Broekman & Olivera Property: The Perfect Partnership


THE shambolic construction site on which we stand may now only be a whitewashed shell, but with Broekman and Olivera at the helm it is most certainly destined for great things.

THE structure, on the clifftops of Calla Moli, is the soon-to-be-abode of Mert Alas (of Mert and Marcus fashion photographers fame) and if you look beyond the dusty facade of abandoned tools and twisted wires you can see the potential it has for a beautiful home.

The views are breathtaking: panoramic seascapes met by hilly green overlooking the island’s south-west shore. There’s the rectangle hollow at the cliff’s concrete ridge, which will make for a spectacular infinity pool, while the expansive window frontage affords space and warmth within.

This is the work of two creators who have been building, buying, selling, renovating and renting properties in Ibiza and Formentera for over 15 years. John Broekman, a marketer from Amsterdam, and Gabriel Olivera, an architect from Uruguay, unite their unique tastes – romantic and modern, respectively – to bring to the fore innovative designs in one inspired enterprise: Broekman & Olivera.

“We’re totally two different types of people when it comes to working a style and taste,” Broekman says. “But it works very well because there’s a natural flow. We’re very flexible and very manageable and very creative. It gives a very nice mix.”

They credit their success to the personal client relationships they’ve carefully nurtured over the years. “We work with the emotions of the clients more than anything,” Broekman continues. “You get drunk with them, you speak with them about the wife, you speak with them about the kids. They call you in the middle of the night and say ‘my light doesn’t go, what do I do?’ And so it’s very rewarding on levels of human experience. It’s very intense when it comes to the work because we work with people that demand quality. Because in their own line of work they have quality,
so they expect the same back.”

“We try to make the client happy,” Olivera adds. “The client is a very important part of the project. He has to feel good.”

“Robert Plant, he’s God to a lot of people,” Broekman adds. “But here he calls me every minute of the day when he’s here, ‘what do I do with this, when do I do this,’ and that’s the funny thing because these are not things that happen in normal life. Ibiza is a bit surreal in a lot of areas.”

It is Ibiza’s inimitable eccentricity that he so endearingly refers to on several occasions: “We’ve noticed through the years that a lot of people come here and they want to be part of the surreal Disneyland feel. Everybody suddenly becomes different as soon as they land in Ibiza.”

Broekman first arrived on the island in 1992, when he was asked to launch an interior design shop. “That shop grew. We started to do landscaping and construction. Then in 1999 I went my own way into construction and property. Straight away I was living here the whole year-round. I didn’t have any time to look back. I got married [to long-term resident Leah Tilbury], had kids, the works. So I got stuck here.” Bringing his marketing and restaurant experience from Holland he also launched Las Banderas hotel in Formentera and Ocho restaurant in Ibiza along the way – two successful ventures in their own right.

Olivera, an architect and artist who left an art director career in the movies, disembarked in 1990 and was involved in the construction of El Divino nightclub in ‘91. The pair later met in 2002 and partnered up, incidentally, thanks to Mert and Marcus, who Broekman was working with at the time. “I heard through the grapevine that Gabriel was the best so I contacted him. And then we decided basically that if we could bundle forces then maybe everything would go better.”

So after all these years together, how have they seen the island change?

“In the ‘90s it was much more glamorous,” Broekman says. “You looked at people and people had character. When we both came, it was spontaneous, now it’s in all the magazines. It’s very superficial at the moment, very, very superficial.”

They casually dismiss their noticeable discontent, chuckling about the island’s interminable idiosyncrasies. Besides, they are far too busy modernising the landscape to brood over such frivolities. “We’re busy and we don’t take on too much work. We have an X amount of work that we take every year because it’s very intense, but it’s a market which is moving.

“Ibiza still gives this magic touch that you can create your own castle. We have a very nice type of clientele, famous and not famous, internationally successful and not. But you meet very interesting people and you start to see things in a different way. We learn in life by what we do. Every day is a new life experience.”

First published in Pacha Magazine, Ibiza, September 2010.
© Abbey Stirling