Formentor Hotel construction in Mallorca



In 1929, the magazine La Nostra Terra announced that a “casal de regust mallorquí bell” had just been built in Formentor and a year later, the Ordinas printing press produced the brochure “Formentor in Mallorca”, advertising the hotel inaugurated by Argentinian tycoon Adam Diehl.

With a discreet and modern taste, it offers all the desirable comfort in a place far from the world and yet close to it, boasted the tract.

Today, the hotel is being renovated but without losing its charm or its history.

Responsibility for the makeover lies with Estudio Lamela, which was founded by Antonio Lamela and is now run by his son Carlos.

They have designed many iconic hotels and buildings in Mallorca, as well as the Santander Bank call center in Querétaro, Terminal 4 at Madrid-Barajas airport and the Canalejas Center, with a majestic Four Seasons Hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel, Madrid.

Carlos Lamela says the renovation of the famous hotel in Formentor will be a challenge.

This is an exceptional hotel, not least because of its history, the quality of the clients who have stayed there and its relationship with Mallorca.“, declares Carlos Lamela.” It is without a doubt one of the mythical hotels of the Mediterranean and for us it is a great professional challenge but I am convinced that with all the team involved in the project, we will bring it to a successful conclusion. Our job is to preserve and emphasize its essence and we will maintain architecturally this “white line” in the landscape, but almost a hundred years after its opening, we will modernize it with the help of professionals such as our architectural partners Ángel Sánchez Cantalejo, Vicente Tomás and ARUP engineering. Everything will be done with the necessary humility and the great affection we have for the island. “

Carlos Lamela.

But in a property with so much history, it can be extremely difficult to decide what to keep and what to remove.

The hotel will be completely renovated, but it will retain its philosophy and its vital essence, ”says Lamela. “Balancing modernity with the rich history that very few hotels in the world have is a daunting task. “

The Formentor hotel was a favorite destination for literary greats, like Camilo José Cela, Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Graves, Miguel Delibes, Italo Calvino, Alberto Moravia and the Mexican painter Roberto Montenegro who lived in Puerto Pollença and often frequented the hotel bar.

It is important to us to rebuild Formentor and to mix its past with its future. The main investor in the Formentor hotel is a large Mexican business group with which we have excellent relations. In Mexico, great modern architecture is the product of historical collections and good architects, ”adds Lamela. “We are very aware that some of the most important movie stars of the 20th century have passed through the Formentor hotel, and we want to work with that idea and put it into practice in the gardens by paying homage to these actors in one way or another.

Carlos and his father, Antonio Lamela are very close to Mallorca and their link with the island dates back to the 1950s.

In 1959 my father designed his first major work which was the building at 33 O’Donnell Street in Madrid, and the builder was the Bilbao company Donato Lasa.

A family member got married in Mallorca and my parents went to the wedding and I stayed at the Bahía Hotel, also built by Lasa and recently opened, ”Carlos recalls. “My parents were impressed by the paradisiacal beauty of the island and decided to stay a few days at the Hotel Formentor. After this trip my father offered the Lasa family to undertake a project on the island so that they would have an excuse to come back to Mallorca often, then they started to consider the possibility of buying plots on the Paseo Marítimo, ”he adds. “It was then that they met Mateo Tomás, foreman and well-known personality of the island who is the father of Vicente, my architectural partner in the Formentor hotel project.. So my connection with Mallorca comes from my family and in the 1960s my father built very important buildings in Mallorca, especially on the Paseo Marítimo in Palma.

Rocamarina Hotel, Mallorca.

Carlos says his father loved Mallorca and often visited the island in the 1980s.

“He was interested in travelers who crossed the island in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and was fascinated by the grand villas and possessions that dot Mallorca, said Carlos. “He started taking notes and drawing pictures, and when his book came out in 1985 it paved the way for others that were published later.

Mallorcan architecture by Antonio Lamela.

The tourism boom has triggered an urgent need for accommodation for visitors arriving in Mallorca.

