Sant Llorenç town hall is due to invest some four million euros on its “strip”. This is not a strip in Sant Llorenç itself, as villages don’t have strips. They are only to be found in resorts.
Cala Millor, that part of Cala Millor which is in the Sant Llorenç municipality, has a strip. It is otherwise variously known as the Paseo Cristòfol Colom. Columbus, having undertaken a short navigation of Mallorca’s east coast from his Felanitx birthplace (allegedly), stumbled across a new civilisation - a touristic one - and named a strip in his own honour.
Not all resorts have a strip. But of those which do, their strips can be long or short. Puerto Alcudia has one. It was once known as Dollar Street (some no doubt continue to refer to in this way). Not that it was ever paved with dollar notes.
They were more typically pound notes. It was to acquire the unfortunate name of the Greasy Mile. Grease was the word. It had groove, it had meaning, I suppose. What was this meaning? A euphemism for tacky? Never the height of sophistication, I will always defend it in that the meaning lay with its vibrancy.
It isn’t a mile long, but the length - one might guess - was a nod in the direction of the Golden Mile. I’ve despaired of the times when I’ve read or heard a comparison being made between Alcudia and Blackpool in a derogatory manner.
Firstly, it is a comparison founded pretty much solely on the strip. Secondly, what’s so wrong with Blackpool? Again, its all to do with that energy of holidaymaking. Don’t knock it.
The strip ‘par excellence’ is Magalluf’s, one that takes a knocking and a kicking from every conceivable quarter. Granted, a certain notoriety has become attached to Punta Ballena, but think of all the thousands, millions who have trekked its length.
It’s part of the fabric, but - and not solely because of a reputation - it is symbolic of a faded fabric; obsolete in terms of the brave new world of holidaymaking - sanitised and four star-plus.
The strip, of which Magalluf’s is the most famed, is a type of pejorative term for a space that existed purely for the simple pleasures of being on holiday, one that was crafted with these in mind.
Cala Millor’s Columbus is of a very different reputation order, and that’s because it is Cala Millor, which has its own reputation, one well removed from the excesses of Magalluf.
But as with all strips, it is essentially a convenient concentration of bars, restaurants and shops. Looked at objectively, it is unremarkable, but then strips are unremarkable. They weren’t conceived from the point of view of high aesthetics.
In the case of Cala Millor, there was an architectural intervention that dates back to the turn of the ‘90s that succeeded in giving some coherence to what was otherwise - as with so much resort planning - very little coherence. But that was thirty years ago, and the town hall has now determined that the time has come for modernisation.
Colau Bordal is the tourism councillor. For him and the town hall, the modernisation of Columbus is the most important of a series of interventions. It will become a cultural, recreational and leisure hub. The project will “serve to energise, revitialise and modernise the area, transmitting an image of security”.
When this was reported, there was a reader comment which stated: “I love these bombastic statements from politicians, such as cultural, recreational and leisure hub and energising, revitialising and modernising the area, transmitting an image of security. What, by the way, is an image of revitalisation and modernisation?”
Quite. What does any of this really mean? We’ve become so used to hearing this sort of stuff that it goes unchallenged. Which isn’t to be critical of the councillor, just to say that his words are symptomatic of declarations that all sound the same and are littered with what can seem to be little more than platitudes. Politicians far higher up the food chain than the councillor come out with them, so why - one guesses - shouldn’t he?
The Cala Millor strip has one thing in its favour, and that is that it is pedestrianised. Turning it into a hub (which it already is anyway) replete with sculptures for an open-air exhibition space is more straightforward than if it were not.
Other strips, non-pedestrianised, act as hubs in a commercial sense, but embellishment and enhancement is made difficult when they are roads. Resort modernisation, with the prospect of European funds to bring this about, really demands a comprehensive plan.
This includes the visual appearance in order to create coherence and harmony. We’re talking architectural renewal, a heck of a task but one worthy of a consideration.
The villages don’t have strips, but if they did, they would be in accordance with rigorous planning requirements for the urban landscape. Why not for the resorts?