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Berengaria hotel: rebirth of the ‘Pride of Prodromos’

Îåíïäï÷åßï ÂåñåããÜñéá – Öùôïãñáößåò ìåëëïíôéêÞò üøçò
Architect's impression of how the Berengaria will be
The 92-year-old hotel hasn’t accepted a booking in over 40 years. All that’s set to change

 

Berengaria’s back. No, not Richard the Lionheart’s wife – she’d be about 860 years old – but the hotel which is named after her.

The legendary Berengaria – referred to as the ‘Pride of Prodromos’ –launched 92 years ago and hosted kings, world leaders and others seeking a luxurious mountain retreat amongst the soaring pines.

That was years ago, but now the lead design architect overseeing the renovation of the almost one hundred-year-old hotel promises that by 2026 you’ll be able to jazz it up in a jacuzzi on the highest village in Cyprus’ mountains – overlooking the plains below and the sea on the horizon.

For context, that’s high up: Prodromos village is 1,380 metres above sea level while Britain’s tallest peak Ben Nevis is at 1,345 metres.

But the beautiful Berengaria hotel in Troodos’ pristine Prodromos village hasn’t accepted a booking in over 40 years. All that’s set to change.

Lead design architect Maria Akkelidou at a press conference this week described her vision of visitors gazing out from their balconies over to Morphou bay on one side and the Limassol coast from the other.

feature nick a mountain view from one of the doors
A mountain view from one of the doors

Those features – resembling a soaring eagle with spread wings – was the work of British architect Walter Henry Clarke who designed it for the local Kokkalos family.

Completed in 1932, it soon hosted Farouk, king of Egypt, and the president of Israel, Ezer Weizman.

“This isn’t just another project that will enhance the tourism sector, but it’s bringing back to life the historic hotel, a diamond of architecture in Cyprus,” Thanos Michaelides, lead consultant, told the press conference.

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

But as the tourism sector evolved, spurred on by package holidays and air-conditioning – which made otherwise sweltering seaside areas more appealing, Berengaria’s fortunes declined.

It closed in 1984 and what followed was decades of decay, the marks still clearly visible on the eagle-shaped building. That’s despite urgent structural works having taken place to ensure the building’s integrity.

feature nick still a lot of work to do on the hotel
A photo of the partially collapsed hotel when bbf took it over

But what does it cost to rejuvenate a royal retreat?

A vision, a lot of passion and about €35 million.

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.

The real estate agency purchased the property in 2020, just when the building had started to collapse.

Inspired by the natural environment surrounding the property, from the smell of pine trees to the peace of the forest, the team has vowed to respect the past, the village and its surroundings.

I’m not one for slogans, but “respect for the past and promise for the future” captures the essence of the message from those leading the team.

Indeed, the team knows perfectly well what makes Berengaria special and what the future visitors will be expecting.

A spectacular and soothing retreat: luxury in nature.

A new luxury spa, which includes a large, heated swimming pool, fitness centre, yoga area, massage, sauna, jacuzzi and extensive outdoor exercise and relaxation areas.

feature nick the red carpet treatment for the press this week the grand entrance of the berengaria
The red carpet treatment for the press this week – the grand entrance of the Berengaria

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.

Community leaders were also present at the Berengaria press conference, where those invited caught a glimpse of things to come, and expressed their strong support for the project.

They said that all the mountain communities stand to gain from its success, despite the focus being on Prodromos, as each village has a warm welcome and experiences to offer.

They said a circular bus route set to launch in 2024 will link up many of the mountain villages, offering visitors smooth access to a diversity of activities.

The community leader noted that Prodromos used to have three supermarkets but now there are none, and the four restaurant/cafes are now just two.

But as the rising prices of luxurious holiday homes in nearby Moniatis indicate, renewed interest in mountain retreats offer a promise of rejuvenation for the local communities.

The current custodians of the Berengaria have a lot to live up to, but their passion for the project inspires the inspiration that they will succeed in bringing it back to life when others have failed.

 

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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