They were built to attract tourists from all corners of the world – and these haunting, crumbling attractions are doing it … albeit for the wrong reasons.
This week a luxury Marbella hotel used by wealthy travelers and soccer stars was abandoned and rotted due to a loss of business from Covid.
The Gran Hotel and Spa in Benahavis resembles a “ghost ship” today, in its glamorous swimming pool the water has turned green and stagnant, filled with frogs and algae.
But even before the pandemic, the ravages of time ravaged some of the world’s greatest resorts.
From the glitzy New York hotel believed to have inspired Dirty Dancing to Cyrpus’ forbidden beach paradise, these former vacation destinations are a shadow of their glamorous past.
New York’s crumbling “Dirty Dancing” hotel
In its prime in the 1950s, Grossinger’s was the pinnacle of sophistication for the rich and famous of New York City.
It is said to have inspired Kellerman’s Mountain Resort in the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, it hosted Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding, and iconic acts like Joan Rivers and Jerry Lewis entertained the crowds.
Back in the southern Catskills region of the state, this luxurious mountain resort boasted a golf course, ski slope, swimming pool and theater in all its glory.
In the 1970s, however, the rise of air travel, previously reserved only for the American elite, took its toll on the swanky resorts of the Catskills.
After the owner Jennie Grossinger passed away, the property was sold to a number of new investors who were struggling to keep up with sky-high operating costs.
Today, moss has taken over the hotel’s gorgeous interiors, and the huts and cottages that have dotted the grounds are death traps lined with rotting floorboards.
The once opulent bathrooms have been looted, the copper and steel furniture torn from the walls.
“Pompeii of the Caribbean”
The island of Montserrat once rivaled nearby vacation hotspot Antigua and welcomed crowds of celebrities to party at the luxurious Montserrat Springs Hotel.
The British overseas territory in the West Indies is home to the legendary AIR Studios, where some of the world’s greatest acts such as the Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney recorded.
Nowadays, however, it is known as the “Pompeii of the Caribbean”. After the hotel and studios were devastated by Hurricane Hugo, a 1997 volcanic eruption devastated the once booming capital, Plymouth.
Now officially abandoned, access to the city is severely restricted and its streets have tragically fallen into disrepair.
The iconic courthouse is half-buried after the Soufriere Hills volcano covered two-thirds of the island with ash.
Most of the island’s 12,000 residents have given up hope of ever seeing their homes again and have been allowed to relocate to the UK.
Futuristic UFO village is stuck in the past
This “UFO village” on the north coast of Taiwan was inspired by the “Futuro” designs by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen from the 1960s.
Mimicking the concept in the 1980s, Wanli Village believed the portable structures could provide quirky vacation homes for U.S. soldiers stationed in Asia and wealthy Taiwanese.
Each unit consisted of a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and private bedroom, and plans were made to convert the area into a tourist spot.
Unfortunately, Taiwan’s extreme weather conditions did not prove appealing to vacationers, and when the economy stuttered, funders quickly withdrew.
The site became a popular spot with urban explorers, and although the pods were abandoned, some reports have been occupied by squatters and even used as office space.
Inside, the once-futuristic designs now look like relics of the past – the huge, moldy couches and vintage TVs that are still hanging on the walls.
Diamond paradise lost in the sands of time
When diamonds were discovered in the sand of Kolmanskop in 1908, it became an oasis for prospectors who wanted to make their fortune.
In sharp contrast to the surrounding barren desert regions, the Namibian city became the height of luxury – with European opera groups even performing in the area.
But by the 1930s, intense mining had gutted the area – and when gem fields were found on the beaches to the south, residents simply flocked to their homes.
The desert has since recaptured the city that housed a butcher, bakery, post office and ice cream factory.
Amazing pictures show sand bursting through porches and doors – the once busy train tracks that are now covered by the dunes.
However, Kolmanskop has found new life as a tourist attraction. Around 35,000 travelers are said to visit each year on “ghost town” tours – and it was even featured in Hollywood films like Dust Devil from 1993 and The King Is Alive in 2000.
North Korea’s “Tower of Doom”
It’s the most mysterious state in the world – and one of North Korea’s most astounding landmarks looms high above the skyline.
The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, affectionately known as the “Tower of Fate”, was built in 1987 and is due to open to the public two years later.
However, decades later, it is still unfinished. It’s bigger than the Eiffel Tower and has earned the unpopular title of tallest uninhabited building in the world.
Some have speculated that the hotel is structurally out of order, while others suspect that its bare concrete interiors would require costly refitting to meet modern standards.
Whatever the reason, leader Kim Jong-un appears to have given up hope of ever finishing it.
The hotel’s exterior has been clad in steel and LED lights instead – and the memorial is now used for dazzling displays that glow around the capital.
Hollywood escape trapped in “forbidden zone”
Dubbed the “French Riveira of Cyprus”, tourists flocked to Varosha for its sky-high 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 the white-sand beaches, considered to be the best on the island.
However, in 1974, thousands of residents fled when Turkey invaded Cyprus following a Greek government-backed coup.
When the military took control of the northern part of the island, it declared Varosha a “Forbidden Zone”, turning Cyprus’ crown jewel into a wasteland.
It was in such a hurry to leave, the rusted locals’ cars are still parked in the deserted streets while pots and pans gather dust in the houses.
While the main beach is open to the public, sun seekers are greeted by the eerie backdrop of derelict hotels and imposing fences.