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San José have taken anew direction in their fight to reclaim the municipality’s beaches which has seen an influx of the beach club business model in recent years.
San Jose’s coastline is comprised of many small beaches and one very long one at Playa d’en Bossa adjoining Ibiza Town. Historically most beaches would have one or two traditional family owned restaurants, and perhaps some simple ‘chiringuito’ bars.
The explosion of interest in Ibiza’s daytime party sector has resulted in a complete change of identity for many beaches as the locals move out and the DJs move in.
Fight them on the beaches
There has been considerable opposition to the beaches losing their peace and quiet, but it isn’t just about the music. Many residents and tourists have complained at being excluded from empty areas of beach that the clubs say is reserved for their clients only – and that now comes with a hefty price tag many times what was charged for sunbeds and parasols before the new clubs arrived. There have been claims of heavy handed treatment by the club security staff, and of encroaching beyond their permitted limits – though there is often a lack of clarity as to exactly where those limits are.
This new demarcation has brought the shift towards the VIP market into sharp relief on some beaches where the remaining public parts are packed full, with those who want and can afford to pay, in spacious comfort just over the tape.
Watch out for an attack from the rear
On the other side of the argument the businesses say they are just responding to a changing market and that if they did not Ibiza would lose the tourism income. Those who are pro the idea of adapting to this undeniably present demand will say that the importance is far greater than the money taken in the till in a summer season. They argue that at a macro level any inability to meet this demand on Ibiza’s part would result in a loss of its brand leading position and reputation – and with destinations such as Croatia soaring in popularity and working in far less restrictive administrative and regulatory controls, there is little doubt that there will be plenty of Ibiza’s competitors that will be only too pleased to offer the market what Ibiza will not. They will be able to do it at a far lower price as well.
Reinforced San José on the attack
We cannot know whether San José’s position is one of thinking there is little or no risk of losing the tourist income from this upscale party people market, or whether they know the risk but feel it is one worth taking, that Ibiza would be better served with its beaches returned to their pre-beach club state, even if the tourists went elsewhere.
But regardless of their motivation and stance, there is little doubt they want the beach clubs stopped.
Their position is strengthened by the new Balearic Tourist law passed two weeks ago that specifies any individual municipality can take their own decision to strengthen/make tougher their own rules relating to entertainment licencing. They cannot relax the regional standard, but they can make it more strict.
In this context they announced last week that all beach clubs would have to reduce their noise levels from the current 85db to the lower 65db by the start of next season or face very tough fines.
It seems the lawyers must have been hard at work behind the scenes as their announcement this week takes a completely different direction in challenging the beach clubs right to be beach clubs at all.
Paperwork & Permits
Their argument is that though all the clubs in question may have registered with the central island government, the Consell, that is only a small part of the authority and registration they must hold to be a beach club.
San José say that the clubs must also gain permission from them as the local council, and that none of them have done so.
No Music No DJs
They say that without this additional registration all of the clubs are still officially restaurants and so only entitled to work as such – with NO live music and NO DJs allowed.
Though their report does not state that the additional licence for a change from restaurant to beach club would automatically be declined, their stance and position on the subject would require a change in political colour at the Town Hall before any of the clubs would be able to get that licence. With the strength of feeling in the local community as strong as it is, you would have to question any party’s likelihood of getting elected on a platform supporting the beach clubs.
The San José Front
It is not surprising San José is the municipality taking action on the beach club issue – as most of them are within its boundaries.
A decade ago there was one full on club. Bora Bora in Playa d’en Bossa. With a reputation as a den of iniquity, but it still had a ‘bit of rough’ charm that won a lot of us over. Then there was Sa Trinxa on Salinas, no less hedonist, but in a far less obtrusive, more bohemian, more naked, kind of way. The Jocky Club on Salinas has a DJ, but usually of the sunworn seated variety and certainly no expectation of a tempo beyond gentle sway.
And to my immediate memory, that was it around 2007/8.
In 2017 the map of the coast is very different.
