibitions behind. I think it's quite a unique  experience that  you  don't  really  get  anywhere else.  You  can  really  feel  that  when  you're  there.

I  also  believe that  social  media  has influenced  the  image  of  the  island and money also plays a big part. Global celebrities  are  coming  to  the  island now like Leonardo  DiCaprio who was  two  yachts  down  from  us  when  we  were  filming. With that, I think it drives a different  type  of  clientele.

In the documentary, you explore how the island has transformed over the years transitioning to attract a 'higher class' clientele. Why do you think this change is happening?

Many people say the beauty of  Ibiza is that you can  be  in  the same  nightclub  as  an  A -Lister and just be an ordinary tourist rubbing shoulders with some of  the  most  rich  and  famous  people  in  the  world.

I  think  there's a huge  VIP  culture  that  is  driving  more  celebrities  to  the  island  because  it  has wealth and offers  a VIP  lifestyle. That can then create a cycle which attracts the super-rich which then creates a bigger demand for people to come to Ibiza to experience that VIP culture for themselves even if they can't afford it.

What should viewers expect when they tune in and what do you hope they can learn?

Viewers will go through the same experience I went on through filming and they can expect light and shade from the series. It's not all doom and gloom but we don't  shy  away  from  the  fact  that  drugs are a big  problem on  the island and the huge amount of pressure emergency services are under within  the  context  of  the  incredible parties  that happen. You really do get to  see  both  sides  of  the  island.

We were there to observe the reality and how Ibiza operates as it really is a huge operation to get such a tiny island equipped for thousands of holidaymakers travelling there every summer.

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