Update: Massive €50 million tourist development earmarked for Silves gains traction

A €50 million project to build a five-star hotel with 700 beds, an 18-hole golf course and a sports complex in Silves is one step closer to moving forward.

The local council and the developer have signed a contract to create a ‘Plano de Pormenor’ (detailed plan) for the area where the massive tourist development is due to be built.

Also planned is the construction of a walking path along the Arade River, an area for birdwatchers and the renovation of the Moinho do Valentim windmill.

The ‘Feitoria Fenícia’ project, as it is called, is expected to create over 100 jobs, says the local council.

Silves mayoress Rosa Palma told the Resident that she believes “the positive impact that the project will have strongly outweighs the negative”, namely using agricultural land to build on.

The main advantage, she says, is that the hotel will provide “quality accommodation” in the town.

The mayor also highlights that the golf course and the other sports infrastructures will ensure that the hotel is open all year round, helping to fight ‘seasonality’.

The project’s link to nature and its respect of the past are other positive aspects, says Rosa Palma, as well as the significant number of jobs it will create.

“We believe this project makes sense in the location it is proposed to be built, as it has unique conditions that will allow it to enjoy the success that we wish it to have in order to bolster the sustainable development of our borough,” Palma added.

An environmental impact study will also be carried out at the same time that the ‘plano de pormenor’ is created. The developer has not been officially identified but is described by Correio da Manhã tabloid as a Swiss businessman who has been trying to move forward with the project since 2012.

The massive development will be built on a 90-hectare plot of land, close to the town of Silves, bordered by the EN124 road and the Arade River – and with history dating back almost 2,500 years.

The project is entitled ‘Feitoria Fenícia’, a name which is inspired by the archaeological remains that were discovered and were believed to be from the first settlements by the Phoenicians in the Silves area.

The area is known as Cerro da Rocha Branca and has been the subject of much controversy in the recent past.

According to Sulinformação website, archaeological digs were being carried out at the site around 25 years ago when the former owners of the land ordered machinery to destroy the archaeological structures that existed to make room for orange tree plantations.

The case went to court and the owners were sentenced to pay a “nearly unprecedented” amount of compensation money for the destruction of the archaeological treasures that were uncovered.

Environmental concerns
An earlier version of the project which involved only the construction of the golf course was criticised in 2014 by environmental organisation Quercus.

The environmentalists stressed that the project was earmarked for National Ecological Reserve (REN) land that should be protected, while also questioning whether the Algarve needed another golf course.

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Silves mayoress Rosa Palma (centre) at the ceremony to sign the contract to create the detailed plan for the ‘Feitoria Fenícia’ project