Hazeldene gears up for £11m revamp of Maltese hotel

The Phoenicia in Malta's capital Valletta is to be refurbished
The Phoenicia in Malta's capital Valletta is to be refurbished
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EDINBURGH hotel and property group Hazledene is gearing up for an £11 million overhaul of Malta’s grandest hotel.

Refurbishment work will begin in November at the five-star Phoenicia Hotel in the island’s capital of Valletta. It will be overseen for Hazledene by CampbellGray Hotels, which will also manage the 136-room property on Valletta’s historic Marsamxett harbour.

Run by Aberdonian entrepreneur Mark Shaw, Hazledene acquired the Phoenicia in late 2012 after its Irish owners were caught out by collapsing property markets. Hazledene purchased the hotel from Ireland’s NAMA, the “bad bank” set up to manage defunct property development loans.

The restoration includes a complete refurbishment of all guest rooms, the addition of several new rooftop suites, re-landscaping, an overhaul of the façade and the addition of a new health club. All of the work will be sympathetic to the hotel’s heritage, Shaw said.

“We are delighted to have Gordon Campbell Gray and his excellent team overseeing the next chapter in the life of The Phoenicia, allowing it to realise its full potential as a world-class hotel that will appeal to many,” Shaw, right, added.

Built in 1939 by Lord and Lady Strickland, when Malta was still under British rule, the Phoenicia was designed to equal the great hotels of that time throughout Europe’s capital cities. However, the onset of the Second World War delayed its official opening until 1947.

The announcement comes on the heels of another European deal by Shaw – who was operations director of the Yes Scotland campaign in the run-up to last year’s referendum – involving the Pragelato Village Resort in the Italian Alps.

Built for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the resort was purchased in 2012 by Hazledene from NAMA in a deal said to be worth £25m. It has now been sold to HSBC Assurance.

Hazledene has also been involved in a number of developments across Scotland, including the award-winning iQ office complex in Aberdeen’s city centre. Now owned by European fund manager Aerium, iQ commands some of the highest rentals in the UK. The £45m building was completed in 2011 as part of a major city centre regeneration project. That regeneration zone is also home to the Park Inn Hotel, which is owned by Hazledene.

The majority of the work at the Phoenicia is due to be competed by March, though the spa is not scheduled to open till October 2016. The aim is to have the hotel fully operational in time for Malta’s presidency of the European Union in 2017.

Scots-born Gray, who has won numerous awards for hotels such as London’s One Aldwych, welcomed the “rare” opportunity to restore a building such as the Phoenicia.

“The philosophy behind the renovation of the Phoenicia is very much about restoring it to its original grandeur while at the same time making it feel like now and therefore more relevant to the current international traveller,” he said.