Wied Ghomor hotel developers seek €5 million bond finance

The FES Group have issued a €5 million bond to finance their projects, however the Swieqi local council’s opposition to their hotel in Wied Ghomor could determine the outcome of their plans

The hotel is earmarked for a site on the valley side of Wied Ghomor between the Tigullio complex and the Mikiel Anton Vassalli bridge
The hotel is earmarked for a site on the valley side of Wied Ghomor between the Tigullio complex and the Mikiel Anton Vassalli bridge

The developers of two boutique hotels have issued a €5 million bond to finance their projects, but the Swieqi local council’s opposition to their hotel in Wied Ghomor could determine the outcome of their plans.

The FES Group – which is owned by business consultant Christopher Vella and notary Reuben Debono – will use the proceeds for the €3.32 million acquisition of the hotel sites, while the rest will be used to redevelop a 28-room Gzira boutique hotel (€467,000) and the 23-room St Julian’s boutique hotel (€1.11 million).

The company includes Malta Communications Authority chairman Edward Woods as its company chairman, and former Malta Tourism Authority CEO Paul Bugeja as non-executive director.

Although the FES Group has no history in operating boutique hotels, the Group has appointed Casa Boutiques Ltd and consultants Polymath & Boffin – owned by Vella – to operate and manage the hotels.

But the St Julian’s site is also subject to an appeal by the Swieqi local council, which means the hotel is subject to the appeal being denied by the Environment Planning Review Tribunal, and further redress in the law courts.

The decision has been set for 4 April.

The hotel is earmarked for a site previously occupied by a garage of 60sq.m, and is located outside the building zones on the valley side of Wied Ghomor between the Tigullio complex and the Mikiel Anton Vassalli bridge.

The Planning Authority’s rural policy guidelines ban developments that have “an adverse impact on important landscape features”, but the PA case officer entrusted with the project claimed the same policy permitted changes in use “results in a wider environmental benefit.” The PA’s planning commission approved the project.

The Swieqi local council also objected to the development because of its visual impact. “This will produce a block which would be totally alien in terms of bulk, form, texture and scale to the rural quality of the context. The grabbing of more protected ODZ land by developers should not be tolerated.”

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