Comino is possibly the most popular tourist attraction around the Maltese Islands, making it an ideal place for accommodation. That’s where the Comino Hotel comes in. Having been built in the early 1960s, it has hosted hundreds of international tourists as well as local Maltese and Gozitans. 60 years later, Hili Ventures, a local company, have suggested a much-needed renovation of the building. Take a look at the history of the hotel and its proposed reconstruction.
The Comino Hotel’s History
The Comino Hotel was built in the 1960s by Comino Development Company Ltd. The owner of the company, John Gaul, saw that such a structure could attract more people to the little island for longer stays. Maltese people were thus able to have long-term stays in Comino as opposed to strictly day trips, and non-Maltese tourists could spend some nights of their stay on this quiet beach haven, away from the hustle and bustle of most Maltese villages. Apart from the hotel itself, Gaul also built several summer bungalows for a more private and luxurious vacation. Both the hotel and bungalows are located above Comino’s gorgeous St Nicholas Bay, where residents and non-residents can spend their days swimming, tanning, and enjoying the Mediterranean weather.
The Current Plans
Now, Gaul’s Comino Hotel and summer bungalows are up for a big revamp by Hili Ventures. The plan is to rebuild the structures in a way that less space will be taken from Comino’s natural land than the original buildings have. With a budget of around €110-€120 million, Hili Ventures have proposed a design which primarily focuses on the sustainability of the natural environment.
Antonio Belvedere, the lead architect of this project, has worked on several massive developments in Malta, such as Valletta’s Renzo Piano Parliament building and City Gate. He says that the building will be a mix of timber and natural stone, creating a clear distinction to Malta’s concrete jungle. By doing so, this new and improved hotel will blend right in with the rest of Comino and its beaches, creating a true sight for sore eyes whilst ensuring that Comino’s natural beauty is preserved. The developers of this project have stated that they feel it is their moral responsibility to conserve Comino’s environment and safeguard its attractiveness to both tourists and locals.
New and Improved Structuring
Although the newly-revamped hotel will include less rooms than the original – 70 down from 95 – it will include several elements which beef up the hotel’s excellence. The building will include a central foyer, restaurant, basement, ground-floor level swimming pools, as well as upper-floor level terraces, among other amenities. The swimming pools will also be designed to mimic the island’s salt pans, continuing with the structure’s camouflage within Comino’s environment. The developers have calculated that just under 10% of Comino’s total area will be occupied by the hotel and bungalows, as they cover around 27 hectares of land in total.
The summer bungalows along St Mary Bay are also receiving a much-needed facelift, as they will be replaced by 21 three-bedroomed villas, each with a private pool of their own. The current two-storey buildings will be substituted for one-floored villas, as one of the developers’ goals is to keep the buildings low rising for the benefit of the environment. These villas are planned to be leased for short or long term stays and will include a restaurant in the area.
The hotel is also being designed as low rising in order to integrate the design within the natural environment. Moreover, it will be broken up into different buildings with spaces of greenery integrated in between, a structural tactic which utilises the natural sea breeze for cooling inside the hotel. Another approach for environmental sustainability which the new plans will employ is that the hotel will be constructed through prefabrication off-site and brought to Comino by sea, which reduces negative effects on Comino’s environment. The hotel’s sewage will also be treated on-site, and they intend for it to use zero fossil fuels.
Hili Ventures have estimated that the project will take approximately two years to be finalised, and meetings are still currently underway with the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority.