‘Laia is looking for romance’: Spain’s Cala Montjo ruins story exposed

Proprietors of Cala Montjo resort blame film for loss of 15% of visitors as film poster goes on sale on its door

The fictionalised story of a woman infatuated with a stranger in Madrid on the Spanish island of Mallorca during the 1930s could have a happy ending if the place had one thing in common with its iconic beach, Cala Montjo.

The two business owners whose resort, Cala Montjo Expeditions, have described the film The Ibiza Story as “an explosion” in a classic Spanish hit by Ernest Hemingway in which the woman finds the man who rescues her from drowning and marries him.

The tourists who came to the island to enjoy the scenery and the beach found, however, that the plot had more than one downside.

Hemingway’s novel, Cala Montjo, has been adapted for the screen a number of times, starting in 1953 with the studio’s 1955 adaptation starring Gene Tierney and John Lone.

In the film, as the narrator discovers, the beach is not actually in Mallorca, but in the north of the island, and the villa on the beach is neither actually a beach nor an island.

The director of Cala Montjo Expeditions, Jose Navas, told the online Catalunya News that “from January 2017 to today we lost 15% of our usual tourists, which is equivalent to more than 150,000”.

He said that the beach was nowhere near the sumptuous, touristy resorts of Mallorca, but rather remained a restful place “for those who want to be with nature”. He added that the formula had been successful for more than 50 years, but that Hemingway’s 1935 novel had altered it.

Instead of an outpost of the depravity of the film, which he described as one way of “cannibalising” Paradise Island, he said it was a version of his reality.

“He had it right. We now have things close to the truth. The circumstances on the beach are not exaggerated like it seems in the film. There are people who come there to sunbathe and swim at Palomares, where we sell everything from towels to wine,” he said.

The film was particularly popular in the German market, which is now an important client, he said. The story of the lonely southern woman charmed by her neighbour Laia has been adapted twice more in subsequent years, the third film arriving in cinemas last year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film poster of a young woman with long hair and a sexy tousled bouffant, under the slogan “Laia is looking for romance,” is on sale at the resort’s souvenir shop.

There are no signs of the movie in the two hotels that provide lodging to guests wishing to view the ocean-blue beach on a good weather day.

They also admit that they are aware of the film and even people queueing in the queue at the hotel bar to get a glimpse of the famous poster.

Domenico Presutti, the director of Pantalla agency, which produces the famous posters, said on his Facebook page that the film poster had come to be “the most popular of the [illustrated] novels that have adorns Spain”.

Another post on the agency’s Facebook page commented: “Laia is looking for love.”

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