Corinthia Hotels have submitted plans to build a tourism and residential resort in rural Ħal Ferħ near Golden Bay.
Dubbed ‘Corinthia Oasis’, the proposed development will include a 162-room five-star hotel along with 25 hotel-serviced residences.
At the time of its initial application last year the Corinthia Group said the villas would take up around a third of the area.
The proposed resort and residences will be low-density and low-rise, limited to one and two storeys, the company said.
Long-standing plans to build an upmarket tourist resort were controversially amended last year to include residential development.
The website launched for the company said the 24 “exclusive homes” will have private pools and a 24/7 concierge.
Islands Hotels Group acquired the site in 2009, an 82,000-square-metre former military rest camp, on perpetual emphyteusis from the government. It was previously also used as a tourist complex run by Air Malta but has been unused for several years.
Corinthia Group’s International Hotel Investments later bought the Island Hotels Group and extended a 2013 permit for a tourist complex.
The original plans to build a timeshare resort were changed to a hotel proposal with permanent residential use added “to spread the risk” and to “enable the financing of the project”, Corinthia said.
However environmental NGOs criticised the change to allow residences to be built, calling it the “thin end of a wedge which will gradually see the whole site developed into a permanent residential settlement, with all the infrastructural impact that a permanent residential community generates”.
The plans also earned a rebuke from the Church’s Commission for the Environment, who said the plans showed a lack of commitment to better and intelligent planning.
However, despite objections, parliament’s Environment and Development Planning Committee in November 2020 approved changes to the 2006 North West Local Plan Policy and the 2008 Ħal Ferħ Development Brief to allow residences to be built on the rural site.
On Monday the hotel operator said it intended to ensure that the project is a showcase for best practices in sustainability and environmental sensitivity.
Corinthia Chairman, Alfred Pisani said it would be “world class product”.
“We are aiming at setting a new benchmark for the island,” he said.
“As we emerge from the most challenging period ever faced by our industry worldwide, our investment reaffirms Corinthia’s strong commitment and belief in Malta, our home country.”
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