A polo entrepreneur who plans to turn part of Bondi into an exclusive beach club with an $80 entry fee has defended his controversial proposal, insisting he isn’t an ‘elitist’.
Janek Gazecki made a proposal to Waverley Council to erect luxury cabanas roped off from the public over a 40 metre stretch of sand on Australia’s most iconic beach.
But the former lawyer’s goal to take over two per cent of the beach near Roscoe Street to serve expensive food and cocktails to ‘high net worth’ customers was met with swift backlash.
‘It’s not elitist to give people an opportunity to enjoy the beach in a different way. It’s diversifying the use of the beach,’ Mr Gazecki told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Waverley Council initially rejected the proposal, deeming it unsuitable, but staff are now considering allowing the exclusive beach club to go ahead.
Former lawyer and polo entrepreneur Janek Gazecki made a proposal to Waverley Council to erect luxury cabanas roped off from the public over a 40 metre stretch of sand on Bondi Beach. Pictured with wife Natalie
Amalfi Beach Club have proposed to Waverley Council to put luxury cabanas (pictured) on Bondi Beach
‘We’re certainly going to take this process very seriously, we’re going to look at it very closely to make sure that it is being addressed rationally and in a way that is procedurally correct,’ he said.
The 47-year-old father said that while his ambitious plan would encompass ‘fine dining,’ the beach club would still be casual.
‘It’s family-friendly, it’s not like an Ibiza club… It’s 80 bucks for food and alcohol effectively - cheaper than any restaurant in Bondi,’ Mr Gazecki said.
2GB radio host Ben Fordham panned the idea last week, saying it’s ’just not something we do in Australia,’ while The Project panelists described it as ’some wanky European-style beach club’.
But owner of Bondi’s upmarket Icebergs Maurice Terzini has previously thrown his support behind Mr Gazecki’s project, saying it is an ’an ideal solution’ for a COVID-19 safe restaurant.
‘I strongly support the Amalfi Beach Club initiative and hope Council is able to amend whatever regulations it must to allow it to proceed, in the interest of the Bondi Beach community,’ Mr Terzini said in August.
The plans would cover two per cent of the beach with exclusive lounges for wealthy customers separated from the public. Pictured: crowds at Bondi on Monday
A beach club promotional brochure said it’s geared towards locals ’who wish to experience their favourite beach in a luxurious hospitality context, as well as the high end demographic from greater Sydney, within the 30 to 60 age demographic’.
The elite location will host 100 guests in a European-style beach club set up from Thursdays to Sundays, similar to exotic locations in Spain, Croatia and the Greek Islands.
The plans feature 20 sun lounges, 10 cabanas and four booths being serviced by private waiters.
A two-hour booking in the cabanas costs $80, with food and drinks not included.
There are several issues facing the proposal, including Bondi Beach being an alcohol-free zone and a council policy that does not allow events on the sand during December and January.
Waverley Council denied a prior proposal in May for the club to run from November to February, but has since received a second application to operate from February to May, which is being reviewed.
Proposal documents seen by the Wentworth Courier show the business plans to exclusively target a wealthy clientele in their demographic.
‘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 document reads.
Waverley councillor Sally Betts said the exclusive plans block out many Bondi locals.
‘I know the beautiful people will love it and the beautiful people do use Bondi Beach but so do the peasants like you and me,’ she said.
‘We don’t want to take a bit of the beach and say ‘this is only for the people who can afford it’.’
While a petition in favour of the beach club has more than 600 signatures, many locals have come out against the proposal.
The council are deliberating with the businesses plans due to issues with hosting the high end location on public land. Pictured: crowds enjoy the sunshine at Bondi on Monday
More than 600 people have signed a petition in favour of the plans, but many locals are unimpressed. Pictured: crowds pack over Bondi on Monday
A similar club was erected on Adelaide’s Glenelg Beach in 2017, with many supporters of the proposal claiming the set up would be perfect at Bondi.
‘This is long overdue in Bondi,’ one comment reads.
The plans sparked debate from naysayers over whether businesses should be allowed to privatise public land on the beach.
‘To me it seems like you’re taking public beach space which is free and wanting to turn a profit from it,’ another post reads.
‘While council will consider all event ideas and proposals put before it, we must also balance the needs of the greater community within this consideration,’ a Waverley Council spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Our beaches and parks are public open spaces, for the enjoyment of everyone.’