Madeira’s international airport is going to be named after Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo. The news came on Friday (July 22) during the official opening of the footballer’s first hotel in Funchal.
“The Madeira people do not have a short memory, so we have decided to attribute the name of our airport to Cristiano Ronaldo,” said the archipelago’s president, Miguel Albuquerque.
The regional leader said that a ceremony was being scheduled to officially implement the name change soon.
Ronaldo, 31, was born and raised in Funchal, the archipelago’s capital.
Despite his success, he has remained very much linked to his home.
In 2013, he opened the CR7 Museum in Funchal, and now the town is home to the first CR7 Pestana Hotel.
Presenting the new hotel, Ronaldo said: “It is a pleasure to be in Madeira, my home. This is where everything started. So the kick-off (to my hotelier career) had to be here. To be an hotelier at 31 is still a little strange to me.”
Thousands of people attended the ceremony, most notably the Secretary of State for Tourism Ana Mendes Godinho who thanked the footballer “for investing in Portugal” and “showing the country to the world”.
The square surrounding the hotel, previously known as Praça do Mar, has also been renamed Praça CR7.
The hotel has been open since July 1 and is the first of four that Cristiano Ronaldo will open in partnership with the Pestana chain.
Representing a €75 million investment, the project also involves opening a hotel in Lisbon later this year, and in Madrid and New York in 2017.
The hotels will cater to “boutique and lifestyle” market niches, with CR7’s image being used as the “main inspiration”, especially in Funchal.
Photo: Cristiano Ronaldo with the president of the Pestana Group, Dionísio Pestana (left) and the President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque at the opening of the first of four hotel partnership between the Pestana Hotel Group and the football star on July 22.
Photo by: HOMEM GOUVEIA / LUSA