- → Polo in Mallorca: A dream comes true
- → Map: Facts and Figures concerning the new polo isle Mallorca at a glance
- → Legislation amendment: As from now nothing impedes the construction of polo fields
- → Interview with Gabriel Company Bauzán, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Territory in Islas Baleares
- → Interview with Sebastian Sagreras, Mayor of Campos
Polo on Mallorca is played in private today, with bidden guests, and behind closed doors. However, unnoticed by the public yet, a lot is changing – Mallorca is getting itself ready to get started as the new European polo destination. What are the reasons? There‘s a lot of them! As much as 17 years ago, Daniel Crasemann, entrepreneur from Hamburg, bought his own polo finca in the East of the Island. The finca accommodates 120 horses at present, which are fit as a fiddle now after their winter break, and are being prepared right now for the chukkas of the European summer season. At the finca of Crasemann, who is just building his second full-size field, friends play amongst themselves – only those invited, of course.
Crasemann is a polo enthusiast. His children learned polo at the polo school of Thomas Winter in Hamburg, and won the German High Goal Championship in 2013, at the ages of 15 and 19. Christian Völkers, his long-standing business partner, has a polo address on Mallorca, too. Uwe Schröder, founder and owner of the Tom Tailor fashion brand is currently considering to buy a polo finca on the island, and also Christopher Kirsch, main German organizer of polo events, has just moved to Mallorca. Bernhard Schurzmann from Munich recently bought a finca, and is building a large polo facility due to start operation in autumn. Geneva banker Fabian Pictet, who used to play polo in England a lot, is now building his own polo finca with a playing field on Mallorca.
Polo facts Mallorca
But why is polo more topical now than ever before? After all, vast numbers of real or self-appointed polo managers failed on Mallorca, within the past years. This is to do with a regulation of the Mallorcan government. Daniel Crasemann explains: “Until recently, polo and golf were sort of lumped together on Mallorca. That means, a polo field had to fulfil the same requirements as a golf course, concerning irrigation, environment and infrastructure. These demands are unrealistic and impossible to meet, neither in terms of financing, nor organization. This regulation of the ministry of agriculture and transport prevented all commercial polo projects in the past 15 years.” Since that time, Crasemann has been committed to restructuring this regulation and has finally been successful. With this amendment, polo fields are now considered agricultural territory. Correspondingly, the same provisions apply as for farmland. “This changes everything. We can now consider organizing official tournaments here on the island. The major organizer of tournaments in Germany, Christopher Kirsch, is at home here, anyway,” explains Crasemann.
The polo community in Mallorca is growing increasingly, important polo people are already there. Four large private polo facilities already exist, others are under construction. The ambitious goal: Mallorca will be Europe’s polo island.
While, in the European winter, the international polo community still trains in Argentina today, frequently having their own estancias there, the South American country is increasingly becoming less and less attractive (not only to their guests). The flight from Europe takes roughly 17 hours, costs and inflation rate are exploding, real estate transfer tax is as high as 30 %, and the rule of law is uncertain. These are the facts that make business and polo activities a doubtful pleasure. Christopher Kirsch points out: “If I buy a polo horse in Argentina today, I have to pay 8,000 Dollars only for the transport to Germany – with no guarantee, of course, for the horse to arrive there safe and sound.” And climate conditions in Argentina during the high season for polo failed to meet expectations in recent years. On Mallorca, though, the polo season lasts from the end of February to November. The horses are outside all year round, there are nine flights from London every day and numerous flights from Germany, reaching Palma Airport within two hours. In 2014, there has been a 40 % increase in flights to Palma, as against last year. German airlines are offering 23 million seats on flights to and from Mallorca. It is even worthwhile “hopping” there for a weekend.
Thomas Wirth, publisher of POLO+10, mentions another argument, that has been an insider tip up to now: “In the interior of Mallorca, there are fincas and real estates that are available at very reasonable prices.” His and his friends‘ dream is: As many enthusiasts as possible making the new polo Mecca of Mallorca the top address in Europe. It is possible to play on Mallorca all year round. The more horses are on the island, the faster the polo carousel turns and the more attractive it becomes. Because, what is the thing everybody wants most? Play polo! “We could visit one another to play polo, and organize international tournaments – just as it is done in Argentina now.”
While the estates with ocean view in the southwest achieve record prices, exciting polo fincas for affordable prices are up for grabs yet in the rest of the island. The east of Mallorca is where the polo heart of the island beats. The “newcomers” of the international polo scene are currently settling here.
While the cost of real estates with a view of the sea in the Southwest of the island have risen to astronomical heights, several hidden real estate treasures can still be found in the rest of Mallorca. In some of these places, time seems to be standing still. Taking a second look may pay off, here. In many cases, the fincas, which feature stables and the corresponding land, are actually in need of renovation. However, this is the reason why prices are still moderate, and the owner is free to design the finca according to his own wishes. Two new polo facilities are currently under construction. By the end of the year, another three professional playing fields will have been added. Considering the question as to how an interested polo player can find the right real estate on.
