Skip to content


Book NowBook Now

Depending on your perspective, change can be exciting or frightening, but one thing’s for sure: there’s no stopping it. Founder of IRG and our CEO, Andy McKay, has seen and experienced an extraordinary amount of change over the three decades he’s spent in Ibiza, but he prefers to think of it as a constant state of evolution. On the eve of his 30-year white isle anniversary, we sat down with the man formerly known as Andy Manumission to cut through the noise and talk about the past, the present and the future. And of course, where Pikes fits into the picture…

The Ibiza that 23-year-old Andy arrived to in 1994 was indeed a different world. A dusty, unspoiled island where business was done on beaches and deals signed on the back of napkins; a place where mobile phones and the internet didn’t exist; and although a plethora of nightclubs dotted the tiny island, it was a destination where mass tourism hadn’t quite filtered into… yet. To Andy, Ibiza was, and still is, paradise – a place where you could feel free to be yourself, surrounded by like-minded people, and create a life he didn’t need to escape from.

For those who don’t know the history (we forgive you, Millennials and Gen Z-ers), Andy and his brother Mike had ditched cold and grey Manchester where they’d had been successfully promoting parties despite some serious gangland threats – to cut a very, very long and quite well-known story short – and went onto launch the legendary Manumission party at KU (which later became Privilege) within a month of arriving. And this seems like a good place to point out that the very word manumission means ‘freedom from slavery’. It all seemed written in the stars.

Meanwhile, Pikes had opened its doors 14 years earlier – making it quite the island stalwart even then – and was known as the place to (to quote Wham!’s Club Tropicana) ‘rub shoulders with the stars’ thanks to the aforementioned track’s video being filmed onsite in 1983 and Freddie Mercury’s hedonistic 41st birthday party in 1987, among many other things. Grace Jones, George Michael, Julio Iglesias, Kylie Minogue, Tony Curtis, Bon Jovi, Boy George… the check-in sheets read like pop and rock royalty. But if you’re reading this blog – you know all of this already. 

“Pikes is a place that was built on the pillars of rock and roll and I think it’s important we always stay loyal to that,” says Andy, when thinking back on the epoch that is still referenced to this day. He loved visiting the hotel himself back then, and regularly booked suites for American DJs in particular, who were accustomed to five-star lodgings on tour. “It’s difficult to appreciate what Pikes was like in the 80s,” he says. “Arguably, it was the very first ‘boutique hotel’ in the world. That term didn’t even exist then. There were no real five-star hotels on the island, but Tony Pike had created a whole scene here, attracting a host of famous people. That was his legacy. Rooms were suites but it still felt homely. It was just so much more than ‘just’ a hotel.”

When The Guiness Book of World Records names your event ‘the biggest party in the world’, you know you’re doing something right but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Towards the end of his Manumission era (2008), Andy had been pivoting towards live music, infiltrating the club’s back rooms and San Antonio sunset bar (then Bar M, now Ibiza Rocks Bar) with cutting-edge rock bands that went on to become the mainstream playlist within a few short years. It was a zeitgeist moment and Ibiza Rocks was born. Another island legacy was created. 

When the brand took over the hotel where it still resides – where Manumission had hosted a Millenium party and where our current hotel manager, Hector, was once at the helm – the line-ups were getting bigger and bolder. “We’d book our bands into villas and they’d have an amazing time,” says Andy. “But it also got to a point where they’d be wanting food, room service – hotel services – on demand. I knew we needed a hotel that had that kind of private villa feeling. It had to feel like a home, with privacy and discretion, where famous people could feel completely comfortable. I knew this place already existed in Ibiza. It had existed for years. It was Pikes. The problem was… it was losing its magic. Corners were being cut to a disastrous level and it wasn’t being run properly at the time.” Cue, another opportunity to adapt some “intelligent change” as Andy calls it.

