In Madeleine's shadow - BBC News

Infamous Apartment 5A has now been sold to a British gran after complaints from tourists

THE holiday flat where Madeleine McCann vanished from has finally been closed to tourists after complaints they were “too spooked” to stay there.

Infamous Apartment 5A in Portugal’s picturesque Praia da Luz has now been sold to a British gran who is enjoying holidaying there while trying to “wipe away all memories of the horror that happened.”

The property, which the new owner is partially shielding from public view, was axed from tour operators’ recommended accommodation after stunned holidaymakers learned it was “the Maddie flat.”

A British expat living in the resort told The Sun Online said today: “The place is no longer being used as a holiday option. I’m surprised it lasted so long as a viable let with its grim history.”

Portuguese police fear the youngster died accidentally in the seaside resort’s sought-after property. But her parents believe she was kidnapped while they were dining in a nearby tapas bar with pals, and could still be alive.

As the Spring holiday season approaches the ground floor, two-bedroom apartment in the popular Algarve destination is no longer available to families and couples after Maddie’s disappearance nearly 10 years ago.

The local villager said: “Quite wrongly, many people staying there over the years were never told of its past and when they found out they were spooked out and some asked to move. But is wasn’t always possible because the complex is busy and often full.

“There were lots of complaints from clients and unfortunately it put them off ever coming back again.”

Whitewashed Apartment 5A in the Ocean Club was once sealed off as a crime scene as forensic experts and cadaver “blood” and “death” trained sniffer dogs scoured it after three-year-old Maddie was snatched from her bed during a family holiday in May 2007.


Well there’s the problem right there. The adbuction may cause people staying there to be uncomfortable, but the main concern would be, if there was a death in the apartment which from previous evidence indicates strongly Madeleine dies in the apartment, probably accidentally, and hits her head on the tiles behind the blue sofa.

Most people knowing this would want to stay elsewhere, wouldn’t you?

But it was later re-let by posh tour operator Mark Warner, who are now understood to have completely pulled out of that holiday complex after negative “kidnapped girl” publicity.

Tasteless “Maddie” bus tours had even been given in later years, showing ghoulish holidaymakers the flat from the street and the church where heartbroken parents Kate and Gerry McCann once prayed for their daughter’s safe return.

A Dutch mum and her husband who stayed in the accommodation last summer blasted holiday bosses for not warning them of the sickening past.

The middle-aged woman and her husband looked visibly shocked when they learned it was the place where Maddie had last been seen alive by her parents.

It’s terrible. No one told us when we booked the apartment, we didn’t have a clue.

MumWho Stayed In The Accommodation Last Summer

The woman, speaking in perfect English and who declined to be named, said: “We had no idea this was where Madeleine had disappeared from. It’s terrible. No one told us when we booked the apartment, we didn’t have a clue.

“They should have let us know because we would have chosen another villa. We will be speaking to the manager about this. I know it is the past but it is their duty to explain what happened because some people, definitely those with children, would be put off.

“We’re here on our own but we don’t like the thought that something horrible happened to that little girl where we’re staying. It’s tragic and the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent, particularly a mother.”

The holidaymaker added: “Even in Holland we all know about the Madeleine story and that she disappeared from this resort but did not dream it was from the place we booked. The villa has been renovated and decorated nicely and we will stay put. But it sends shivers down my spine to think that girl came to harm here and that all the police and dogs were searching for clues inside.”

The apartment owner had been renting it out for many years through the Ocean Club.

“The retired teacher from Liverpool co-incidentally called Ruth McCann – no relation to Maddie’s parents despite being from her mum’s home city – died a few years ago.

The place is no longer being used as a holiday option. I’m surprised it lasted so long as a viable let with its grim history.

British Expat Living In The Resort

Her family who inherited the “damaged” property were desperate to sell it while still being used as a holiday but failed for a long time to find a buyer because of the history.

A British expat living in the resort told The Sun Online said today: “The place is no longer being used as a holiday option. I’m surprised it lasted so long as a viable let with its grim history.

“No one wanted to rent the place and no one wanted to buy it.

“What happened to Maddie was awful and everyone hopes she can be found alive but it seems very doubtful.

“It’s a lovely resort and although it’s still busy at times the drama surrounding that poor girl has taken it’s toll on tourism generally.”

Portuguese police fear three-year-old Maddie died accidentally in the apartment while her parents insist she could still be alive after being kidnapped while they were dining in a nearby with seven friends.

Former GP Kate and heart doctor Gerry, both 48, of Rothley, Leics, have vowed never to give up the search for their daughter, who would now be aged 13.

A duty manager at the Ocean Club, which is now believed to have been re-named the Garden Club and used by Thomas Cook, said:  “I’ve been told not to say anything about Apartment 5a.”

The new owner recently declined to discuss the global fascination with her flat, saying: “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m trying to wipe away all memories of the horror that happened here.”

She refused to say if she lived there year-round or used it as a holiday home.

A gate to the front of the fairly exposed property – which overlooks the tapas bar where Maddie’s parents had been enjoying a night out nearly a decade ago – has now been boarded up.

And blinds at the windows remain drawn to keep prying eyes away.

Despite the tragic past, tourists are still tempted to the resort. Thomas Cook boasts on its website: “You’ll love the location with shops and restaurant very close to hand.

“The beach is further afield but you’ll be rewarded with golden sands, beach bars and water sports.”

Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is still shrouded in mystery as investigators continue to hunt for the tragic girl.

She vanished on May 3, 2007, when her family, from Leicestershire, were holidaying in the Algarve.

The pair recently lost their latest court appeal to silence former cop Goncalo Amaral, who claims they covered up their daughter’s death in his book.