Up to only 3 years ago, Cala Vadella was stuck in a crisis since the late 90s, when the entire neighborhood was dragged inexorably down to a state of lack in hotel occupancy, suspension of development works, local neglect, empty houses and an entire resort invaded by squatters. In autumn 2009, the hotel occupancy rates, turnover of restaurants and retail sales were still reporting widespread losses of ten percent. In Ibiza that means a awful unprecedented result.
Shopkeepers and neighbours explain that Cala Vedella used to be a glamorous place in the 80s and 90s, but at some point the neighborhood and the area in general had lost its luster. The results of decades of mismanagement became evident: dilapidated ruins of construction projects, standstill works indefinitely, numerous empty houses, decomposing traffic signs, salty tap water, among others. A good example was the planned mall that had to be build along the cliffs at the beach; but when more than a decade of the cliff collapsed, the construction company responsible had to shore up the cliff with hundreds of steel beams, to avoid further worsening. The result is anything but pretty, but didn’t seem to matter much.
Neighbours and people very familiar with the area tell broadly the same story. When tourism began to arrive to Ibiza, in the late 60s, Cala Vadella was a dream: a beach bar, a couple of thatched umbrellas and a handful of houses. In the 70s the first club was built and soon after came the other four holiday resorts. A decade later, German tourism agencies lined up to get a part of the vibrant clubs.
It was a simple business concept and promised good rewards. Investors built a complex and then sold the houses and apartments to private customers, who agreed to rent them to travel agencies during the summer season. In the 80s and early 90s, when business was booming, a combination of all-inclusive vacation packages and entertainment at all hours filled thousands of beds. It was the model to follow.
Cala Vadella beach in summer. Photos: Kelosa | Ibiza Selected Properties. (CC BY 2.0)
However, at some stage this type of tourism that did flourish Cala Vedella ran out of momentum. In 2009 only two German agencies remained still operating with this concept and only in one of the clubs, as all other contracts had been dissolved. One neighbour explains that at that time the Germans controlled almost all the business of the clubs, and in 2009 their share had already fallen 70%.
It is clear that particularly businesses operating with the concept of vacation club had been the ones who suffered most, on the one hand, from the general fall of German tourism that was already happening in Ibiza since the late 90’s, on the other hand, and even more significant, under the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) which was a heavy blow for tour operators around the world, which were the ones who supplied almost exclusively these kind of clubs with their customers.
Cala Vadella beach in winter. Photo: Kelosa | Ibiza Selected Properties. (CC BY 2.0)
The symbol of the fall of Cala Vedella clearly represented the former Club Robinson. The place where families once spent the best weeks of the year in recliners at the poolside, in 2009 was a squalid ruin where anarchy seemed to rule: roads with slabs of asphalt that had split, without streetlights, houses undertaken by squatters, abandoned cars stripped of their wheels and other debris lodged in the gardens and patios. Its a peculiar contrast when this former resort with idyllic views to the famous Es Vedra, just ten years later was ruled by such a state of neglect. One just had to take a walk through the old Club Robinson to feel that was not without its attractions – although a few years ago these became of a rather macabre nature.
Club Robinson in 1979 (Portcard)/ South facade in 2010 (Photo: Marco Torres)/ Sport facilities (Photo: Kelosa – CC BY 2.0)
All this seems to describe a depressed area. However, in the last three or four years a great number of developments and projects are happening on the west coast and in Cala Vadella, indicating a change of dynamics and that the worst already happened. Even the Club Robinson seems to be undergoing changes, with new owners of the investor kind that probably will actively work on improving the situation of the old complex, as the holiday rental villas surrounding the club already experience good occupancy levels.
In fact, the place still maintains a beautiful landscape: a cove with a sandy beach, surrounded by rugged coastline topography, green forests and mountains. The neighborhood of Cala Vadella has never ceased to be welcoming; a friendly village with a quiet and homely atmosphere, like a kind of secluded retreat even in Ibiza’s busy summer months. The pace is almost purely residential, but it also offers the activities that many look for on the island: beach, diving, sea side restaurants and bars on the beach. The nightlife is very limited, but many choose to live Cala Vadella because of this tranquility.
Cala Vadella – Fotos: Kelosa | Ibiza Selected Properties. (CC BY 2.0)
Currently, property prices in Cala Vadella are cheaper than average in Ibiza. Attractive prices are attracting more investors and private buyers to the area. In many of these cases the investment is dedicated to the reform of houses, which plan to sell soon after to private buyers, which are also often intended for holiday rental. This is a phenomenon that has increased throughout Ibiza in the last decade: houses built in the 70s, 80s or 90s are transformed into modern versions, where sizes and design are often modified. For these cases, a good position of the house is considered, overlooking the sea or mountains, but this in Cala Vadella is relatively easy for its rugged topography and orientation to the sea. In most cases land in this area has a good or very good position in relation to the view.
Regarding the surroundings, if you continue along the coast south from Cala Vadella, less than 2 minutes away are Cala Carbo, Cala d’Hort and present at all times, the emblematic island of Es Vedra, natural park and consolidated point of interest. This is possibly the most photographed place in Ibiza for its spectacular scenery and natural beauty.
Cala Vadella / Cala Tarida – Photos: © Kelosa | Ibiza Selected Properties
To the other direction, on the coast road north lies the prestigious urbanization Calo d’en Real, followed by Cala Moli and a group of houses on waterfront facing the sea, both very popular residence places for their 180º seaviews and sunsets. By leaving Cala Moli, next is Cala Tarida, the largest beach of the west coast and lately one of the epicenters of quality tourism on the island. Over the last few years, Cala Tarida has been developing towards high-end tourism, led by the Insotel Group, which has launched in the last years several five star hotels and resorts (‘Sensatori‘), significantly improving the reputation of the area and turning it into a landmark destination of luxury in Ibiza. Several first class restaurants on the beach, a beach club and, for the future, a project of a new urbanization of 50 luxury homes. Cala Codolar, which is practically the next stretch of coastline, is building another resort of luxury vacation villas called ‘7 Pines‘, followed by the famous spot Cala Conta where the construction of the eco-friendly 33 villas urbanization (The Calaconta Collection) is being completed, another high-end residential development on the west coast.
Residential and tourist spots on the west coast of Ibiza, like Cala Vadella, actually never lost its charm, despite an accelerated urban development in the past. Today, with increasingly stringent regulations on building permits, landscape conservation is ensured of an area that has the potential to become again a reference in Ibiza. Although we predict that this evolution will occur at a slower pace this time, but in turn based on a growth model certainly more substantial than the last.
Ibiza-Blog.com. The Rise and Fall of Cala Vadella. [consulted 15/10/2016]
Andres Jaque Arquitectos. House In Never Never Land. [consulted 17/10/2016]
Jaime López-Chicheri. Turoperadores, OTA, Google y la desintermediación hotelera. [consultado 17/10/2016]
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