Monday, 20 February 2017

The Hotel Algarrobico: Unresolved

Unsurprisingly, the ghastly hotel outside Carboneras, halted just before competition a decade ago by the starry-eyed ecologists (Motto: 'no jobs, please: we're serious'), remains as an unattractive hulk, just like it did when the tree-huggers struck in 2005, twelve years ago. The Hotel Algarrobico was almost completed at the time of the order to cease work, but it was, itself, part of a larger project - to include shops, bars, restaurants and apartments within the complex. The hills behind and around the hotel were cut and shaped as part of the early work on the site, long before the twenty stories hotel, with 411 rooms, was almost ready to open.
Why did the ecologists wait so long?
Well, the hotel at the time, was legal. It had all the paperwork in line, since, when the plans were approved, the land was not inside the rather extensive 'Parque Natural Cabo de Gata-Níjar' natural park.
But now, it is. Sigh.
The only plant-life in this – and most – of the Parque Natural is scrub: no doubt of huge environmental value to our friends the ecologists but, dress it how you will, it’s scrub none the less.
Whether the hotel, its urbanisation, shops, restaurants and bars would have bought jobs to the good people of Carboneras is, of course, immaterial; and, much more so to the government in far-off Seville. Perhaps, with the fall in tourism following the 2008 'crisis', the hotel should never have been built anyway since- but, what am I saying? Spain's tourist industry in 2016 was over 74 million people. Most of them looking for the beach, the sun and a fish dinner. QED: Carboneras.
To demolish the hotel and repair the surrounds, removing any trace of the project and leaving an attractive spread of 500 metres of scrub, indeed matching the scrub to the left and the right, is impossible. Not expensive, or very expensive... it's impossible.
Then again, with so much of the province of Almería in the public domain (around 3,100 hectares are protected: that's 35% of the entire province) - does a couple of extra hectares really make any difference? Are we so short of scrub in Almería that we need to conserve every straggly bush?
The weak idea of the ecologists to hire the good people of Carboneras to take the hotel down piece-meal and load all the rubble into the back of a few trucks; to lovingly carve the rock itself back into natural lines, and to then tiptoe away and study basket-weaving or help uproot all the agave plants thereabouts (don't ask), is frankly ludicrous.
To spend enormous amounts of public money to attain this - money that could be spent on a hospital or a residence for the elderly (hey - maybe in the Hotel Algarrobico itself), plus the money that would need to be paid to Azata del Sol, who - we remember - started the project when it was legal and approved, is madness. The politician who rubber-stamps such a haemorrhage of funds would soon find himself without much of a career to enjoy. Probably wouldn't even get a position on the board in the electric company either (there's one of the most dirty power stations in Spain in Carboneras, remember).
So, we read this week of a group called Salvemos Mojácar (it's really little more than one fellow, called Jaime del Val) which insists that the demolition starts right away - and that the town hall of Carboneras organises the job.
The hotel could have helped tourism here and provided jobs. It's ugly as sin, but it's even uglier as a hulk. After gently rotting for the past decade, they certainly can't fix it now - short of starting from scratch. So, will they ever demolish it?
Sure... one day.

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