Ibizan: A series of interviews with some of the island’s prominent Artistic, Business and Public figures where we’ll be asking about their private and professional Ibiza life.
Charlie Chester and Jo Mills must be amongst the best known ex-pat faces in Ibiza. The Posh and Becks of decks, the Peters and Lee of the party, DJ Jo and Essential Ibiza founder Charlie sat down to talk in Santa Gertrudis—well where else?
We are Ibizan …
Name: Jo Mills-Chester
Position: DJ, Essential Ibiza Accommodation, Mum.
From: Langley, English
Name: Charlie Chester
Position: CEO Founder Essential Ibiza
From: London, English
NG: Charlie, your current work.
CC: Essential Ibiza is a very busy online portal for everything Ibiza.
From booking club tickets, to VIP to accommodation and news stories—it is as much a digital magazine as it is a portal. We cover the whole spectrum from DC10 to a retreat. We are big on speed with events. People want to know right away. If we are covering the DC10 opening party and people are in England or Australia or wherever, they want to read about it the next day.
NG: you have a reputation for getting reports out first. How do you feel when you see other similar websites releasing the same information a few hours later?
CC: We take it as a compliment. One of the reasons we get so much traffic is that we are quick getting it out there. We had 1.7 million hits last year, we expect to hit 3 million this year. For example lat year Carl Cox at DC10 we published 5 hours after the last people walked out of the door—that one got us 4,000 likes in 24 hours.
NG: Jo, your current work.
JM: I’ve got the Atzaro opening coming up and then Pacha in May, and Ocean Beach Club booked for the summer.
I’m not touring the DJ circuit any more, I’m mainly playing in Ibiza. I’m busy here, I’m just not doing as much international stuff—though I am playing Bali and 6 weeks in Asia at the end of the year.
NG: Tough gig.
JM: Ha ha, someone’s got to do it. It’s at the Karma resort. I was meant to be there February but we had to cancel as it’s been so busy here. January to March is the busiest time for the Villa bookings on Essential—it has been growing so quickly I just couldn’t combine the two jobs, well three if you count my 4 year old.
NG: DJing and motherhood can’t be the easiest jobs to combine?
JM: I have a great network of friends here in Ibiza, all the mums help each other. Sometimes Charlie and I don’t go out together—one baby-sits while the other is out late, it helps if you’re not both hopeless the following day. I’m not doing as many night time gigs anyway, Ocean Beach Club is perfect during the day.
NG: What was your journey to Ibiza?
JM: I used to come here on holiday in the early 90´s. I first came in 1987. I hated it and went home early. We were in San Antonio on a bucket shop holiday, we got burgled and I swore never to come back.
Then we came back as a couple, when was it Charlie?:
CC: 1999. My young holidays were the Norfolk Broads, Southport, where my family are from, and Brighton where my Nan lived, places like that. The first time I got on a plane I was 19. We stayed in San Antonio for 2 weeks and you know I didn’t really get it. I mean we went to Ku and Es Paradis, but the thing I really remember enjoying was that we took out motor bikes for the day. We went right past here (Santa Gertrudis) and we went to Portinax. I remember the drive back with the sun on my face late in the day.
That must have been 84, I then came back in 88 and it blew my head off. Ended up in Amnesia, same in 89, then in 1990 I came back here with Channel 4 and about 20 DJs and did a film about chilling which was massive on Channel 4 that year.
I bounced back and forward in the 90s and then that takes us up to when we came together. We hadn’t planned to come and stay. We came because I was working with a club in England called Mezzanine, we ran the Ibiza Mezzanine here near Pacha and then you get sucked into it.
JM: We had the bar underneath the El Divino apartments, I think it was called El Divino.
NG: You mean Divinito? I didn’t know you had that, I had some fantastic after sessions in there.
JM: Did you come? yeah that was ours for a time. Crazy.
CC: We bought an apartment in 2001. At the same time we fell into DC10 and Circo Loco. I’d been really good friends with Cirillo since 1991. He was one of the main people behind DC10 and he asked Jo to be resident—we fell into it, it’s the best way of saying it.
NG: No strategy?
CC: Absolutely none.
JM: Charlie was able to get the English involved with some PR and it really took off.
CC: For everybody involved it was right time right place.
NG: And home life? You are known as big fans of Santa Gertrudis.
JM: We’re village bumpkins now.
