Holding the fort

Five months after Pousada de São Tiago suspended operations due to nearby construction of the Light Rail Train (LRT) public transport interchange at Barra

According to Sociedade de Jogos de Macau S.A. (SJM), the MSAR Government has not so far provided compensation for the almost five months of suspension of business at Pousada de São Tiago or Santiago Hotel caused by the nearby construction of the Light Rail Train (LRT) public transport interchange at Barra.
An SJM representative said the group would “reserve the rights to discuss this compensation issue with the government” in the future with the estimated losses caused by the suspension having not yet been “fully calculated”.
The 5-star hotel suspended operations on April 1, with the Executive Director of SJM Holdings Limited, Angela Leong On Kei, saying at the time that since the construction of the LRT transport exchange centre had been initiated, the property had had trouble receiving guests.
Ms. Leong also added that the hotel would resume operations when the LRT interchange was completed.
Meanwhile, SJM told Business Daily that due to the closing of the property some of the 44 workers had been relocated to several of ‘SJM’s related companies and Ms. Leong’s own properties/business’ with some employees remaining at the property to assure the daily maintenance of the hotel.

Nearby works
According to the Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) the LRT public transport interchange in Barra development was initiated in 2015 and is expected to be finished in 2019.
The development of the transport centre contract was granted to a consortium composed by Companhia de Construção de Obras Portuárias Zhen Hwa, Limitada and Companhia de Engenharia e de Construção da China (Macau), Limitada for MOP1.23 billion (US$152.6 million).
As of now the project piling works have been completed with excavation and construction works still in progress, GDI has confirmed.
The project will integrate the LRT with buses, taxis and pedestrian walkways, with three underground levels projected to allow the parking of tourist buses and 500 light vehicles and motorcycles.
When questioned about the construction’s impact upon the hotel, the GDI only informed Business Daily that it ‘will closely supervise the contractor with relevant units to ensure that the construction is in compliance with statutory requirements’.

Confusing ownership
Although the official response regarding the Pousada de São Tiago Saintiago was provided by SJM representatives, these same contacts stated the property was not owned either by SJM or its mother company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), but by Ms. Leong herself.
Located at the 17th Century Portuguese São Tiago da Barra Fortress, the hotel was planned by architect Nuno Maria Roque Jorge, in a project developed by Saint Tiago Hotel and Tourism Company Limited - a company created in 1978 with the sole purpose of developing and exploiting the hotel, which opened in 1982.
According to information from the property registry, in 2003 a 1,452 square metre land plot in Estrada da Penha adjacent to the original hotel was granted to Saint Tiago Hotel and Tourism Company Limited without a public tender for MOP8.4 million, with the purpose of expanding the existing 5-star hotel.
According to the Official Gazette release at the time, the concession contract was signed by the company’s manager, Hong Kong businessman David Cheng Kai Ho, as a 25-year concession.
According to a report from 2004 by TTG Asia, in that year the hotel was allegedly acquired by the founder of STDM, Stanley Ho Hung Sun, through Florinda Hotels International for US$12 million (MOP96.7 million) with 90 per cent of the property previously held by David Cheng.
Information from the commercial registry indicates that as of 2005 Saint Tiago Hotel and Tourism Company Limited had capital of MOP500,000 provided by two companies based in Hong Kong, with MOP450,000 provided by Folka Limited and MOP50,000 by Capital Union Holdings Limited.
The commercial registry also stated that at that time the company had as co-chairmen Angela Leong, Ng Chi Sing and Ambrose So, both COO and Chief Executive, respectively, of SJM Holdings.
The company ceased functions in 2005 with quotas being transferred, commercial registry information revealed.
In 2014, Ms. Leong stated that the hotel expansion had not yet been concluded due to the cultural heritage status of the property and environmental protection issues.
Business Daily contacted the Cultural Bureau and Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) in regard to the hotel expansion but no response had been received by the time this newspaper went to print.
The information in the property registry indicates a fine was applied to the concession in June of 2015 for failure to fulfill the 36 months deadline for hotel expansion, with the hotel offering 12 suites upon its recent closing.
The concession contract indicated that a MOP17,424 annual rent defined until the land plot exploration had finalised, and a MOP76,116 annual rent after the proposed expansion was concluded.
The initial contract also stipulated the concessionaire would be able to renew its concession until December 2049.

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Close call
Enquiring about possible damage caused by Typhoon Hato to Pousada de São Tiago and the LRT transport exchange centre, SJM told Business Daily that only some trees had been damaged at the property with GDI stating it had ‘inspected the [public transport interchange] and instructed the contractor to repair damaged facilities such as site hoardings’ with the contractor gradually resuming construction.