Through the course of writing this, I discovered a few things. I realised that should it be possible I’d like to spend my last day on Earth in Ibiza. I have also decided that I’d like to be reincarnated as Diego Calvo.
Diego Calvo is the entrepreneurial rock star, who looks like he was born for the camera and red carpet. Sartorially stylish, with dark sunglasses and a golden tan, he is the embodiment of vintage Hollywood; the Mediterranean boy, with a love for rock music, vintage clothes, interiors, classic cars and of course hotels.
CEO and Founder of Concept Hotel Group, Diego Calvo is the King of Ibiza, who has created a portfolio of properties that stand as testaments to their visionary ethos, with each establishment a unique manifestation of artistic excellence and imagination.
The Concept Hotel Group, as the name suggests, is a conceptual group of hotels. It was created in 2013 with Diego’s good friend Tallyn Planells, and working together, they wanted to create something different from anything that was happening in Ibiza.
With so many hoteliers and promoters replicating the same old tired product, they saw a blank canvas to paint the world they wanted to see. It was a pleasure for The Atlantic Dispatch to sit down with Diego Calvo, and learn more about his journey so far.
Welcome to Ibiza you son of a bitch
Diego dares to imagine and create hotels that are far from ordinary. From the moment guests step foot inside a Concept Hotel property, they are greeted by an atmosphere that transcends reality, transporting them into a world where dreams and fantasies come alive.
Design is the language at the heart of the Concept Hotel Group’s philosophy. Every element within their hotels is meticulously curated to tell a captivating story, weaving together themes that range from cinematic to the surreal. The Concept Group collaborates with acclaimed architects, interior designers, and artists, pushing the boundaries of what is conceivable in the realm of hospitality design.
Each hotel is an art exhibition, a performance, and a visual feast that demands to be seen. You are surrounded by an aesthetic that slaps you in the face, kisses you and says ‘Welcome to Ibiza you son of a bitch.’
Santos is where it all began. It was created to connect Diego’s passion for music with the island. Each room is a different experience with a variety of musical icons. You can stay in the George Michael Suite and it explains how he recorded the Club Tropicana video at the legendary Pikes. You can also stay in the Nina Hagen room and it tells the story of her three-day punk-inspired wedding in Ibiza. This is where the idea for concepts was born and it led to Tropicana which was inspired by the film Cocktail and is a pink and pastel dream with MiMo and Martini glasses that turn into showers.
Their next venture was Dorado where each room is dedicated to a classic song that was a certified gold record. From the minute you enter your room at Dorado’s you are seduced by a selection of songs playing on a mini-turn table. It is, in essence, a place made for the lover, and the rocker, and is dripping in delicious designs. One of their most evocative properties is Cubanito, which was made and designed to offer a true taste of Havana. It is an explosion of colours, with live Cuban music, salsa, and mojitos, with a rooftop that offers the best sunset spot in San Antonio Bay.
Paradiso came next, and this is where Miami comes to the Balearics and where art is at the focal point of the hotel, with exhibitions and galleries curated by the ADDA GALLERY PARI sitting alongside a tattoo studio. Then there is Romeos which pays cultural homage to Cinematic Americana, taking inspiration from iconic movies filmed in the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s a luxury motel reimagined from Route 66 and is for the lovers and sinners amongst us who think nothing of getting married, divorced and sinning all in the same night.
Grand Paradiso, takes a step in the mind of Wes Anderson and encapsulates Art Deco in a creamy pastel dream. You can imagine Jay Gatsby holding court here, listening to jazz, drinking Whiskey and embracing every aspect of hedonism. It is an altar to the seventh art, and its three grand suites are named after Almódovar, David Lynch and of course Wes Anderson. Adding to the vintage character of Grand Paradiso is a cinema of artistic dreams playing classic films and documentaries, to a world of Bridget Bardot and Paul Newman.
Mongibello is the latest property to join the family. It is an ode to Italy and The Talented Mr Ripley. With Mongibello, Diego has created his very own Ibizan Dolce Vita, which is so palpable you can taste it on the tip of your tongue, you can hold it in your hands, and Christ you could even make love to it! The Monsoon of Mediterranean creativity that is Diego Calvo won’t be stopping there though. Next summer will see the launch of Los Felices, the world’s first fashion hotel.
