With the scourge of the pandemic hitting healthcare, economy and tourism hard, it may seem incongruous for anyone to be focusing on new tourist accommodation in Malaga, but some investors have continued to draw up fresh projects of this type and are even calling on the authorities to speed up the authorisation process so they can be ready when this virulent coronavirus storm has passed.
One of these is the White Group, a group of Israeli investors including developers, entrepreneurs and hotel owners, who in recent years have acquired almost 20 buildings in the centre of Malaga city, with help from the Salvago Advisors consultancy.
They initially built residential projects aimed at wealthy purchasers but now that those have been sold they are focusing on the city's tourism potential and have begun an ambitious plan which will involve over 100 million euros of investment.
Their line of activity is centred on three types of business: apartment buildings, hostels and boutique hotels which are low-cost but are equipped with the most modern technology and facilities. "Let's say they will have a five-star chassis but will be a hostel inside. People don't want to come to a hotel and not know anybody," says Hugo Mathov of the White Group.
The plan is for 112 apartments in six projects in Calle Peña, Calle Parras, Calle Victoria, Calle Agua, Calle Santa María and Calle Fresca. The latter two projects are part of a plan for tourist accommodation which White will be able to carry out thanks to agreements reachedwith the Malaga Diocese.
The Church has sold the group number 8 in Calle Fresca, while number 29 in Calle Santa María is part of an agreement to cede the old St Thomas Hospital building for an initial period of 12 years, which can be extended. The plan is to convert it into a student residence with 135 beds. There will also be what White describes as a "high class" 260-bed hostel in what was the Casa del Niño Jesús in Calle Pozos Dulces, with a gym, shared cooking facilities and very modern workstations designed to make optimum use of the space available.
Two similar projects are planned in Calle Beatas and Calle Hernán Ruiz. "We want the guests who stay here to be able to share experiences, so we have also created a company to offer events and leisure activities. There will also be shared workspaces," says Hugo Mathov. The idea is that anyone who stays in one of these buildings will also be able to use the facilities in the others.
The group is also planning two hotels, one with 36 rooms in Calle Madre de Dios, in a lovely early 20th century building with a garden, which is unusual in the city centre, and another with 85 rooms in Calle Trinidad, at the rear of the San Pablo church.
"The pandemic isn't stopping us," says Hugo Mathov, who explains that the group is also considering a hostel in Cordoba and projects in Granada, Cadiz and Tarifa. "The world is still turning so we are going ahead with these investments, which will create numerous jobs." He is keen for the works to begin as soon as possible, as several of the projects are now awaiting licences and permits.