Ramla Bay seven-storey resort will dominate Marfa views

Demolition of old hotel for three new blocks will raise Ramla hotel to seven storeys, dominating views from Gozo and Comino

The proposed Ramla Bay Hotel as seen from Triq il-Marfa
The proposed Ramla Bay Hotel as seen from Triq il-Marfa

The owners of the Ramla Bay Hotel want to demolish their four-floor hotel to build three, massive seven-storey blocks.

Five years after obtaining a permit for a controversial, heart-shaped extension that now dominates the Marfa coastline in Mellieħa, Holden Developments’ new hotel will rise to 30m above sea level to replace the last part of the old hotel.

The original design by Richard England will be replaced by “more domineering” structures on the surrounding landscape, an environment impact assessment says.

The design by architect Ray Demicoli, who designed the first phase approved in 2016, will comprise 400 guest rooms, a banqueting area, restaurants and new kitchen facilities, gym and indoor swimming pool, car park facilities, and new landscaping.

The EIA envisages a visual impact “of major significance” when the hotel is viewed from Triq il-Marfa, from close to Comino’s Santa Marija tower, when viewed from the Gozo ferry and the Comino jetty at Marfa, and from Ramlet il-Qortin, Marfa.

When viewed from the Comino the new development will be “dominant” and “stands out much more than the present one”.

And from the Gozo ferry the hotel will “appear bulkier”: although remaining within within the existing footprint, “the perception” will be that of “a larger structure that has spatially extended”.

Plans will see the foreshore re-landscaped for a new outdoor pool, with a sand surface over concrete, a new beach facility called the Alang Alang restaurant, while the natural sandy beach to the south-west will remain publicly accessible.

The Ramla Bay Hotel was constructed in 1967. The original Richard England design has been significantly altered over the years through various extensions, and significantly through the first phase of the redevelopment in 2016. A cultural heritage report states that England’s imitation of vernacular architecture should be granted Grade 3 level protection.

In view of the suggestion to grant the existing hotel a Grade 3 level of protection, the EIA coordinator describes the complete redevelopment of the hotel as a “minor negative impact on this cultural heritage feature”.

The EIA shows that the built footprint will increase with 749sq.m of soft landscaped areas. 19 protected trees will be lost while 62 other trees will be transplanted. The EIA includes various mitigation measures to address light pollution, flagged as one of the major potential impacts of the project. The project will involve the excavation of 36,000sq.m of rock.