Unless you’re living under a rock, or have absolutely no interest in the rapidly changing world of dance music, you have probably heard that Pacha Group went on sale in September for a requested €500 million.
The sale of the Pacha brand includes hotels and venues directly owned by the company, such as Pacha Ibiza, Destino and Lío, as well as the franchise fees paid by the dozen or so clubs around the world who use the brand’s name. When the news was filtered to the media, the reason for the sale was boiled down to a distaste of the Matutes family, who own Ushuaïa Group, and the VIP lifestyle that Pacha alleges the Matutes brought to the island.
According to sources close to the Pacha Group, “It’s simple: Ricardo Urgell—founder—cannot stomach the Matutes family. Pacha does not believe in this new idea of a rich Ibiza as pushed forwards by Abel Matutes J. The founder cannot go on any more, and his children do not want to bear witness to the future. For this reason they are looking for an investor.”
Urgell spoke to the Diario de Ibiza today and announced that the sale of Pacha is “practically done” for a confirmed total of €350 million, €150 less than originally asked for. He went on to say that it pained him to sell Pacha at this sweet time when things were going well for the company, while at the same time stating that he preferred the more “hippy” version of Ibiza of decades past than the VIP-centered affair that it has now become. Specifically, Urgell spoke against beach and boat parties and for the safeguarding of the island’s natural beauty, “We must be able to go to the beach and hear the sound of the sea. Even if there wasn’t any music at the beaches they would still be full of people. Nor am I in favor of boat parties.”
“It is important that the island does not lose the magic. If we do not take prompt action, will die from all the success,” Urgell went on to say, leaving me both perplexed and shocked.
Why? Coming from the head of Pacha, Urgell’s statements scream of hypocrisy and frankly make little sense. Brothers Ricardo and Pity Urgell opened the club on the island in 1973, following the success of several other venues on the Spanish mainland. The locale — the oldest venue on the island still open to this day — and it’s double-cherry logo soon became a symbol of the thriving party lifestyle that characterized Ibiza. Although the 3,500-capacity “super-club” never left its original home on the outskirts of Ibiza Town, the “Balearic sound”, invented in the 80s by the island’s DJs thanks to influence of Chicago house, and the venue’s free unadulterated atmosphere have long gone.
Simply put, Pacha has a renowned reputation for “clubbing with style”, described by some as “unrivalled when it comes to adding some VIP pizzazz to proceedings, so it’s the ideal venue to glam it up in glad rags.” Pacha is known for its VIP offerings, counting David Guetta’s F*** Me I’m Famous residency as its most popular night. While in recent years the venue has added Solomun +1 and, just this past season, Maceo Plex’s Mosaic parties to its roster, it has long been regarded as a venue that showcases EDM and more mainstream sounds: Martin Solveig’s My House night calls Pacha home, as did Steve Aoki’s Play House and Bob Sinclair’s Pure Pacha. Furthermore, in stark contrast to today’s words by Urgell, Pacha continued to offer sailboat parties three nights a week right up until the end of this past summer.
If you look at both the company’s hotel offerings, Destino and El Hotel, we see luxury destination resorts carefully designed for the same richer, older clubbers that will undoubtedly mill around the VIP tables at the Group’s venues on each given night. Double rooms at Pacha’s Destino resort cost from €330 per night while doubles at El Hotel begin at €325, including breakfast. The Group’s cabaret restaurant/club Lío overlooks Ibiza Town’s marina and is surrounded by luxury shops and mega-yachts that cost up to €350,000 a week to hire. There, diners are charged an average of €45 for a starter and are occasionally encouraged to wave wads of fake money on the table as part of the cabaret experience. Overall, the sense is that the VIP lifestyle found inside Pacha or Destino’s nightclubs is only more luxurious once entering the company’s other properties.
While it would be false to say that Pacha Group hasn’t put any emphasis on more underground sounds of dance music, the truth remains that it is not the standard flag bearer for a true underground VIP-free Ibiza. In fact, as the first true super-club on the island, Pacha failed to safeguard the original spirit of “Ibeefa” by introducing the very same luxury lifestyle it is now trying to distance itself from.
If you’re looking for further proof then you can simply head to the VIP section of Pacha’s own website, where you can learn all about the luxuries available at the club, “Overlooking the dancefloor, Pacha VIP is a fabulous option to live a unique experience. A fantastic place to view what is going on around you while you enjoy the freedom and intimacy but still feeling the energy from the DJ, the music and the crowd.” The venue offers a Standard and Standard XL table, as well as a “Premium” option for special occasions with a beginning price tag of €4500-5000. A map of the club’s layout, see right, clearly shows the amount of space that the club dedicates to VIP tables.
When all is said or done, it is only natural for anyone who has visited Pacha Ibiza, or the Group’s other properties, to remain puzzled when reading Urgell’s words.
Because let there be no mistake: Pacha not only shares the responsibility for perpetuating the “rich lifestyle” currently suffocating Ibiza, but it is guilty of drawing up the first opulent VIP blueprint that its competition has since followed.