Café Mambo: The Next Chapter | Daily Telegraph
Published by telegraph.co.uk, October 2018
By his own admission, Javier Anadón is a lucky man. A marketing degree and a savvy nose for trade and trends undeniably played roles in a career that’s seen him build one of Ibiza’s most successful business empires, but if he hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, it could all have unfurled differently. “I really believe in luck,” the silver-haired, 64-year old Spaniard affirms with a smile. “We participate in our own fortunes but in the end, even the most talented people need that certain spark.”
It was serendipitous then, that in 1976 Javier and his Scottish girlfriend (now wife) Caroline, landed fresh-faced on the relatively untouched shores of Ibiza. Lured by rumours depicting the island as a paradise inhabited by non-conformist hippies, they set out in search of their own slice of freedom. “Ibiza was a lot more bohemian back then,” he explains. “And from the very first moment we loved it - we knew we would live here.” Almost two decades later, they opened Café Mambo, a bar famed across the globe for soundtracking the quintessential Ibiza sunset, a fundamental rite of passage on the path of every discerning raver ever since.
“From the first day we opened, we did well,” Javier reminisces. “Mambo was completely different then, just an old house on the rocks with no promenade, but everybody came. We knew we were doing something special.” Arriving at a hallowed time when communication still took place predominantly face to face, Mambo became a meeting point for the music industry who’d turn up to make deals while listening to tunes as the sun went down. “Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong,” lists Anadón. “They all came and became friends. “I like to look after everybody,” he says with a wink. “That’s my secret touch.”
In the following years, Mambo continued to grow in stature, usurping the once seemingly unbeatable Café del Mar to become Ibiza’s most famous sunset bar. And while Javier is still very much involved (“I’ll retire when I’m 94,” he concedes unwillingly), it’s his two sons Christian and Alan, otherwise known as international DJs the Mambo Brothers, who have become the more public faces of Mambo. Between them they’ve instigated a line-up of new generation DJs that draws a young crowd night after night, and fiercely promoted the venue on social media. “We make sure that Mambo keeps relevant,” explains Christian. “We have to make it exciting for young people.”
That the brothers have willingly taken the baton from their dad is unsurprising. As kids, Javier would make them clean glasses in the kitchen (“I made them work hard because they were lucky, so they should be an example to the rest.”) and they spent day after day at the bar, socialising, observing, and learning. “I remember being dropped off at Mambo after school as a 13-year old,” says Christian, gesturing to the bus stop at the end of the road. “And being introduced to people like John Galliano, M People and Boy George. At the time, I had no idea who they were, but for us it was just a lovely place to hang out because everyone knew whom we were. They’d all be like, oh look; there are Javi’s sons! I see it happening nowadays with my own daughters.”
In 2018, the Mambo Group has extended to encompass around 20 businesses, and in a time when Ibiza faces criticism for becoming too expensive thanks to an increasingly VIP crowd, the Anadóns have shown a refreshing approach to launching new venues. “We believe Ibiza needs to go back to its roots,” explains Alan. “We want special venues that give you that magic feeling that means you’re in Ibiza.” Javier agrees. “I don’t like to say I liked it more in the past, but I think the best time for the island was the ‘60s because everybody came here - musicians, architects, artists, actors. That’s the part of Ibiza we don’t want to lose.”
That desire to harness the creative verve of yesteryear is visible in all of the Mambo Group’s most recent openings. There’s Hostal La Torre, a cliff-top hangout and hotel in Cap Martinet that sings with simplicity. Here, effortlessly cool, Balearic-inspired tunes soundtrack the sun’s final farewell every night, and gourmet food is enjoyed with full panoramic views – it’s like the grown up version of Café Mambo; a place Ibiza devotees gravitate towards as they seek a slower, more discerning island experience. The laid-back appeal of this venue really resonates; arguably it now rivals Mambo for the most popular sunset hotspot on the island.
Elsewhere, there’s Las Mimosas, an all-white hotel contributing to the increased sophistication and regeneration of the once rundown San Antonio Bay. And then there’s Casa Maca, the crowning glory of the group’s recent acquisitions. Ten suites swirl around a 300-year old traditional finca, with a concerted effort to maintain the building’s inherent Ibicenco charm - the ancient olive press in the main building’s foyer has been conserved, for example, while décor remains rustically pared back, and alfresco, communal spaces have been designed to take advantage of captivating Ibiza town views. Time seems to stands still here – dine on the outdoor terrace by night and that special blend of midsummer Mediterranean magic is palpable.
It’s with these successful venues as blueprints that the Anadón family aims to continue protecting and building the island’s reputation; investing time and money in new hotels and projects that will help enhance and maintain the old school, enchanting spirit it was once famous for. “We feel we have to do things in a different way,” affirms Christian. “And so far it seems to be working. But we try and we learn every day.” It’s an attitude employed by their father in the past, and one that won’t deteriorate as the whole family moves forward together. “In the future, we want to help make the island better,” confirms Alan. “And we want to feel proud of what we’re doing because Ibiza is the best place in the world.”
On the evening of 27 June 1994, Javier Anadón opened the doors to his new enterprise in San Antonio for the first ever time, with little fanfare. A sign saying ‘Café Mambo’ was hung on the whitewashed walls of what was once an apartment building, and as people filed in, the enthusiastic entrepreneur with a twinkle in his eye selected the first song to echo from the bar’s speakers. The chosen tune was Bob Dylan’s ‘Time’s They Are A Changin’’; the opening was a surprise hit. Some will say Javier had luck on his side that night, others will say he had the certainty of prophecy.