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New beach clubs are being established in areas with more space, away from town centres. Josele
Traditional chiringuitos vanishing from Marbella coastline as more beach clubs emerge

Traditional chiringuitos vanishing from Marbella coastline as more beach clubs emerge

Large investment groups are looking for opportunities along the Costa del Sol to create more modern and exclusive venues

Juan Soto

Malaga

Friday, 28 April 2023

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More beach clubs are emerging along the coastline in Marbella replacing the traditional chiringuitos and their famous 'espetos' boats cooking sardines on skewers.

The historic Los Canos or Arenal beach chiringuitos were examples of traditional Costa del Sol beach bars that had been replaced by modern clubs such as Luuma Beach and Ocean Club. A similar thing also happened with Trocadero, Playa Padre, Nao Pool and Nosso.

The new entrepreneurs behind the emergence of the beach clubs - including large international chains - prefer larger spaces, as opposed to central Marbella, to develop the establishments in areas such as Las Chapas or around Puerto Banús.

San Pedro Alcantara and even Estepona, where the opening of a Pachá discotheque is planned, are also areas of interest.

Emilio Peñalver iss the owner of one of the few traditional chiringuitos establishments still standing on the beach in the Las Chapas area.

Dizzying offers

The manager of the chiringuito Las Flores admitted ed that there were currently various offers floating around to take over the few remaining premises that had not been modernised. They were dizzying offers, the kind that made you think, he said.

But Peñalver decided to continue with his traditional business and not give in. "A couple of years ago they made me an offer but I didn't even want to listen to the price," he said.

The businessman, who has been running the bar since 1980 and now works surrounded by these new beach clubs said that "they are absorbing everything" and that it was a pity there were fewer traditional spots left where you could eat typical fish from the bay.

"Marbella is changing"

"When they are all beach clubs, many people won't be able to afford it," he said. At Las Flores, he continues to offer his clients typical paellas, sardines and anchovies that made the Costa del Sol internationally famous. "Marbella is changing a lot but we don't want to lose our identity as a restaurant," he said.

One of those who could not resist the temptation was María Isabel Domínguez, former owner of the Arenal Beach bar, a business with more than 35 years of history behind it and which will reopen this summer as a beach club.

Although she said she sold the business due to illness, she did not hide the fact that there was a significant bidding process between several groups who wanted to take it over.

Prices will go up

"Marbella is evolving and you can't resist that," she said.

Until she became ill, she kept the business faithful to the traditional chiringuito idea and always respected the maximum quality-price ratio. Now, with the new owners, prices would inevitably go up.

"Many in the hospitality trade should also think about the families in Marbella and the tourists who can't afford to go to a beach club," she said.

The space left by El Arenal would be occupied by the Ocean Club group, which will open a beach club called Dunes Beach Marbella in the coming weeks: "We are going to open an experience restaurant, we are not going to offer the same dishes as other restaurants in the area," its manager said.

Juan Manuel Burón, a businessman who recently opened the Casa Lola beach bar, also chimed in on the beach club phenomenon situation: "They are opening very luxurious beach bars for clients with very high purchasing power".

He said the pioneer was Trocadero, on Santa Petronila beach, which paved the way for the rest.

"When they saw its success, businessmen from outside came and wanted to copy it and improve the model," he said.

Malaga's association of beach businesses beacpresident Manuel Villafaina said the phenomenon was also driven by tourists themselves, who demanded better designed spaces and a variety of dishes.

But he said it was important to maintain the tradition of the chiringuitos: "I believe that both models can coexist; in fact, some have been modernised and ended up going back to what they were before".

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