CC: Everything is here. Raffy is four and a half, the school is here, he’s getting the Spanish at school. Sometimes you realise that it’s been 3 or 4 days and you haven’t gone outside the village. There’s no need to, you’re just happy here, but then when you want to get out and about everywhere is easy. You can be in San An through the beautiful back roads in 15 minutes.
JM: We love being so central. We’ve been here 8 years now. About the same time we got married in 2006.
CC: It’s great, after 8 years you know everybody, you get to see everybody. I’ve just been back to England, bouncing around all over, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds back down to London for 3 days. It was fun, but by the end of it I’m thinking I just can’t wait to get back to my little village.
JM: It is a unique place. Charming. It has got more and more popular in the last few years. We’re lucky we moved here when we did. We’ve a great place but it’s really hard to find somewhere now.
CC: The Notting Hill of Ibiza. It feels like that.
JM: And it’s open all year, winter it’s still buzzing. We wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.
CC: We bang the Santa Gertrudis Drum all the time.
NG: You’ve chosen to send Raffy to a local school.
CC: You’ve got to haven’t you.
JM: It’s really important he is involved in the Spanish culture. We’re living here and we want to integrate.
CC: Never thought of going to an English school, it never crossed my mind. The school system’s great up to 11, but after that nobody is shouting about it. If he goes to Morna Valley from 11 he’ll get the best of both worlds.
NG: How is your Spanish?
CC: It’s getting there slowly. We’re learning with Raffy.
NG: How do the Chesters spend their spare time?
CC: I’m into the Gym, I’m more consistent than I used to be. I’ve started with Velo Club Ibiza out on the bike. When I started it was just up the road and back. Now I’ve gone up to 46km. Cycling is not as big here as Majorca, it’s a real industry over there, but I think that will change.
JM: I like to swim, Raf does too. They go every Tuesday at school, he’s really good now. I’ve done some cookery classes this winter, I like Yoga too. But most of all I’m doing Raffy things. I’m starting at Charlie’s Gym next week too.
In the summer we love the beach. Nassau is one of our favourites.
CC: This year we’ve said we’ll try to down tools at least once at week, as a family and at Essential. Try and pick somewhere every week, say Jockey Club, go down there have a good late lunch and just hang out. We don’t do enough of that, you know what it’s like.
NG: What’s a perfect winter Sunday?
JM: To be honest it’s so good in the village Sunday. Everyone is dressed up, there’s a really good atmosphere. We do like to get out sometimes, we might go to JD´s or Fab for a roast lunch. I’ve only been to the Olive Tree once but loved it, amazing.
Talamanca is a nice beach in the winter.
NG: What do you think about where Ibiza is at, and what the future holds?
JM: I think it’s very positive, it has to move with the times.
CC: Use Playa d´en Bossa as an example. It had nothing a few years ago. Then Nassau opened and things started to move. Now we’ve got the Hard Rock Hotel opening and a lot of people have slated that, but the Don Toni hotel it replaces was poor. It catered for low end package holidays. The Hard Rock will give people an opportunity. As Islanders we’ll be down there using the pool, having lunch. It’s brilliant.
NG: It could be said that Playa d´en Bossa owes a debt of thanks to the owner of Hotel Garbi, Tony Pilau.
JM: Very true, brilliant place. He takes all his own bookings, he really cares.
CC: He has done a great job, my parents stayed there for many years. It’s a really good example of the development and progress in Ibiza.
JM: It’s great that some areas are staying traditional though. It’s a good balance.
CC: Overall there was that one year about six years ago when they closed the clubs at 6, that was rubbish, that didn’t work. Now you cant have clubs opening as other ones close. I guess they have to have some sort of restriction.
NG: What’s on the cards for Essential?
CC: We’re developing all the time but the next big leap will be the launch of a full hotel booking platform within the site. We’ll have a booking engine next year. We’ve been approached to set up Essential Dubai, there is quite a bit of interest there, but it might not be the right time to get distracted. We need another year and a half to get Essential Ibiza where we want it to be.
JM: We’re a one stop shop for Villa holidays. We work with all the best agents on the Island.
I love to keep my hand in DJing, especially production, I’ve been at it 22 years. I still get a buzz from it and now I don’t have the stress of touring I just get the fun side.
NG: 22 years. Do you still make mistakes when you are playing?
JM: Yes I do, everyone makes mistakes. It’s why I like Vinyl, it’s more natural, you can here somebody getting back in and give them a little cheer.
Our thanks to Jo and Charlie for taking the time.
Essential Ibiza: www.essentialibiza.com
Santa Gertrudis: www.ibiza.travel