Conni Jonsson, founder and chairman of EQT, the Stockholm-based private equity company which is very active in real estate, is investing around €30 million to transform the former Cirio factory in Porto Ercole into a luxury hotel, an unusual transformation which speaks of confidence in a bounce back of the luxury leisure and hospitality sector in Tuscany.
The tuna and sardine-canning factory, which closed down decades ago, is right on the coast on the Argentario peninsula, so the new 50-room hotel will have not only sea views but also its own mooring for boats as well as a restaurant and spa.
Jonsson founded a new company, Qarlbo, to buy the factory shell, which had become an eyesore, and then put forward his plan to persuade the local authorities to grant him the necessary permits.
It took years, but the Tuscany regional government and the Argentario local government have just given the green light to the project. The old fish canning factory will be demolished and a new structure will be built that will have the same outline as a nod to the area’s heritage but will be brand new and totally sustainable. Work is due to begin later this year.
Jonsson, who has owned a holiday villa in Argentario for many years and knows the area of outstanding natural beauty, has also bought the Don Pedro, a historic hotel in Porto Ercole, for around €8 million.
Work has already started on the 60-room building to restructure it and modernise it completely to turn it into a contemporary 4-star hotel which is due to open at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.
“Jonsson’s objective is to develop Porto Ercole, attracting to the area European and international tourists again,” said Valentina Patrignani, CEO, Qarlbo. “The plan is for Argentario to become as attractive a destination as it was in the eighties and nineties”.