ROME – After a long discussion, and despite many people’s disagreements, the Catholic organization of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher has decided to award Bill Gates’s Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts the contract for a new luxury hotel from St. Peter’s Basilica.
In its statement, the order stated that on March 10, an agreement was signed with the Fort Partners Group to rent the Palazzo di Domenico della Rovere in Borgo “for the use of a hotel under the management of the Four Seasons group.”
Simply called “Palazzo della Rovere,” the property is located along the Via della Conciliazione, the main road leading to Bernini’s famous monuments in St. Peter’s Square.
The building, which once belonged to the Jesuits, now belongs to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, made up of about 30,000 Knights and Dames around the world who are committed to providing financial support to the Church of the Holy Land.
The funds are donated to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which carries out pastoral, educational, and social work in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Cyprus.
The building dates from the Renaissance and has a turret, a large square, and ancient paintings by the Italian painter Pinturicchio, and is the only place with the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. It is now the world capital of the order.
Until recently, the building was occupied by the Hotel Columbus family, which closed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the administrative offices remained open.
In their statement, the law said that when the building was released in 2020 by the former tenants, they launched “a search for the interest of Italian or international financial workers, to choose who will give him the renovation and management of the hotel.”
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The Order of the Holy Sepulcher’s Grand Master, the Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, created an international commission to evaluate the information that has been given, and “among the many donations that have been received, with a transparent process, the simplest donation of the order is the one that is given. to Fort Partners.”
Based in Miami, the Fort Partners group is a leading real estate and hospitality business owned by Liberian businessman Nadim Ashi.
“Since this is an extraordinary regulation, the Order … requested and received from the competent authorities of the Holy See, permission to initiate negotiations with the aforementioned group,” it said.
The negotiations ended with an agreement, “where the selected company will fully bear the cost of the renovation [property]to allow the Order to give fully to the Holy Land the free contributions received from its members.”
When the public interest was awarded in 2020, the Four Seasons group became the leader, with a 27-year, approximately $52.4 million contract to develop a luxury hotel with a gym, a fitness center, and a restaurant with celebrity guests. all around the world. cooks.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is headquartered in Toronto and has over 100 hotels worldwide. It was founded by Canadian hotelier Isadore Sharp, but since 2007 Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the majority shareholder in the chain, owning about 71 percent through his Cascade Investment company.
The new partnership with the Order of the Holy Sepulcher is increasing Gates’ popularity in the European luxury hotel market.
Last year, his Four Seasons chain through Fort Partners secured another multimillion-dollar contract for the Palazzo Marini, a grand landmark in Rome’s historic center that is often used for political purposes. The renovation of the site is expected to cost €165 million, or less than $179 million.
After signing the contract for Palazzo Marini, Ashi said that “The project in Rome has been my dream for many years.”
“We have a clear vision and can already see this beautiful place living. As with our other properties, Fort Partners’ commitment to excellence, efficiency and beauty will be present in the realization of this project within Rome,” he said.
With two properties in Rome now, it seems that the ambitious vision is placed not only on finding a way, but also on expansion.
A number of luxury hotels have popped up in Rome and Italy in general post-COVID, as many central chains and locally-run hotels have been forced to close their doors due to travel restrictions and tourism challenges.
Luxury chains are now taking over the Eternal City, with several major chains, including the Mandarin, Hilton, Radisson and Four Seasons, ready to invest, as former political and banking facilities are quickly being bought up amid tourist demand.
Gates is also in the process of opening a new luxury hotel in Venice and has other properties throughout Italy.
According to an article published in an Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera last year, the multi-million dollar contract will provide an annual rent of more than $1 million and will include the reconstruction of the building and the restoration of the art.
Hotel business plan Courier it said it found 64 rooms including 11 master suites and two luxury suites, with prices starting at about $514 a night. It also includes an underground parking lot that is already under construction.
His goal was for the agreement to be signed and the renovation completed in time to welcome pilgrims and visitors, even the rich, for the 2025 Jubilee of Hope.
When the news that the law was being negotiated with the Four Seasons group became known, it caused controversy, and the opponents argued that having such a luxury hotel in the Vatican area would send the wrong message and would be embarrassing because Pope Francis has repeatedly called for it. “the poor church of the poor.”
In particular, the hotel will be close to where many homeless people spend the night, hiding under the cover of several buildings outside of St. Peter’s Square, adding to the dismay of critics of the idea.
Some of the competitors also objected to the fact that the original tender required hotels to be four stars and below, while Four Seasons is a five-star chain, and joined late.
Last year the Order of the Holy Sepulcher issued several statements defending its decision to negotiate with the Four Seasons, arguing that it has a duty to “take care of everything that has been entrusted” to them.
They said that the decision is being discussed by the Vatican and they will decide what to do according to the market situation, saying that the money will fund the management of the system so that all the donations received will go to the works in the holy land. .
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