“I met with Tony and cut a deal to initially rent Pikes to Ibiza Rocks for five years,” Andy says. “I didn’t really want to run another hotel, but I also knew we’d have to bring in chefs to create the right level of cuisine to keep our bands happy. Security was non-existent so we had to bring that in too. We filled our mini-bars with cool things rather than boring, typical hotel fare. And what came out of that was that we created one of the coolest hotel experiences in the world.” The word magical comes up again at this point in the conversation. “It really wasn’t five-star but all the biggest bands were here and having an amazing time – it was magical.” Within months, Pikes was voted as one of the 10 best hotels in the world by the Sunday Times.

It wasn’t long after that a plethora of five-star hotels began to open in Ibiza, and Ibiza Rocks evolved from guitars to pool parties, but the hotel’s reputation had been firmly established and a sense of community had returned. Locals were welcomed to enjoy traditional Sunday roasts and visitors were falling in love with the slightly ramshackle finca and all its quirks, along with the passionate team who would remember the way they liked their eggs in the morning, their favourite drinks, even their pet’s names. Just like the Pikes of yore. 

“For me, this is about loyalty,” says Andy. “And energy. When you care about the energy in your venue, this automatically transmits to caring about your customers.” Yes, that’s right, he’s talking about you, dear reader! “When we first took over Pikes, some of the smaller changes we made were actually returning Pikes to what it originally was. We took out the Marrakech Suite and turned it into Freddies. It wasn’t a club before, but it was once the restaurant – a hub for socialising. I’ve always thought Pikes is one of those places that is so cemented in Ibiza history it has to be preserved, like a historic landmark. We’ve been evolving, little bits at a time, for more than 10 years, but we’re always very careful not to change the essence of what Pikes is.”

A classic example is the revamp of the Pikes Garden Suites that took place last summer. “There came a time where we had to face the fact that as much as we want to preserve every last tile, every last remnant of Pikes, a 45-year old bathroom just doesn’t cut it anymore,” says Andy. “That’s when we started to refurbish some of the rooms. We’ve preserved and saved as many pieces that relate to the hotel as we can, and we’ll place them somewhere else when the time’s right.” On that note – keep your eyes peeled in Room 39, where we’re just about to open up an all-new late night lounge with some original Pikes wicker furniture that was once so beloved by Freddie Mercury, he bought it all from Tony and had it shipped to his home, where it remained in his conservatory until he passed away. Andy recently repurchased these pieces at auction (along with some other items we’ll be surprising you with soon!), understanding how important they are to the Pikes legacy.

When speaking of the evolution at Pikes there’s just one question on Andy’s lips. “Whatever we do – does it make Pikes more magical?” You tell us. Does walking up the winding path, into Plaza Mayor – our former dining space restored to its former glory as a buzzing hub of a bar – sipping cocktails in the very same space where Freddie Mercury celebrated his 41st birthday in 1987 feel magic to you? What about watching the Pikes House Band perform their signature dinner-and-a-show-with-a-twist while you also enjoy the last golden embers of the sun go down over the hills of San Antonio? And at some point in the day, whenever a DJ plays Club Tropicana, and every drink is on the house – completely, 100% gratis –, is that magic? For Andy, it’s all an investment in our customers and we’re constantly rewarded with your loyalty. “Money comes and money goes,” says Andy, of his challenges and triumphs over the last 30 years. “But energy – if you bet on that, you’ll be successful.” 

This brings us to today, where we’re sitting on the beautiful and breezy rooftop of Pikes, where breakfast is now being served to hotel guests on the daily. When you ascend the staircase and cast your eyes over the rolling green hills of San Antonio, and breathe in that fresh Balearic breeze as you sip your morning coffee, it’s easy to see why this small shift (just one floor up!) was a no-brainer. 

Ask anyone who runs a business in Ibiza and they’ll tell you this is an anomaly. “The team at Pikes is our biggest asset,” explains Andy. “This year, we’ve employed extra staff so that we can take care of them, making sure everyone gets two full days off per week (often unheard of in Ibiza). When your team is happy, that radiates  – and the kindness our team consistently show our guests proves this.” 

