MADRID — Kubla Khan’s fictional pleasure dome has nothing on Madrid Xanadu, the Spanish capital’s vast retail and leisure complex that opened here in mid-May.

“This is a place you can come to and just be,” said Larry Siegel, chairman and chief executive officer of Mills Corp., the real estate investment trust that is 66.7 percent owner of the new project. “People shop during their leisure time so we are making that [leisure] experience a consumer opportunity.”

Xanadu contains a 1.4 million square-foot shopping mall shaped like a racetrack with 280 tenants, including 240 retailers, and an indoor snow park — Spain’s first — featuring a ski slope with an 820-foot run. In addition, there are bars, restaurants, late-night clubs, go-cart tracks, bowling, billiards and a 15-screen movie theater. Siegel said 97 percent of Xanadu’s two-level space is fully leased and “we’ll be at 100 percent by summer.” Between 25 and 30 million visitors are expected during the first year of operation.

Siegel called Xanadu, which is 15 miles southwest of Madrid, “the benchmark for all leisure destinations here in Spain and the rest of Europe.” He predicted the shopping and entertainment center will be “the most prolific in the world,” with sales of up to $870 million, or 1 billion euros, a year. Key to its success is “affordable entertainment and a great array of stores,” he said.

Core retailers include El Corte Inglés, Spain’s only department store chain; Hipercor hypermarket; Inditex, with all eight of its divisions — Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Kiddies Class and Zara Home, due to launch in September — in one mall for the first time; Arcadia Group of the U.K.’s total brand portfolio — Top Man, Top Shop, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Evans and Dorothy Perkins; Mango, Zara’s major domestic competitor; H&M, and Nike.

Additional specialty stores include Tommy Hilfiger, with its first store in Spain; Adolfo Dominguez, with its high-end signature line for men and women and Linea U, a younger version; Spanish ready-to-wear retailer Purificación Garcia; Lacoste; Pepe Jeans; Levi’s, and Skechers.During an inaugural cocktail party for regional dignitaries, foreign journalists and Spain-born model Esther Cañadas, Siegel was asked why Spain was chosen for the company’s first venture outside the U.S. “Europe, in general, is undermalled and Spain’s economy is expanding; it’s been one of the strongest European markets in the last 10 years,” he explained.“Madrid is fairly recession proof; it’s less risky here.

“There is lots of tourism in Spain and that’s very important. Southern Europe, particularly Spain and Italy, is a little like California and the Sun Belt. It was always our primary target,” added Siegel.

In addition, Mills’ Spanish partner (with 33.3 percent) is Parcelatoria de Gonzalo Chacón, a local real estate developer and the original owner of Xanadu’s 85-acre location. PGC, as it is known, facilitated urban planning approvals and required licenses.Currently, it manages the snow park’s daily operations.

Opening day at the Madrid complex drew 200,000 people, according to published reports. But Xanadu’s multileisure concept is not without controversy in Spain. Traditionally, and by law, Spanish retailers are permitted to open 21 Sundays and/or holidays yearly. The new location will open 365 days a year because “it’s been proclaimed an official tourist attraction, just like the Prado Museum,” explained an organizer.Local shopkeepers say they will take the case to court.

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