They were built to lure in tourists from all corners of the globe – and these haunting, crumbling attractions do… albeit for the wrong reasons.
This week, a luxurious Marbella hotel used by wealthy travellers and football stars was pictured abandoned and rotting due to a loss of business from Covid.
The Gran Hotel and Spa in Benahavis now resembles a “ghost ship”, with the water in its swanky swimming pool turned green and stagnant, filled by frogs and algae.
But even before the pandemic, the ravages of time have laid waste to some of the world’s grandest resorts.
From the glitzy New York hotel said to have inspired Dirty Dancing to Cyrpus’ forbidden beach paradise, these former holiday destinations are a shadow of their glamorous pasts.
New York’s crumbling ‘Dirty Dancing’ hotel
In its Fifties heyday, Grossinger’s was the height of sophistication for New York’s rich and famous.
Said to have inspired the ‘Kellerman’s Mountain Resort’ in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, it hosted the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor, while iconic acts like Joan Rivers and Jerry Lewis entertained the masses.
Set back in the state’s southern Catskills region, the plush mountain getaway boasted a golf course, ski slope, swimming pool and theatre in its pomp.
By the 1970s, however, the rise of air travel – previously only available to America’s elite – had taken its toll on the Catskills’ swanky resorts.
Following the death of owner Jennie Grossinger, the estate was sold on to a string of new investors, all of whom struggled to keep up with the sky-high running costs.
Today, moss has taken over the hotel’s grand interiors, and the cabins and cottages that litter the grounds are death traps lined with rotting floorboards.
The once-opulent bathrooms have been looted for all they’re worth, with the copper and steel furnishings ripped from the walls.
‘Pompeii of the Caribbean’
The island of Montserrat once rivalled nearby holiday hotspot Antigua, welcoming hoards of celebrities who partied at the lavish Montserrat Springs Hotel.
The British Overseas Territory in the West Indies was home to the iconic AIR Studios, where some of the world’s biggest acts like The Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney came to record.
Nowaways, however, it’s known as the ‘Pompeii of the Caribbean’. After the hotel and studios was devastated by Hurricane Hugo, a volcanic eruption in 1997 devastated the once-booming capital of Plymouth.
Now officially abandoned, access to the city is severely restricted and its streets have tragically fallen into disrepair.
The iconic courthouse lies half-buried in the ground, after the Soufriere Hills volcano covered two thirds of the island in ash.
Most of the island’s 12,000 residents have given up hope of ever seeing their homes again and were allowed to resettle in the UK.
Futuristic UFO village stuck in the past
Plonked on the north coast of Taiwan, this ‘ UFO village’ was inspired by the 1960s ‘Futuro’ designs of Finnish architect Matti Suuronen.
The village of Wanli imitated the concept in the 1980s, believing the portable structures could provide quirky holiday homes for US soldiers stationed in Asia and wealthy Taiwanese residents.
Each unit consisted of a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and private bedroom, and plans were made to transform the area into a tourist resort.
Unfortunately, Taiwan’s extreme weather conditions didn’t prove as alluring to holidaymakers, and as the economy stuttered, financial backers swiftly pulled out.
The site became a favourite with urban explorers, and despite the pods being abandoned, some have reportedly been taken up by squatters and even used as office space.
Inside, the once futuristic designs now look like relics of the past – the vast sofas brimming with mould and vintage televisions still left plugged to the walls.
Diamond paradise lost to sands of time
When diamonds were discovered in the sands of Kolmanskop in 1908, it became an oasis for prospectors seeking to earn their fortune.
In sharp contrast to the surrounding barren desert lands, the Namibian town became the height of luxury – with European opera groups even stopping to perform in the area.
But by the 1930s, intensive mining had gutted the area – and when jewel fields were found in beaches to the south, residents simply abandoned their homes in droves.
The desert has since reclaimed the town, which featured a butcher’s, bakery, post office and ice factory.
Amazing pictures show sand bursting through porches and doorways – the once-bustling railway tracks now covered by the dunes.
Kolmanskop has, however, found new life as a tourist attraction. Around 35,000 travellers are said to visit every year on ‘ghost town’ tours – and it has even featured in Hollywood films such as 1993’s Dust Devil and The King Is Alive in 2000.
North Korea’s ‘Tower of Doom’
It’s the most secretive state in the world – and one of North Korea’s most baffling sights looms large above the skyline.
Pyongyang’s Ryugyong Hotel, affectionately known as the ‘Tower of Doom’, was built in 1987, with intentions of opening to the public two years later.
Decades later, though, it still lies unfinished. Larger than the Eiffel Tower, it has earned the unwelcome title of the world’s tallest unoccupied building.
Some have speculated that the hotel is structurally unsound, while others suggest its bare, concrete interiors would need a costly refitting to meet modern standards.
Whatever the reason, leader Kim Jong-un appears to have given up hope of ever seeing it through to completion.
The exterior of the hotel was instead cased in steel and LED lights – and the monument is now used for dazzling displays that shine across the capital.
Hollywood getaway trapped in ‘forbidden zone’
Dubbed the ‘French Riveira of Cyprus’, tourists flocked to Varosha for its sky-scraping hotels and glamorous shopping districts.
At its peak, A-list stars like Richard Burton and Bridget Bardot took a break from filming to relax on its white, sandy beaches – said to be the best on the island.
Yet in 1974, thousands of residents fled their homes as Turkey invaded Cyprus following a Greek government-backed coup.
Gaining control of the northern section of the island, the military deemed Varosha a ‘forbidden zone’, turning Cyprus’ crown jewel into a wasteland.
Such was the hurry to leave, locals’ rusting cars are still parked on the deserted streets, while pots and pans gather dust inside apartment buildings.
While the main beach is open to the public, sunseekers are greeted by the eerie backdrop of decaying hotels and imposing fences.