I get it. We weren’t be able to go to Italy this European summer, and next European summer is looking pretty iffy right now too. So lets create our own version right here. It makes sense. And Bondi is the right location.
The Waverley Council and talk back radio have been talking to Sydney Event Guru Janek Gazecki about his idea and subsequent proposal to create an $80 a head beach club on a section of Bondi beach this summer.
In principal it is a good idea. But the first question they should all be asking is will Australians pay $80 to sit on a beach (in covid times)? And in all honesty, I think a few will, but not many and not for long.
The idea has a title, Amalfi Beach Club, which is the first problem with this concept.
Brilliant Sydney restauranteur Maurice Terzini runs the slickest venue in Bondi – arguably Australia with Bondi Icebergs. Imagine if he had called it Amalfi Bergs. Doesn’t feel right, does it? And Terzini is Italian, so by rights, he could have argued he was bringing the best of Italy to Bondi.
But Bondi is not Italy, and it’s certainly not Amalfi. It’s beautiful, striking, and it is different. But why on earth would you even compare the two, which is the inference by using that name.
Lets look at some fun facts; The Amalfi Coast has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997. It attracts thousands of tourists annually, and it has been around for centuries.
It has caves formed by water erosion, and a dramatic setting between the ocean and the huge steep hills. It is full of picturesque coastal towns and villages.
There are no sharks there, and it has some of the most beautiful, and most photographed beaches in Italy, as well as stunning, crystal blue water.
In modern times, it has been featured in too many movies to mention, from Under The Tuscan Sun to the 2017 version of Wonderwoman, Finding Positano, A Love Story and so on.
I’m not going to list the fun facts about Bondi, but any Australian knows they are vastly different. Why would the two have any connection? Bondi is brilliant. It is the most famous beach in the country, but is has no relation to Amalfi.
Further, the $80 per person price tag Gazecki is proposing to charge for a bed on the beach is too high. In Amalfi (when I was there in 2019), the price for a beach bed was Euro 20.
And that was the price structure in an environment where there is minimal free space on the beach to lie on, so people had little choice but to pay if they wanted to chill by the sea.
The cultural difference between beaches and beach lifestyle in Australia and the rest of Europe is vastly different.
One of the great joys in Australia, is that the beaches are free. It is part of the Australian way of life. There are beaches such as Aldinga in South Australia where you drive your car on the beach, and that is also free. In many ways freedom represents one of the greatest values of Australian culture. And free beaches are a part of that.
It will be difficult to convince Australians to pay to use a beach.
And the proposed Bondi Beach Club ( I have re-named it in my own mind already) includes alcohol, but Bondi beach is a booze-free zone. Another problem, which takes me to another point.
The issue of booze on the beach is something that should be looked at by council, well before beach clubs and paid-for beach chairs.
Often when I have been overseas, Europeans have asked me with a perplexed tone why Australians can’t take alcohol on Bondi Beach. It’s not a good look.
So a random idea is to create a section of beach with a walk up bar on the sand – which does form part of the Amalfi Club concept.
But $80 a head for a spot on the beach? No, but is there room to trial the concept? Absolutely yes. And right now, during the pandemic is the time.
It gives people a chance to pay for their 1.5m of space on the beach, to have a drink on Bondi Beach, and to take some instagram photos, at a price.
(The proposal to run The Beach Club from November to February was knocked back by Waverley council but a second proposal to run it from February to May is being considered.)
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