Friday, June 27, 2014

Nights Of Noise

Yesterday, I sent Alcúdia's tourism councillor an email in which I suggested that she might like to go to the Bellevue complex and in particular the area by the Fedra blocks and witness for herself the nightly gathering of Spanish students waiting to be ferried off to their club (Menta). It's safe to presume that she did not take up the suggestion.

For the record, this is how things go. Last night was not as rowdy as previous nights had been, but it was still rowdy - eventually. It had seemed as though perhaps the message about the noise had been taken on-board. The coaches appeared to have started arriving earlier and to have started therefore leaving earlier (from around 11.30pm). There looked as though there were more people engaged in some form of control and organisation. Indeed, up until roughly one o'clock, there was nothing that could have been deemed unacceptable. There was noise, but only for the most part the low noise of chatter. The behaviour was generally that good that bottles were even being deposited in litter-bins.

But at around one o'clock, things changed. And it probably isn't too difficult to figure out why. The longer some of the students have to wait, are still in the accommodation, the longer the window of drinking opportunity. The pattern of Spanish youth going out for the night is well set. They drink cheap booze, sometimes in the form of the street botellón, prior to getting to the clubs, where they drink virtually nothing. Drink meets large groups means rowdiness.

I spoke to three people who were supervising. One of them was a security guard. I had assumed he was a member of Bellevue security. He wasn't. His job was to look after the "chicos", presumably to ensure that there were no "incidents". When asked about hotel security, he said there wasn't any, which was something of a surprise. He might not have been right. There had been other what looked as though they might have been security earlier. They were no longer in evidence. Whether they were hotel staff or not, I couldn't say. The two others were "co-ordinators" of the groups. One of them said that any complaint would have to be taken up with head office, i.e. the tour company, Finalia in Barcelona.

All three of them seemed somewhat taken aback that anyone would come and ask them to explain whether they felt it was acceptable for there to be levels of noise which, in other circumstances in Alcúdia, would not be tolerated. Taken aback, but then none of them were in a position to make any real observation. They were just doing their jobs. A classic example of there being no one with any real authority being in charge.

The final coach left around 2am. Despite the coaches seeming to have started to arrive earlier, the process of moving the students off site went on to the same sort of early-morning time as it had previously. Now morning, there is a gathering of students waiting to depart. No noise, but have they been up all night? Quite probably. Oh well, youth can handle such privation.

The issue is not the fact that Spanish students are in Alcúdia having a holiday. It is an issue primarily of the nature of Bellevue. Ideally, if there are large groups of youngsters all with the same needs to go out at midnight to enjoy themselves, they should be in a hotel for they and they alone. One which can contain and organise the groups more effectively and not allow them to disrupt the "convivencia" of a wider community. But as Bellevue is as it is, the sprawling campus that it is, with different blocks all open and with some in proximity to residential accommodation, such effective organisation is nigh on impossible.

Let's be clear, Bellevue does have its fair share of rowdy regular tourists. But not on this scale. The hotel would typically classify itself as a family hotel, but it has introduced a tourist niche that does not conform with this classification. The complex may be suited to having different types of tourist in different parts, but only if those different parts are somehow fenced off, made separate in order to lessen the impact of so many young people being on site at one time.

The number is high. When I saw the July occupancy figures for the hotel (dated 22 June), I was surprised to see that, on 1 July for example, the number of guests on full board exceeded by almost 400 the number on an all-inclusive package. I think I begin to understand why this is and why full board guests all but disappear from the mix after 4 July. The security guard told me that he was going to be around until 5 July. It all figures now. The number of full board guests declines after 1 July, but on that date it is listed as amounting to 1,298, more than a third of the entire occupancy of the Bellevue complex.

No comments: