By: Ruth Sharpe
DETAILS OF Portugal’s first ever six star hotel have been revealed following the government decision to allow construction of the luxury development to go ahead.
Plans for the creation of a luxury hotel and apartment complex in Quinta do Lago were approved in Lisbon on January 18, by the Council of Ministers, who consented for construction to begin by September of this year.
The project, Conrad, Palácio de Valverde, Resort & Spa, Hotel Apartamento represents an 88.63 million euro investment and will be situated on a 31,000 square metre plot, close to Quinta shopping.
The luxury resort will be developed through a partnership between Portuguese developer The Imocom Group and leading global hospitality company Hilton Hotels Corporation. The hotel will form part of the Conrad chain, a luxury hotel brand controlled by Hilton. The hotel, which has been awaiting approval for two years, will house 160 rooms, with a further 115 apartments built within the complex. The move has been condemned by environmentalists and local authorities due to the dangerous implications of such a large-scale development.
The approval of the development has meant that part of the works of the Plano Director Municipal de Loulé (PDM) will be suspended once again because the government has declared the Palácio a Project of National Interest (PIN).
Earlier this month, Loulé Câmara announced that, as part of the PDM, they would be spending 135 million euros on the development of the region, including construction projects to improve road access to the Algarve Stadium and Faro Airport. Plans to complete the viaduct linking Quarteira and Loulé and a four-lane road between Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago were also planned, but with the announcement of the luxury development, some of these projects will have to be put on hold to accommodate resources more efficiently.
The Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) described the move as “dangerous and unjust”. LPN President, Gonçalo Gomes said: “This facility is dangerous because the eventual environmental impact of the project is not going to be evaluated. It is unfair that a wealthy company has the power to suspend plans with such ease.”
Nuno Grade of Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza, backed up these comments, but emphasised that he was not surprised by the government’s decision. He spoke of the prejudiced nature of the government towards wealthy companies, stating that “whoever has money has more importance. We had to alter our plans to build the Algarve stadium next to Loulé, we changed them again for the Portimão aerodrome and now we must change them once more for a hotel. What’s next?”
The project will generate massive funds for the Loulé region. In the construction phase, more than 400 jobs will be generated in the area and once complete it is estimated that 900 jobs will become available, directly and indirectly.
Following the government announcement, the Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA) released a statement to The Resident giving it’s full support to the project, describing it as an “example to follow” for all those working in the tourist sector.
The statement from the executive committee furthered that, “the government approval ensures that the upgrading of hotel facilities in the region will continue, something we are very pleased about. It will serve as an example for other projects that are still waiting to be completed.”
The RTA also highlighted the relevance of the move in the context of the modern tourist sector saying: “It is extremely important for attracting big international brands to the Algarve, such as Hilton, showcasing it as a premier tourist destination.” The hotel will be designed to reflect the nature and stature of a palace and will house numerous private areas and themed gardens.
Construction of the Palácio will last two years with completion estimated towards the end of 2009.
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