At the beginning of this article, we must go back to year 1961. At that time, only 33-year-old Alejandro del Castillo y Bravo de Laguna, together with his brother Pedro, came up with the idea of urbanizing the south of Gran Canaria. For this idea, they also acquired their father Alejandro del Castillo y del Castillo, VIII. Count of Vega Grande de Guadalupe. Together, they approached the architect Pedro Massieu, who, together with another architect Manuel de la Peña, designed a plan that included the announcement of an international architectural competition to create a large tourist area from San Agustín to Arguineguín.
The winner of the architectural competition was a project by an association of French architects and engineers, whose members were Guy Lagneau, Michel Weill, Jean Dimitrijevic, René Bartholiu, Philippe Cennet, Ivan Seifert, Lucien Varinay and Jean Davidad. This team proposed to divide the entire territory into seven zones. The individual zones were to differ not only architecturally, but also according to the economic level of the guests.
The first buildings
The first area to be urbanized was the San Augustín area. Work on urbanization began on October 15, 1962, and was initially funded by the del Castillo family. Thanks to them, the interesting restaurant La Rotonda and the first bungalow complex Los Caracoles were created. They began to serve their purpose in March 1964.
Although La Rotonda was considered an architectural symbol of the San Augustín area, it was be in operation only 30 years. Due to the necessary revitalization of the environment and other development projects, an agreement was finally reached between the owners and the city of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, and the restaurant was demolished on July 20, 1992. The Los Caracoles bungalows have been more fortunate and, with various modifications, function to this day as part of the Nueva Suecia complex.
The first hotel
During the construction of the restaurant and bungalows, the first hotel in the south of Gran Canaria saw the light of day. In 1963, the foundation stone of the Folías Hotel was laid. Entrepreneur and visionary Francisco Díaz-Casanova is responsible for this. However, he was not to be alone in this adventure. He acquired seven other collaborators, which were Manuel Montenegro, Manuel de la Peña, Manuel Álvarez, Pedro Hernández, Arístides Jaén, Ulises Medina and Fernando Cardoso.
Francisco Díaz-Casanova was ordered for hotel a prestigious Canarian architect, who is still considered one of the most important architects of modern architecture in the Canary Islands, Manuel de la Peña.
The hotel was beautiful in its concept, combining elegance of shapes and functionality. The project itself took into account the need to keep employees in an area that was “at the end of the world” at the time. Therefore, on the top floor of the eight-storey building, residential units for hotel employees were created. In total, the hotel could accommodate up to 40 employees.
The hotel’s project also included the placement of several works of art, including by Lanzarote artist César Manrique. To this day, you can see the “Cosmos” wall sculpture by Pepe Dámaso in the lobby.
The sculpture is dated two years. In 1965 the author created it and in 2012 the work was comprehensively restored on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the urbanization of the Maspalomas area.
On Thursday, December 16, 1965, there was a grand moment for the hotel, the long-awaited opening. The opening itself is accompanied by a smiling incident. As the construction the owners ran out of money, they did not have enough funds to organize a spectacular celebration. As usual, they had a hard time deciding who to invite and whom not. They therefore decided to invite all the important people from the island, which represented about 1,000 people. Invitations were sent out on Wednesday night at 7.30pm, hoping that many people would not be able to respond.
The next day, however, the owners of the hotel remained in silence when they found out that all the guests had come to the opening. Among them were personalities such as the governor of the islands Antonio Avendaño Porrúa, the mayor of Las Palmas José Ramírez Bethencourt or the state secretary for tourism Pantaleón Quevedo Vernetta. The guests were personally taken care of by Manuel Guersi, president of Horesa, the company managed hotel, hotel director Ronald Cachemaille and architect Manuel de la Peña.
In the following days, all Canarian and Spanish newspapers mentioned the new hotel. They all spoke about the hotel in superlatives. The daily news Diario de Las Palmas wrote in its introduction: “Hotel Folías, with its harmonious lines, elegantly lifts a white building with a Castilian touch of gray-brown ground against the blue waters of the nearby ocean.”
55 years of operation
Hotel Folías was designed as an apartment hotel. Each room has a small kitchenette, a balcony and a bathroom. Over time, it has undergone several minor or major repairs. Some of them also had a negative impact on its architecture, but in fact it was able to retain its character.
Probably the biggest change underwent the hotel in 2018. At that time, the hotel was bought from the community of owners by the company New Folías S. L. U. and became the owner of the entire hotel. The hotel has been renovated. On the way around the hotel, I always noticed that the hotel building gradually decreased from day to day, until one day it started to increase again in the building.
The hotel is currently in full beauty. Its elegant white building contrasts with the green park in the foreground of the hotel and the blue waters of the Atlantic in the background. Looking at the elegant hotel building, one must clearly admire the timelessness of the project, despite its 55-year history.
Today the hotel offers accommodation in 112 rooms. All are modern and functionally furnished. Although half-board is available for to clients each room is furnished, as in the original projects, with a small kitchenette where guests can prepare the tea or coffee or light meals.
Almost all rooms have ocean views. Of course, the most beautiful is from the top floors. Clients have to their disposal a large pool, children’s pool and a nicely landscaped garden. The San Augistín beach, which has been proud of its Blue Flag for decades, is a 2-minute walk through the hotel’s garden.
I believe that the next fifty will be successful for the hotel Folías and enjoy the favor of customers as before. Under the leadership of the sympathetic director, Mrs. Azahara Campos, who took me through the hotel and consulted with me on information from its history, this will certainly not be a problem. I heartily recommend accommodation in this hotel.
Are you interested in this hotel? I will be happy to provide you with further information about the hotel, prices and dates. Just send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org or a message to whatsapp +34 635 232 849.
You can also find information about the beginnings of urbanization in the south in the article How it all started.
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