In a world that often feels consumed by routine and monotony, Diego Calvo is the remedy; born to paint the world a hundred and one different colours with infectious energy, unyielding positivity and unwavering passion.
we were creating hotel brands with a different eye
“I went to university in Mallorca to study hotel management,” explains Diego. Then I did a master’s in hotel management in San Pol de Mar, close to Barcelona and where it is the oldest hotel management school. It was then until 2013 I was working in many different hotel groups like Marriott, Hilton, and NH among others working in all kinds of positions, I wanted to experience them all.”
“It was then in 2012, that everything would change. “I was drinking at home with one of my best friends Tallyn. He was the director of the big club Privilege at the time and I was one in general management in a big hotel group, after lots of speaking we realised we were not happy with our work and we promised to start a hotel business together.
“We started with our first hotel in 2013 and we have now created 8 hotel brands. Marc Rahola a good friend, is also now part of Concept Hotel Group too and we both fly together in this wild adventure.”
As Diego reflects on what has been an incredible journey, I ask him when he knew they were onto something special. “It was in 2015 after we opened the second hotel Tropicana when we realised that we were doing something very unique and that we were creating hotel brands with a different eye.”
Diego hasn’t just created his own vision, he has completely re-imagined the way hotels should be. He has invented his own rule book and is building brands and concepts in a way that hasn’t been seen on an island where you think you’ve seen everything.
When you love and have passion for something the things you create are more authentic and real
In 2020, Diego was included in the Forbes Magazine list of the most 100 creative people in Spain, recognising the way he has helped energise the hotel industry. Since then he has continued to go from strength to strength, defying what should be possible in search of creating and developing new and exciting opportunities for his portfolio. So what is it that continues to drive him? “Each hotel represents most of our passions. When you love and have passion for something the things you create are more authentic and real. There are so many hotel chains that try to create a particular brand but it’s not enough to have money and a big team, you need to have the passion for it and to feel it and experience it.”
Therein lies the secret of what makes Diego successful. His unrelenting desire to give everything to each concept. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into his brand and no stone is left unturned. It is the intricate details that exist in each property that bring them all to life, and in turn, it also gives life to Diego.
When you see how much each of his creations means to him and the contagious excitement it creates for him, it’s not hard to see how he managed to make so many masterpieces. He takes care of every little detail with an unquenching thirst, and you can see the love in what he does in every corner and corridor.
He is personally involved in the interior design and conceptualisation of each project, and with an Imaginarium of ideas, what is it that really inspires him? “We take so much inspiration from movies from the 80s and 90s, the architecture of South Beach, Palm Springs, or the photography from Slim Aarons among many other things. I also get a lot of inspiration from hoteliers I love and what they did in the industry, from Ian Schrager to Tony Pike, Alan Faena and Liz Lambert among others.”
Diego has always been obsessed with the Palm Springs aesthetic, so much so that his girlfriend named their house ‘Villa Carmelita’ after the house Cher and Sonny had there. Indeed, American culture is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Diego’s psyche and the image of Hollywood’s golden era and venues like Chateau Marmont are never far from his mind when he is cultivating concepts.
Famed interior designers and architects such as Verner Panton, Ettore Sottsass, Ricardo Bofill and John Lautner, are also prevalent in many aspects of Diego’s creations and it is an indicator of how much research and hard work goes into making sure each property is given all the attention to detail needed to create something showstopping.
From branding that captures the personality of each hotel to the photography and filmography, websites and social media channels, you are given an insight into the effort that takes place to ensure that the brand that Diego has created maintains its standards. “The most difficult aspect of building a business from zero is the early days when you have to work so hard to survive every day. My main objective now is always to improve and improve in every project. I like each new hotel to be the best. And I like the feeling of always surprising myself.”
“When you love and have passion for something the things you create are more authentic and real. There are so many hotel chains that try to create a particular brand but it’s not enough to have money and a big team, you need to have the passion for it and to feel it and experience it.”Diego Calvo
DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS
Music is another of Diego’s passions and you see it integrated seamlessly throughout his hotels. He even helped create a renaissance of rock music on an island which was drowning in the repetitive noise of inane beats that would throb until the early hours.
