Hotel Estoril Sol marks 40 years amid demolition threat

news: Hotel Estoril Sol marks 40 years amid demolition threat

THE ESTORIL SOL has celebrated its 40th birthday amid political wrangling over its potential demolition.

The hotel has now been resisting the threat of impending demolition for three years.

The five star Estoril Sol will certainly remain standing until after local elections on October 9 and, even after this date, the destruction may not go ahead because the Socialist candidate for the presidency of Cascais Câmara, Arrobas da Silva, claims the building is an important architectural landmark. A câmara source confirms that the hotel will not be demolished during this mandate. “Legally, the demolition can only happen when new building plans are approved by the câmara,” says the source.

Any potential rapid demolition process is seriously compromised by the presence of considerable quantities of asbestos. Demolition work would have to involve solutions that do not jeopardise public health because the inhalation of asbestos can cause fibrosis and lung and chest cancers. Helder Spinola, president of Quercus, reiterates this point: “The demolition can only occur after the removal of all the material containing asbestos.”

The Estoril Sol’s recent history has been chequered. In August 2002, Mário Assis Ferreira, a member of the hotel’s administration board, forecast that demolition would begin towards the end of 2003. But, three years later, there is still no final date.

The hotel, equipped with 310 rooms and a 16-room conference centre, has always been popular with the rich and famous. Among the hotel’s devotees were billionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates, the late Princess Grace of Monaco and superstars such as Liza Minelli, Júlio Iglesias and Diana Ross.

Professional opinion about the potential demolition remains divided. The Order of Architects is against demolition because they say it is one of the rarest examples in Portugal of a type of construction that marked the 1960s. Architects such as Manuel Graça Dias, Manuel Vicente and Pedro Brandão say they feel the hotel is “part of the landscape”. But architect Gonçalo Byrne, the author of a new plan for the site, says he does not think the hotel “has sufficient quality to merit preservation”. Byrne wants to build three 15 storey towers on the site.

The Estoril Sol is now at the centre of the campaign for the forthcoming local elections. António Capucho, the current Social Democratic (PSD) president of Cascais Câmara, wants to demolish the hotel but Socialist candidate (PS) Arrobas da Silva is campaigning to preserve it.