An Interview with Louise Ann Gibney, Founder of Boo Ibiza
While superyacht destinations continue to pop up around the world like young upstarts keen for a piece of the action, Ibiza remains a reliably luxurious, beautiful and tranquil haven for the global yachting elite.
One of the idyllic Balearic islands, an archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, Ibiza has a unique blend of attractions that continue to draw diverse crowd – from party lovers and VIPs to chilled out hippies and families.
Another string to the island’s bow is its impeccable service sector, which counts among its number several well established concierge companies. One of the most renowned is Boo Ibiza, and we caught up with the company’s founder Louise Ann Gibney to find out more.
Superyachts.com: The Boo Ibiza website says you’re a former investment banker – that sounds like a very different lifestyle to what you do now! Can you start by telling us about your journey?
Louise Ann Gibney: “My Russian language knowledge was useful to Investment Banks in the mid 1990’s, so that led me to a career in Equity Sales based in Moscow. Many contributing factors paved the way for a change including a better work/life balance. I had been a frequent visitor to Ibiza for over 20 years and the entrepreneurial culture on the island was a draw for me to start something new in a location I loved. Today, I still work with predominantly HNW and UHNW clients managing their family affairs on the island.”
How does your service work exactly? If a client wishes to contact you for help during their stay in Ibiza, what is the process?
“The entire service is bespoke, and has to be a good match. I ask subtle questions and listen carefully to client requests. I look for a good match to make every experience as near perfect as possible. Boo Ibiza is available 24 hours a day whilst a client is here, offering a full concierge service. Frequent requests are for an onboard or inhouse catering service or beauty treatments amongst many others. Weddings and celebratory events can also be meticulously planned and executed, and are renowned amongst my clients for exceeding expectations. “
How did you go about building up your network of contacts and connections in Ibiza – and what were the main challenges?
“I worked very hard for five years in order to understand who I could work with. I used my own contact list and relied on referrals and introductions from trusted sources – but sheer hard groundwork, day after day. Setting up meetings, introducing myself, and relying on my intuition to create reliable, honest working partnerships was key.”
What is the general profile of your clients – are they quite a mix in terms of age, occupation, etc?
“All my clients are high (or ultra high) net worth individuals – professional people, a mix of oligarchs, hedge fund managers, investment bankers, property investors, and fashion and PR executives, as well as actors/actresses and musicians. Clients range in age from mid-30’s to mid-70’s.”
Can you tell us a little about your property portfolio – how did you choose the properties and how much do they vary in terms of style? Are they are mix of traditional and contemporary?
“I personally handpick all of my properties. It’s important that not only is the house is up to standard, but that it is also perfectly maintained and the staff are well trained. My portfolio comprises mainly the private homes of my friends and family network, a mix of traditional 400 year old fincas to newly built modern homes, either with sea or countryside views or direct sea access. I even have a private island!”
Are you concerned that Brexit may affect the number of Brits who may have been considering purchasing a property in Ibiza? Are you offering any advice for people relating to this?
“Ahead of the decision, there were definitely fewer British visitors and home purchasers for the past year or two, but already we are seeing a pick-up in both holiday rentals and buyers from the UK. Most second home owners, don’t spend more than 90 days here anyway, just for school summer holidays and occasional weekends. There has been a growing number of all year round residents from the UK due to the tax breaks of the Beckham Rule, many of them buying property on the island. The rental yields are good too, so that encourages investment purchases of houses and apartments.”
Despite its natural beauty and numerous secluded spots, many people still associate Ibiza only with its hedonistic clubbing scene – how would you sell the island to people who still have this preconception?
“I don’t think you have to sell it, it sells itself. I’d suggest a short visit to the island (… that Boo Ibiza can arrange!) to explore the unspoilt regions such as the middle and North. Here, the charming inland villages and markets, fabulous less crowded beaches and coves with local fish restaurants and secret coastal hike trails allow you to feel the magnetic energy of the “real Ibiza”. The clubs are all based in the South and the party crowd often stay down there. There are two very different sides to Ibiza, but the good thing is you can dip in to both if you want to party.”
How has Ibiza changed since you first became acquainted with the island more than two decades ago?
“Ibiza has always had old money with wealthy families from all over the world. The vibe is just much more dress down and hippy and today, all over the island, this still prevails. Over the past 10 years, there has been an influx of new money into land purchases, house and hotel construction, such as Hard Rock Hotel, Nobu Bay, Ushuaia, although licencing laws and permits are still extremely tight and regulated as the agricultural land is protected.
“Infrastructure has been improving, lately seen in the construction of the main dual carriageway through the island, which was a dirt track just 25 years ago. Additionally, the Yacht Marinas of Santa Eularia, Botafoch and San Antonio have all been upgraded to cater to the influx of superyachts in summer. The beauty of Ibiza is that it changes every day and season.”
What are the current ‘hot’ destinations in Ibiza that might convince someone to take the plunge and visit for the first time?
“Lio, Heart, Usuhaia, Woomoon, Corichana, Seven Pines Resort, and the soon to be opening Six Senses Spa Hotel, Markus Kitchen and Teatro Peyreyra.”
When you’re not working, what is your personal favourite thing to do while in Ibiza?
“Sunday is my day off and so I always plan a new adventure. I love to get in my Wrangler Jeep and head in whichever direction towards the sea. A coastal hike or beach walk, followed by a long lunch with locally caught fish in a simple local restaurant at the water’s edge until sunset is the perfect Sunday to me. I also like to take an early boat across to Formentera for a complete change of air… weather prevailing of course!”
Finally, what services do you provide specifically for people looking to charter a superyacht?
“Depending on the client request, I can bring in superyachts from Palma de Mallorca, or from other Mediterranean ports if necessary. Last year I brought a boat from Monaco for example. I have experience of buying and selling superyachts and securing financing for purchase when I was a Private Banker. I also supplied financing for the construction of superyachts. Once I get the request from a client, I find the boat and bring it to Ibiza in advance of arrival. Once the boat is in Ibiza,
"I provide a full onboard service – fridge fills, full catering, personal shopping, beauty and massage treatments, chauffeurs and private security, celebrations and entertainment, restaurant and VIP table bookings at Lio, Heart and Blue Marlin for example or a planned day excursion to the see the real Ibiza in the North, in Mercedes Viano or similar.”