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LAST UPDATED: 12 May, 2008 @ 14:53
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Luxury hotel group is slammed for links to controversial golf project as properties are marketed despite Junta stop order

Jon Clarke

LUXURY hotel chain Four Seasons has been linked to Ronda’s controversial Los Merinos golf development.
The award-winning company – recently voted best hotel group worldwide – apparently plans to build a hotel inside the complex, despite it being overruled by the authorities and having no permission for water.
The huge Canadian group – that owns a dozen of the world’s most exclusive hotels -could construct the “luxury hotel” despite the complex being taken to court by the regional government and public prosecutor.
The project is also under investigation in Brussels.
The news has been accidentally leaked after the Olive Press acquired a brochure for one of the four so-called Pueblos Serranos, which are now being marketed to foreign buyers.
The upmarket 12-page gatefold brochure, picked up by a Scottish businessman, links to a website for the Ronda Country Club development, which is part of the larger Club de Campo & Golf de Ronda project.
In the brochure, which is being used as a marketing tool for potential buyers worldwide, it describes the scheme as “Spain’s best kept secret” and “a world class initiative.”

“Crazy”
Under the heading Discover True Spanish Beauty, it boasts that the development will have two 18 hole golf courses, a tennis and paddle club, a horse riding centre and a “luxury hotel to be built by world renowned group Four Seasons.”
While the company said it was “not familiar” with the project, opponents to the scheme described it as an own goal.
“This would be a crazy move for a big company with a good reputation like Four Seasons,” said Juan Terroba, from green group Ecologistas en Accion.
“Surely they must have access to the internet and know what is going on up there.
“The golf course is completely illegal and will spell ecological disaster for the area. How can an apparently responsible group get involved in a project like this?”
Despite the fact the Junta de Andalucía has ordered developers to stop work and the Cuenca Mediterranea Andaluza water board has stated definitively that the development has no water, the developers continue to promote the project.

Denial
In the stylish brochure, they proclaim that each property sits in 2,000 metre square plots and can have “swimming pools and jacuzzis.”
The brochure also explains how each of the 79 villas will have an average size of 300 square metres and “fuse perfectly into their glorious surroundings.”
Mysteriously this does not match with the main Club de Campo & Golf website – nor plans apparently lodged with Ronda town hall – which shows the properties as apartments in a lower impact and so-called “pueblo Serrano” style village.
It also apparently makes a big mistake by reiterating exactly what the developers have been denying for some time… that the development is in a protected area.
It states that there are “more than 300 hectares of national park” dedicated to outdoor pursuits such as horse riding and walking.
It continues: “There is little doubt that there will be very few places in the world quite like Club de Campo & Golf de Ronda.”
It also claims that the development is just five minutes from Ronda, when, according to neighbours, it actually takes considerably longer.
“That is a downright lie,” said one near neighbour in Parchite. “We live nearer Ronda than Los Merinos and it takes us a full 15 minutes to get to the town.
“More than anything though, I would advise anyone thinking of buying in this development to think again as it has no water and has been ordered to stop.”
Unsurprisingly, nowhere in the brochure or the website www.rondacountryclub.com does it mention that it is part of the controversial Los Merinos development.
Spokeswoman for Four Seasons Nicola Blazier said: “I am not sure I have anything to confirm at this point. We are a perfectly responsible company.”

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