If you ever wanted proof that 2020 has been Marbella’s worst year, then driving past the blackened shell that, until Saturday, was the Sisu Boutique Hotel is a graphic demonstration.
The combination of coronavirus, carnage and the shadow of crime means that this may be the point at which Marbella takes a long hard look at itself in the mirror and decides what sort of town it really wants to be.
This isn’t the place to debate on the history of the Sisu. It was high profile in more ways than one, bringing hordes of tourists to its pool parties in the hope of glimpsing a reality TV celebrity or sports star. It was also the subject of hundreds of denuncias and allegations, but Sisu manager Neil was always on hand to answer them, at one point walking around the hotel with a Spanish TV crew in tow.
This year, however, the Spanish Press has gone after Marbella in a big way. Every drunken brawl in Banus or packed pool party has been reported nationally. Marbella seems to have been singled out as the cases of the virus have risen, an example of the rules being flouted.
It doesn’t help that the roads are full of expensive cars with foreign number plates that seem to be driven by morons who passed their test on PlayStation. Or that there seem to be hordes of the good, bad and frankly scary all out letting off steam since the lockdown ended.
Marbella Town Hall has introduced bans on clubs, bars and beaches that will hurt the local economy but not the tourists who will simply fly back to their home country or party at their private villas.
Maybe now is the time for Marbella to ask itself if it really is serious about being a luxury and family oriented destination and take serious steps to bring that market back. On the night before Sisu burnt to the ground, the luxury World Vision Gala took place at the Puente Romano Resort, an example of the quality of visitors that Marbella can still attract.
And if you wanted an example of the quality of the people that Marbella itself has, you only needed to see the town’s firefighters rushing into the burning hotel to save lives.
That is the Marbella that we should be celebrating. Let’s hope the shocking events of Saturday morning finally prove a turning point.
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