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Vista Palace Hotel Reopens After Years of Renovation Work

Perched on the cliff above Monaco, the long-awaited 5-Star Maybourne Riviera Hotel in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin opens this summer.

After years of renovation and conversion work, the spectacular Vista Palace in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin will reopen its doors to guests this summer under a new name. The 5-star hotel above Monaco is called ‘Maybourne Riviera’, the 5th addition to the Maybourne Hotel Group, which operates Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley in London, and The Maybourne Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. But the massive project hasn't been without controversy.

The ultra-modern hotel high above the Principality of Monaco is in its final phase of transformation from the historical building known as Vista Palace. The opening was originally planned for June, but like most projects over the past year, has again been postponed. From July, the Maybourne plans to gradually start welcoming guests until the building is completely finished in the first half of September.

Despite being an exciting new addition to the Riviera, the hotel seems to be staying low-key, perhaps due to the torrent of criticism and complaints from concerned residents and environmentalists throughout the construction period. According to the local press, there has been no official press release and the owner did not initially respond to enquiries.

The hotel on the edge of the cliff high above Monaco, before renovations. Archive photo: Mossot / Wikipedia,

A mega-investment

In 2014, the Vista Palace Hotel was bought by the former Emir of Qatar, Hamad ben Khalifa al-Thani, for €30.5 million. He subsequently invested more than €100 million in renovation and expansion work to be able to offer his affluent guests 45 rooms today, including 24 suites, some with private infinity pools.

Apart from the historic core of the building, almost everything has been demolished during the construction work to provide an even clearer view down to Monaco and the sea. Since the hotel is perched on the edge of a rocky outcrop 330 metres above sea level and there is seismic activity in the area, 58 tie rods were installed to secure the earth and the façade.

Patrick Cesari, mayor of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, hopes the new opening will be particularly beneficial for the local economy. By being open all year round, the Maybourne Riviera will provide many new jobs, he said in an interview with Nice Matin. 120 employees will be permanently employed, including during the off-season, and more will be added in the summer.

Criticism of the new structure

The large-scale reconstruction of the hotel directly on a cliff has caused fierce opposition from parts of the population and environmentalists, among others, in the form of lawsuits that delayed the project time and time again. The concerns are, on the one hand, environmental: they fear that the construction work will destroy the landscape and the flora and fauna around the hotel, which is in a protected area. The work has "torn up" the cliff through the tension rods and drilling into the rock, said Frédérique Lorenzi, President of the environmental association Aspona.

There were also doubts about the effects on the stability of the ground: residents living below the cliff feared for their safety and possible rockfall damage. According to Aspona, cracks had already formed on the cliff. Mayor Cesari, on the other hand, says that the immediate danger of rockfall has decreased rather than increased as a result of the protection of the cliff. In addition, the construction happened under the watchful eye of experts, using careful measurements.

The 150-year history of the hotel

The former Vista Palace has a rich history dating back to the 19th Century. Initially a small tea house in a wooden chalet built in 1870, it was developed into a small 5-room hotel between the two World Wars, only to be destroyed during WWII. After the war ended, the hotel was rebuilt on the edge of the cliff high above the water with 25 rooms and in 1987 another 43 rooms were added. However, there is not much scope for expansion due to the precarious location. For a long time, the hotel's owner was German industrialist Max Grundig, who bought the property in 1978 and gave it the longstanding name "Vista Palace Hotel".


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