Public or private? The beaches of Puerto Banus

The beaches of Puerto Banus Photo: Flickr CC / Jilles Dissel 

Perhaps nothing in Spain is more associated with luxury than a little corner of Marbella called Puerto Banus.

José Banús and Noldi Schreck inaugurated Puerto Banús in May 1970 with a party attended by Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Julio Iglesias, Roman Polanski and Hugh Hefner, among other celebrities. Since then, the 15 hectares and 915 berths of the Marbella marina have been crowded with yachts and boutiques of luxury brands.

The owner of the port concession, Puerto José Banús, S.A., in the hands of the Vidiella family since the death of José Banús in 1984, is seeking to continue operating it for another 25 years.

However there is a problem: judgements have been made saying that the adjacent beaches, which Puerto Banús treats as its own, include public land outside the concession. This would affect at least 14,000 square metres of lucrative beach bars, kiosks and sunbeds that pay a vital income for the concessionaire’s business.

The Ports Agency has, for the moment, put the brakes on extending the concession. Puerto Banús receives some 700,000 visitors a year, and its business depends to a large extent on where the port border is placed.

On the Levante beach, licences have been granted to a cocktail bar, a restaurant, two beach bars, a recreational area and 350 sun loungers. On Poniente beach there is: a beach club, a restaurant, a rental business, a water park and another 200 sunbeds. In total, some 6,000 square metres on each beach.

For Ecologists in Action, there is no doubt that the beaches should be excluded from the concession. The ecologists have opposed the extension of the concession, warning of, “urban overcrowding and serious environmental challenges”. Furthermore, according to their measurements, the beaches in question would not occupy 14,000 square metres, but almost 40,000 square metres.

For the time being, complaints from environmentalists and proceedings by the courts have little effect on the beaches. But, at the western end of Marbella, Puerto Banus faces the uncertainty of not even knowing where its boundary lies

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.