Thermostat bumped and doors wide open: commotion in the luxurious microclimate of Las Rozas Village

The clerk Yara Guillén dispenses a pill of anthropological knowledge to the inquisitive visitor: "When you impose changes on human beings, there is a period of resistance." She says it with a wide smile, surrounded by flip-flops in one of the dozens of stores in the Las Rozas Village shopping center, northwest of Madrid. In recent days there has been some commotion among those in charge of the stores on the premises, inquiries to the human resources department and internal circulars about the new obligation not to lower the air conditioning to 27 degrees to save energy. There is also uncertainty about the automatic door locks, announced for September 30. "Not many people agree," explains Guillén, although she doesn't care, because the flip-flop trade is seasonal. It will close at the end of the summer, because with the fall the demand plummets.

From the Pinar commuter train station you can walk to the Village in half an hour. It is not the most comfortable; you have to cross a couple of roundabouts with traffic, go under the motorway bridge and cross several globs of urbanized surface, Madrid-style expansion, with its brick, cement and asphalt. The sidewalks, however, are well cared for and clean and the route shows that the extension is a tribute to the shopping center in its many expressions, from the hypermarket to the concrete block, culminating in the Las Rozas Village phenomenon.

The compound has been there for more than two decades, and from the outside its towers and domes are vaguely reminiscent of a Central Asian souk. Past the metal arch of welcome, the plan turns out to be more Mediterranean, a series of blocks with a central boulevard and shops on the sides, in an architectural style of Ottoman, or perhaps Venetian, inspiration, passed through the papier-mâché sieve. It pretends to be a small town with a chic vocation and has turned out to be a pole of tourist attraction of the first order, as evidenced by the buses that regularly unload international visitors. The doors of the shops are always wide open.

The energy saving measures arranged by the Government make some merchants doubt. "Not all houses are the same, this is a fishbowl," says Mónica Hidalgo, pointing to the windows on the upper floor of the perfumery where she works and explaining that they covered them with vinyl so they wouldn't leak as much heat. She indicates that the company that owns it is studying how to install automatic closures in the premises and points out that some clients have complained in the three days that the limits on air conditioning have been in force. "We try to comply to get used to it, but it's complicated," she says.

A spokesperson for the company Value Retail, owner of this center and eight others similar in Europe −one in Barcelona− plus another two in China, replied by email: "We will apply all the measures established by the decree-law."

The decree gives a margin of interpretation. In the Tommy Hilfiger clothing store, they explained to the Human Resources department that the store has two floors and that the workers have to carry boxes, so they were given permission to go down from 27 degrees to 25. "It's just that our heads hurt [del calor]", says Vicky Linde, the manager. However, they fear winter more. In these stores, the employees have to wear clothes from the house, and Linde does not know if it will be too cold for the autumn-winter collection. "Perhaps with sweatshirts ", he ponders.

A few meters later is the Gucci store. To enter you have to pass between two white columns with capitals with indeterminate floral motifs. Inside they receive dependents in black suits and white shirts. The manager attends courteously, but cautiously. At first he gives the impression that he has an Italian accent when speaking, then it turns out that his name is Gabriel Lodeiro and he is from Vigo. Already relaxed, he admits that the minimum 27 degrees are a chore: "We had a bad time."

Standing on the commercial street, Jesús, a bus driver, and Vlenis Ortiz, 42, a Cuban living in Antigua and Barbuda, who has come on a trip with 55 visitors from the small Antillean country, a former British colony, talk. "Do you see how it was better to come earlier? At three o'clock you were going to roast here," says Jesus. The leader of the expedition agrees, he says that perhaps they should leave earlier and go to another cheaper mall. "Do you think that four or six hours can be spent at Xanadú?" he asks.

The group was in Segovia the day before, tomorrow they will go to Barcelona. "It's more expensive there," warns the driver. In any case, the procession has not been hot this morning, nor do the rest of the visitors seem particularly heated, many of them also tourists, who become more numerous as the hours go by. Automatic sprinklers help, spraying water on passers-by. You hear French, Arabic, Mandarin.

At an ice cream stand on the street, the saleswoman assures that between this week and last there have been no big fluctuations in demand. A couple with a baby stroller is shown divided. The man does not agree with private establishments being forced to reduce electricity consumption. She sees no impediments, she remembers that in the 80s there were water cuts. "How can you tell that you didn't live in Spain", she snaps at him.

It seems that the Polo Ralph Lauren children's clothing store is too cold. Going to ask, it is found that the reason is not disobedience, but a breakdown. A shop assistant excuses herself: "The air conditioning is malfunctioning, it's leaking." They have called a technician. In the opposite direction, there are problems in the Le Creuset kitchenware store. "We have been without air conditioning for two weeks," laments Maria, at the checkout. "Here we are not at 27, we are at 40", she exaggerates.

Outside, the parking lot is getting fuller. Mónica, the person in charge of the perfume shop, may have the key: "Why do you think people go to El Corte Inglés or Leroy Merlín? Well, to have a drink!"

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