Mallorca, the focus is now on POLO+10. On the www.poloplus10.com website, many threads of the sport come together; here, the community meets up – searching and finding complement each other. The POLO+10 website will therefore continue to be at the disposal of those players who are interested in the growing polo community on Mallorca and wish to become part of it with their own real estate. Daniel Crasemann has had his finca in Campos, a place in the Southeast, for 17 years now, and is inspired by Mallorca as the new polo destination.
Please also read the following interviews with Gabriel Company Bauzán, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Territory in Islas Baleares, and Sebastian Sagreras, Mayor of Campos, regarding the legislation amendment and what this means for the construction of polo fields in Mallorca.
Mallorca: Water Legislation
Some years ago, due to the constant situation of drought that Mallorca was living through, and due to the necessity of bringing water from Catalonia in tanker boats, the idea of transforming old farms into polo fields disappeared. Along with this situation, the change in legislation was implemented, and the law became very strict regarding the construction of sports grounds. Two laws prevented the building of sports grounds: The first one was the agrarian law which hindered the irrigation of these fields, giving priority to the agricultural fields, due to the lack of water on the island. The second law prevented transformation of an agricultural field into a sports grounds. Due to the interest of some foreign businessmen in creating golf courses on the island, there was a great commitment to change these laws. However, the different government bodies didn’t come to an agreement and, depending on the respective political party ruling, there were both in favour of and against a change. Moreover, the drought was still present on people’s minds and they did not want to go through the same situation again.
Finally, they successfully changed the law regarding the construction of golf courses and the use of agricultural water wells to irrigate them. However, this law was not applied to polo fields because they require a larger number of hectares and, thus, a greater amount of water to preserve them. The businessmen who were interested in the construction of polo fields stopped their struggle against these laws because no solution could be found. However, less than a month ago, the law came into force, that enables the construction of golf courses and also includes polo fields. Now, it is possible to transform agricultural areas into polo fields and use the old irrigation facilities for sports purposes.
Thanks to this change in legislation, the interest in creating polo fields has started to increase again. Now, there are facts and not only projects or ideas. Most of Campos’ farms can be transformed into polo fields, a fact that makes it possible for the region to increase the number of its tourist attractions and improve the economic situation in general. The creation of a polo fields not only means the development of a luxury tourism. It also increases employment related to the construction and maintenance of the polo fields, which demand comprehensive dedication in order to play a polo tournament or match. Moreover, polo players, patrons and their families coming to Mallorca ensure a high-quality tourism. The polo audience consists of well-off individuals who consume and improve the quality of the tourist services.
Interview with Gabriel Company Bauzán, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Territory in Islas Baleares
What changes will the new draft agrarian law bring regarding the equestrian activities such as polo?
The draft law includes everything related to the equestrian industry as a strategic sector and it attaches great importance to it. Therefore, all the activities related to this industry are considered as complementary agricultural activities and, thus, they will have many advantages in order to be developed.
How will this new law enable the construction of polo fields in Mallorca?
Polo fields are one of the activities that could take advantage of the new legislation, as long as they are built within a farm whose main activity is focused on the equestrian industry. It is obvious that polo brings important benefits and it might be an interesting option for the farms in order to get a complementary income that allows them to continue their main agrarian activity at the same time that our rural landscape is preserved.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of increasing the number of polo fields and clubs in Mallorca? Do you think it is positive?
Diversifying the tourism offer by promoting the agrarian sector, which controls 80% of the territory, under parameters that preserve and manage our landscape is, by far, positive. The island offers excellent conditions for the practice of outdoor sports at any time of the year and polo is a sport that attracts a very interesting touristic sector that have a remarkable purchasing power.
Interview with Sebastian Sagreras, Mayor of Campos
What does the municipality of Camos have to offer regarding the construction of polo fields?
Campos may actually be the municipality of Mallorca with the best conditions for the construction of polo fields, and there are two main reasons for that: the first one is the fact that it is, in a flat area, which is necessary for the polo fields, and, the second reason is that Campos has always been a livestock-farming municipality. In fact, Campos has been the municipality of Friesian cows par excellence in Mallorca. 20 years ago, there were about 400 dairies here. Nowadays, only 17 or 18 of them are still in use, but the facilities are still standing, although most of them are empty and not working. As a result, there is a high potential for the current use of these existing facilities. There is no need to build new fields or to consume the land, because that has already been done. These two reasons – the fact that Campos is flat and the fact that the dairies’ facilities can be used for the polo fields – make Campos an ideal location for the creation of polo fields. And also because, in a way, polo is a sport that has a strong link to the agricultural sector due to the use of horses and Campos is, probably, the only municipality of Mallorca with an agricultural and livestock history and philosophy.
Polo in Mallorca: A dream is about to come true – POLO+10 keeps it rolling.
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