One of the first things you’re likely to notice about Anthony John Pike
is that he’s no longer the fit bloke waving a cocktail shaker around in the video for Wham!
’s ‘Club Tropicana
. The famous hotelier turned 70 last month and moves a little stiffly. However he’s sprightly enough up the stairs, and we have to be done by three ‘cos he’s got a tennis lesson.
[/center]He greets the Ibiza Voice
team warmly and takes us on a little tour of his famous hotel. It’s a mess. Three rooms are being revamped and the pool and bar area immortalised in the aforementioned archetypal 80s
fun’n’sun’n’speedos music promo is in bits.
“Everyone used to say ‘Who’s the architect?’” he explains in his half-South London
white gangster, half-sleepy Ocker drawl. “Me. ‘Who’s the builder?’ Me. ‘Who designed it?’ It’s all me, me, me. And I didn’t really want that, but it’s the way it started. I started with four rooms, but four rooms of happy people. The police came along and said I was a drug baron because I couldn’t extend at that rate.”
He’s obviously hardworking, prepared to get his hands dirty, and doggedly determined, as befits his colonial heritage. Which isn’t to say he’s inflexible or open to suggestion, as he demonstrated when one of his Brazilian
-based guests wanted to return the hospitality he was shown here in Ibiza
, and invited his friend to the Carnival
last month. It was to be a champagne frenzy for the boys to celebrate his three score years and ten, but his partner had other ideas.
“So I said to my new wife ‘I’m sorry Dunia , but this is a man’s thing.’ She said ‘Tony, I don’t want to stand in your way at all. You do what you want. But I’ll tell you one thing. Don’t expect to find the same lady you say good bye to when you come back.’ I said ‘That’s tantamount to blackmail’. She says ‘I don’t know what you call it, my English isn’t that good. I’m not threatening you, I’m just telling you the truth.’ So I went to bed that night and I thought ‘Jesus, I’m on my fifth wife. How many wives do you wanna go through?’ I can’t afford to go through any more, it’s too expensive. I wanna make this marriage last. So I got up the next morning I said “Dunia, will you come to Rio with me?’ And she said ‘If it’s meant with love, then yes I’d love to’ if you’re just trying to cover yourself then get stuffed.’ So we went together, and we had a lovely time.”
Women and travel make up the majority of Anthony Pike
’s anecdotal evidence. We got a good half hour with him, but one suspects you could sit there all week and he still wouldn’t run out of tales of far off lands and far out ladies.
How’s business, Anthony?
I never close the doors because I feel the island gets apathetic. The local people say ‘Business is no good’ and you say ‘Why is it not good?’ and they ‘Because nobody comes here in the winter’. Well of course they don’t, you don’t offer anything in the winter. So therefore, if I’ve got a big mouth, which I have, I don’t want to be called apathetic so I never close the doors.
Are you following the cricket? Any Australian sport?
I’d love to, but I just don’t have the time.
Do you go back to Oz much? Or do you prefer it here?
I used to return every year, but the last two trips were very unhappy for me. They say bad things happen in threes. My last trip was six years ago and I haven’t been back since. I’ve corresponded of course. Every year I plan to go back but I put it off. There’s so many other places to go. I recently got married again and my wife’s Moroccan she hadn’t been out of Morocco. So I’ve got the whole world to show her. Everyone who stays here I can spin yarns with because I’ve been there. It sounds egotistical, but I have. I’ve travelled so much before. My wife’s like ‘Why haven’t I been there?’ and I’m like ‘You’re only young kid. When I met her she was 23. She’ll be 28 on the 23rd of this month.
Whereabouts in Oz are you from?
I was based in Sydney. I travelled from Sydney all over Australia because I started my own company when I was in my early 20s. I started it on £7, and no assets whatsoever. I took it from there, I started a branch in every state. Then once I’d done that, I started in the South Pacific, South East Asia. It became relatively speaking quite a big company, though if you compare it to the conglomerates it was nothing. My company was called Movable Text and Moving Graphs systems. I didn’t have any education. I called myself a commercial industrial graphic artist. I’ve still got my cards here.
Why did you leave Australia?
I got bored with it. I was into my second marriage, two children in my first marriage, and just a stepdaughter in my second, and I wanted to get away. I had this dream. I wanted to sail out of Sydney heads. I wanted to sail through those heads and not come back. I didn’t have any knowledge, I went to sea when I was 14 but that was in them merchant navy. There’s a big difference being on a 10,000 tonne coal burner and being on a tiny yacht. I had one chart of the Pacific Ocean. Which is bullshit because you can’t sail with one chart. The first stop was to be New Caledonia, and it was smaller than that camera case on the chart. So how can you sail there? There’s reefs and everything else.
The woman who accompanied Tony
was in for a rough ride. Here Tony tells of how he initally wooed her.
