Born in Croatia, Lana Love – creator of the Passion Café empire – moved to Ibiza in 2002. She launched Ibiza’s original ‘home of health and happiness’ in Playa d’en Bossa that same year, and has been expanding on the concept ever since. Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, Lana was in the thick of pre-season preparations, renovations and openings. Days were spent running Passion Marina and Santa Eulalia, working on the design and decoration of an exciting new project in Ibiza town, plus organising the Passion San Jose reopening.
“We opened San Jose on March 14. We were oblivious and thought lockdown wouldn’t reach us,” Lana admits. “All of a sudden we had to try and save all the food as we closed all the cafés. We also thought we’d be back, business as usual, after two weeks.” Seven weeks later, Passion Café has just resumed business, albeit on a scaled-down level, with new home delivery service and takeaway services. Here, Lana talks us through her experiences during lockdown in Ibiza.
Describe your current Ibiza lockdown situation? I’m so grateful to be living right by the sea. I’m in a small two-bedroom apartment with a balcony (luckily), so I am more than OK. I was completely alone for the first month, but then a friend let me spend time with her little French bulldog, who I adore. As my own beloved dog Jack passed away in October, having Bumper was the best thing for me during lockdown – he was my cuddle companion and my ‘walking permit’. Also, having the sea energy and open horizons to enjoy every day has definitely helped me. It is like a reminder that nothing is over, new things are on horizon, life goes on.
What is your daily life like now? In general, my days start with enjoying my morning coffee, knowing I don’t have to be or go anywhere! I’ve cooked a lot more than usual – this was the first time in many years that I had a full fridge! I would post my cooking to my Instagram stories – people kept asking for recipes, so I started sharing them too. But now, as I write this, I’m actually getting ready to go back to work. Passion has been given the green light to do home deliveries and take away (from Santa Eulalia), which is good to know as my staff were very anxious to start work again.
How are you feeling on a personal level right now? I’m doing OK. This is not the first crisis or battle I’ve had in my life. When I look back at the lockdown I went through during the war in Croatia many years ago, it is a million miles away from anything that’s happened during this crisis. I spent three months in a cellar, sleeping with 60 of my neighbours in one space as bombs were falling over our heads, destroying our homes, killing people by the thousands, crippling many for life. We had no shower, no fresh water, no electricity, no social media – we were living in semi darkness by candle light. My family and I lost everything we had. Everyone had to start all over again. We really don’t know when and how this crisis will finish, but all I can say – based on my own personal experience – that I have been through much worse, so I’m well prepared.
Who or what do you miss most right now? I miss the energy of my cafés, my staff, my customers, the sound of the coffee machine frothing milk, our blenders whizzing smoothies, people enjoying Passion goodies on our sunny terraces or snuggled inside on rainy days. I miss everything about my Passion. Oh, and I do miss a few of my friends. Almost got myself in trouble there!
What’s been most the challenging thing for you throughout this experience? Not moving enough! I’m just not a person that will do an online workout video. I need to walk, move, do things…
Has there been anything about the lockdown experience you’ve enjoyed? What I loved most is the rest and disconnect I’ve had from the stresses of everyday life. Last year I kept saying: ‘If only I could close all Passions for a month, I could completely disconnect.’ Even when there’s just one café open, or when I’m not in Ibiza, I just cannot disconnect! Now, I got what I wished for!
How do you keep in touch with the outside world? I spend an unreasonable amount of time on social media! My boyfriend ‘iPhone’ and I have deepened our relationship by spending so many more hours together over Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, hourly WhatsApp calls with family and friends. I have a lot more communication with my family than usual, which will continue after lockdown. Keeping in touch with your family is best ever.
What’s made you laugh during this time? Memes! Humans amaze me with their creativity and humour.
What are your eating habits like these days? I’m much more healthy now, as I eat three balanced meals a day, all homecooked. My cupboards were already full with so many of the supplements recommended for these times, I’m lucky to be a health freak in that way. I only went to the bio shop twice during lockdown, as I had a lot of ingredients left over from the Passion kitchens and I got an organic veg box home delivered once too.
Are you factoring exercise and movement into your time spent indoors? Does stretching count?
Have you set yourself any goals during this period? Nope. My goal was to relax, rest, sleep well, eat well, connect with my friends and family, and disconnect from what was giving me headaches. I’m achieving things and have so much to ‘produce’ all the time, I wasn’t going to put pressure on myself to learn Latin now…
How has the lockdown impacted your business and industry? It is too early to say how much is really affected. Surely there will be a financial setback that will take time to repay, but I’m keeping optimistic. I want to stay focused on solutions. I have been under enormous financial pressure in the past, and was in financial survival mode for many years – so much so that even those closest to me didn’t know as I didn’t want to worry them – so I know what all this means and I know I’ll get through it like I did every time before.
How do you manage your stress levels during such uncertain times? Well, I have to be honest and say that I’m not stressed. I really am not. This is just another obstacle in life to overcome. What will be will be and stressing about it will not lead me anywhere. I need energy to keep going, not that energy being consumed with stress.
What are your hopes for Ibiza in the future? I hope it will humble many. And that more people will be ready to be part of a solution, that people will embrace change and keep going instead of crumbling down. It is not the strong who will survive, but those who are not afraid of change. We need to support each other now and build an amazing community – an even bigger paradise on earth than Ibiza already is. As much as this situation is hard, we also have chance to dream about our new future. So, let us dream wisely.
Do you have any fears for the future of the island? Fear is not part of my vocabulary. I’m channelling my attention towards the greater future. Where attention goes, energy flows. My hope is that many learn from this situation – it will be a shame if some things go back to the way they were. I hope greed, arrogance and ignorance will be flushed away, not just in Ibiza but worldwide. Fake, soulless cultures, the mistreatment of animals, disrespect for planet, nature and all living beings. It’s time for change.
What about your own future – how is that looking right now? Well, I cannot wait to open my new Passion in Ibiza town! Vara de Rey, baby! There was so much excitement for the opening of this location – though now we have to wait. And I’m excited to finally be offering the Passion home delivery service that we have been asked to do for so many years.
Do you feel safe here? Is there anywhere else you’d rather be quarantined ? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! We are so lucky to be in Ibiza right now. Of course, it would be nice to be quarantined in a big house with friends and family, but I’m just going to be grateful now with what I have and where I am.
What are you most looking forward to when the restrictions are lifted?
Seeing my friends. And hugging people!
Is there anything you might miss? Oh yes! The comfort of it all. Like spending all day in my pyjamas…
Any other reflections or lessons you’d like to share? Things happen, good and bad, and as humans, we are built to survive many situations. For some it will be harder to continue and for others it will be easier, but life goes on. Don’t be scared to ask for help, whether it’s for advice, to talk, anything. Just keep going. This too shall pass.