What was once the site of a hospice providing services to the poor, is soon to be the newest playground for the city’s most elite, as the W Tel Aviv-Jaffa hotel is set to opens its doors next year.
140 years ago, a French businessman had a dream to give back to a community that had restored him back to health after suffering with malaria. Filled with appreciation and identifying a need for a place to treat the ill – free of charge, regardless of gender, religion and nationality – Francois Guinet made plans to open a French hospital named Saint Louis.
Built by the architects Ribellet and Grebez, the hospice was one of the first new buildings to be constructed outside the wall of the old city. Built entirely from French methods, no detail was spared, with special artisans brought in to carry out their trade.
After Guinet’s death in the late 19th century, the hospital went through additional renovations and continued to provide care for patients. Sadly, in 1969 the hospital closed its doors due to a lack of funding.
Over the next 25 years the building was leased to the government and served as a mental institution, until later being sold in the 1990s to a group of entrepreneurs who failed to upkeep the building, which succumbed to disintegration.
It wasn’t until eight years ago when an American real estate investment firm RFR Holdings purchased the site, that plans were underway to build on the old site and make way for a luxury hotel.
RFR’s reasoning behind purchasing the site included identifying a need for a hotel in Jaffa, that would service the growling and bustling city.
As CEO of RFR states, Shahar Perry states, “This place is undergoing a transformation from sleepy and quiet Jaffa to something far more bustling and vibrant.”
With the W’s target audience in mind, the design of the hotel will reflect the tastes of the wealthy tourists who tend to favour contemporary design.
By the time construction is completed, costs will total $50 million and the hotel will include 127 rooms and 38 luxury apartments in a separate residential wing.
Scheduled to open some time next year, no specific date has been set as progress is slow with bureaucracy and archaeological discoveries at the site slowing down the process.