Arqaam Capital from Dubai have purchased 16 hectares of land on Hvar and plan to open a luxury resort run by South African Kerzner International Resorts.
Details of a report in regional daily Slobodna Dalmacija on March 23, 2012 could change the face of tourism for the oldest town in Croatia, Stari Grad, as it emerged that Arqaam Capital from Dubai intend to build a luxury resort including 5-star hotel and 100 villas.
According to the report, Arqaam has already puchased 16 hectares of land in Brizenica on the Kabal Peninsula, north of the town, for a reported 11 million euro, and is currently working on a detailed urbanistic plan, which would include a road bypass, hotel for 150-200 guests and 100 villas, with a total capacity for 800 people. The proposed project is expected to create 250-300 jobs.
"The Resort will fit in with the architectural history of Hvar, and yet be stylish and environmentally sensitive, which means it will use passive solar systems and renewable energy," a consultant for the project was quoted as saying.
The news is the second major event in the local hotel scene in recent weeks, after the ailing Helios hotel group was sold to Geneza from Slavonski Brod recently. The hotel group has been suffering from financial difficulties for some time, and the lack of investment in the hotels has had a detrimental effect on the town, which has a strong tourism offer, including the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad Plain and a rich heritage dating back to the founding of Stari Grad by the Ancient Greeks in 384 BC.
Despite the global recession, it seems that the appetite for investment in Croatia's premier island, named by Lonely Planet as its number 5 destination for 2012, shows no sign of abating. The island's leading hotel group, Suncani Hvar, has injected millions into its waterfront hotels in Hvar Town, which has helped to promote the island's exclusive image, and attract celebrities last year including Prince Harry, Giorgio Armani and Roman Abramovich.
In addition to this, an ambitious plan to regenerate the less fashionable eastern part of the island is underway near Sucuraj, with the luxury Nikki Beach Hotels and Resorts planning an 80,000 m2 beach resort.
There have been several interested parties in developing large resorts on Hvar, many of which have been thwarted by planning permission, and Croatia has been careful to avoid the mistakes of Spain in overbuilding its coastline, and both the Stari Grad and Sucuraj projects would be the first significant newly-built projects on the island for decades.