San José have issued 7 ‘you are a restaurant only’ notices in Playa d’en Bossa, 2 in Cala Jondal, 1 in Cala Moli, 1 in Vadella, 4 in Cala Bassa, and 1 in Cala Tarida.
Port d’es Torrent
Starting at the end of the bay, Cala Bassa beach club have reportedly purchased two of the 4 venues and much adjoining land of Port Des Torrent, and one of the bars they are taking over is already working as what many would describe as a beach club. Interesting to note that no Port Des Torrent bar is mentioned in the council information.
Cala Bassa is of course already home to the original Cala Bassa Beach Club which represents arguably the biggest change impact on a single beach – though its many fans would look at that fact as positively as its detractors would negatively. The council state they have issued 4 notices in Cala Bassa. We think they may all be to the same Cala Bassa club who own all 4 of the beach concessionaires.
Round to Cala Tarida and Cotton Club sits looking over the beach. Personally I have received far less complaint as to its impact than many others, but as there seems nobody else the town hall could call ‘beach club’, their elevated position has not saved them from inclusion.
At Can Moli it would have to be Bagatelle beach we assume.
At Cala Vadella our best guess is Maya?
Blue Marlin on Cala Jondal has built a worldwide luxury brand on it’s Cala Jondal origins. And quite humble origins compared to the current epitome of the high end V.I.P. luxury that has swept Ibiza. I can remember eating in the adjacent Yumanja when Blue Marlin was the young and rather gobby kid on their block. We commented on the peculiarity of a 4 poster day bed taken down onto the beach and how out of place it looked stranded someway from the building with empty space between. It would not be surprising if the Blue Marlin founders shared a smile if it turns out their empire was built on an unlicensed venue.
The other Jondal candidate would be Tropicana we think, unless both Jondall’s notices apply to Blue Marlin.
Salinas (not affected)
As I write this Jon Sa Trinxa and Kenneth Bager will be playing the Southern sun on Salinas and hopefully news that Sa Trinxa and the Jockey Club are not included in the hit list will have the party that bit more hedonistic, though more naked would take some doing. Is Salinas excluded for any particular reason, we have no idea.
Plays d’en Bossa
Bossa’s long expanse of beach is now home to many venues that could fall either side of the beach club/restaurant velvet rope. Bora Bora has faced ongoing problems because of its restaurant only licence over the past two years, though again why it came up as an issue after two decades of dancing with the same restaurant licence they hold today nobody knows.
Next door neighbour Jet would seem a likely candidate for the second of the seven.
Then for the remaining five it is take your pick from …
The Beach Club at Hard Rock Hotel,
and any number of new ones that may have sprung up as they seem to with routine predictability.
This is one of those issues where the size of the battle the San José council have taken on will leave a lot of people doubting it will ever be fought let alone won.
It is one of those issues where in the past it would raise a quite cynical and suspicious response in some people. That there was never an intent to enforce the law, it is just a mechanism to extract backhanders for not enforcing it, for letting it drop. Not that we would ever think that at the Ibizan you understand, just better make that clear in light of Spain’s gag laws – we don’t think it, but we know people who would have, a few years back.
But whatever reason anyone may have to doubt the genuine nature of their agenda, There are signs that they do mean business.
First, if it was just about placating the voters, last week’s announcement of the conversation quiet 65db would have done the job in keeping the electoral roll happy. So why go further?
Second, San José recently took on the taxi drivers. Anybody with a knowledge of Ibiza government’s dealings with the taxi drivers will know that just doesn’t happen. Standard protocol is to do whatever is needed to stop upsetting them further and give a TV sound bite confirming the taxi drivers to be God’s chosen people and pirate taxis to be officially ranked alongside paedophiles.
But San José took them on. Mid season too.
So there are indicators that San José are up for a fight. But there is contradictory evidence too. For example it was only two years ago they sold the beach sunbed etc concessions from under the local families bums in a high bidder takes all, no questions asked sell off, that seems totally at odds with this ‘reclaim our traditional beaches’ mantra.