Another old saying comes to mind – the more things change, the more they stay the same. These days, Pikes remains the place where the A-list can find solace on the island, just as Freddie Mercury, Grace Jones, George Michael and co did in the 80s. But it’s not just the rich and famous – far from it. “I want every person who walks through our doors to feel the freedom that those Pikes guests felt in the 80s,” says Andy. “Whether it’s for a day, a weekend or a month. The word freedom comes up all the time for me. Freddie Mercury sang it best: It’s a kind of magic.”

As it says on our car park installation created by the artists from BLOOP Festival: VIP is a loser concept. Andy recalls another of the festival’s famed works, that reads: Remember when the rich and poor danced together. “The beauty of Pikes is the mix of people we attract,” he says. “The term VIP has been oversaturated. Very Important People aren’t necessarily rich. Some might be. Some might not be. It’s about energy – who lights up a room when they come in? It may be someone famous, or it might be an old hippie from the island. That’s the magic. All of our clients are important people to us, whether you want to blend in or stand out – we’ll never have VIP areas that are blocked off so other people can stare in.”

Another notable addition to Pikes this year is our new Monday night soirée: Andy Manumission & Pikes Present Mondays. “Our Saturday Pikes House Party has always had a bit of that anything-could-happen Manumission energy,” says Andy. “So, when I decided I wanted to do something to celebrate being in Ibiza for 30 years, I thought well – what did I come here for? For Manumission – another heritage Ibiza brand. At the time, we were in the midst of something so big, we didn’t realise what it was we were creating. But the passion for being a promoter has always been there. So I brought back my alter ego name of Andy Manumission, and decided to throw parties again and it’s been amazing, reconnecting with people from back then, and bringing some of that spontaneity back. I’m busier than I’ve ever been but I’m really happy doing it.”

While Andy has previously taken a back seat in the events side of Pikes, being back on the frontlines, hands-on in curating DJ line-ups has brought him great joy. “These days, most parties in Ibiza are like concerts, and I’m obviously a huge fan of concerts, it’s how Ibiza Rocks originally came about. But that hedonism, when people used to just dance anywhere and everywhere is mostly gone. Now they face the DJ booth all night. That’s why we brought in the curtain, and the phone-free (or photo-free) dancefloor. For me, the music has to be good. Why should it matter who’s playing it? The party should be the source of the energy, the DJ is only part of that.” Though we might add, Andy’s nostalgic connections have certainly made each week’s ‘special surprise guest’ very interesting – Danny Tenaglia, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, Roger Sanchez and more – and keep people coming back week after week.  

“If Manumission had a spiritual home in Ibiza, it’s Pikes,” says Andy. “We were the biggest club brand of the 90s and our audience was global. Now so many people from the past are discovering or rediscovering Pikes, because they hear ‘the guy from Manumission’ – who happens to be the owner – is doing something inspired by his past. They remember the Manumission energy and want to rekindle it, even if we are all 30 years older! There’s an inclusiveness here that we always had. We’re part of the footnotes of history of Ibiza and now people who identify with that are coming back. It’s a continuation of the journey and a full circle moment in a way.”

And it’s not just Mondays. Andy has also teamed up with Rob da Bank to programme Sundays at Pikes presents Sunday Best. “That one needs no explanation really,” he laughs. “The name says it all.” 

There’s no doubt Andy Mckay (or Andy Manumission, if you meet him on a Monday night) is a man on a mission to preserve the history and heritage of the hotel. “When we first took over Pikes, we started out with Ibiza Rocks energy, and now we’re channeling the Manumission energy to take it into the future,” Andy concludes. “The Ibiza we knew back then doesn’t exist any more, except in some very rare pockets, like Pikes. We can’t stop change. But what we can do is shape it, find the right path, and mold it. We can adapt without ever sacrificing the magic. Ibiza is a delicate ecosystem and you have to be aware of that during times of change. We don’t ever want Pikes to become a place that people just go to, to tick a box and get their instagram photos. Our success is measured in energy, magic, passion, not profits.”

By White Ibiza

Share This Article facebook twitter linkedin
Close Modal