Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts won a contract bid from an arm of the Roman Catholic Church to take over a property in Rome and build a new hotel. But Toronto-based Four Seasons — controlled by Bill Gates’s Cascade Investment — may come to regret submitting a bid for a potential $52.4 million (€35 million over 27 years) contract for a new hotel close to the Vatican.

Rival bidders are complaining, and some locals are up in arms, Corriere della Sera reported.

Four Seasons hadn’t publicized its last-minute entry. Its bid came in several million higher than ones from second-place finisher Blastness/Ripetta and third-place finisher Omnia/Lazzarini.

The jilted bidders have filed an appeal. The runner-ups claim they had been told to keep bids modest because this wasn’t meant to be an ultra-luxury project. The request for proposal said “four-star superior,” a lower designation in Italy’s hotel system, Corriere della Sera reported. About three dozen bidders had competed.

Some locals are also upset that the Vatican would allow a luxury hotel with 64 rooms, 11 suites, and a couple of sumptuous apartments to open.

The property is the ancient Palazzo della Rovere on Rome’s Via della Conciliazione, and it’s formerly the headquarters of the Jesuits.

The Renaissance-era structure needs renovations that Four Seasons can afford to pay for and handle skillfully. But Pope Francis has championed the poor in homily after homily. Will he be happy about this luxury project about 650-feet from St Peter’s Basilica?

See the 5,000-word piece in Italian from Corriere della Sera.

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