Luxury urbanization in S'Agaró

At the beginning of the 20th century, the beaches of the Costa Brava had not been discovered by tourism, and were reserved for the wealthy, who liked to spend their holidays at spas such as those in Caldes de Malavella, Sant Hilari and Ribas de Freser.

It would not be until the First World War that middle-class families would begin to appreciate the charms of its beaches as a place to rest and relax, first in Tossa de Mar and S’Agaró.

Josep Ensesa Gubert played a leading role in the creation and development of the luxury residential estate in S’Agaró, when in August 1916 his father bought a plot of land of around five thousand square metres in the Sant Pol neighbourhood with the intention of one day building a summer holiday home.

Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)
Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)
The initiative to build a luxury estate that would be select and private, including modern buildings, seems to have come from Josep Ensesa Gubert, although his ideas took shape influenced by his conversations with the modernist architect Rafael Masó Valentí.

In order to develop a more ambitious vision, he bought the bordering plots of land. Masó was able to design a perfect town, a garden city that was reminiscent of the projects executed in Great Britain between 1910-1920.

According to the renowned Catalan poet Josep Pla, it was a true residential city that honoured its name and had, therefore, a feeling of spiritual comfort, of ordered peace and a luxurious dignity worthy of the highest praise.

On 25th July 1924 the first villa in the estate was inaugurated.

To harmonise its new buildings, a set of conditions was drawn up that buyers had to accept when they bought plots, and this document was included in the purchase deed. This established that all new building work, along with any modifications made to existing buildings, would have to be submitted for a report by the architect of the estate before receiving the green light to begin works, and that the architect would ensure the due compliance with the rules established for the S’Agaró residential estate and the correct use of building materials and styles.

It also established that in the event of the later sale of the plots of land, the set of conditions would also have to appear included in the relevant notary deed and be accepted by the new owners.

Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)
Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)
In 1927 the estate was given the name of the stream that used to flow onto the beach in Sant Pol: S’Agaró.

In 1932 the Hostal de la Gavina was opened, which was initially composed of two buildings located diagonally at the end of a square, and only had 11 rooms.

To complete the estate, a church was built through the acquisition of the cloisters of the Sant Francesc monastery in Girona.

After overcoming many obstacles from the Artistic and Historic Monuments Commission, the removal of the remains was approved and the architect Rafael Masó was charged with overseeing and ensuring that it was built in due compliance with the architectural conditions.

On 16th July 1942 the chapel was consecrated for worship and was dedicated to the Virgin of Hope.

On 20th October 1933 Josep Ensesa employed Felip Masó Ferragut and with him founded the construction company to build the S’Agaró residential estate.

From that moment, the Felip Masó construction company would build the S’Agaró estate according to the guidelines established successively by the architects Rafael Masó and Ramón Folguera.

The work on the estate ceased during the Spanish Civil War and the hotel was occupied and brought under collective control. Once the war was over, the work on the estate began again and the necessary renovations were made.

Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)
In the beginning, regular promotional campaigns were launched to publicise S’Agaró to the general public. The “Revista de S’Agaró” magazine was published, to publicise the social events that would take place in the new garden city.

Excursions were organised from Barcelona and Girona, along with traditional Catalan dance and music competitions, sailing and speed boat regattas, equine tournaments and tennis championships. Later these events would become more selective and were organised with receptions, gala dinners and glamorous parties, which included open-air concerts in the summer.

One special occasion was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of S’Agaró with a lavish society party.

The success of the promotion was impressive: politicians such as the minister of the government of Spain, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, attended, as did the president of the French Fourth Republic Vincent Auriol, the actors Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Peter Sellers, John Wayne, Liz Taylor and Sir Lawrence Olivier, the musicians Xavier Cugat, Xavier Monsalvatge, Frederic Mompou and Narciso Yepes, the film director Orson Welles and many other celebrities and artists such as Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, Gala and Dali, Mario Cabré, Luis Miguel Dominguín and Lucia Bosé.

At that time S’Agaró also became a setting for films, such as “Treasure Island”, “Some Girls Do”, “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”, “Mister Arkadin”, “Nicholas and Alexandra”, “The Truth about Spring”, “Suddenly last Summer” and even some scenes for James Bond films. More recently, scenes for the film “The Sea Inside” were shot here, as well as numerous advertisements.

Urbanización de lujo en S'Agaró (Costa Brava)