With the project redesigned, lead from hotels in João de Arens «does not cross the minds» of the promoters

In an interview with Sul Informação, one of the developers of the subdivision says that "this is not a confrontational project"

The subdivision project that foresees the construction of three 5-star hotels in Ponta João de Arens, in Portimão, «is not a confrontational project», guarantee the promoters. The subdivision of UP3, which is under public consultation, until June 19, already had the Environmental Impact Study refused once, last year, by CCDR Algarve, and now, after the project has been redone, «it is not in the minds of the promoters that it should be failed again».

The subdivision project was submitted by Top Buiding, but it has more promoters. Top Building is responsible for one of the hotels (H2), Astronow, a company owned by Spanish investors, is responsible for the land of another of the hotels (H1), and Areia Feliz owns the land where the third development will be installed (H3). There is also Estoril Investe, which owns a plot of land that allows for the construction of H3.

Current view of Ponta João de Arens and view with location of hotels (H1, H2, H3)


João Jacinto, one of the promoters, representative of the company Areia Feliz, in an interview with Sul Informação, considered that the first EIA submitted was failed due to “situations of misunderstandings or due to lack of discussion with the CCDR”.

Now, so that the three five-star hotels, which UP3 foresees, “do not remain in the drawer”, the changes in the new project, which is under public consultation, are many, “in a logic of meeting the concerns of the CCDR and of the authorities that make up the Evaluation Committee'.

From the start, the maximum height of the buildings was reduced from 15 to 12 meters and the area where the buildings were to be built was reduced. «In the first project, they were occupying 2,5% of the plan's area, now they occupy 1,8% of the area», explained João Jacinto.

The number of rooms also increased from 411 to 353.

All this to overcome one of the main problems invoked by CCDR Algarve to fail the first EIA: the impact on the landscape.

João Jacinto guarantees that, in the new project, «the impact on the landscape of the three buildings is very small. There is some visibility from the road that surrounds that area to the first hotel, closer to Prainha, and to the last, close to Alemão beach». The middle hotel “can't even be seen, not from the road, not from the sea and much less from the beach. Buildings are integrated into the landscape in a normal way and have very little impact».

Another of the factors invoked by CCDR Algarve to have refused, last year, the Environmental Impact Statement, was the fact that, in the area of ​​implementation of the project, there is a species of protected plant, the algarvian linaria, something that has now also changed, according to the businessman.

«In the first EIA, there were occupied areas where the algarvian linaria, but we totally abandoned that aspect. We implemented the buildings all outside any area of algarvian linaria, or any other species considered relevant to the environment. In addition to the implementation of hotels, this also applies to gardens, swimming pools, car parks and shipyards. All this is outside these areas».

For all these reasons, João Jacinto hopes that criticism of the project, namely from environmental associations and the citizens' group “A Last Window to the Sea”, which was created to contest the construction of these hotels in João de Arens, will fade.

"I would say that it makes sense [that the contestation decreases], there are now two components in this public consultation: a better explanation of the project, which also has to do with the availability of a video [see below], which demonstrates that this smaller deployment it doesn't conflict with the landscape, and also because we've reduced the areas. These two factors are in line with the population's pretensions. This is not a confrontational project, what we want is to create a group of high quality hotels, in an area that is very degraded at the moment», he reinforces.


The prosecutor says that “that land is vacant and has been used by the population and tourists in an anarchic way. There are no indications and it is very dangerous. There are gaps, some referenced, others not, and the way the land has been used means that trails are created in dangerous areas».

In order to organize this usufruct of space, according to João Jacinto, «we have the proposal already discussed with the CCDR Algarve and the Câmara de Portimão, to deliver, for public use, 9,2 hectares along the coastal strip. This will make it possible to create a scenic route that everyone can enjoy and, in that way, access the beaches. This sea front will be public and, from this area, two of the hotels will not even be visible. There will be a better usufruct, with more quality, next to the cliff, by the population».

For João Jacinto, «it doesn't occur to us that the project is failed again. In a state of law, that would make no sense. We have been careful and rigorous in the project, we have scrupulously corrected all the issues that led to the rejection of the first EIA and we are carrying out the process of rehabilitation and care of the existing landscape. There will always be suggestions, or small repairs to the project, but it doesn't occur to us that there is a lead».

If the CCDR Algarve gives the green light to the EIA, which, if it happens, «should be in August», the next step is the approval of the subdivision project, because what «we are talking about here is the subdivision where hotels can be placed'.

And, guarantees the prosecutor, there are interested parties. “The Covid-19 issue, which is freezing many projects, is not holding us back. We are clearly interested and have very advanced conversations with three relevant international hotel groups. They are 5-star chains specializing in this type of tourism. We are very committed to carrying out this project, which represents an investment of 40 million euros and will create 1000 direct and indirect jobs».

In the process submitted to public consultation, the project is designated as “Traditional Hospitality”. But does Portimão need three more 5-star hotels? «From the point of view of the companies we are working with, they are all interested in making this type of hotel», guarantees João Jacinto.


North South View of H3

However, he clarifies: «when we talk about traditional hotels, we are talking about a 5-star hotel that meets the requirements of Turismo de Portugal. Here, we are talking about very modern hotels that are particularly concerned with the materials used, with the landscape and ecological footprint. It's a new ecotourism and there's no precedent here. What happens is that, maybe, when people hear about a traditional hotel, they are thinking of hotels built 20 or 30 years ago, with several floors, which is not the case with this new investment».

About the fact that there is the idea that the hotels will be born “on top of the cliff”, João Jacinto reinforces: “the closest hotel to the sea is 230 meters away, but leaning against the road. The other will be at 340 meters and the other at 450 meters. The land has a slope, before descending towards the sea, which means that these hotels will not even have a sea view. The hotels will be next to the road and will leave that land up to the cliff, for the hotel gardens and for the enjoyment of the general public», he concluded.

The changes listed by João Jacinto seem, however, still not to have convinced the citizens' movement “The Last Window to the Sea” which, like the Sul Informação already managed, considers that the new project “is full of administrative inconsistencies and visual illusions. There is no substantial change in the constructive load. Concrete continues to dominate, camouflaged in questionable greens. The fundamental issues that threaten the Environment remain in their entirety, since the last Unfavorable Environmental Impact Statement, on 3 May 2019».

Since the opening of the public consultation for the renewed project, on May 7, there have already been 24 contributions to the Participate portal, with the deadline extended to June 19th.



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