Beach parties, with Ibiza as a pioneer (Ushuaïa, Nassau, Nikki Beach, etc.), hit the spot years ago as an attractive and very profitable business model. It has been a turning point in the leisure business in the Balearic Islands, and it has been exported to other places with similar success. In many cases (almost all) these parties are held in hotels: terraces, swimming pools, beaches, etc., always within the hotel facilities.

However, recently, a Cour ruling (no. 100/2020 of October 28, 2020) of the Administrative Litigation Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands (TSJIB) has questioned the foundations of the model, and turned on the alarm lights. The sentence has gone unnoticed because of the pandemic. But if this line is confirmed, its effects could be a tectonic plaque movement for the industry.

In this case, the Palma City Council ordered the closure of the musical activity that took place on the terrace of the seventh floor of the Hotel Saratoga in Palma de Mallorca for not having a license to do so.

The hotel has a license for hotel lodging activity with complementary musical activity since 1965. The Balearic Islands Tourism Law dates from 2012. Its art. 33-5, and for tourist accommodation companies (that is, hotels, among others), it says “the activity consisting of the operation of a tourist accommodation establishment will be considered a single activity, and it may be offered in the exercise of said activity complementary services to users of tourist services, without requiring the obtaining of an activity license for each of the complementary services provided”. This is what hotels use to organize beach parties.

Based on this article, the TSJIB concludes that the aforementioned precepts, which allow hotels to provide complementary services without the need to obtain an activity license for each of such compatible services, is in relation to those provided to the “users of tourist services”. That is, to the users of the tourist accommodation service that the establishment provides: to the hotel’s clients only! It goes without saying that the vast majority of those who go to a party in Ushuaïa (for example) do not sleep there….

In conclusion, the TSJIB seems to say: yes to beach parties or hotel concerts, but only for hotel guests. The reason is clear: establishments must carry out their activity in accordance with their license.

Although it is true that a single sentence of a TSJ does not settle a court precedent, it is very likely that the matter will not take long to reach the Supreme Court, and if it followed the same line as the TSJB, we could be facing a severe blow to the leisure sector throughout the Islands, which must reinvent itself and seek new forms of business to maintain party tourism. This is undoubtedly, together with the Covid-19 hit, a sign that the sector should not ignore.