“It is true that not everything that was built during the tourism boom was a success, but not everything was done badly and it is more productive to focus on what was done well, ”says Lamela.

There is very good quality and well designed modern architecture in Mallorca, like the classic Hotel de Mar, also known as the Chocolate Palace due to the color of its facade and designed by the great Barcelona architect José María Corderch and right next door is the Rocamarina complex which was designed by my father and i like it very much, Carlos said. “A few months ago, I was on the terrace of the Hotel Maricel and I looked at Rocamarina with its characteristic circular supports, its perfectly manicured gardens and coastal rocks and I couldn’t resist, I just had to go visit it. “

“I spoke to the caretaker and told him that I was the son of the architect who built the hotel and he showed me a plaque with my father’s name on it and told me that it is very well maintained and that 60 years after its inauguration, a lot of people still come to see it, ”he said.


Sometimes Franco visited the Columbus shipyard in Madrid to see how the post-tensioned concrete of the hanging towers was built and Carlos says he tried to persuade his father, Antonio Lamela, to become Minister of Housing.

My father was a good friend of the head of the ‘Maison du Généralissime’, who accompanied Franco on weekends, afternoons and nights, when he came to see the towers of Columbus during their construction. Sadly, the city of Madrid is in the process of making sad and disfiguring reforms that will change the morphology of what is an iconic building of modern Spanish and world architecture, ”Carlos said. “As for the portfolio of Minister of Housing, I remember those days perfectly, because it was a problem for us as a family. The summons came via a motorcyclist sent by the Presidency of the Government. My father, of course, could not accept such an important responsibility, firstly because he never wanted to get into politics and also because he should have closed his studio, which was the largest in Spain and was really busy with dozens of projects and that he had a great team to maintain, so Admiral Carrero Blanco had to pass it on to the then president. “

Antonio Lamela also met the great architect Alvar Aalto.

In the 1950s my father went to Helsinki with my mother when Finnish architecture was very fashionable. They called Alvar Aalto and he met them the next day, ”says Lamela. “As soon as he entered the office, my father saw a large photo showing some buildings he had designed on Paseo de la Castellana and he said to Aalto: ‘These buildings are mine. The photographs had been published in a German magazine and reproduced by Alvar AaltoCarlos remembers. “Of course my father was very proud of it and spent time with the great Finnish architect who was very nice.”

Son Moix Stadium, Palma.

Lamela also participated in the works of the Son Moix stadium but was not entirely satisfied with the finished project..

“We won the Project and Work competition for the new Son Moix stadium in collaboration with architect Francisco González and things went pretty well, but then an extension was added to increase capacity and we were not consulted on this work, Carlos said. “This only underscores the general lack of consideration that often exists with the intellectual property of architects and as a group we have not been able to defend our professional rights.”

So how should the reforms of the Paseo Marítimo in Palma be carried out, knowing that his father built several hotels there?

On the walks you must respect the essence of the city, said Carlos. “We now have enough hindsight to be able to assess these buildings from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the entrance of our Studio there is a photo of La Caleta with its flying balconies and every time I see it I am impressed that there have been developers and architects who have been able to come up with such quality and not to value this type of architecture would be a serious mistake,” he says.

Lamela’s design and execution of Barajas Airport Terminal 4 has been acclaimed by the world’s most prestigious architecture magazines as the most beautiful airport in the world.

Terminal 4 already appears in many architecture books as one of the 20 most important works of the 20th century and many airport passengers told us it was spectacular, ”he says. “It’s amazing the number of travelers who take a picture of it on their mobile phones when they arrive. I watch them continuously. It was very satisfying to be able to work on this huge architectural project with Richard Rogers, it was a fantastic experience. Over a million square meters built between the main building and the satellite, the largest structure in the world at the time. “

Even architects have heroes and Carlos Lamela says his idol is Normand Forster.

“He’s a person who really impressed me, he has humility and a great listening capacity,” says Carlos. “He is also elegant and good company and in my opinion he is the most important architect of the last fifty years. “

“I also have a very good relationship with Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano.”


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