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  • Alexander the Great (Patrick Goff)

    485 273 Daniel Fountain
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    Sleeping umbrellas and rear elevation curling around the pool, balconies giving guests a view of the beach and sea
    Reception lobby – click to see it from the outside
    The island of Aphrodite

    The holiday makers lie broiling in the Mediterranean sun. Bronzed bald headed muscle men stride past mounds of bright reddening flabby granddads; slender brown bikini clad beauties strut their flat stomachs past roly-poly grandmas sunbathing topless like obscene beached whales; jolly families initiate their children in the delights of swimming pools a brilliant turquoise in contrast with the greyer blue of the warm sea.

    Around them the smiling staffs of the four and five star hotels fronting the beaches serve endless gallons of drink and mountains of fine food.

    Behind this frontage of Gerald Scarfianesque indulgence lie cheery shops selling sun cream and car hire, holiday homes and retirement villages. They are but a mask for the malls behind are empty, shops littered with sun-bleached ageing pictures of unsold dreams, fa├žades over empty windows advertising gold for sale, speciality leather ware and unwanted digital cameras.

    At night the cafes are busy and families stroll along the front, but the dark windows of the newly built apartments reveal unlet and empty properties. A drive into the surrounding landscape, rapidly becoming an urban sprawl, reveals handwritten for sale signs, half-finished buildings with the dust of ages forming on their uncovered skeletons. Weeds grow around bleached signs advertising retirement villas that may never now be built.

    Some hotel groups, perhaps more cautiously run in the past, are growing and investing like the owners of the Alexander the Great hotel, but development sites right on the seafront are surrounded by forlorn decaying hoardings carrying sun faded images of turquoise pools, advertisements for never to be built spas whilst some hotels operate with loans that can never now be serviced.

    The local television is filled with solemn faces talking about new insolvency laws as Eurocrats dictate terms for the slow crisis recovery the island struggles to achieve.

    Daniel Fountain / 03.01.2015

    Editor, Hotel Designs

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