Meet the Guy Keeping the W Barcelona Running

The unexpected tasks of keeping a luxury hotel operational

W Barcelona
The W Barcelona Hotel turns on the lights drawing a heart in its facade, as every night, in tribute to all those who are working in the fight against the coronavirus in hospitals and health centres.
Xavi Torrent/Getty Images
By Tobias Carroll / May 18, 2020 7:00 am

The W Barcelona is a hotel praised for its distinctive architecture and its stunning views of the city and shore. Condé Nast Traveler’s review of the hotel hailed its rooms’ “floor-to-ceiling windows, offering jaw-dropping views of the city, the beach, and the Mediterranean beyond.” A review at Fodor’s Travel concurred, noting that “[y]ou’d be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular hotel in Barcelona.”

What happens in a sleek luxury hotel when there’s only one inhabitant? Due to concerns over COVID-19 in Spain, the W Barcelona is currently closed to the public. And so the man in charge of maintenance for the hotel, Daniel Ordoñez, is currently the only person living there full-time. If you had to be confined to a single building, there are certainly worse options.

At The New York Times, Raphael Minder talked with Ordoñez about his work and his daily routines. He’s been living there for 8 weeks now, on the 24th floor of the hotel. Minder’s article describes the varying tasks Ordoñez has carried out, including one that sounds particularly meticulous: opening 1,400 pipe taps for 5 minutes every 5 days.

It might seem strange on the surface, but it’s done to prevent Legionnaires’ disease.  Minder notes that Ordoñez’s situation speaks to a larger concern: namely, how best to look after infrastructure in the midst of a pandemic.

He’s also made the most of his time in the deserted hotel:

Early in Spain’s lockdown, with the country reeling from an increasing death toll and escalating economic devastation, Mr. Ordoñez decided to do more than test the taps: He adjusted the curtains and lighting in some rooms to create a giant heart on the hotel’s facade.

That symbol has taken on symbolic value for the residents of Barcelona — an unlikely icon during a difficult time.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

Daily Brief

News From Around the Web

June 4, 2020 June 3, 2020