The hotel in the Elche district of Arenales del Sol (Alicante) is already a protected dune area. Located a few meters from the seashore, closed four decades ago and with its ruins in dispute since 1997, more than a year after its demolition it has left a small piece of land facing the sea in which the Provincial Coastal Service has invested 165,676 euros in the environmental restoration and the restitution of land to the maritime terrestrial public domain.

The concrete skeleton has disappeared and in its place, some workers deploy plant protection for the conservation of the dunes and their flora, dominated by the sea lily. With a history that bears similarities to the case of the Algarrobico hotel, whose construction was halted 16 years ago on a beach in the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, although it is still standing.

From the door of the building where Carlos Ruiz lives, located just behind the site of the demolished hotel, a zodiac of a scuba diver can be seen passing by, briefly anchoring a few meters from the shore. A year ago, it would have been impossible. “The image and security of this area has improved a lot,” says Ruiz, a worker at the Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernandez airport, located just eight minutes away “by motorcycle, I don’t even use the car to go to work,” he says. Both he and his neighbors are delighted with the disappearance of the tome, as it was known in the district. “The ruins were dangerous,” he says, “they were full of rats and cats and the children came in to play without taking into account that they could even kill themselves.” “A few years ago, some kids broke in, knocked over a toilet from the second floor and smashed a car that was parked next to it,” he recalls. Now, Her two children, three years old and eight months old, will not run that risk. And they will enjoy the views of the sea forever, because Costas does not foresee any adaptation for public use. The beach of the extinct hotel will remain virgin.

The site where two operators work has marked the history of this district of about 4,000 inhabitants registered in the last 60 years. A married couple of businessmen, Tomas Dura and Maruja Sabater, opened the hotel in 1963 where at that time there was nothing but sand and waves. The success of the establishment, which came to house the later King Juan Carlos, was the seed that made Arenales del Sol grow. As close to Alicante as it was to Elche, it was, and still is, a quiet and well-connected place, where the planes that land and take off from the airport barely make a sound. However, its life was short-lived and it closed about fifteen years later. In 1997, the socialist mayor Diego Macia signed the declaration of ruin of the establishment. And a long judicial process began that did not conclude until 2020. A company, Princesol, obtained a license to rehabilitate the building, but broke the law by creating new structures. The case reached the Supreme Court, which declared the project unfeasible. Had to demolish the old part and the new. Finally, the machines brought it down in October of last year.

No one questions the need to remove the remains of the structure built on the very first line of the beach. Lola Cano, who works at the Mirasol real estate company, whose offices are behind the site, concedes that “the hotel was unhealthy” and, on many occasions, “received squatters and drug addicts.” But she maintains that “its rehabilitation would have breathed life” into an area that, in winter, languishes between empty apartments and closed establishments. “In summer, everything is full and open,” says Cano. National and family tourism animates the streets on holidays, weekends and holidays. Outside of those designated days, “there is no movement”, just “some retirees, both Spanish and foreigners.”

Vicen Molina, a permanent resident of Arenales for the past five years, is of the same opinion, but who had spent “23 years vacationing here.” “The demolition seems fine to me, the ruins have given a horrible image for more than forty years,” he concedes, “but a hotel would accommodate people passing through, who come to the airport or to IFA (the fairgrounds, also nearby) and They rent flats by the hour.” With that traffic of visitors, there would be no excuse to make up for the shortcomings of the district, in his opinion. “You need a leisure area, a large shopping area,” he says, “and there is only one clinic from which, if you need something, they send you to Elche.” Molina buys a loaf of bread in one of the few cafeterias open in mid-December where temperatures refuse to drop below 20 degrees. In the only supermarket in the district, its owner does not even want to hear about the history of the hotel. Opposite, walks Manuel Alvarez, a Madrid retiree who maintains that the weather would allow the tourism business “to function all year round.” “You live well, quiet, and if you want a little more movement, Alicante is 15 minutes away by car,” he says.

With the demolition, “citizenship has gained,” says Marina Camunez, an employee at the Alicante Sol real estate agency. “We have gained views,” she continues, with a window behind her from which you can see the sea. “But this has been abandoned for many years, there is no bank, a school, a supermarket”, she details, “it does not seem that we pay the same IBI that is paid in Elche”. In her opinion, as almost all her neighbors think, “you have to find a location for a new hotel.”

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