I am one of six squeezed into a two-man hot tub, smeary champagne glass in hand, seven floors above the rave going on below at Ibiza’s hottest party destination: the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel. The hot tub is on the balcony of a friend’s room. I say friend, but we had known each other for less than 12 hours before stripping down to our underwear and leaping hand-in-hand into the tiny tub.
Welcome to the anything-can-happen playground on Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa.
Cavorting about in a branded robe, swilling Veuve and sitting thigh-to-thigh in bubbles with an American journalist I’ve known for approximately seven minutes is typical in Ibiza, or, more accurately, the club/hotel hybrid that is Ushuaïa.
And this year, Ushuaïa – named after the Argentinian city quite literally at the end of the world – has got a new friend. The vine-covered Ushuaïa Tower, bolted to the side of the original beach club, opened at the end of May to great fanfare. It is both a part of Ushuaïa proper (which swung open its doors two years ago) and a hedonistic haven set slightly back from the main party stage, whose gigantic speakers pump out electronic dance music 16 hours a day with deafening force.
Each summer, Ushuaïa morphs into an adult-only theme park. Hotel guests turn up for breakfast with hangover faces and wafting see-through kaftans to drink mimosas to a banging house beat, giant green bugs stalk about on stilts, and slim blonde revellers sway their hips poolside in neon-pink bikinis. Lunch at Ushuaïa’s Beach Club restaurant – flanked by white four-poster beds – is eaten to the drum of the DJ in the booth opposite, and conversation is held at twice the decibels of normal levels. There is little time to recover from what is a 24/7 bacchanalia at Ushuaïa, but you won’t even want to: I spent the first 24 hours of my trip in a sort of torrid ADHD frenzy – palms sweating in excitement and shrieking wondering what on earth to do first.
The existence of Ushuaïa is evidence enough that the Sodom and Gomorrah of the West is going through a baptism of fire. Once the mainstay of Spanish hippies and EDM-obsessed nipple chafers, it is now the exclusive playground of the rich and famous, where even one weekend on the bounce will cost you the equivalent of the defence budget of a small nation. Hemorrhaging €500 a day for the ultimate hedonistic lifestyle is now no biggie for Ibiza’s high rollers, although rural, pine-covered Ibiza is still as lush and bucolic as it was when the Phoenician settlers landed on the island 74km east of mainland Spain thousands of years ago.
Ibiza is the kind of place where four days is definitely enough, for fear that you’ll run out of Gaviscon for the vicious heartburn you’ll inevitably develop, or that you’ll start to feel the tingling of early-stage gout. Just 12 hours into the trip and we had already sunk mini bottles of Pommery, countless flutes of champagne sangria and bottles of Rioja with only sushi to line our stomachs, and a pesky “are you ready Ushuaaaaïïïïïaaa?” ringing in our heads like tinnitus.
In just two years, Ushuaïa has positioned itself at the top of Ibiza’s superior daytime club scene: and, true to form, it has swagged some impressive acts for the summer season, including German DJ Loco Dice, hit-maker Avicii and David Guetta and his famous F*** Me I’m Famous set. Now joined by the Tower, its set list rivals that of Balearic behemoth Space, which conveniently is just across the road when Ushuaïa turns the light show off and kicks out at midnight.
Owing to Ushuaïa’s prayer to the latest technology, drinks can be bought by scanning the tips of your fingers, and Facebook pictures of you and your mates can be instantly uploaded to your wall – making you both skint and ridiculously up-to-date with just two fingers and insane laser technology.
Dance music is Ibiza’s lifeblood, currency and reason for existence, and no visit to the White Isle is complete without at least one night praying to the gods on the decks. By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around – by this point we were counting days purely by the volume of booze we’d consumed – it was time for the Ibizan Big Night Out at Pacha, regularly voted both one of the top nightspots in the world by some and Dante’s tenth circle of hell by others. And so to Pacha we went, fuelled by saccharine-sweet strawberry mojitos, shots of local Hierbas liquor and music that we could actually recognise from the Ushuaïa Tower’s WE opening party.
The Balearic day dictates that a leisurely dinner is eaten at 11pm and clubs kick off at 1am, but nobody told me that this Balearic night would end with me face-up on a white leather bed on the Pacha roof terrace only two hours after getting there.
As final proof of my Iberian party spirit, I spent the day after the impromptu tub party dancing on the deck of a specially chartered yacht to neighbouring isle Formentera.
Ushuaïa is easily the most insane place I have ever been, and as an eye-opener to the madness of Ibiza and the new breed of party hounds it is surely unrivalled.