Cited by some as the original Ibizan Rockstar, Diego Calvo is an island native and owner of the Concept Hotel Group which includes hospitality standouts Santos, Tropicana, Dorado, Cubanito and, our personal favourite, the Paradiso Art Hotel. As the man behind Rock Nights, he produces the rock & roll parties which recreate the epic social scene of the 80s and 90s. We sat down with Diego to get all the insights about the island’s rock & roll scene, the greatest moments in his career so far and how the music genre inspired his businesses.
What can you tell us about the history of rock & roll on Ibiza?
In the 70s there was a boom in Ibiza when rock stars from all over the world chose the island as the place to party, record an album, spend their holidays or perform live. There are many anecdotes and stories of great stars linked to Ibiza – Nina Hagen got married on the island in 1987 in a punk-themed wedding which lasted two days, Freddie Mercury celebrated his famous 40th birthday at the legendary Pikes hotel, and the list just goes on.
What were some of the inspirations behind your hotels?
Many of the ideas and inspirations for the hotels came to me from the things that have influenced my way of life, such as Route 66 roadside motels, art deco architecture from South Beach Miami and the vintage world in general. I’ve been working in the hotel industry since the age of 17 and have managed to combine it with my other passion, that being rock & roll of course. My party business Rock Nights, which was created in 2005, was also inspired by individuals in the hospitality business such as Ian Schrager, creator of the first boutique hotel group Morgans Hotel Group – he took the industry to another level by making hotels not just places to sleep but also social spaces.
You’ve made it clear how much rock & roll plays a role in your life. How does the music genre influence your business spaces?
Each hotel has its own concept, essence and history to tell, and the rule-breaking attitude of rock & roll is present in some more than in others. Our office design was inspired by the TV series Vinyl by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, set in the 1970s New York record label world. We have an American Wurlitzer II from 1968 that works with francs, an original Azkoyen tobacco machine from the 1970s and a bourbon bar. So, rock & roll plays an everyday role in my businesses.
Can you elaborate on the sources of inspiration behind your Dorado Ibiza Suites?
The Dorado Ibiza Suites were created with the idea of opening an exclusive hotel where the theme was revolved around the history of rock & roll. There are 14 suites, each of them paying tribute to a gold disc. In addition, there are books about each room’s featured artist and a golden headboard in the shape of that artist. We have the ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ suite by Joan Jett, ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys, and the honorary gold disc by Loquillo – one of the biggest rock & roll stars in Spain who dropped by last year to inaugurate it personally.
What is the future of rock & roll on the island?
Rock & roll will always be global; it is a style that has and will continue to endure over time. There are many genres like electronic dance and reggaeton that are still fads, but rock & roll is forever. We have managed to take our Rock Night parties to the island’s biggest clubs, and since then have opted for smaller venues, holding weekly parties at the Pikes hotel. I cannot be prouder of being able to continue with this adventure that initially began with the desire to listen to music that we used to listen to in our car when we went out to party.
How has live music developed on the island?
At the end of the 1970s Ibiza saw huge artists such as Bob Marley and Eric Clapton come to perform live. The Ibiza ’92 festival, promoted by Pino Saglioco, was responsible for bringing some of the biggest stars to the island, and it was Ibiza Rocks who later took up the baton of live music on the island between 2005 and 2017. Each summer they played host to great bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Primal Scream, which was the last big concert that Ibiza Rocks celebrated. The after-party of this concert was held at our Rock Nights in Pikes and was attended by the band led by Bobbie Gillespie along with Kate Moss, who partied until the early morning.
You live and breathe rock & roll – why is it so important to you?
For me personally it’s important because it’s part of my lifestyle, I could not conceive my life without music. Ibiza will always continue to exist, and Rock Nights will continue to fight for different sounds with the support of the people who follow us and the fantastic collective of local bands, musicians, artists and rock stars who continue to choose Ibiza as the place for their recordings or simply as a place to party or live. Long live rock & roll in Ibiza, baby!