Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife, Lydia’s application to turn their Xewkija farmhouse into an eight-bedroom boutique hotel was unanimously approved in just a few minutes by the Planning Authority’s commission.
The commission, made up of three appointees of the Prime Minister himself, Martin Camilleri, Frank Ivan Caruana Catania, and Architect Joel Fenech, all voted in favour of Robert Abela’s application without any discussion, endorsing the green light already given by the planning directorate.
The recommendation to ‘grant permission’, given by the directorate, was coordinated by the authority’s Executive Council led by Oliver Magro, who was selected for the position by the prime minister.
The Abelas are now free to commence works on the Gozitan farmhouse that sits in an urban conservation area.
The Abelas bought the property from a German couple in 2010 for €268,000, with the intention of using it as a summer residence. At the time, Robert Abela, not yet in politics, was working as legal counsel to the Planning Authority.
However, the farmhouse was left untouched for several years until 2021, when, with public funds acquired through a scheme intended for the restoration of private residences – Irrestawra Darek – the couple made significant changes to their property.
After long-drawn negotiations with the owners of land surrounding the farmhouse, the Abelas signed two deeds in 2022 and 2023 to acquire an additional 1,500 square meters of adjacent land for €315,000, quadrupling the footprint of their property.
Immediately after, they asked for planning permission to transform their property into a hotel with a capacity of 16 guests, and including a swimming pool, spa, cellar and underground gym.
The latest land purchase at a price of €315,000, was made by the Abelas, without the need for a loan. It is not yet known whether they will apply for a loan to finance the rest of the project, estimated by some to cost in the region of €300,000.
The Prime Minister declares his salary, circa €65,000 a year as his family’s only source of income.
The Abelas also own a large mansion in Zejtun’s ODZ, which is set to be demolished and rebuilt into a sprawling villa over two tumolis of land.