Anfi: The Story Behind the News Part One

Anfi is a resort which has appeared in the news on a regular basis for many reasons, not all of it good. Probably the most numerous items have been all the court cases regarding the sales of the Anfi timeshare product, the endless appeals to the High & Supreme Courts, and losing all the cases. Then we have the investigations and one trial over the Touro Beach Project, an investigation still ongoing with possibly more convictions to come.

There have also been some momentous boardroom battles, some spilling over into the courts. These have involved arguments between the Cazorla brothers themselves, the Cazorla Group and the Lyngs, then their old rival on Gran Canaria the Lopesan Group, along with their German Company IFA, who now own 50% of Anfi and not to forget the liquidation of the timeshare sales companies.

Our journey has to begin with the “Dream” of one man and his dream of creating a luxury hotel complex which would rival no other. That man was the late Bjorn Lyng.

Bjorn Lyng was a well-known and seemingly respected businessman and entrepreneur; he was Norwegian by birth and began his working life apparently, as a blacksmith. Over the years he began to make a name in the business world, making himself and others huge amounts of money. He was certainly successful.

To cut a long & eventful life story short, he eventually made enough and decided to “retire” to Gran Canaria, a place he already had ties with. He owned a place by the Golf Course in Meloneras, and he also owned property in Tenerife, but Gran Canaria would become central to his “retirement” dream.

With his business interests in the hands of others, mainly his own sons, he began his retirement and his plans for his dream. This was the development of a hotel/resort in the “International Super Class” category. He believed that there would always be a demand for luxury upmarket hotels and resorts among the world’s rich and elite.

Moving Mountains

His target for development was Barranco de la Vega and Punto de la Vega, the latter being a mountain that nested right up to the coast. A whole mountain was going to have to be removed to build his dream.

By all accounts, Lyng undertook many surveys with the help of the University of Trondheim, all to ensure that his dream for the resort could be carried out. Well, he was going to move a mountain. The latest Anfi project at Tauro Beach doesn’t seem to have gone to these sorts of investigations.

The Norwegian-Spanish construction company got underway, with the Norwegians training the local Spanish to operate the machinery and eventually take over the construction. The project was providing much-needed employment and training for the local populace, its economy was just beginning to develop.

Change of Direction

All appeared well, unfortunately at the start of the 1990s, international tourism took a dramatic nosedive, tour operators and charter companies began to tighten their belts and many folded. Lyng was now losing money hand over fist, and he had to take a very close look at his next move and options.

This is when he changed course in his “dream” and began to look at the timeshare option. He knew nothing of timeshare so off he went to Hawaii, a timeshare market that appeared to be flourishing and was operating at a serious level. Here he studied the timeshare model, and this is what he brought back for the “New Anfi Dream”.

By 1994 the sales of timeshare apartments were going through the roof, and building work was going at a great pace, so much so that it was not keeping up with sales. By the time the finishing touches were being made, the “potential owners” were queuing up at the door.

At this time the model being used was what timeshare originally intended, the fixed week with an apartment number attached, the “owner” was guaranteed the week and apartment they purchased every year. How things would change when greed really set in.

Anfi itself certainly wowed the visitors, there are stories of holidaymakers telling each other to go and have a look around. The old ticket touts (OPCs) on the streets of Puerto Rico and Playa del Inglese made a killing by supplying a steady stream of potential buyers.

The sales teams were making a fortune in commission, so much so that word travelled fast around the world about the opportunities and money being made selling the “Jewel” that was Anfi.

By far the largest purchasers, in the beginning, were the Norwegians themselves, the fact that one of their own and someone with a good reputation was behind it, gave a special kind of validity to the product. Also, to them, the price was not really a concern.

There was also a brief partnership with the German travel giant TUI, but this came to an end by 2004. There were various reasons, one being that TUI had some financial problems, having overextended in the 1990s. They had to sell off many acquisitions to raise money, one was their share at Anfi.

This aside, times were good, but it was not going to last.

In our next episode, we have a look at how everything began to change, the arrival of the Cazorla Group, the development at Tauro with luxury villas and a championship golf course.

We also look at how the product changed and did not meet the required laws of 1998, regulating timeshare sales and coming into force in January 1999.

The story of Anfi and how it developed into what we see today gives you the reader a good insight into how the current situation has developed, it will make you think about how Anfi has changed from its initial concept to the trouble they have today. From the illegal contracts which they continued to sell to some very serious and dubious business dealings along with the subsequent investigations.

The story continues, it is one that has had a very negative effect on the timeshare model and this “flagship” resort, so join us on Wednesday, when we start to see the “cream turn sour”.

We hope you all had a good weekend, now all the “fiestas” are over and no more fireworks until the next one, Baby Dog is catching up with his ZZZds.



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