By Lucian Reed-Drake
6am – get to bed for a much needed shut-eye. Midday – head out to sunbath at the beach, swim at the pool, go shopping, and chill out at a bar with some well-deserved R & R. 6pm – fill the belly and spruce yourself up for another night on the town. 7pm – start work, whether it will be handing out fliers, selling tickets, pouring cocktails, DJing, or waiting on tables. Whistle while you work as you meet all kinds of happy holidaymakers. 2am – shift finishes and it’s time for YOU to party…
This might just be a typical day-in-the-life for thousands of workers in summer resorts all over Europe or the Caribbean. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted, but why do so many go back year after year to work a season abroad?
Well if you love life, banter and the sun, this IS the thing for you. You don’t always need a degree or qualifications to work abroad. Personality and attitude pays the most and every week we receive hundreds of emails from workers who say ‘I’ve had the best summer of my life’.
Make no mistake; this is no walk in the park. The hours are long, the work is hard we are talking 7 days a week in most cases and there’s a lot of competition for jobs. In San Antonio, Ibiza, the competition for work is fierce, you really do have to be there in early April with a great big smile and the best attitude to get a chance of working and you will have to earn your job, that means if you are not good enough after a trial, there will be another hundred people behind you. In other top European resorts, it’s not quite as competitive but you’ll still have to prove you are worth it. The Greek islands are still a favourite place for workers, Malia in Crete, Laganas in Zakinthos, Agia Napa in Cyprus, Kavos in Corfu and Faliraki in Rhodes are some of the most popular destinations and there are literally thousands of jobs, mostly in bar, PR and ticket sales work. Thousands of people head out there in late April to early May and experience is not necessary, but you will need to prove you can work hard and smile on tap. The crystal waters of the Aegian sea and the most remarkable wall to wall sunshine has an addictive draw. Magaluf is still one of the busiest and most popular destinations for workers, on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Here you’ll find Stag and Hen weekends starting as early as March and ending in October, they are worth muchos dineros to the bar owners so they need good, reliable staff. In the height of the summer, you can’t see your flip flops for people walking up and down the strip. Jobs aplenty and a constant change of people week in week out, some people go there to find work and give up after a few weeks, so you can bank on finding work there generally all summer, as long as you are confident, gorgeous and show you have a good work ethic!
But just a thought people…beach parties until the sun rises, and the lifelong friends to be made, has revealed a lifestyle that is very hard to beat.
So at Working Abroad Magazine we wanted to give something back to those who love it so much. Buckle up for a whistle-stop tour of working in the most dynamic and buzzing resorts of Spain and Greece, all served on the rocks with some of the best memories and advice from the workers themselves!
San Antonio (IBIZA)
What do you get if you combine world famous clubs, perfect sunsets, massive aviators and the grooviest tunes in dance music? Ibiza, that’s what – Viva España!
Craig, worked in the most common field of PR and ticket selling, promoting the legendary Zoo Project party – set in an abandoned zoo! He tells us, “as there are big clubs, most PRs can make an absolute packet as your commission isn’t capped. Some jobs might pay a basic of €50 a week plus €10 commission per ticket you sell. So 20 people = €200! The worst paid job would probably be PRing for some rubbish bar in the West End! I was dragging people in for 50 cents per person! It all depends how much work you want to put in!”
We also interviewed Madz, a regular Ibiza-workert. Her advice? “I could not have ventured out without the help of www.digitalibiza.com. The site has jobs and accommodation, and I found some great people that were going out alone like me.”
WAM: What’s so good about working in Ibiza?
Madz: The nightlife is ‘amayonnaising’! This island has some of the world’s most famous clubs and bars. If you want a beautiful restaurant, sunset, good cocktails and a chill out; or if you fancy dancing in a huge club that is crammed with gorgeous people from all over the globe, then Ibiza is your next stop! Better than South Wales in the summer? FACT!
Hop across the Balearics and we reach Mallorca as we catch up with our expert Magaluf man, Andy “Donut” Dunn, bar manager at the Red Lion in Punta Ballena and now working with the legendary Mikey at Tokio Joes.
WAM: What’s it been like for Magaluf workers this season?
Donut: Summer 2008 in Magaluf was been a hot one! Temperatures have ranged from 40 degrees in the daytime to 30 degrees at night! It has been AWESOME and RAWSOME! The workers here just love the sun, sea and partying but we come here to work too! For many this year has been different, the PR ban is in full force and the jobs have been scarce. There are only a certain amount of people you can fit behind a bar! Although, like many of Europe’s top resorts, the further into the season you get, the more people start going home so everyone still does well in August and September. Next year the police will be more lenient with the PR’s so more jobs will be available. Good news! But Magaluf is still the best place to work a summer, trust me! Get out here next year in April. Book a month return flight just in case you lose ya bottle, but if you’re up for a good time, no, I mean a really, really good time, you’ll crack it here and everyone is so friendly and helpful, the workers stick together.
