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There are few hotels in the world that are so marked in the history of the city and the country in which they are located, such as the Santa Catalina Hotel in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In its 130-year history, it has become an icon not only of the city but also a symbol of luxury in Gran Canaria. Today, as one of two hotels on the island, it boasts the name Gran Lujo, which is basically the sixth star.

Hotel Santa Catalina shortly after its opening.

A place which during the stay in Gran Canaria many statesmen, members of royal families, also stars of show business chosen as their second home. The hotel is the heart of the part called Ciudad Jardin, also known as the English Quarter. Hotel Santa Catalina hides behind its walls more than a century of island history and its strong ties to the United Kingdom.

Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Gran Canaria
An ad inviting guests at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries to the newly opened Santa Catalina Hotel.

New hotel in Las Palmas

The construction of the hotel was motivated by a number of English ships, who chose Las Palmas as a place for rest and replenishment while cruising to the southern regions of Africa. This also brought many visitors from among the rich English citizens. Therefore, in 1887, the English company Gran Canaria Island Company Limited decided to build a luxury hotel near the port. The project was commissioned by the prestigious Scottish architect James M. MacLaren (1853 – 1890). The construction of the hotel began in 1888. It was completed in record time and in January 1890 the hotel was inaugurated. The bulk of the hotel was made of wood, which was at that time in Gran Canaria enough.

The hotel quickly gained a wealthy clientele and it seemed that nothing stands in its way for success. However, his life was affected by World War I. The steadily decreasing number of visitors caused great difficulties for the hotel and its management became increasingly red. The English hotel operator eventually went bankrupt and the hotel was closed.

Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Gran Canaria
The Santa Catalina Hotel quickly became the center of social events for the Canary Higher.

Fall and new way

In 1923 the hotel became the property of Las Palmas. However, even the city did not have enough money to repair it, so the hotel has remained closed for more than 20 years. Such a long period has left its mark on the hotel. The hotel fell into disrepair and it looked like it would eventually be demolished.

After World War II, the City Hall of Las Palmas decided to save the Hotel Santa Catalina. A minor task was entrusted to a native of Gran Canaria, a prestigious local architect Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre (1894 – 1980). His style, so-called the neo-canary style, known from buildings like the Parador Cruz de Tejeda or the Casa de Turismo in Santa Catalina Park in Las Palmas, was also transferred to the hotel reconstruction.. Rather, however, we could say the construction of the new Santa Catalina Hotel.

Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Gran Canaria
The Hotel Santa Catalina has quickly found itself on postcards such as this one from 1904.

Rebuilding

Torre finally managed a magnificent work. The hotel retains the original character of the English colonial style, which gave to the hotel MacLaren. However, it was enriched with neo-canary architectural features typical of the work of Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre. The sensitivity of incorporation into the surrounding nature is also typical of Torre’s work. In this respect, he was significantly influenced in his work by his brother Néstor (1887 – 1938), who is now recognized as one of the most important painters. For example, he participated in the decoration of the Teatro Pérez Galdós Theater.

Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Gran Canaria
Hotel Santa Catalina after the last reconstruction, when it got its current look.

The Santa Catalina Hotel is back in the 1950s. He still remained the property of the city. The management of the hotel is gradually taken care of by the lease of several companies and the hotel is undergoing many reconstructions. Some of them were insensitive to the architecture of the hotel. Finally, after the last lease, in 2017 the city decided to launch a tender for the sale of the hotel. The winner was the hotel company Barceló.

The Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel ***** GL have been restored in 2019 to their original historical appearance.

A new era of luxury

As a new hotel owner, Barceló immediately embarked on its demanding reconstruction and refurbishment. However, the reconstruction lasting more than a year has borne fruit. His original charm, given to him by Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre, was returned to the hotel. The 204 rooms of this fantastic hotel, where luxury comes first, have a meticulously refined design that overshadows perhaps only the beauty of the Atlantic coast. The hotel has regained its classic style, where exclusivity and quality are an essential part of the guest philosophy and where the most modern services and facilities can be used, even though it feels as if time has stopped.

That was exactly how I felt when I was visited hotel. During my visit on hotel, where I was also accompanied by Mr. Manuel Martínez-Fresno Hernández, the director of the protocol and the royal concierge, I “saw” in the hallways of the hotel Sir Winston Churchil, Maria Callas, Agatha Christie, Gregory Peck, Prince Charles, members of the Spanish royal family. All these famous hotel guests would be proud of the work done by Barceló. Hotel Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel ***** GL was once again returned to the history and luxury. And the sixth star, Gran Lujo title, the Hotel Santa Catalina rightfully belongs.

Photos in the article come from the archive of the hotel and the archive of the Canary Museum. The photos in the gallery are copyrighted photos of Canaria.Guide.


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Martin Smolen

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