Cala Pi, where there was a promotion at one particular hotel. | Gabriel Alomar

The Provincial Court in Palma has been hearing cases brought by tourists seeking to extricate themselves from contracts which effectively tied them to one hotel establishment or hotel chain for the rest of their lives. A form of timeshare, these are contracts for which the period exceeds fifty years.

In one particular case, a contract was signed at a promotion in a hotel in Cala Pí (Llucmajor). This was in 2011. The clients paid 63,000 euros. For this, they had the right to rooms in a hotel chain's establishments in perpetuity.

In another case, the contract was with one hotel until 2079. The clients paid 20,000 euros plus an annual fee. The Court made an assumption that had they separately booked one week each year over a 14-year period, the total would have been less than the 20,000.

The claims being made to the Court request the annulling of the contract and the refund of initial charges. The rulings in Palma are based on jurisprudence established by the Supreme Court in Madrid in 2016. Any contract that exceeds fifty years in duration is void. Settlements entail return of the money that was deposited plus interest and minus the value of stays that were taken.

The fifty-year limit for timeshare has been in place since 1998, which was when Spain adhered to a European directive. A two-year grace period was granted for adapting contracts to this legislation. However, with cases now reaching the courts, contracts were signed years after the regulation came into effect.