Zante is one ever-popular resort which proves the Greek islands aren’t just about dipping cucumbers in tzatziki! It has retained a close-knit community that always brings workers back.
We spoke to Emma, who fell in love with Laganas resort after a girlie holiday, and ended up working two seasons. She loves it because it’s smaller than the others, “we pass messages up and down the strip to each other via tourists, so all the workers and tourists know each other – it’s a really friendly vibe!”
WAM: Are there other things to do during the day in Zante?
Emma: Yeah, loads, it’s not just bars and clubs! There are beaches, water sports, flair and football tournaments, BBQs and parties for the workers. Also check out boats trips to Shipwreck Cove and Turtle Island, as well as Zante Town, and cliff diving!
We talked with Liam, who worked for PartyO, as a PR during the day, and a bartender and general party game organiser by night.
WAM: What tips/advice for working a season?
Liam: Save up before you arrive. Having a healthy bank balance will allow you to enjoy the summer and not have to worry about how you were going to afford your next €1.50 bottle of white wine or living off Gyros (the Greek equivalent of a kebab!). And it may seem like a good idea at the time for you and your mates to get a symbol to remember your time working abroad, but please remember, a tattoo is for life!
Skim across to the other side of the Aegean Sea, and Faliraki is still proving a to be a hit. Raki veteran, DJ Terry “Turbo” Lee has been there since 1997. He reports, “there seemed to be a real shortage of workers this year, so It’s not hard to find a job. Book up a cheap package holiday to give you a base to start from. The season runs from Apr-Oct, and people do on stay on and work in the winter too. You can be 16+ to work, although you may need a bit of experience in some bars, last summer most workers were picking and choosing their work.”
WAM: What advice do you have for those wanting to work abroad?
Terry: An honest warning would be to please take on board that you are in a foreign country. Respect the Greek people and they will respect you. Always take advice from other workers there before you agree to anything. Do that and you’ll have the best summer of your life!
Stacey worked as a PR, Entertainer and Shot Girl in the Bliss and Ice Bars in Malia, Crete. Her advice? “It can be really easy to find a job, just ask the owners of bars and clubs, smile and be confident, and they would tell you to come back the next day and start.
WAM: What is the salary like in Malia?
Stacey: The average salary is about 25-30 euros a night. It may seem low but you do get plenty of workers discounts in Malia and free drinks! As a shot girl, I worked on commission so you can make more depending on how many shots you sell. In most restaurants and cafes, waitress’ can expect to earn €40 a day, but are rewarded in good tips and free food and drink. Bar staff get a good salary but often work longer hours!
Our final port on our Euro-tour, is Corfu, where Stephen, 22, has done four seasons back-to-back; his latest stint at TKD’s International Restaurant. As a veteran PR he has some invaluable tips; “working for lively bars requires a huge amount of energy and the ability to talk to absolutely anyone.
Working for restaurants is totally different, you’ve got to be very polite and pleasant and most of the time you’re not PRing for ‘right now’, very often it’s going to be for the next day or even the last night. It’s about convincing the punter it was their idea to come to your restaurant, when actually it was yours, a seed you’ve sewn days before.”
WAM: How can you find accommodation in Kavos?
Stephen: Ask around in the shops when you arrive. Everybody in Kavos owns loads of things, most of the time any flat you see is owned by the nearest business to it.
WAM: What sets Kavos out from the rest of them?
Stephen: It’s got to be the sun! Turning my hair blonde and stepping my tan up to Phase 4 Greek God. Not many Greeks actually live in Kavos so they are quite happy to keep all the English happy having their own separate town to ‘paint red’. Check out Rolling Stone, there is no place like this on earth!
So there we have it. Just a taster of the feast of experiences that Spain and Greece offer for workers each summer. It’s clear that the jobs and salaries are often similar between resorts. If you want to earn more, then it’s mostly down to how much experience you have as returning workers are definitely paid more. But even if this will be your first summer working abroad, you’ll manage, just like the thousands before you. Spain has its fame and Greece has its beauty, but they both share their united values of having FUN. Do your research, speak to previous workers on Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Who knows where you will be next season. Do it, and you’ll be dancing on the sand before you know it.