Hotel Algarrobico, Almeria, Spain

Illegal 21-story and 411-room tourism facility built on one of Spain´s few remaining unspoilt Mediterranean beaches, within the Cabo de Gata Nature reserve.


Algarrobico Beach lies on Spain´s south-eastern coast, close to the city of Garboneras (Almería province) in Andalusia. The beach was one of few remaining unspoilt Mediterranean litoral landscapes in Spain [1], described by de Gatas natural park guide as a beach of singular beauty. In 1985, the city council of Carboneras adopted Subsidiary Rules* according to the Urban Territory Laws of Andalusia**. These rules and laws defined the litoral landscapes of Algarrobico as building land committed to the urban development in the region. Two years later the National Park Cabo da Gata-Níjar was created, covering coastal areas in the region but not the Algarrobico beach. The year after, the Costal Law*** was established prohibiting constructions on protected land within 100 m of the sealine and building land within 20 m of the sealine, while the city council of Carboneras approved constructions of Hotel Algarrobico. In 1994, Cabo de Gata-Níjar was stretched to include the Algarrobico Beach, as a part of its protected green belt, which was accepted by the Government of Andalusia. Shortly after however, the government published private documents changing the status of Algarrobico Beach, as it would return to be unprotected building land, exceeding the provisions of the Nature Conservation Law 4/89 [2]. In 2001, Azata del Sol. S.L, a firm buying and selling real estate, applied for a license to build a hotel on Agarrobico Beach. Two years later, in 2003, Azata del Sol. S.L acquired the license and begun constructing the hotel. Despite the Costal Law's 100 m prohibition, the hotel was constructed 47 m from the sealine, with pools and surrounding walls closing the distance to the sealine to only 14 m [2], making the construction illegal. The Environmental Ministry of Andalucia then initiated the formalities for the expropriation. A couple of months later, the environmental organization Salvemos Mojácar started lobbying against the hotel, which quickly led to a paralysis of the construction of the hotel. The organization started to press for demolition of the hotel. The Andalucian Court affirmed and ordered Azata del Sol. S.L. to withdraw from their construction rights and allow for the hotel construction to be demolished in exchange for 2,3 million euros. Azata del Sol. S.L. responded by demanding a much larger sum, 200 million euros [3]. The Government would not offer more than 40 million euros. The following years (2007 until 2017) the governmental environmental sectors have persistently claimed the need of protecting Algarrobico Beach and prohibit constructions on the site re-adopting 1994’s Cabo de Gata-Níjar regulations, stating Algarrobico beach as grounds to be protected from destruction. Meanwhile Greenpeace has actively painted (both narratively and physically) the Azata del Sol S.L Hotel as illegal, stressed the demolition of the project, organized petitions against the project and occupied the building, highlighting that the hotel construction still stands opposing the Court’s orders.        NOTES 1. The Daily Telegraph 2. Greenpeace 3. 20 minutos.   (Specification of and links to sources are to be in the section “Sources and Materials”).  *Normas Subsidiarias, NNSS   **Ley de Ordenación Urbanística de Andalucía, LOUA ***La Ley de Costas de España

Basic Data
NameHotel Algarrobico, Almeria, Spain
SiteCarboneras, Almería
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tourism services
Ecosystem Services
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe hotel is a construction with 21 stories and 411 rooms. It was meant to form a part of a golf resort with eight hotels and 1500 flats in total.

The figure of 70 million USD is approximately what the building firm was claiming as income losses, after the courts have finally decided that the hotel must be deconstructed.
Project Area (in hectares)4
Level of Investment (in USD)70,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesAzata from Spain - The company behind the planning and construction of the hotel
Relevant government actorsAndalusia's Supreme Court

Spain's Government

The Spanish Supreme Court

Spain's Ministry of the Environment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace España,

Salvemos Mojácar,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil erosion, Soil contamination
OtherDestruction of (one of last Mediterranean) protected coastal areas in Spain
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Under negotiation
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesGreenpeace and Salvemos Mojácar wants the hotel demolished to restore the landscape to previous condition.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The Hotel would have larger destructive impact if in business. The EJOs managed to prevent the hotel from opening. In best case scenario, the project would have been refused before construction was begun. The construction and demolition have had and will have an environmental impact on the coastal area. This case has had finally a much delayed successful outcome (largely to be credited to Greenpeace).
Sources and Materials

La Ley de Costas de España

- Spain's Coastal Law
[click to view]

El Plan de Ordenación de los Recursos Naturales (PORN) and El Plan Rector de Uso y Gestión (PRUG) del Parque Natural Cabo de Gata-Níjar

translates to The Management Plan of Natural Resources and The Principle Plan of Use and Action in the National Park of Cabo de Gata-Níjar,

are two documents concerning the agenda of the national park. The limits of the national park are shown here.
[click to view]


Greenpeace's articles concerning the Algarrobico Case
[click to view]

Greenpeace. Algarrobico, símbolo de la destrucción de la costa.

España tiene más de 8.000 km de costa y son numerosos los casos de destrucción. El hotel ilegal de la playa de El Algarrobico (Carboneras, Almería) es un caso especialmente grave, uno de los mayores escándalos urbanísticos del litoral.
[click to view]

Chronology of the history of Algarrobico Beach and Hotel.
[click to view]

Timeline of the construction of the Algarrobico Hotel
[click to view]

Brief article from The Daily Telegraph about the Algarrobico Hotel
[click to view]

Other Documents

Cabo de Gata Natural Reserve from 2008 The Limits of the Cabo de Gata Natural Reserve from 2008
[click to view]

Hotel Ilegal Photo of one of Greenpeace's six activist actions.
[click to view]

Coastal Area and the hotel
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorFelicia Sörman, Nina Lundin, Julia Blomberg (Lund University)
Last update13/04/2017