Beachgoers may soon have to fork out a fee to enter part of Bondi Beach after a plan was put forward to turn a section of the sand into an exclusive beach club.
Amalfi Beach Club has submitted a proposal to Waverley Council to block off a section of the beach, add in seating and serve customers food and alcohol right on the sand as they cannot “sojourn to Europe” this summer.
The proposal states the business would target people with a “high net worth” and a taste for luxury.
“Our database constitutes a select demographic comprising of individuals enjoying a high disposable income, within the 25 to 45 age bracket, with an interest in travel, fashion and luxury goods,” the proposal states.
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The proposal, seen by The Daily Telegraph, also included an outline of the type of professionals that would possibly frequent the facilities, with the men likely to be doctors, surgeons, bankers, investors, professional directors and business entrepreneurs.
The women who visit the beach club would “occupy a similar high-end platform”, with attendees having roles in “publishing, advertising, fashion, beauty and modelling”, according to the proposal.
The organisers had initially asked for the business to be run between November and February but that was knocked back, with Waverley Council deeming it “unsuitable based on Council policies and in the interest of our local community”.
“Our beaches and parks are public open spaces, for the enjoyment of everyone,” a Council spokesperson said.
The proposal was denied due to Council policies not supporting events on the sand during December and January, Bondi Beach being an alcohol prohibited area and the safety concerns around mixing drinking with swimming.
Amalfi Beach Club has now put forward new dates for the event to be held between February and May next year, which is being reviewed by the council.
If the proposal is accepted, the beach club would likely run from 12pm to 9pm from Thursday to Sunday each week.
But getting a spot in the exclusive section of Bondi Beach on Sydney’s eastern suburbs won’t come cheap, with visitors forking out $80 each for a two-hour spot on one of the cabanas.
If attendees want to indulge in any drinks or food they will need to pay extra.
The people behind the push have touted the beach club as a way to “support local business and lift community morale following the COVID-19 crisis”.
“This summer international travel will be limited. Those who may have sojourned to the usual European beach hotspots over our winter will spend the year in Australia supporting the local economy instead. Intrepid Sydney locals, however, need not fret, as we will bring ‘Euro beach chic’ to them,” a petition created by the Amalfi Beach Club reads.
“Other than its namesake, Amalfi Beach Club aspires to the iconic Beach Clubs from popular European seaside destinations such as Mykonos, Capri and St Tropez.
“In addition to celebrating our wonderful Bondi Beach in a new, vibrant and sophisticated way, which will help rebuild its international reputation in a post COVID-19 world, Amalfi Beach Club will be an important adjunct for local business to generate an income.”
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The petition for the proposal to go ahead has gained just over 600 signatures.
However, many Bondi locals have expressed concerns about the proposal, with issues around alcohol consumption, space on the beach and catering to a “privileged few” being raised.
Bondi resident, Karina Crocker, said the plan would take free public beach space away from visitors in order to “turn a profit”.
“While I like the idea and the ‘vibe’ this is simply charging people to use public space like they do on European beaches and setting a precedent moving forward,” she wrote on the club’s Facebook page. “Perhaps if it’s a 2 week exclusive event then that’s fun but I have concerns.”
The organisers responded, saying the club would only take up 2.1 per cent of the 16,000sq m of beach and would be “creating jobs and lifting local morale”.
Social distancing requirements means that the club would only be able to accommodate about 100 people at a time.
Another Facebook users, Mel Kastner Levy, said that even taking up just 2 per cent of the beach would impact visitors.
“On a peak day in summer up to 40,000 people visit Bondi. Removing 2% of the beach means a minimum of 800 people would be impacted to cater for the privileged few,” she said.
Bondi Beach was packed over the long weekend, with Waverly Council urging visitors to rethink visiting the beach after they almost reached capacity on Monday.
Pictures showed there was barely any room for more beachgoers to fit while still observing social distancing rules.
Another resident expressed concerns about whether everyone who wanted access to the club would be allowed.
“Wanna bet old and ugly people with kids like me won’t get access? I usually trip off to Europe or the US once a year where every person is treated equally, but here if you are over 40 years old, you should just bugger off,” Victoria Lascelles-Twiss wrote.
Another commenter, Amy Lynch, questioned how the club would manage the danger of people drinking alcohol and then entering the surf.
“This would put a bigger pressure on lifeguards. It works in Europe as the sea is basically a lake. Totally different in Bondi,” she said.
“The beach is a public space and shouldn’t be commercialised in my opinion. Im from Europe … It’s a cool idea but doesn’t work for an Ozzie beach unfortunately. The conditions are polar opposite.”
As a property owner in Bondi, Ms Lynch claims she shouldn’t have to pay a fee to access any part of the beach “for the financial gain of a few” and also expressed concerns about the “noise, rubbish and crowd it would attract”.
The Amalfi Beach Club responded to her concerns, saying adults should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether they went for a swim after being at the club.
“It is our view that adults should be treated as adults, otherwise we may as well ban drinking altogether. As it is, plenty of people drink at local venues and go for a swim,” the organisers wrote.
“However, it is part of our proposal to have a dedicated Lifeguard specifically to safeguard against such incidents, and to take the pressure off the local Lifeguards.”
Despite some residents having concerns, there were many others that thought the beach club was a great idea.
“Can’t believe how many snow flakes are winging, no wonder NSW is so boring, this is a great idea about time we bought (sic) some culture to the beach like the rest of the world well done,” Nick Israel wrote.
Effy Paffas added: “Great initiative. Bondi Beach is lacking atmosphere.”