Why locals aren't happy about St. Regis' Belgrade plan

(The St. Regis Belgrade)

Belgrade is emerging as a popular destination for hotel development. Right on the heels of Hilton's planned debut in Serbia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed a deal to open The St. Regis Belgrade and The Residences at The St. Regis Belgrade, a development project slated to open in 2019. 

The 125-room hotel will be a part of Kula Belgrade, the country’s highest mixed-use tower that will form the centerpiece of the new Belgrade Waterfront development. The St. Regis Belgrade will occupy the first nine floors of Kula Belgrade with 125 rooms and suites and 220 branded residences. More than 550 feet tall and overlooking the Sava River and Kalemegdan Fortress, Kula Belgrade (Belgrade Tower in English) was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Global. The tower will have the city's highest public observation deck at its peak.  

Not everyone is thrilled with the project, however. The development is owned by Belgrade Waterfront, Abu Dhabi developer Eagle Hills and Dubai real estate tycoon Mohamed Alabbar, and some locals have complained that the tower does not reflect the character of Belgrade's historic centre. Several local organizations have repeatedly protested the deal, which began construction in September. 

The development is reportedly supported by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is looking to complete economic reforms and get the country into the European Union. A luxury hotel would help boost the country's appeal for global visitors, and a stronger economy would make membership more likely.

Source: Reuters