AN audacious scheme which saw 100 shareholders lease a hotel has been snuffed out by the recession.
The project led by entrepreneur Chris Risbey had seen the takeover of a rural hotel renamed as the Elefante Amarillo (Yellow Elephant).
The Olive Press reported in 2009 how each investor had pledged between 100 euros and 10,000 euros in return for credit at the hotel, in Montejaque, enabling Risbey to realise his dream.
His investors included members of the pop band Belle & Sebastian, as well as many local expats.
Other friends, including members of pop band Franz Ferdinand, had politely turned down Risbey’s offer.
It now seems they were right. Despite an injection of up to 100,000 euros, Risbey was unable to survive the economic crisis.
Last week, he returned to the UK, having sold the hotel to British businessmen Jonathan Fraser Howells, 43, and his partner Michael Asher, 54.
The pair are planning to completely refurbish the hotel and, above all, rename it.
It is unsure meanwhile, what will happen to the credit of all the previous investors in the hotel.
One investor Carolyn Emmett, was luckily able to recoup her investment by arranging a big party just before it changed hands.
“We effectively spent all the money we invested using our vouchers,” she said.
“I am not sure however, what will happen for those who haven’t used their vouchers,” she added.
New owner Fraser Howells, who works as an agent for the Conservative Party in London, said: “The issue wasn’t really discussed. As I understand it there was no formal agreement, and they are more investors than shareholders so it was not really between us. But I assume they will all get their money back.”
He continued: “I think we might run a competition to let the locals rename the hotel. It is probably the best way.”