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The pride of Prodromos is reborn

Îåíïäï÷åßï ÂåñåããÜñéá – Öùôïãñáößåò ìåëëïíôéêÞò üøçò
Architect's impression of how the Berengaria will be
Once the hotel of kings, the Berengaria now has a new lease of life

 

Berengaria, the imposing abandoned mountain hotel with a haunted reputation will be restored to its former glory with a €35 million revamp.

Ninety-one years after it was built, and almost 40 years since the famous hotel in Prodromos closed, all previous attempts to reopen its doors failed until Prime Property Group made a promise to ‘build a better future’. The real estate agency purchased the property in 2020, just when the building had started to collapse.

Emergency repair works started last year to prevent further decay, while the group plans to inaugurate the former hotel once visited by kings as a luxury boutique hotel along with independent villas and studios by 2026.

Ξενοδοχείο Βερεγγάρια – Παρουσίαση έργου ανακαίνισης
The graffiti covered main stairs

The plans and all the necessary studies were submitted for approval to the town planning department this Monday, Vassos Kaouros developer director at Prime Property Group in Nicosia revealed during a press conference earlier this week. The work has been undertaken by the group’s international brand called bbf: build. better. future, which is also involved in over 100 residential and commercial projects in Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Canada, including the Infinity towers in Limassol.

Inspired by the natural environment surrounding the property, from the smell of pine trees to the peace of the forest, Marios Economides Maria Akkelidou Architects LLC have reimagined the hotel with plenty of modern twists but have maintained the original stone core construction.

“The enormous cultural, architectural and historical significance of the building and the respect to the surrounding area and the forest fill us with great responsibility and awe,” said lead design architect Maria Akkelidou said on behalf of her team.

“Careful planning ensures the maintenance and restoration of the Berengaria to its original form, while at the same time achieving the incorporation of all the necessary spaces and facilities that will transform it into a modern hotel, with excellent accommodation and hospitality services,” she added.

Situated in the pine forest of the highest village of the island, the eagle shaped building was initially designed by British architect Walter Henry Clarke for the local Kokkalos family. From the one side, the hotel overlooks the sea to Morphou and the Limassol coast from the other.

Ξενοδοχείο Βερεγγάρια – Παρουσίαση έργου ανακαίνισης
The presentation of the hotel on Tuesday

It was completed in 1931 and was dubbed a crown jewel of the Cyprus mountains during its peak in the middle of the twentieth century when it hosted famous guests including Farouk, the king of Egypt, and the president of Israel, Ezer Weizman.

In 1961, the hotel was renovated to add the deep asymmetric swimming pool as well as Knights Club, the first nightclub on the island.

After Berengaria closed in 1984, the hotel ironically became an alternative – and increasingly dangerous – tourist attraction receiving dozens of visitors daily, some of whom vandalised the premises and sprayed graffiti.

Apart from its distinguished architecture and location, the hotel was connected with a series of ghost stories. Among them was a former manager who was found dead in Prodromos reservoir and was said to have killed himself and later seen wandering the halls, while there was also a merchant’s wife that was supposedly found dead in the swimming pool.

To add to spooky vibe, until the 1990s at least, clothes had been left in wardrobes, beds in the bedrooms and piles of crockery – bearing the hotel’s insignia – were left in the storerooms, untouched. Dusty postcards with photographs of the hotel lay scattered on the entrance hall floor.

In 2007, the hotel was bought by CEO of Ocean Tankers, Michalis Ioannides. In 2015, Ioannides, who is related to Berengaria’s original owner Ioannis Ioannides Kokkalos through his grandmother, had announced his plan to renovate the hotel and reopen the property as a casino.

Ξενοδοχείο Βερεγγάρια – Παρουσίαση έργου ανακαίνισης
The entrance of the hotel

Some work was then done in the building. All the rooms on the first and second floor were removed, and the floor was paved with cement. However, the government refused to give permission for the operation of a casino and Berengaria was taken over by the Bank of Cyprus as a settlement for Ocean Tankers debts. Following two unsuccessful auctions in 2018 and 2019, market investor Gordian Holdings acquired the hotel as part of the project Helix portfolio from the Bank of Cyprus in June 2019. The property was eventually bought a year later by Prime Property Group for about €2m.

Despite maintaining the famous name of the hotel, the new owners appear determined to step away from urban legends.

“Initially, there were thoughts to keep some of the graffiti but we will see, we don’t know for sure yet,” Kaouros said.

Most of the graffiti currently decorates the central staircase at the entrance of the hotel which is being preserved. Under the new plans, a glass elevator will be added behind the stairs facing the forest and the outdoor area. The reception will be in the same space, while on the right side, guests will find the reading room and an indoor seating area with pool tables. The restaurant and cafeteria will be on the left side of the building that will include an outdoor seating area next to the pool. Two old fireplaces, one on each side will also be preserved and reused.

The swimming pool will be replaced with a shallower rectangular pool, in accordance with current safety regulations, Akkelidou said, explaining this shape will be easier to cover during the winter months.

Below this level, the lead architect added, will be the hotel’s new luxury spa, which includes a large heated swimming pool, fitness centre, yoga area, massage, sauna, jacuzzi and extensive outdoor exercise and relaxation areas.

Ξενοδοχείο Βερεγγάρια – Παρουσίαση έργου ανακαίνισης
The outside of the hotel

Large glass windows will be installed in those areas, offering guests unobstructed views of the forest.

In total 44 rooms will be located on the first and second floors of the hotel. These will include 28 rooms, as well as four suites and 12 condo apartments which will be constructed at the towers of the two far edges of the building.

Independent villas, maisonettes and studios will also be constructed alongside the wooded uphill road leading up to the hotel’s entrance. The 26 new residential developments will be sparsely spaced following the natural topography of the terrain, with absolute respect for the environment, Akkelidou said. This will ensure the preservation of the vast majority of trees.

Based on current estimates, around 20 trees will be cut but many more will also be planted, the architect said.

The project amounts to €20 million for the new hotel and €15 million for the apartments and villas in the surrounding area.

Thanos Hotels & Resorts Group, which manages the Anassa, Annabelle, and Almyra hotels, as well as the all-day venue Antasia Beach Club in Paphos, has taken on a consulting role regarding the design of the Berengaria Luxury Boutique Hotel and facilities.

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