“The level of wealth really scared me” – Zara McDermott on following the money in Ibiza: Secrets of the Party Island

Ibiza continues. With access to clubs, villas and yachts as well as the police and emergency services, Zara McDermott discovers what makes the island tick.

The series also sees Zara follow money, from people spending it on the streets and clubs to the beautiful houses in the hills where the wealth lies. Zara goes undercover with the police trying to save wealthy tourists from parting with their valuables and stop the drug trade on the island.

With unprecedented access to the island, from daytime and nightclubs – such as O Beach, Ibiza Rocks and the world-famous Pacha to local and national police. Famous visitors to the beaches of Ibiza include David Beckham, Leonardo Di Caprio and Lionel Messi to Ed Sheeran, Shakira and many others. And where celebrities go, the rest of us are forced to follow.

What makes this island so attractive and attractive? And will the younger party-goers Brits, who have been flocking here for decades, be able to continue to make this their summer destination?


Ibiza: The Party Island Secret airs on BBC iPlayer and BBC Three from Sunday 21 April.

Interview with Zara McDermott

Zara McDermott is leaning on a wooden plank and looking into the distance
Zara McDermott (Image: BBC/Summer Films)

What made you interested in making a documentary?

Over the years, I have been very interested in documentaries made on party islands but I wanted to do something current and look at some of the issues facing party islands today.

Ibiza really appealed to me as I love this island and have been going there for years. Around a million Brits a year head to Ibiza, and it’s been the go-to destination for generations of holidaymakers looking for that perfect mix of sunshine, great beaches and all-night parties.

I’ve been able to watch it evolve and rise over time and I realized that this would be a very interesting place to start looking at the effects of its changing culture and how it continues to evolve. .

How do you feel about 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 find a beautiful secluded beach, you can but if you want to party, listen to amazing music and meet people from all over the world, you can again.

I remember going to Ibiza about two years ago with my partner for a last minute getaway and I found that it has changed a lot since I was there. It was as if everything had dropped in price and many hotels on the island were fully booked. I read that Ibiza has become the third most expensive place in the Med after St Tropez and Capri and it made me wonder what has changed.

Behind the DJ in a crowded club on the dance floor.  pink and purple lights
(Image: BBC/Summer Films)

How did you come to make the documentary?

Our first step was to find people who know the island inside out and we met some amazing people in the early stages of filming that we were able to go back to during the summer. We built a good relationship with the emergency services and it was important to build that trust and reassure them that we were there to share their experiences and show real insight into what they what to do throughout the summer.

We’ve also built relationships with bands, especially Tony Truman and Wayne Lineker who run O Beach in San Antonio and they’ve given us incredible access. I really wanted to make a film that looked and showed the reality of what draws people to the island. The reality for many people who visit Ibiza is that it is easy, fun, fun, fun and the best time of their life that some can save sometimes a year or years to they can have it.

What did you learn while making the documentary?

I knew O Beach was considered one of the top party spots on the island – especially among Brits as it’s run by two British guys – but I wanted to dig deeper into what how did that work. Seeing how it works in the peak season was very interesting. I also learned a lot about the stress of the emergency services. I came away from the film feeling sympathy for the Guardia Civil officers 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, in the heart of the island’s clubland. Throughout the summer there are as many as 30,000 partygoers in one night, and usually only a few police officers. It seemed that the pressure was too much for them. It left me with some questions about how the emergency services will change with the increasing demands of tourism and wondering if something can or will change.

Did anything particularly surprise you during your time on the island?

The wealth situation really scared me. I was told of people willing to pay an extraordinary 30,000 euros for a table in their favorite club. When you see a lot of money being handed out in person and you start counting how many people are on the beach or in a group, you start to think how much money can be made there.

The local industry has done a fantastic job of catering to British tourists coming to Ibiza looking for that ‘VIP’ experience. They have created a unique niche experience that you won’t find anywhere else. The ‘day parties’ which have become very popular on an island that used to have a lot of night parties – they have done an amazing job of managing that.

close up mcdermott is looking at something off screen with his chin on his hand
Zara McDermott (Image: BBC/Summer Films)

What do you think makes Ibiza so appealing to holidaymakers, especially young people?

I think there is an image that many people want to try to achieve. This island was considered a ‘hippie island’ with a lot of natural beauty, and over time it has become a place where you can go and be free, leaving your restrictions back. I think it’s a unique experience that you don’t get anywhere else. You can definitely feel that when you are there.

I also believe that social media has influenced the image of the island and money also plays a big role. World famous people come to the island now like Leonardo DiCaprio who was two yachts away from us when we were filming. With that, I think it drives a different type of customer.

In the article, you explore how the island has changed over the years to attract ‘high class’ customers. 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 a normal tourist rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s rich and famous.

I think there is a big VIP culture that drives a lot of celebrities to the island because it is rich and offers a VIP lifestyle. That can create a cycle that attracts the very rich, which creates a greater demand for people to come to Ibiza for that VIP experience even if they can’t afford it.

What should viewers expect when they listen, and what do you hope they can learn?

Viewers will go through the same experience I went through making the film and can expect light and shade from the series. It’s not doom and gloom but we can’t avoid the fact that drugs are a big problem on the island and a lot of pressure on the emergency services is under the circumstances of the amazing parties that are happening. You can really see both sides of the island.

We were there to see the reality and how Ibiza works as it really is a huge undertaking to make such a small island equipped for thousands of holidaymakers every summer which.

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