Some hotels on the Costa del Sol to close for the winter

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DESPITE good hotel occupancy rates this summer, twice as many Costa del Sol hotels will close this winter than did two years ago, union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) said.

Some 30 hotels will close reducing the number of available beds on the Coast by 40 per cent.

There are some which have decided to do so for the first time, such as the Alay in Benalmadena and Marbella’s 5-star Villa Padierna Hotel, but both claim the reason is for “reforms” and not as a seasonal cost-saving initiative.

Villa Padierna will close December 11 to March 15.

During the 2010 Spain visit by Michelle Obama, the US first lady stayed at the Villa Padierna – where a villa costs €5,000 a night – giving Marbella the boost the Town Hall had hoped for.

By the end of April this year, more than half (65 per cent) of rooms at Marbella 5-star hotels were already booked for June.

Ignacio Acirre, the owner of the 250 room 4-star Hotel Alay in Benalmadena told EWN the hotel will reopen in February. “The last time we carried out reforms was 2003, so since occupation and prices are half that of summer, we decided to take advantage of this down time for renovations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaga City has enjoyed a strong year with record bookings, and numerous headlines promoting its failed European Culture Capital bid, as well as the growing cruise ship tourism numbers arriving at the ever-expanding port. The city’s only 5-star hotel, the Vincci Selection Posada del Patio, confirmed it will remain open.

“We have no plans to close in the winter as we get plenty of business,” Carolina Perez, Events Director at the hotel, told EWN.

“As a cultural hotel in the city centre, and the only five-star establishment in Malaga City, our business and holiday clients come all year round.”

“Between October and December, the majority of our clients are business, while in the summer it is mostly tourists.”

But on the coast CCOO warns winter closures will affect some 6,000 hotel employees, of which 1,900 will now only be employed full time for three or four months a year.

“It is inadmissible that staff who had permanent contracts will now have temporary contracts and will not have their Social Security contributions paid during the months when they are not working”, CCOO’s Secretary General in Malaga, Lola Villalba, complained.

She claims that in some cases the staff are threatened with dismissal if they don’t accept the conditions.

Villalba said that in Benalmadena alone, 90 per cent of hotels are closing for the winter, and those which will remain open are at up to 80 per cent capacity for this month.

The union also said that despite record breaking figures seen this year in tourism on the Costa del Sol for overnight stays and average duration, this sector has seen the fewest new jobs, with only 205.

But some hotel owners explain that while they have seen an increase in bookings, the drop in room rates and increase in overheads has reduced their profit margins.

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