PRESTIGE PROPERTIES - Going Green & Giving Back
By Jerry Brownstein
In 1976, a young woman named Pascale Dufournier came to live on the island of her dreams – Ibiza. Seven years later she founded Prestige Properties, which has become one of the island’s leading real estate agencies dedicated to the sale and rental of luxury properties. As the company grew it attracted people from many different backgrounds who shared Pascale’s love of Ibiza, and her desire to preserve its natural beauty. Pascale has recently passed on, but her legacy of protecting Ibiza continues with the Prestige family. Leading the way is Victor Van den Driessche who has been the sales director and managing partner since 2014. Victor was born and grew up on Ibiza, so he has a personal understanding of the inherent dangers to the island’s natural resources posed by mass tourism and excess construction. While acknowledging that there has been some progress, Victor feels that more can be done to create a better balance between commercial development and preserving what makes Ibiza special. He also rides his bike to work often, so is keenly aware of the need for more cycling paths that are safe and do not disturb traffic.
The entire staff at Prestige are aligned with this desire to protect our beautiful island. At the forefront of this effort is Anna Böttcher, who grew up on Ibiza before moving to England where she studied and worked for eleven years. After returning to the island she became product and marketing manager at Prestige in 2016. Anna is passionate about taking action to protect our natural paradise, and to continue the company’s role as a model of sustainability for other businesses on the island to follow. Prestige actively collaborates with local community and environmental organisations, and part of every commission for sale or rental is donated to IbizaPreservation to support their wonderful work in protecting our environment. Prestige also promotes the awareness of sustainable "green living" housing solutions, healthy outdoor activities, honouring the island’s traditions and supporting local businesses. In addition, they make regular contributions to local charities that focus on social equality.
Along with Victor and Anna, there are several other people on the Prestige staff who have strong views about the environment, with particular concerns about building regulations and water conservation. They support the fact that laws have recently been enacted to protect rustic land and limit tourist licences, but feel that more needs to be done. Having enough fresh water has always been a challenge here on Ibiza, but the island has historically recovered from its long dry summers during the wetter, less busy autumn and winter. However, during the past 20 years, greater consumption during the tourist season has depleted the underground water table (aquifers) to such an extent that the natural rainfall has not been enough to refill them. Inge van Knippenberg has put forth several suggestions on how this water situation can be improved; not just through conservation by individuals, but by cracking down on the wastefulness of many large businesses on the island.
also decries the poor water management, and how much is wasted through inefficient agriculture. On a personal level he is doing things that have a positive impact on the environment by organizing beach cleaning, promoting ecological food packaging and producing an ECO guide for tourists. Nina Negru
sees better collection and re-use of rainwater as part of the solution to Ibiza’s water problems. She is also baffled by the fact that we have 300 days of sunshine each year, yet we only use a small amount of that solar energy. Nina, along with most of the staff, shares Victor’s concern that we are not doing enough to balance the number of visitors with the need to protect the island’s environment.
On another note, Nina is making a positive impact as the founder of Food for Ibiza, which provides food for the less fortunate. Sander Otten
works with the Prestige rental team to make that aspect of the business more sustainable. He summarizes the problem of expanding construction this way: “We should try to preserve the beautiful nature of the island by not plotting a villa on every rock.”
Victor and the Prestige family are committed to being part of the solution for the problems caused by the explosive growth of tourism. One example of taking positive action is a new project that Anna is coordinating called “Campaña Escombro”. Many of us have had the experience of walking in the beautiful campo and then coming to a pile of construction rubbish. These illegal dumping sites are a blight on the landscape, and Prestige has created a process to clean them up. Anyone who sees one of these sites can report it by sending a photo and location pin to Prestige. Working with the Novaforma construction company, they will organize the removal of the rubbish, and its separation for proper disposal. This company, that has always been inspired by the love of Ibiza, encourages their clients, collaborators and all businesses on the island, to join them by actively embracing the spirit of “Going Green & Giving Back”.