“I met Robin in Hong Kong. She was a model in Sydney. She came from a very good family. And when her father found out that I was seeing her… I used to be a dreadful person. When I met a woman, I wasn’t interested in whether she was intelligent, all I wanted was to get her into bed. And unfortunately Robin came into the category. I made a bet with a guy in Hong Kong for $100. He said ‘You’ll never get her into bed’. So we arranged to meet in the Princes Hotel in Hong Kong. The appointment was at one o’clock. I got there at five to one. And I’m waiting and there’s this very lovely girl standing there in the corner and she had a green dress on. She was 22 years old.”
Suffice to say after much wining and dining Tony
did bed the woman in question, but their relationship was quite literally a stormy one. In fact, the couple ended up getting shipwrecked off the coast of Haiti
in the aforementioned yacht, and spent three days bobbing round the ocean in what one media outlet dubbed “the life boat of love
”. By the time they emerged from hospital they were both betrothed and headline news back in their hometown. One Sydney
radio jock invited listeners to phone in if they knew Anthony John Pike
“Most of the calls that came in were pretty cool, but one woman who rang in said ‘That effing rat bag. He should have died.’
How did you get to Ibiza?
After I got shipwrecked in the Caribbean, I got an invitation to go to the south of France. I went to the south of France [with wife no. 3, Robin] which I thought would last forever because of those dramatic circumstances. She’d run away from home, put her life on the line. After one year she said ‘Tony, you’re impossible. I love you, but goodbye.’ So she left me, in the south of France.
Great. I’m the only bachelor there. I’ve got a nice house, a 50 per cent share in the biggest marina in Europe, a nice lifestyle, but I wasn’t happy. Then a mate came and stayed with me for three weeks. We used to share a house in Bangkok. Afterwards he wrote to me and said ‘I had a lovely time. But after I left you I went and spent a week in Ibiza. You’ve got to go. There’s more crumpet per square metre than you’ve ever seen’. Now if anybody else had said that to me I wouldn’t have taken any notice, but we’d been all over the world together having parties like you wouldn’t believe. I’d never heard of Ibiza. I booked a flight and came over. That was in 1978 and I’ve been here ever since.
How much has Spain changed from when you first arrived till now?
Whenever you live somewhere. You don’t see the changes that are happening. When people travel they always say the same thing – ‘Oh, it’s not like it used to be’. I can’t say ‘It’s not like it used to be’. Ibiza’s an amazing place, look at that out there. It’s the same as it was a thousand years ago. There’s still walking behind a plough. So if you want to get to the true life, you can do. Or, if you go to the coast, if you were a naughty boy you went to the coast areas, all the good sons got the fertile ground in the middle to grow crops. But now, the naughty boys who own the coastline, they’re the millionaires. So it’s reversed itself. So, yes it has changed. But I’m not part of it.
I picked this spot because it was available. When I came here in ‘78 it was much the same as it is today apart from the advent of the clubs. They didn’t really exist. There was Pacha, which had been open for a couple of years. But I didn’t got to discos, I was busy trying to make some sort of livelihood. I met a girl the first day here, and we were looking for somewhere to live. My money was tied up in the marina in the south of France, so I ended up buying this place, which was called Can Peptoniat. Which is Ibiçencan for “the property of little Tony.” Well I’m not very big and my name’s Tony so I thought I’ll leave it. But when I started travelling again I came to London. And people would say’ Oh, we went to Ibiza last year. Do you remember that place we stayed in? It was a little farmhouse in the country. Really cute. I can’t remember the name, it had a funny name.’
So then I thought I’ve gotta change the name. And having lived in South East Asia, they always think your surname is you first name, so everybody calls you Pike, so it was logical that I call this place Pikes. It’s supposed to be Pike apostrophe s, but for the sake of looks I didn’t put an apostrophe. So now it’s “Senor Pikes” which is better than “Senor Pike” which is Mr Prick in the south of France.
Pikes has expanded of course, but I’ve kept the décor much to the original, because it’s 500 years old. It was a wrecked ruin when I bought it. There was no cement floor, no roads, no water, no electricity of course, every called me the mad Australian on the hill. But I knew, if I kept working, one day I would get people to come. And now of course I’ve done that. And each year, it gets better. You don’t have to be an astrologer, it’s just obvious it’s got to keep improving. One reason is the safety of the island. It’s a safe little island. That business in Madrid the other day was horrendous. Unfortunately terrorism can hit anywhere. But I don’t see it hitting Ibiza. I can’t see any reason to hit Ibiza. I know terrorists don’t need reasons but I think it’s one of the safest places to live, and one of the most prosperous. The indigenous people here are very poor, asset-wise, cash-wise, but they’re very rich in their lifestyle.
I’ve been trying to buy land all around, in fact I’ve just last week signed a lease for the land around here. But they don’t want to sell, they call it the stones. The old farmer there is 90. And he says ‘When I die, I want to leave the stones to my children.’
I’ve had a very very unusual lifestyle. Every year 10 really important people say ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ And I say ‘ I don’t have the time.’ And they say ‘You don’t have to write it, get a ghost writer’. Well I’ve tried that, I’ve tried everything and it always ends up in a disaster. One day I’ll do it. This morning I’m just been sending another email apologising that I’m totally behind schedule.
Good luck on the novel Tony
, if it’s any good it’ll be a long one.