Agriculture minister’s PA-sanctioned hotel opens for business

Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo and his wife have started welcoming guests at their hotel in Qala, built on ODZ land without permits and then sanctioned later and funded with money from the EU.

l-Eremita (The Hermit) and run by l-Eremita Co. Ltd – a company wholly owned by the minister’s wife, Michelina – the hotel features 11 “stylish and charming rooms”, two swimming pools and sprawling grounds with unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside, according to its posts on social media.

According to their original application, The Refalos obtained €270,000 of EU funds to develop the property on the premise the boutique hotel would offer “yoga meditation and specialised culinary services”, but the hotel does not appear to be offering these services.

One of the luxury bedrooms at the new hotel

Anton and Michelina Refalo bought the property in the 1990s when it was just a dilapidated agricultural store surrounded by fields. The current property, with a much larger footprint, was developed over the years without any planning permission or permits.

However, through the pro-developer policies administered by the Planning Authority, Refalo managed to have all his illegalities sanctioned through various appeal processes that overturned enforcement orders and objections. This was necessary as to apply for the more than a quarter of a million euro grant from the EU, the property required a hotel permit.

However, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) strongly opposed the application stating that “the approval of this proposal would further consolidate uses which are not characteristic of rural areas.”

The Refalo’s 80% EU-funded ‘yoga-meditation’ hotel outside Qala, Gozo, while under construction

The ERA’s objections were ignored, and the Planning Authority issued the permit.

Refalo became the first incumbent cabinet minister to own and run a hotel in Malta, joined recently by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Refalo, a known collector of historical artefacts, has also adorned his hotel’s outside spaces with art and statues

Abela has obtained a permit to turn his Xewkija farmhouse into a large hotel with extensive grounds and various services, including a spa.

The prime minister and his wife Lydia recently acquired an adjacent 1,500 square metres of new agricultural land to expand the footprint of the original site.

However, the prime minister failed to declare his new acquisitions in his obligatory annual declaration of assets and did not provide information which funds he used to pay for the €180,000 plot.

Following a request by independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola, the Standards Commissioner is now investigating the prime minister’s possible breach of ethics.

                           

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13 Comments
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Aggie
Aggie
2 months ago

Who wants to tell the EU about the fraudulent use of public funds ?

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
2 months ago
Reply to  Aggie

Arnold

viv
viv
2 months ago

I thought the Mafia was supposed to keep a low profile.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
2 months ago
Reply to  viv

Not anymore in Malta.

chris
chris
2 months ago

That’s a luxury bedroom, seriously?
Who would want to breathe limestone particles into their nostrils whilst they sleep:( ?
Prosit ministru.

carlos
carlos
2 months ago

il-muvument korrot jiehu l-ewwel ghas-serq, gideb u korruzzjoni. Fi hdax il-sena ma ghaddietx gurnata wahda minghajr skandlu.

ma tarax
ma tarax
2 months ago

looks like the PM is very fortunate when buying immovable property. did I understand well 1500 sm for 180k. another bargain for the zejtun farmhouse.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
2 months ago

Am start to wonder who is the fattest pig at the through!!!
Each day everything new and each time, shrouded in mystery or corruption!!!

Cannot understand what Robert Abela has to smile for!!

Etienne Psaila
Etienne Psaila
2 months ago

All investing in their private pension, to the detriment on every citizens’ / taxpayers and we have to pay to accumulate our private pension. These people have no shame. And nothing being investigated and all citizens blind. WAKE THE FUK UP

Joseph
Joseph
2 months ago

Biex taghnel din is-Sinjorita ta’ farm houses jew Hotel ghidilha li trid, irrid ikollok introjtu sewwa. This for gahan illiterat s/o followers. Mela issa hareg fil-berah min hu tassew gvern tal haddiem il-lejber taghna lkoll jew il-manigoldi hallelin korrotti politici laburisti. Kollha jahdmu ghal bwiethom u hemm zwieg mifrudha ma jistghux jghixu bil-hajja gholja li ghanna pajjizna. Ghalihom m’hiex gholja ghax kollox free ghamluha ghalihom il-hajja fil-politika komunista.

Joseph
Joseph
2 months ago

If Dr Refalo does NOT pay those money back to the EU or in that case the EU does nothing in this case. There will be no vote for EU candidates from my family . This is absolutely corruption in face of the public through the whole EU members European countries. And if this manigold politician does this sort of theft and corruption , so all the other corrupt Pl politicians do the same. JITHANZRU.

Joseph
Joseph
2 months ago

They have no shame. They’re preparing gerrymandering in next election. Beware of the foreigners votes. They have already gone to the devil last election. Everybody knows what they have done in favors of driving lic. and that of the doctors certificate to gahan people.

M.Galea
M.Galea
2 months ago

Dan li qal Malta spiccat!! Imbad ODZ nibnu fih ukoll!., Malta w Ghawdex spiccawhom huma dawn l politici korrotti minghajr skrupli!

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