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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 March 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 MARCH 2018 19 GREECE Onassis’ private island to become luxury resort Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev gets the green light to proceed with the investment Anyone who's ever travelled to Lefkada has been tempted to one of the island's long established tourist rituals: a boat trip from the small town of Nidri to the equally small neighbouring islands - Meganissi, Madouri, and, most notably, Skorpios. Mariners have been making a living for decades taking tourists around the island and serving them with decadesold gossip of the Onassis clan, pointing to the exact spot where Jackie O would prefer to go for swimming and sunbathing. Many of them were hoping to add new stories to this narrative, now that the small island is owned by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, but the Russian oligarch had other plans - a multimillion investment that will turn the private island into a luxury resort. The project was given the go ahead by the Greek government last week, although there are still a lot of things to be settled before the €120m project is set into motion. Rybolovlev's plan is to build at least a dozen luxury villas on the island, each with a total area of 500 to 1,200 sqm, with a total capacity of 48 beds and other accompanying facilities such as spas, restaurants, golf, tennis, basketball courts, football fields, and a marina. The investment is seen as a great opportunity for the region, promising to increase tourism in Lefkada, but to also create jobs for the residents, both in construction and the hospitality and services sectors. "The Ionian Islands region is always in favour of large investments on its islands, provided that these investments operate in equal constitutional terms with local businesses,” said deputy regional Governor of the Ionian Islands Spyros Galiatsatos, speaking to the Athens News Agency. "Mr Rybolovlev's investment will bring large capital; jobs will be created and in the neighbouring area of Lefkada, more quality businesses will open to accommodate the wealthy visitors of Skorpios." Before that happens, though, a lot of environmental demands should be met. Skorpios, after all, has been designated as a European Union "Natura 2000" protected area. This means that no more than five per cent of the island can be built, therefore any development plans should be very carefully executed, so as not to cause any kind of disharmony with the environment. For Oscar contenders, something more than consolation prize: a Greek holiday This year’s Oscar nominee gift bag included a stay in a luxury villa in Halkidiki There is nothing that certifies excellence in film better than a golden statuette of a nude bald man, but for most in Hollywood an Oscar nomination is enough of an acknowledgement. Not only will they forever see the words ‘Academy Award nominee’ preceding their names, but they will also have a great set of consolation prizes to fall back on, regardless of their win. It is a well-known fact, after all, that each Academy Awards nominee receives a gift bag containing six-figure’s worth of goods and perks. This year's giveaways included no less than 59 products and services, ranging from children's books, cookbooks, lollipops and $13 eco-chic tote bags, to DNA test kits (!), laser skin treatments, original art, ethically-sourced diamond jewellery, and fivefigure’s worth of holiday trips. Not a bad view to forget that you made a film like Dunkirk and all you got was technical achievement Oscar for sound mixing and editing. This last category includes a stay at the Avaton Luxury Villas Resort Halkidiki, near Mt Athos. The resort consists of an exclusive collection of 16 villas – most with private pools – overlooking Komitsa Bay, and promising (as far as the website is concerned) to offer the "ultimate" Greek holiday experience. For the 'hoi polloi', a room at the resort might cost about $600, but for someone wanting to forget that they lost an oscar to Gary Oldman or Allison Janney, the exclusive 120 square metre suites would be more suitable (no pun intended). And if anyone among the Denzels and Meryls and Sufjans and Saoirses, or anyone of those entitled to the experience of summer in Halkidiki, suffers from a fear of flights, water, heights, or any kind of phobia, then they should look no further than the same gift pack, where another Greek-related experience awaits - a CD and a book about facing your fears from New York's phobia relief expert, Kalliopi Barlis. This may well be Meryl Streep’s hat this summer - or Greta Gerwig’s, for that matter.
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