While pampered guests sip cocktails, go kite-surfing or sunbathe on well-groomed sands, undesirables are ushered off to chew candyfloss or play the amusement arcades on adjoining public shores.
Plans to part-privatise the mile-long Fistral Beach in Newquay, north Cornwall - the centre of British surfing - will be announced this week, as the tourism industry pins its hopes on the techniques of Mediterrannean and other European resorts to reverse decades of decline.
The Crown Estates control 55% of Britain's coastline below the hightide mark, and many beaches are owned by local authorities, the National Trust or the Duchy of Cornwall. Now local authorities are leasing the rights to their beaches to private companies which are developing them as exclusive clubs of the kind common on the Mediterranean.
'There hasn't been investment on the beaches around Newquay since the 1960s and, although we are putting in a contribution, we cannot finance it all out of public funds'.