The hotel has now been completely demolished. | MDB

The Hotel Formentor is one of Mallorca's most iconic and prestigious hotels. Opened in 1929, ownership has passed through different hands over the years. In December 2020, the Mallorcan hotel company Barceló, then the owners, announced the sale to an investment fund, Emin Capital, for 165 million euros. Emin, it was explained, would be undertaking a profound redevelopment together with the Canadian hotel chain Four Seasons. This had the permission of Pollensa town hall and an execution period of two years.

Barceló stated: "The new project will take into account all the environmental and landscape aspects that such a sensitive environment requires and will be a great boost for the municipality as a generator of wealth and employment and promoter of an exceptional tourist destination."

The projected date for reopening was June 2023. It is now April 2024. On Monday this week, the mayor of Pollensa, Andrés Nevado, ordered a suspension of works. A technical report from the town hall itself had drawn into question the legality of work in line with licences granted; the owners have consistently said that work is legal. As of Thursday, work was continuing.

Related news

To say the least, it is a complex affair, one of planning regulations and licences. Critics of the redevelopment include the environmentalist organisation GOB. At the start of October, GOB and the main opposition group at the town hall, Junts Avançam, filed a complaint against demolition. This, together with the town hall's technical report, resulted in the mayor's order.

The GOB spokesperson is Margalida Ramis, who maintains that the town hall has not been complying with its own general plan. She has been asked if GOB's objective is that the hotel is not rebuilt. In response, she says that "our objective is urban planning legality, not against the developer or the hotel itself".

In her view, this is a sensitive area (development on the Formentor peninsula) that the town hall "has in a situation of permanent irregularity". What is important for GOB is whether "municipalities are guarantors of legality or the interests of a company, no matter how much prestige it gives". Ramis draws attention to the fact the town hall has verified that complete demolition has been carried out but that "they know that they do not have a demolition licence".

GOB have been requesting that they have access to the licence file. "They now tell us that we will be able to access it. Let's see what happens. We are dealing with a process that may be possible to correct but it is a process that is not being done thoroughly. It is like so many things in Mallorca, with the 'logic' of not creating difficulties for what investors do. We argue that the rules should be the same for everyone. We are not a banana republic."