The Balearic government started the engines running on its new hotel construction policy yesterday with demolition work on five hotels across the island swinging into action with the knocking down of a 36-year-old hotel in Capdepera. In accordance with the government's moratorium on the construction of new hotels in the Balearics, in order to build a new hotel - which has to be either four or five star - an ageing or abandoned hotel has to be knocked down to make way for a new establishment. The government hopes that not only will the norms prevent land being further exploited, but also serve to gradually renovate and modernise parts of the region's hotel sector. Yesterday morning Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich and Minister for Tourism, Celesti Alomar, looked on as the first wave of the bulldozers moved in on the Cala Mesquida II which is perched in a prime spot along the coast in Capdepera. The hotel which is the first of as many as five hotels which are to be demolished in this present phase to make way for two new hotels, was built and opened in 1964 with 151 bedrooms. The six-storey building is set in an area of particular natural beauty and Antich said yesterday that the demolition of the hotel marks the start of a government “exchange” programme - new hotel for an old one. The Chief Minister said that the onus for new hotels, apart from being on quality, is also on modernisation, competitiveness and eco-friendliness. Alomar said that the demolition of the hotel is a “small example” of the region's new model for tourism for the future “which is based on creating new bed spaces, but without using up too excessive amounts of land.” Not all of the five hotels which belong to Explotacions Turístiques de les Illes Balears, just two of which are in Capdepera, being demolished are to be replaced with new establishments. The new four star Viva Can Picafort hotel will be the first to be built with 285 rooms and will be located in the heart of the resort it is named after. The 50-roomed Hostal Calypso along the Playa de Palma will be brought down to make way for 250 square metres of protected green belt public land and on the site of the Hostal Arcos, the Palma city council is to build new housing. In Can Pastilla, the 150-room Hotel Aragon is also set to be brought down along with a second hotel in Cala Mesquida, the 35-room Hotel Atlantic. For the future, the hotel company aims to construct a second new hotel in Cala Mesquida and it is hoped that the 360-room establishment will be completed by 2002.

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