Former Spanish King Juan Carlos’s hideaway is a £10,000-a-night presidential suite in one of the world’s most expensive hotels in Abu Dhabi, it was claimed today.
Respected right-wing Spanish daily ABC reported the 82-year-old dad-of-three checked into the Emirates Palace Hotel on Monday evening, around the same time his letter to his son Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave Spain was made public.
It said he had taken a private plane from Vigo near Spain’s north-west border with Portugal on Monday with at least five other passengers including four bodyguards.
And in a detailed summary of the seven hour 13 minute flight covering the 3,751 miles between the Galician coastal city and Abu Dhabi, ABC identified the jet as a £45 million Global 6500, registration number 9H-VBIG, hired from the Maltese branch of airline TAG Aviation.
It also claimed the flight path was ‘altered’ as part of a ‘legal’ practice adopted by footballers and other celebrities and wealthy businessmen to disguise the identity of the person on the plane, saying it marked Paris-Abu Dhabi but overnighted in Vigo on Sunday before leaving for the Middle East.
Naming the airport it touched down at as Al Bateen Executive Airport, the first dedicated private jet airport in the Middle East and North Africa regions, it said Juan Carlos made the final part of his long journey to the government-owned Emirates Palace Hotel by helicopter.
It had been widely reported Juan Carlos had spent the weekend with sailing friends in Sanxenxo, a 40 minute drive north of Vigo Airport.
Spanish daily El Pais said on Wednesday he left the seaside town just after 7.30am on Monday, around two and a half hours ahead of the 10am flight to Abu Dhabi ABC went public with today.
The ABC report was put together with information from a Spanish press agency called Grupo Diarma.
It said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, had made the hotel ‘paparazzi-proof’ with more private security following Juan Carlos’s arrival.
The £3 billion seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel opened its doors for the first time in November 2005.
It is set in 1,000 hectares of landscaped parkland with 100 water fountains and 8.000 trees.
It has a near-mile-long private beach, a four mile jogging track, two swimming pools and underground parking for 2,500 cars.
The hotel has a total floor space of 850,000 square metres, putting Buckingham Palace’s 77,000 square metres in the shade.
Tony Blair and Bill Clinton have been among the heads of state to grace it along with musicians and film stars such as Sir Elton John, Will Smith and Justin Timberlake.
The hotel has 302 grand rooms and 92 suites.
ABC appears to be claiming Juan Carlos is staying on the highest floor of the hotel, in one of the six suites said to be out of bounds to all expect members of UAE royal families.
The same newspaper claimed earlier this week the former King was staying at the luxury home of Cuban sugar magnate Pepe Fanjul in the Dominican Republic, although the amount of detail attached to its extensive report today suggested it may have discovered the secret hideaway which has been intriguing millions of Spaniards since the start of the week.
Mr Fanjul, who is based in Florida, claimed on Wednesday in an interview with Spanish daily El Mundo: ‘I have no knowledge of his plans’ and appeared to suggest he was not at his home in the exclusive Casa de Campo resort in the Caribbean by adding: ‘Juan Carlos knows he can come to any of my properties in any country whenever he wants.’
Portugal has also been put forward as an alternative destination by Spanish news website El Confidential,
Citing sources close to the Spanish Royal Family, it said earlier this week he had been taken in by the aristocratic Brito e Cunha-Espirito Santo family and was staying at an estate called Casa Grande Quinta do Peru in Azeitao.
Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa kept the mystery going ahead of the ABC report placing Juan Carlos at an Abu Dhabi hotel by insisting he ‘truly didn’t know’ whether the former monarch was in his country.
Asked during a visit to Lagoa on the Algarve on Tuesday whether reports he was in Portugal were true, he responded: ‘There was a politically correct response which was to say that I shouldn’t comment.
‘But I’m going to go further, because truly I don’t know and I think the Portuguese authorities don’t have knowledge about that subject either.’
Juan Carlos, whose eldest son Felipe VI became King of Spain in 2014 following the long-standing monarch’s abdication, caused shockwaves around the country on Monday by announcing he was leaving his homeland.
The news emerged in a letter to his son made public late in the day.
He wrote ‘Guided by my conviction I can offer the best service to Spaniards, its institutions and to you as King, I am communicating my decision to move away from Spain.
‘It’s a decision I am taking with deep feeling but with great serenity.
‘I have been King of Spain for almost 40 years and during that whole time, I’ve always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.’
He signed off the letter: ‘With affection as always, your father.’
It later emerged he had already left Spain by the time the letter was released by the Royal Household.
His departure sparked mixed reactions, with monarchists and right-wing politicians accusing the government of forcing him into exile and critics of the former king accusing him of an amateur attempt to protect himself and his son from the corruption scandals threatening the future of Spain’s dwindling royal family.
Pablo Iglesias, the left-wing leader of Sanchez’s government coalition partner Podemos, has branded the former king’s ‘flight abroad’ as ‘unworthy of a former head of state’ and claimed it left the country’s Royal Family in a ‘very compromised position.’
Juan Carlos’s lawyers insist he remains ‘at the disposition’ of Spain’s judicial system.
His departure from Spain comes after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts allegedly held by Juan Carlos in tax havens.
Spain has launched its own investigation based in part on information shared by Switzerland about cash the former king allegedly received as part of his involvement in a high-speed Saudi Arabia rail contract.
The Spanish Royal Household has so far declined to comment on Juan Carlos’s whereabouts.