SITGES – In 2017, star footballer Messi bought a hotel on the beach in Sitges (Barcelona) for more than €30 million. The 4-star boutique hotel has 77 rooms and suites, a spa, a swimming pool, a fitness and a sky bar.
It would be a good investment, were it not for the fact the hotel, or parts of it, are awaiting the wrecking ball, according to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial. The Argentine footballer, who recently received his seventh Golden Ball, bought the hotel from the businessman Francisco Sánchez. He assured him there were no urban planning proceedings against the building. That was not quite true.
4-star boutique hotel
The hotel in question, currently called MiM Sitges and managed by the Majestic chain, is on Avenida Sofía in Sitges. According to the website itself, it is a superior four-star boutique hotel, located just 50 meters from the beach, in the heart of Sitges. Built in 2013, it has 77 rooms and suites, 300 square meters of lounges with natural light and an equipped ‘spa’ with a water circuit, a swimming pool, a gym and a ‘sky bar'”. The price varies over a weekend in December between €105 and €216 per night for two people based on a room only.
Messi knew nothing until recently
El Confidencial writes that during the preparation of the report on the Messi hotel, the player was not yet aware he had been cheated. The journalists of the Spanish newspaper informed him. Despite this, his official response remains: ‘no comment’.
The history of this alleged scam begins in 2009. Businessman Francisco Sánchez Rodríguez applied for planning permission from the Sitges City Council to build the hotel. He was given the go-ahead on October 6 of the same year. However, his structures do not respect the established boundaries. For example, the businessman wanted to build huge balconies that protrude two meters from the facade. Because he didn’t have permission to do so, he only provided documentation about how he built them, which was two years later in order to legalise them in retrospect.
According to the municipality, the balconies do not comply with urban regulations in any way. Therefore, they must be demolished. However, as the structure of the balconies is rooted in the general construction of the building, the entire Messi hotel has to be demolished to get rid of them.
Knowing what to expect, Francisco Sánchez Rodríguez started a lawsuit to legalise the balconies, but lost time and again. Nevertheless, Sánchez came up with an ‘alternative’ in 2014. He wanted to eliminate the safety railings, close the access from the rooms and place beautiful planters on the outside. That would convert the space from balconies to decorative elements. No sooner said than done. The hotel, after this minor reform, continues to function despite not complying with urban regulations.
Fire emergency plan does not suffice
However, the balconies do not appear to be the only irregularity. Others are more serious. The fire emergency plan was also rejected by the municipal service. Yet Francisco Sánchez Rodríguez, continued to sell the property to Lionel Messi on May 5, 2017.
Untruth in notarial deed of sale
El Confidencial had access to the notarial deed of sale in which the businessman assures “he does not know whether an urban development process has started nor does he know reasons why such a process could be initiated (…). And that there are no sanctioning procedures for urban issues or procedures for restoring urban legality that have been initiated in connection therewith.” The papers show otherwise.
Businessman denies everything
Francisco Sánchez denies everything El Confidencial published on the matter. “It’s a lie. There is no order to demolish the balconies. You can publish whatever you want. The balconies don’t exist, this was years ago. The city council takes the matter again off the shelf,” he says before abruptly hanging up without answering any further questions.
Municipality: demolition of balconies
The city council of Sitges officially confirms the information and contradicts Francisco Sánchez. There is a ratified decision to demolish the balconies. The municipality has started the procedure to demolish the balconies. However, the council requires a technical assessment to see how demolition can take place due to the previously mentioned structural issues.