Carboneras is a beautiful place on the Almería coast, but it has a troubled recent past with a story that hasn’t quite reached its conclusion yet. That is the story of Spain’s most infamous ghost hotel.
The Hotel El Algarrobico is something of a legal anomaly. Its developers bought the land from the Andalucian government in 1999 with permission to build. Construction began in 2003 after a local permit was received. All legal and above board so far, or so you may think. In 2005 Spain’s national government ruled that the hotel was in fact breaching laws against coastal construction projects and a year later an injunction was served meaning work had to stop with the complex 95% complete. In 2007 Greenpeace got involved daubing the hotel in graffiti and a year later the licence to build was revoked. That was not the end of the matter though.
Over the next decade many court cases were fought and the pendulum swung variously between the environmental lobby and the construction firm. In 2015 the Andalucian government even went so far as to repossess the project giving a large amount of money to the investors. Then, in 2016, it looked like the matter was finally resolved as the Supreme Court ruled that the site was in fact in an environmentally protected area and should be demolished. There have, of course, been appeals against the decision but it looks like that’s the way it will stay. The problem now is that the developers want hefty compensation as they began the project in good faith, whereas many say that they should not receive a single Euro. In addition to that, who would pay for the demolition which will not be cheap?! It seems the hotel can never be completed and may never be knocked down. What an impasse! Such a shame that such a beautiful bay should be in this position.
The bay of Algarrobico had had its moment of fame before this controversial project was even a glint in someone’s eye. Back in the early 1960s it was used to stand in for the Jordanian port of Aqaba in the cinematic classic Lawrence of Arabia. Watch the video carefully and at the end you can see the film location slowly fade into the hotel complex of today.
The town of Carboneras itself is worth a visit too. We were particularly taken by the murals near Mercadona paying homage to Picasso, but beach lovers will also enjoy the promenade and the golden sands.
If you know any more about the story of the hotel, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.