Written by 3:59 pm In the News

Luxury hotel near St. Peter’s Basilica

The Catholic Church’s Order of the Holy Sepulchre has signed a deal with Bill Gates, once the world’s-richest-man, allowing a Four Seasons hotel to open just metres from the St. Peter’s Basilica – a historic religious site.

The hotel would be located in the Palazzo di Domenico della Rovere on Via della Conciliazione, the main street which leads up to St. Peter’s Square. The Renaissance-era Palazzo della Rovere is about a three-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica and features a turret, a grand courtyard, and frescoes by Pinturicchio on the main floor.

The new hotel will open on the renowned Via della Conciliazione, the road leading to the basilica.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem signed an agreement with Fort Partners, a Miami-based development company, on March 10, according to a statement published last week.

Previously, the building was a family-run hotel – the decision to allow a multi-billion pound company to take over the space attracted considerable criticism throughout the deliberation process.The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Toronto, operates more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide. The chain was founded by Canadian hotelier Isadore Sharp, but Bill Gates has been its majority stakeholder since 2007 through his Cascade Investment holding company, which owns 71%.The Wall Street Journal cited Fort Partners Chief Executive Nadim Ashi, who said the hotel will have between 55 and 60 rooms and a courtyard restaurant when it is completed.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the wealthier tourists and pilgrims’ arrival for the Catholic church’s 2025 Jubilee of Hope.

The Renaissance-building is owned by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, who operate across the Middle East and Cyprus.

Before making the decision, the owners elected an international commission to analyse the multiple offers they received for the space, in order to provide transparency and impartiality.

The contract is worth $52.4 million (£42.2million), and will last 27 years.

The new space will include a spa, gym and multiple restaurants, with catering by world-renowned chefs.

However, campaigners have an issue with the luxury chain taking over a space just metres from where many homeless people take shelter for the night. They are concerned that those who frequent the area will no longer be welcome once the hotel opens its doors.

The Catholic Church says profits made from the deal will go towards projects in the Holy Land.

(Picture Courtesy: Reuters)
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