BUSINESS

Marriage of tourism with real estate

NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

At Kassiopi in northern Corfu the seven-year bureaucratic odyssey for NCH Capital appears to be approaching an end.

TAGS: Property, Tourism

Across Greece, numerous major investment plans are in the works for the development of a series of tourism accommodation units whose total value stands at 3.2 billion euros.

The majority are plans that date back to the years before the outbreak of the financial crisis and are now being revived as the country’s economy slowly returns to a growth track.

Notwithstanding the crisis, and given that most of those units are designed for international travelers with high incomes, these investments could have already been completed, at the same time offering a considerable boost to economic growth. However, the bureaucratic obstacles and the proven inefficiency of the new instruments introduced, such as the law for fast-track investments or the Special Plans for the Zoning Development of Strategic Investments (ESXASE), have led to years-long delays.

A case in point is the biggest project, Atalanti Hills, which is worth 1.5 billion euros. This is a project that Lokros Ltd has been seeking to develop on a 12.5-square kilometer plot in the area of Atalanti, central Greece, since the late 2000s. Lokros is a vehicle for British investment groups Europa Capital and Prufrock Investments.

Although the town planning for the plot at Atalanti has been completed and the relevant presidential decree was published in the Government Gazette last January, state authorities remain reluctant to proceed with the next steps in order for the building permit to be issued. This has resulted in the expression of strong investor discontent, which is putting the whole investment in doubt.

The plot in question is located in the Exarchos area of the Lokroi municipality in the prefecture of Fthiotida. The investment plan provides for the gradual development (in different stages) of five-star hotels and homes with a total capacity of 8,872 beds. A total of 2,990 beds will be in hotel complexes while the other 5,882 will be in 3,306 furnished holiday homes which will be sold or leased out. As things stand at the moment, it is possible that work may begin during the first half of 2020.

In contrast, there are two projects in Western Greece that are much closer to implementation, possibly in the next few weeks: They are located on the Ionian islands of Corfu and Skorpios.

The former is located at Kassiopi in northern Corfu, as the seven-year bureaucratic odyssey for NCH Capital appears to be approaching an end. The US company won the state sell-off fund (TAIPED) tender back in 2012 for the tourism development of a plot of 490,000 square meters.

Its first stage provides for the construction of a five-star hotel with a capacity of 90 rooms and 180 beds. Alongside the 76 suites there will be 21 independent homes constructed in cooperation with an international hotel group. In the second stage, 19 additional villas will be developed, while the third stage of the investment concerns the construction of a marina for up to 57 yachts.

Likewise the redevelopment of the private island of Skorpios, near Lefkada, by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev is in its final stage, as a few days ago the Council of State (CoS, the country’s highest administrative court) approved the 165-million-euro investment that provides for the construction of new luxury tourism infrastructure.

Dolphin Capital Investors, founded by Miltos Kampouridis, expects to start operating two new tourism complexes this year – set for completion by 2021 – at Kilada in the eastern Peloponnese and on the Cycladic island of Kea. According to the company, it is only the issue of the construction license from the General Directorate for Strategic Investments that is still pending for the 420-million-euro investment.

Dolphin is planning to build a super-luxurious hotel unit covering 30,000 square meters on the 2.1-square kilometer plot, along with 320 mansions, 100 villas and 28 houses. An 18-hole golf course will also be created. According to the zoning plan approved by the CoS, Dolphin can build up to 178,428 sq.m. in the form of housing and 207,578 sq.m. in terms of other facilities.

An agreement was recently reached between Dolphin and Grivalia Hospitality for the investment platform of Grivalia Properties to acquire an area in the same resort for 10 million euros that will include 20 privileged plots at Kilada Hills for the development of holiday homes and installations for the exclusive use of guests and villa owners at Amanzoe, the other resort in that area which Dolphin sold last year to Grivalia Hospitality.

This year Dolphin will also begin its other major project, on Kea: “One&Only Kea Island” is a 150-million-euro investment that has secured the necessary permits; its planning is just about completed and the target is for it to start operating in 2021. A seaside plot of 640,000 sq.m. will be used for the development of a luxury hotel unit and holiday homes, in cooperation with Kerzner International Holdings Ltd, representing the latter’s first investment in Europe.

Meanwhile, on Crete, Minoan Group Plc is in the final stage of licensing for the utilization of a 25 sq.km. plot at Cavo Sidero, near Sitia. The British group is in advanced talks with investors to create a new consortium that will undertake the development of one out of a total of five zones of hotels and holiday homes.

Also in search of investors is the Iktinos construction company, for the development of another plot near Sitia, eastern Crete, covering 2.8 sq.km. A year ago the Athens-listed firm acquired the 79.65 percent stake that Latirus Ltd had in the plot for 14 million euros and is now the owner of 100 percent. Besides the development of a five-star hotel, the 150-million-euro investment plan that dates back to the early 2000s provides for the development of two areas where some 300 maisonettes will be built, along with a conference center, a spa and an 85-berth marina.

Mirum Hellas has a 450-million-euro plan for the development of a 1.2 sq.km. plot named Elounda Hills in eastern Crete, with the aim of starting on the construction of five-star hotels there by 2020.

Online