Rocco Forte Hotels Invests in Sicily

Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels, today unveiled plans for a €124 million golf and spa resort on the southern coast of Sicily.

Speaking at a press conference in the Italian Embassy in London he said, “We believe that the new Verdura Golf and Spa Resort will be one of the most exciting luxury resort developments in Europe for the last 25 years. We hope that, with the support of the Ministry of Productive Activities and Sviluppo Italia, we will be able to start work next year and open in 2007. We already have two very successful hotels in Italy and are keen to expand our presence in this country. Sicily is a beautiful island with a wealth of history and an outstanding climate. This project will create 300 new jobs and help cement the growing reputation of the island as a luxury destination. I am very grateful for the support which the region of Sicily and Il Presidente, Onorevole Salvatore Cuffaro is giving this project.”

Verdura is a small village in southern Sicily, about 45 minutes drive from the international airport in Palermo and close to Agrigento and the Temple Valley.

In order to build the new resort, Rocco Forte Hotels will buy over 200 hectares of land. The project includes:-
* Reception building near the entrance to the resort, involving restoration of the disused Verdura station building. This includes parking space, which allows the resort to be free of traffic other than electric buggies to transport guests
* There will be 200 bedrooms, including 50 suites, set into the contours of the landscape to minimise visual impact and provide stunning views of the Mediterranean. All rooms will be at least 40m2
* Two eighteen-hole championship golf courses, plus a nine-hole course, designed by golf course architect Kyle Phillips, who designed the highly-acclaimed courses of Kings Barnes near St Andrews and The Grove in Hertfordshire. The golf club will include restaurant, café bar and retailing in addition to the normal golfing facilities
* A spa complex including 16 treatment rooms, gym, large swimming pool, five thalassotherapy pools and a dietetic restaurant
* Conference centre for up to 250 people with eight meeting rooms, a cinema and a business centre
* Restaurant in the restored Verdura Tower building, a beach restaurant and several other intimate themed restaurants around the resort
* Private beach
* Around 50 luxury villas
The development will involve the restoration of several existing buildings on the site together with new construction which will reflect the history and character of Sicily and the region. The architect is Denton Corker Marshall.

The resort will cost around €124 million and is dependent on approval of a €35 million grant application through a new programme launched today by Ministry of Productive Activities and Sviluppo Italia, the government body responsible for attracting inward investment to Italy. This programme features a new “Location Agreement” for Greenfield investment projects in certain locations. Speaking at the press conference today, Giampaolo Russo, Investment Attraction Manager of Sviluppo Italia confirmed, “This first proposal for a Location Agreement is to be entered into with Rocco Forte Hotels. The project assumes strategic importance by extending the tourism season, creating new jobs and repositioning the area on the international holiday market.”
The Verdura Golf and Spa Resort will also include a permanent hotel school and training facility.