Hotel Santa Catalina


The dates offered do not indicate the time taken for the project’s completion, only the years in which the hotel was “erected”.

Curiously, when lookin g at the great hotel, we often think that it has always been there In 1890, the year of its opening, it was considered the “best hotel in Europe” and the first tourist hotel constructed especially for this purpose. Later, after 25 years of splendour and with the outbreak of the first world war, it would close its doors. In 1923, it was acquired by the city council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, becoming an element of “civic heritage”, although it would remain closed for another quarter of a century.

_Hotel’s first era: 1890 – 1914

1889 – 1890 Ordered to be constructed by “The Canary Islands Company Limited”, the chosen area was known at the time as “Vega de Santa Catalina”, where the Santa Catalina hermitage was located.

The original plan for the U – shaped luxur y hotel, opening out onto the nearby coast and with large gardens, was developed by the Scottish architect James M. MacLaren. The work was directed by the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – based architect Norman Foster Wright, with Laureano Arroyo acting as super vising architect. Work started in 1888 and was completed in record time just over a year later and, although one of the wings of the new hotel was fitted out to accommodate English families visiting Gran Canaria without accommodation at Christmas in 1889, the Gran Hotel Santa Catalina was not officially inaugurated until February 1890.

With the majority of its structure made from wood imported from England, the establishment offered 75 comfortable and light rooms (100/120 people), with double partition wal ls, reinforced floors and electric doorbells. At this time, a local cabinetmaker of recognised prestige, Luis Acosta, was in charge of the building’s carpentry. Hygiene was absolute and the service provided was excellent. Guests had access to hot and cold water. The hotel featured reading, writing, games, smoking, visiting and relaxation rooms as well as an events lounge, a cellar, a hairdresser’s and much more. Likewise, guests could also play tennis or croquet. The beach was located just 100 metres in fr ont of the hotel, with the Santa Catalina Baths just 250 metres from the coast.

1914 The economic difficulties suffered by the Hotel and the start of the First World War ultimately resulted in the establishment closing its doors to the public

2 April 192 3 The Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council, with José Mesa y López as its president, acquired the properties making up the hotel complex, gardens, pond and adjacent buildings, in order to conserve the building as a tourist hotel and convert the land int o a municipal park.

From then on, the Santa Catalina Hotel was considered civic heritage.

1923 – 1946 Despite the City Council’s intentions, the Hotel remained closed for 25 years, although certain events were occasionally held both inside and outside of it s facilities. For a few years during this period, Falange Española (the national – syndicalist political party) had its headquarters in the building, as well as a social – aid kitchen. Ultimately, the Santa Catalina Hotel building deteriorated over time and, a t one point, the kitchen caught fire. In 1946, the old wooden building was destroyed.

_Hotel’s second era: 1946-1994

1947 After its demolition, the head of the Canary Islands Economic Command, in agreement with the city council, saw the need to promote tou rism in the region. The decision was made to construct a new hotel on the same site as the old Santa Catalina Hotel, according to designs developed by the renowned local architect Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre, a project in which he respected MacLaren’s volumetric and plan idea, applied the neo- Canarian style that embodies the elements of Canarian identity. This work by Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre is also influenced by the artistic thinking of his brother Nestor.

1952 The opening of the Santa Catalina Hotel was a great boost for the city, both socially and in terms of tourism. Once again, it was considered one of the best hotels existing at that time in Spain.

1955 The side wings are extended with two new structures, with an additional f loor added to the central area, maintaining the balance of the building’s volumetric structure. In 1956, the new image of the hotel had taken shape.

1959 A second extension modifies the events lounge, named ‘García Escámez’, with a larger surface area at the base of this room and three new heights.

1961 – 1963 A third, large extension is presented: a new building
starting from the south side and running parallel to the events lounge. Known additions include the hotel’s new wings and rear. As a result, the hotel offered 202 rooms.

1981 – 1983 The hotel is closed in order to carry out the necessary refurbishment works, as a result of deterioration suffered during the 20 preceding years.

1994 The casino is opened … although in 2010 it was ultimately moved to the Port area.

1998 The establishment has been renovated and new rooms created: the old Palmeras lounge has disappeared and been replaced with another larger and more functional lounge; underneath it, a car park for 100 vehicles has been developed. The Spa Centre, with gym and indoor pool has been constructed, with the outdoor pool area remodelled …

Until present day, as the hotel was remodelled in 2019 to continue offering luxury services.

Set of plans and elevations belonging to the collections of the Int er – Island Council’s General Archive. These have extraordinary documental value, as they make up the only complete set of plans conserved from those used in Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre’s studio.