Words by Mr Jeremy Langmead
You probably don't need us to tell you what makes Ibiza special. We suspect you might have already been there. This legendary Balearic island, easily accessible from all of Europe's major hubs, is famous for its contrasts: superclubs and hippy beaches, hedonism and escapism, electronic music and mystics. It's extraordinary that one small island, only 40km long, can capture the imagination of the jet set and the easyJet-set who, over the past few years, have happily flocked there in ever greater numbers. More, perhaps, than any other vacation destination, you will see a hotchpotch of financiers and fashion designers, movie stars and business moguls, models and musicians come together on one democratic dance floor, stretch of sand, beach club or luggage carousel and feel as one.
One such man who fell in love with Ibiza after first visiting the island six years ago is the stylish Hong Kong-based financier Mr Max Gottschalk.
"We discovered Ibiza by luck," says Mr Gottschalk, as we talk by the pool of his beautiful, sprawling villa - a comfortable cross between a family home and an Aman hotel - in a secluded and pleasingly green part of the island. "My wife, Jane, saw the villa advertised in a newspaper and said we needed to check it out. We came here, fell in love with it, and then discovered the island. We were Ibiza virgins: we didn't know the island, or anyone here; but it is such a wonderful place to relax and it has great vibes. We've travelled the world and visited many places, but this is the only place where you can really unplug. And the children love it here," adds the father of four young daughters, who are noisily splashing about in the pool.
"The island is beautiful, still relatively undeveloped and, although busy, not overcrowded. You can come across incredible people, from many different backgrounds, or just escape to any of the beaches spread out across the island."
We've travelled the world and visited many places, but this is the only place where you can really unplug
Most of the year, Mr Gottschalk is running Gottex Fund Management, with operations in Europe, North America and Asia, and estimated to manage around $8bn. He is much more comfortable talking about work than play; his responsibility towards his clients' assets is something he takes very seriously indeed - and one of the reasons he and his family moved from London to Hong Kong 18 months ago.
"Asia right now is the growth area of the globe and over the next decade its importance will greatly increase. I felt that for the expansion of our company it would be beneficial to spend some time there. There is an energy around the Asian economy; and the growth, and the wealth creation, is quite phenomenal. It's very hard to comprehend as a European, where the economies have only grown between two and five per cent each year for the past two decades, that in Asia it has been compounding at 10% per annum - twice the speed of Europe. It's now the second-largest economy in the world and it will become the largest in a couple of decades. The opportunity that surrounds that is extraordinary."
Handling enormous sums of money, particularly in these difficult trading times, does take its toll and this is why Mr Gottschalk, and many from the world's financial communities, flock to Ibiza each year to embrace the island's mellow, hippy-go-lucky approach to life for a few weeks away from the markets.
"It's great to have the opportunity to relax and recharge yourself each summer and then return to fight the markets refreshed and reinvigorated," agrees Mr Gottschalk, for whom music is a key part of unwinding. Ever since he was a child, Mr Gottschalk has dabbled with DJing and here in Ibiza he has an impressive mixing deck by the pool, as well as a bijou nightclub at the villa called Jax (Jane and Max), where he likes to spin tracks and discover new music with old friends.
"My birthday falls in August and so when we first bought the house, when I turned 35, I invited my friends from around the world and they all flew in, and we got a famous DJ to play. The night kicked off and we created an amazing evening. And now every year I have this opportunity to celebrate my birthday and have fun."
What he doesn't point out, modestly, is not only that the DJ in question was Mr David Guetta (followed by Mr Pete Tong and Swedish House Mafia the years after) but that the party was so much fun that each year more and more people tried to wangle invitations - or even gate-crash - and that this August, for his 40th, they've had to scale it down and try to keep the celebrations quiet. However, The Sunday Times has already hailed it as the must-attend party of the summer; a fact which horrifies Mr Gottschalk.
If, however, you haven't got an invite, don't worry: Ibiza is a party in itself and every night there's a celebration of something, somewhere. After all, this is the island where those who, like Mr Gottschalk, work hard all year come to play well each summer.
"Ibiza has great food, great energy and is a great place to relax," he says. "We rarely go out, but it's there if you need it. Ibiza has the best places on earth if you want to go out and have fun." We couldn't agree more.