Work on historic Berengaria hotel progressing fast (pics)
10:47 - 12 October 2023
bbf: Group presented the progress it has made so far in the process of preserving and revitalising the long-abandoned historic Berengaria Hotel in Prodromos, at a press conference this week.
bbf:, as the new owner and investor in this iconic property atop Troodos, has successfully completed the task of rescuing the historic building through structural reinforcement and extensive renovations.
The company also announced its strategic collaboration for managing the new hotel by Thanos Hotels & Resorts was announced.
In a press release issued after, bbf: said the collaboration ensures the highest standards of operation and development for Berengaria. “This aligns seamlessly with the sophistication that the bbf: Group is renowned for in its investment in this historic locale. It serves as further confirmation of bbf:'s commitment to fostering domestic strategic partnerships and investments that add substantial value to the country,” it said.
The revival of the Berengaria Hotel will encompass the integration of a multitude of state-of-the-art interior and exterior facilities, all designed to preserve and enhance the historic building and the natural landscape it occupies.
The project comprises the historic Berengaria Hotel, offering 30 rooms, including 6 suites, 12 connected rooms, and 12 standard rooms. It also includes 14 apartments, a cutting-edge spa, as well as 13 townhouses and 9 independent villas within the surrounding area. One of the main objectives of this project is the preservation of the building's history and heritage. The balanced combination of modern luxury facilities with the historical significance of the hotel is also a key goal for bbf:, which aims to highlight not only the beauty of Berengaria but also that of the mountainous region.
“This landmark project aims to establish the Berengaria Hotel as the ultimate mountain destination on the island, catering to both tourists and permanent residents, and offering unique hospitality experiences,” it said. “Simultaneously, through this project, efforts are made to strengthen the community of Prodromos—where the hotel is located—as well as the broader Troodos area, with the aim of establishing the mountainous regions as year-round destinations for wellness and quality living.”
In an era where mental health and well-being are recognised as fundamental aspects of the European way of life, bbf: said it invests in showcasing Cyprus as a pioneering country in this European Commission's strategy. The goal is to create a high-quality and aesthetically pleasing destination where Berengaria Hotel residents can integrate with the natural spirit of Troodos and immerse themselves in it, whether within the hotel's premises or by exploring the paths of nature and the beautiful surrounding villages—Prodromos, Pedoulas, Kalopanayiotis, Platres, Lemithou, and others.
A significant pillar of the entire effort is the emphasis of the new Berengaria Hotel on gastronomy and sustainable development, achieved through investment in and promotion of local materials and products from the Troodos region's small business.
What stage are the works at?
The restoration works at Berengaria have already begun at an intensive pace, with the aim of completing the project within the scheduled timeframe and opening its doors to the public.
As of now, the works at Berengaria are in the phase of repairing the stone walls of the building and the horizontal concrete slabs. This phase followed the immediate interventions in which areas that had collapsed were rebuilt, and dangerous cracks were repaired.
In the first phase of immediate interventions for wall reconstruction, stones of the same type as those from Troodos were used, along with the same techniques, to ensure that the new walls do not differ from the existing ones. To address the serious cracks, stones were rearranged to bond with each other, and high-pressure cement injections were applied to fill the gaps.
The second phase of repairs to the stone masonry is now in progress and includes the removal of the existing mortar on all surfaces of the building, both interior and exterior (8329m2), and the deepening of the joints with high-pressure water. A modern method used on the walls of the building involves the placement of tubes to make filler injections. Specifically, 16,680 tubes and 82,600 litres of filler have been used to repair the cracks. This is followed by the new mortar layer, 7 cm deep, with careful attention to ensure that the outline of the stones appears clear, and the surface of the stones is cleaned. Finally, the external surfaces are plastered to prevent water absorption.
Regarding the repair of the concrete slabs and beams, the ongoing works involve the removal of deteriorated concrete until rusted reinforcement is exposed, followed by cleaning, maintenance, and restoration of the reinforcement, with the aim of replacing the extracted concrete with high-strength and adhesive concrete.
