Iconic it is, and for this reason, plus its location, anything that moves - or is intended to be moved - at the Hotel Formentor attracts immense scrutiny.
Pollensa town hall earlier this week granted the licence for redevelopment at the hotel. A separate licence for expansion of the hotel’s “buildable area” to create a spa and certain other facilities is pending, the tourism ministry having given its approval. This expansion meets requirements under the government’s urgent measures decree of last year to kick-start the economy; the expansion involves just over five per cent of the hotel’s grounds, well within the 15% limit set by the decree.
The town hall will almost certainly approve the second licence, which - as far as environmentalists GOB and opposition party, the Alternativa per Pollença - is the more contentious of the two. GOB argue that both the redevelopment (which only affects the existing building) and the expansion are “null and void as they do not comply with Pollensa’s own urban planning”.
As ever with such matters, we enter the arcane world of land classification and municipal planning, GOB maintaining that parcels of land at the hotel do not have “the previous condition of solar (buildable site) that empowers the local authority to grant building licences”. The environmentalists say that, among other things, there needs to be “reparcelling procedures” regarding the land.
Mayor Tomeu Cifre says that the town hall is treating the hotel in the same way as it would any other building in Formentor, while he has had to respond to the Alternativa by informing them that there will, if necessary, be “archaeological control”.
Why might this be necessary? It is due to the fact that the site of a possible Roman villa was discovered several years ago when work was being carried out in the hotel’s grounds. Fragments of ceramics were found in an area that partly corresponds to the staff car park. In 2008, when further work was being considered, a technical report concluded that there should be the “continued presence of an archaeologist” to supervise.
Cifre explains that he doesn’t believe that the expansion project will affect the archaeological site. But, if necessary, there will be control.
Be prepared for further argument and debate. It wouldn’t be the Hotel Formentor if there wasn’t.