We’ve been there; old holiday resorts that are a little worn around the edges, down on their luck, and seemingly on the verge of being forgotten. Yet these shabby resorts were once amongst the busiest and most attractive holiday hotspots of their time, a timely momento mori for the popular resorts of today, reminding us that oblivion lies just around the corner. Who knows, maybe Benidorm and Magaluf will be on the scrapheap in the future as travel habits and demands change. So here is a guide to four holiday hotspots that are well and truly deceased, going from vibrant vacation destinations to desolate and derelict wastelands in a matter of years.
The Salton Sea, California
This artificial saline sea in the lower reaches of the Alamo River in California was created due to flooding overspill in 1905, and soon a popular tourist resort was built around the new inland lake. Yet, cut off from new inflows of fresh water the lake’s salt levels soon started to increase dramatically, killing the flora and fauna, including numerous fish and waterfowl that had begun to populate the area. With the sea starting to dry up in the harsh Imperial Valley sun, and the smell of dead fish emanating across the area, tourists soon wised up and stopped coming. Just about overnight this bustling holiday community went bankrupt, residents left, and many structures were left to rot in the briny air. Nowadays only a skeleton community of trailer parks and cheap diners remains as a grim reminder of the boom and subsequent bust of this desolate community.
Yes, you read that right, the world’s most dangerous city, Mogadishu, was once a trendy holiday location for in-the-know Europeans and Arabs who took advantage of its once beautiful Indian Ocean coastline for beach retreats and family holidays. At the centre of the city’s former success was Gezira Beach, a beautiful bay lined with chic architecture, exclusive hotels, expatriate bars such as the Anglo-American Beach Club and calm rolling waves. Nowadays, the beach is strewn with rubble, the buildings have been razed to the ground, and the only locals foolish enough to brave the area, notorious for snipers, are kids with nothing to lose and pirates setting out to sea.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Though the likes of Steve Buscemi have been garnering the plaudits for their acting in hit show Boardwalk Empire, the real star of the show has been Atlantic City, faithfully recreated to its prohibition heyday when flappers, gangsters and tourists flocked to the beaches and casinos of the town in their millions. It has been a slow and ponderous decline ever since then, the grand old casinos bulldozed and dynamited, the famous board walk a crumbling ruin, and all manner of social problems turning the once glamorous resort into one big, tawdry gambling den. While the city still turns over a decent amount of money in its remaining casinos, the glitz and glamour has long since gone to pastures new.
Ah, the Great British seaside resort, characterized by beautiful promenades, culinary achievement, cosmopolitan grace and enduring style. Well, maybe not.
Seaside resorts in Britain aren’t in such rude health these days, but once upon a time they were the place to be seen, and one of the most salubrious and well regarded was poor old Skegness, now on the dump pile of disused tourist resorts. With package holidays, budget airlines and second homes abroad eating into the town’s consumer base, the resort just could not maintain its privileged position as one of Britain’s favourite resorts. Elegant hotels shut their doors, matronly B & Bs vanished, and the dance halls were swiftly consigned to history.
Now the town is full of cheap amusement arcades, tacky nightclubs and mediocre fish and chip shops. What’s more, when some of the resort’s most popular attractions burnt down a few years ago, nothing came along to replace them. Fortunately, though, Skegness may just be able to carve out a new niche as something of a base for nature lovers. Surrounded by the gorgeous Lincolnshire countryside and gorgeous, if cold, coasts, Skegness is a good choice for those seeking walking holidays in one of England’s most picturesque and historic regions.
Bio: When not embarking on ambitious walking holidays across the Alps or negotiating the alleyways of Shinjuku, John can be found writing about a wide range of travel issues and hot destinations.