The works at this stage are progressing at an intensive pace and are expected to be completed in the coming months.
The next stage of work
The next stage of the project involves the repair and restoration of Berengaria. This phase will focus on replacing the roof and further strengthening the building's structure for seismic upgrades.
The second stage will commence with the removal of the existing roof and its replacement with a new one, including a new metal frame, wooden beams, and tiles. Following this, there will be excavation and construction of the spa area and a new pool, along with its expansion, where the restaurant and bar spaces will be located.
Subsequently, the installation of new frames in various openings (doors and windows) will take place. These new frames will have the same design as the existing ones, as required by the local building regulations.
In the final stage, the interior spaces of the hotel will be appropriately arranged, including the hotel rooms, common areas, corridors, and more, all in accordance with the city's requirements.
“Preserving and showcasing the traditional character of the building, which will bear witness to its history for visitors, combined with the protection of the natural landscape in which it is situated, remains a primary concern for bbf:.”
The interior and exterior spaces of Berengaria will harmoniously blend traditional style with modern touches. In the surrounding area, there will be independent villas and residential apartments designed with respect for the natural topography, highlighting the beauty of the wooded surroundings.
The exterior of the building will feature grey stone, preserve the original window design, and undergo roof reconstruction. The distinctive corner towers and the main entrance tower will be preserved, with wood and stone as the primary materials. The outdoor area will include a pool, comfortable lounge areas, a dining space, and a bar, all with breath-taking views of the forest.
The hotel's entrance will be grand, faithfully restored to its original form while preserving its historic character. From the entrance area, guests will be led into the restaurant, cafe, billiards room, and lounge with its two antique fireplaces and reading area. The hotel's floors will house suites and Condo apartments.
The new luxury spa of the hotel, offering various exclusive amenities, will be located below ground level and will seamlessly connect with the surrounding environment.
The architectural design of the Berengaria Hotel is undertaken by the firm Marios Economides & Maria Akkelidou Architects LLC. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2026. It represents an investment of €35 million for the renovation of the hotel and for the construction of the apartments and villas in the surrounding area.
Travelling back in time
The Berengaria Hotel is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters in the Troodos mountain range and has a unique history. The original owner of the property was Ioannis Kokkalos, who was born around 1900 in Prodromos, and the hotel was designed by the British architect Walter Henry Clarke.
The Berengaria Hotel was a luxurious accommodation for its time and hosted the crème de la crème of Cyprus and the surrounding areas. Its name was derived from Queen Berengaria, the wife of Richard the Lionheart. The history of this royal couple was connected to the region, as legend has it that they visited Prodromos after their marriage.
This hotel was unofficially known as the "Kings' Hotel," and it was frequented by numerous monarchs during their holidays. Notable guests included King Farouk of Egypt, President Makarios, President Ezra Weizman of Israel, the British governor of the island at the time, and numerous others, as meticulously documented in the guestbook.
The hotel became well-known for its exceptional hospitality and its offering of both Cypriot and French cuisine. Additionally, it gained recognition for hosting musical and dance performances. Its construction took place during the period of British colonial rule, and according to reports, the hotel's owner selected this name strategically to secure approval from British authorities and obtain the necessary operating license for the establishment.
During this era, the British authorities did not support Cypriot business endeavours. Despite its reputation, the hotel faced challenges in meeting the growing demands of its clientele, ultimately diminishing its allure. In 1984, it shuttered its doors following the suspension of its operational license by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.
Construction on the Berengaria Hotel began in 1927 but encountered numerous challenges along the way, almost as if foretelling its eventual struggles. Two years after the construction had started, work was halted due to a shortage of iron, leading to cracks in the building's walls. This necessitated a major overhaul and a restart of construction a year later. Eventually, the hotel was successfully completed in 1931.
The building is quite impressive, particularly considering its era and location, as it was built using locally sourced stone and boasts extensive and intricately designed spaces. There have been occasional speculations over time about the potential reopening of the hotel, with other rumours suggesting a transformation into a hotel-casino.
For more information see: berengaria.bbf.com