But if they do take on this fight, and if they win it, make no mistake the consequences will be huge. The risks will be huge too.
However much anybody is opposed to the Ibiza shift to VIP, were we to lose that business in the space of a few years, with nothing in its wake to replace it. There would be a lot of squeaky trousers waiting to come out the other side.
But perhaps the most likely outcome is the most frequent.
Lots of pontificating politicians, a few token photo-shoot denuncias, and everything will go back to pretty well normal, blind eyes turned all round and the law more of a serving suggestion than a mandatory process.
After all, it is very hot. Way too hot to be doing much about anything really.
Note from the Editor
I have received two direct responses from beach clubs mentioned.
One stating they have not received a letter and wanting to disassociate themselves from the report. So in that regard I will restate that the article is based upon the number of notices Sant Josep have issued to venues on various beaches, and details those venues likely to be affected. Some beaches are obvious, others such as Playa dén Bossa are more ambiguous. I agree that instead of leaving us to deduce it would have been better if Sant Josep had simply named those venues affected, or if they did not want us to know who was included, not to have given the information on how many notices were issued to which beaches. But given the information Sant Josep provided I feel the deductions and assumptions made are logical and reasonable.
The other response stated that they were pleased the “other side of the argument” had been presented. Which I take to mean the risks in loosing the business generated by the clubs, and at a macro level the market sector. We have no “editorial agenda” for or against. But as a writer it is good to hear positive feedback from both sides of the argument. The intent is for an objective and balanced report based on Sant Josep´s communication to press against which we have applied our own knowledge of Sant Josep´s beaches and beach clubs.
For the record my own personal views. I do not see why we have to approach it on such “all or nothing” terms. For beach clubs or against them. I love quiet beaches and have been disappointed when music has encroached. Port Des Torrent is a personal example. But equally I have had some of my most enjoyable and memorable times dancing on Ibiza´s beaches. For several years Bora Bora was holiday home base and on first relocating my local bar. Every restriction on its liberty, be it fences, volume, opening times, has saddened me, but I know some people find the place totally objectionable.
The trouble with any system where some are allowed, some are not, is how do you set the rules. This is particularly important in a Spain trying to move on from its problems of government corruption in recent years.
As to the designation of beaches the council have the necessary controls. Already there are designated dog beaches, nudist beaches, did i see talk of a no smoking beach?, so they could just as easily designate specific beaches as entertainment beaches. But how to fairly decide which ones?
Although Sant Josep has the majority of Ibiza´s problem within its boundary, it is also staring the solution in its face. Well it would be if it looked up anyway. From the point of noise pollution, and that is the issue Sant Josep continue to raise, can anybody tell me what the point is in making a beach “quiet” when it has Boeing jets flying over it as they come in to land every few minutes? You can close every club, confiscate every radio and gaffer tape the mouths of wailing babies, but a beach on the flight-path is still not going to be quiet and relaxed. And importantly nobody on the side of reclaiming the tranquillity of Ibiza´s beaches can claim they have lost anything since the jets started arriving in numbers.
As San Jose´s luck would have it the two flight-path beaches are also the two that have the longest standing clubs on them (perhaps they started when common sense was applied), and are also the two where noise has minimal impact to the resident community. So let Salinas and Bossa get on with it. Providing the service that sector of tourism wants as designated entertainment beaches, while those beaches that have been more recently developed are returned to tranquillity.
Outcome is that everyone has somewhere to go to get what they want, and nobody can claim clubs are causing additional environmental pollution as the noise of the jets is greater than their own output.
That is just my view. Of course it will seem totally unfair to those affected, and I have nothing against them personally.
My apologies if you have had difficulty accessing this article. Even 18 hours after publication traffic levels continue to exceed our server resources, though at time of writing it has reduced to being down a few minutes an hour. We do have a new server able to handle our much increased traffic, and the difficulty with this particular article is the incentive needed to get the site transferred.