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Luxury Spanish holiday resort to be demolished after 14-year legal battle

Luxury Spanish holiday resort to be demolished after 14-year legal battle
Marina Isla de Valdecañas was found to be built ‘unlawfully’ in a protected area of countryside

A luxury €100m holiday resort in rural Espanha is set to be demolished following a 14-year legal battle.

Marina Isla de Valdecañas, which includes a four-star hotel, por pouco 200 villas, a swimming pool and an 18-hole golf course, was ruled to be unlawfully built on protected countryside by Spain’s supreme court.

Conservationists have protested against the development ever since construction began in 2007 on the island, which sits in a reservoir near Cáceres in the Extremadura region.

By the time the case was heard by a regional court in 2020, about a third of the resort had been completed, with plans to build hundreds more villas and other facilities.

The regional court deemed the complex “illegal” and ordered that all construction stop and that any unfinished structures be removed – but it ruled that existing buildings could remain, after developers argued they would be left out of pocket to the tune of nearly €150m.

Ecologists appealed the decision, citing concerns that the ruling could set a precedent allowing developers to build on protected land.

The case was referred to the supreme court, which annulled the original ruling and ordered that the entire resort be demolished.

Ángel García Calle, a lawyer for the ecologists, disse: “In the end all this could have been avoided. We maintained from the start that it was illegal.”

The buyers’ legal representative, Luis Díaz-Ambrona, said his clients’ right to compensation was “indisputable”, adding that the demolition would be “a ruin”.

The luxury resort, dubbed a “rural Marbella” and marketed as an idyllic getaway, attracted hundreds of millions of euros in investment and well-heeled guests, including the son of José María Aznar, the former prime minister, who bought a house there.