“One of the main objectives in creating our hotel brands in Ibiza was to be different from the others. We did the same with our rock and roll party called Rock Nights which happens monthly at the legendary hotel Pikes, which is something unique on the island. The result was very positive, we have a big percentage of customers booking directly with us, big brands like Loewe, Versace or Armani booking our hotels and we are a case study for hotel schools today.”
In fact, Rock Nights can now be considered part of the very fabric of Ibiza. It was in 2005 when Diego launched Rock Nights, and it was a night designed to celebrate his love of rock music. Initially, it was intentionally held in smaller venues, so you could feel the face-to-face nature and excitement that these nights could bring. Then in 2010, it started to get attention from the big clubs. So the party was taken to Pacha, Space, Privilege and to Ushuaïa. It is a night that continues to live on and since 2014 it has been hosted at Pikes Hotel, and it remains a celebration of guitars fighting against a sea of electronics, swimming against the current of convention.
To be born and raised in Ibiza is one of my life’s treasures
Ibiza allows you to be the person you want to be and is a place of infinite possibilities. “To be born and raised in Ibiza is one of my life’s treasures,” Diego tells us. “I love the island as it’s a paradise, 300 days of sun, very multicultural, and it’s having 7 months of tourism and then 5 months of creativity and enjoying your family more.”
The island really does weave its magic around you, inviting you to surrender to its undeniable allure. It is a place where dreams are nurtured, passions are ignited, and the boundaries of reality are blissfully transcended—it is the power of beauty, freedom, and the human spirit. It is a place that is impossible not to fall in love with.
Part of its beauty is that it has something for everybody. It’s an eclectic piece of priceless art with its rolling hills, adorned with verdant olive groves and swaying palm trees, creating a serene backdrop against the endless expanse of turquoise waters, and its heavenly hedonistic nightlife. So what does his ideal day in Ibiza look like for Diego? “It has to be breakfast at Es Pins ( best bread in the world), swim at Cala Boix, lunch at Ses Boques, sunset at Cubanito, dinner at Es Ventall, rock and roll at Rock Nights at Pikes and then an after party at the secret room in Romeos.”
From dusk till dawn, Ibiza’s heartbeat reverberates through the island, leaving an indelible imprint on the souls of those who seek liberation and celebration. But it is when the sun bids farewell and the night sky casts its velvety cloak upon Ibiza that the island truly awakens. Ibiza’s legendary nightlife sets the stage for an unforgettable extravaganza, where time is irrelevant and inhibitions fade away. World-renowned clubs emerge from their daytime slumber, their facades illuminated by a kaleidoscope of neon lights, while the air pulsates with the contagious rhythms of music or in Diego’s case, Rock and Roll.
PINK CADILLACS, HOT TUBS AND WEDDING CHAPELS
For me, one of the great innovations of Concept Group Hotels is that they have managed to create a portfolio of properties that all have their own individual personality. When I asked Diego what people could expect from the Concept Group experience, he said, “Each place, is a very different stay, not only because of the design but because of what we offer in terms of storytelling, artistic and cultural content and elements of surprise like the pink Cadillac converted into a hot tub or the wedding chapel at Romeos.”
Their innovation also extends to the world of media, where they have created the excellent Stories Magazine. A very non-corporate publication that compiles each and every one of their passions in features covering Music, Art, Fashion, Design and Film. It is slammed full of articles, insights, and picture-perfect photography which brings to life the brand and it allows you to see further into the minds of the Concept Group.
As our time comes to an end, I put it to Diego that out of everything he has created he must have a favourite hotel. “Being a dad of two beautiful girls that question is like asking me which of my daughters I love the most. I have to say that I always feel a special love for the last one. I felt it last year with Grand Paradiso and Im feeling it now with Mongibello.
The Art of Living and Italy will officially come to Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, on Friday 14th when Mongibello launches, and it will open another new chapter in the incredible life of Diego Calvo. So what does the rest of the year have in store for the man with an insatiable appetite for life? “After opening Mongibello we are gonna focus all winter on preparing Los Felices our hotel number 9. That will open next summer also at the Bay of San Jose. It will be the first fashion hotel in the world with a Palm Springs interior design and architecture. Get ready!”
Our thanks to the gentleman that is Diego Calvo.
Follow the journey and adventures of Diego here.