October 11, 2018
By Cyprus law, any hotel or tourist facility must comply with several regulations, norms, and standards. These norms and standards are set for the protection and safety of the public, workers and the environment.
The management company Garmonis which took a long lease of ELIA Latchi Holiday Village in 2013 has closed the hotel mid-season 2018. The hotel has been operating for more than 25 years. The hotel/holiday village is reported to have held the operating license from Cyprus Tourism Organization and Polis Chrysochous municipality for some of these years. However, Garmonis has not been able to get either from the landlord or any government department any evidence that the critical water, electric, sewage, fire and safety infrastructure of the property is built and approved in conformity with law and legally required standards.
In 2013, residents of the Polis area informed foreign shareholders of Garmonis that a road and seaside sewage treatment plant of ELIA Holiday Village had not been working for many years and causing horrific odour and spillage. Garmonis has invested nearly 1 million Euros in complete replacement of this seaside sewage treatment plant which is now working as per latest norms and standards. Two Paphos engineering companies called in and paid for by Garmonis to service and replace the faulty plant installed wrong equipment initially and the problem continued till a reputed & professional engineering firm from Limassol undertook the project and put in place the correct sewage treatment biological plant thus ending the threat to the environment and public safety. However, upon completion of these works, the investors were dejected to receive reports from employees that only 20 percent of the property was connected to this plat and no infrastructure – pipes, pumps or plans had been put in place to connected the discharge from rest of the property to the plant.
The Garmonis shareholders started to receive reports of nearly weekly or daily incidents of raw sewage overflow near residential blocks. There were too many incidents of sewage backing into bathrooms and toilets. Foul odours caused enormous problems and guest complaints. As a result guests room had to be changed and nearly 20 to 60 percent of the property always remained inoperable due to this problem over the last 5 years. When the property was fully occupied, guest complaints ( always genuine) and compensations caused considerable distress for the management company.
On several occasions, the owner rushed from Nicosia to Latchi to address the complaints but failed to provide master plans or any maps to demonstrate how the issue of sewage overflow and odours was occurring and how it could be resolved. The inability of the owner to provide with these plans made the engineering and technical teams helpless in addressing the root cause of the serious problem. Promises were made by landlord repeatedly that master plans were being located and would be provided – but they never materialized. All possible actions were taken by the management company to limit the problem including replacing nearly a thousand manhole covers and lids. The problems, however, lay deep inside the ground and below the property and could not be addressed because no plans and maps were available for engineering teams.
The management company Garmonis was calling in and paying licensed sewage bowser trucks from Paphos on a daily basis during the high season to empty every possible manhole and pit. Through observation and experience, it became obvious that there were no regulations approved septic tanks either. ELIA Holiday Village sewage was being released into the ground and into underground water reserves without treatment and thus could not be collected by bowser trucks.
The management company has raised this issue not only with the landlord owner Mr. Georgiou but also with all relevant government departments and repeatedly, in writing and verbally asked but also with relevant government departments to find all documents related to construction of property so that the sewage could be disposed in a safe manner and health, safety of guests and environment could be protected. No government department answered and no plans were provided. It started to be obvious to the engineers and maintenance companies that the owner never had any master plans for sewage disposal even though he had been operating the property for more than 25 years.
In 2016 former Mayor of Polis Chrysochous made allegations to the representative of foreign shareholders of the management company that ELIA Holiday Village had been, for many years, disposing raw untreated sewage into the river the sea. This was a very serious allegation which he later withdrew when confronted for facts, claiming those were gossip. Nevertheless, this caused tremendous concern for the management company, not the least because responsibility for such actions, if true, would be placed on the foreign shareholders and Cypriot culprits would go hide behind the fog of corruption.
In 2018, Garmonis opened only safe parts of the property and did not operate nearly 70 percent of unsafe buildings and areas. This was declared to government departments and municipality.
In 2018 the conditions of many parts of property further deteriorated and many accidents and incidents occurred which caused a threat to the life of engineers and maintenance teams.
Incidents of contamination of drinking water were also visible and those rooms were isolated and shut down. Drinking water pipes of property are not as per standards and are agriculture irrigation pipes which have ruptured and deteriorated in the last 30 years. Moreover, the drinking water for the property comes from a borewell on the agriculture land near the hotel. Despite frequent water contaminations and pipe bursts, the owner refused to connect safe municipal water to the property. There is no master plan and map of water supply systems of the property and it is impossible to repair the problems. The water pipes are laid under the ground in a haphazard manner.
The management company has made numerous demands and requests that in the matter of safety and environment no compromise is possible and asked the landlord to not continue these old practices, and bring the infrastructure to legally required standards. He has not responded.
Due to the frequency and seriousness of accidents and incidents in 2017 and 2018 , and due to the failure of the landlord to take any action to address these matters of serious concern to the management company, the shareholders of Garmonis have decided to stop operations and seek a long term solution.
Garmonis has made a significant investment in the property and has filed legal charges against the landlord, as well as toward municipality of Polis Chrysochous and Cyprus Tourism Organization. The company has full faith in rule of law and judiciary and is confident that its investments in Cyprus are safe.
The company is determined to continue its business activity and is willing to make further investments to recover its already made investments, to upgrade the infrastructure of the property and operate the hotel.
Since the landlord has shown no interest in solving any of the problems of infrastructure and wishes to continue operations of the hotel as per practices of the 1980s, the management company believes a solution is to be found through Cyprus courts.