It has been eight years since the summer of 2013, when Dmitry Rybolovlev, under the cover of complete secrecy, purchased the private island of Skorpios, once the holiday home of Aristotle Onassis, from the legendary shipowner’s granddaughter, Athina Onassis.
For several months prior, the locals – chiefly workers on the island – had observed a significant increase in activity on the part of representatives and lawyers of the buyer and seller.
With the completion of the transfer of the island to the Russian tycoon – who is 224th on the Forbes List with a 5.5 billion euro fortune – high levels of activity around Skorpios became part of everyday life in the area.
Behind these comings and goings is nothing less than Rybolovlev’s plans to transform the island, through an investment of 165 million euros, into a destination for the international jet set and in particular “ultra high-net-worth individuals”.
Over the past few years, construction work has been taking place on the island – located in the Ionian Sea near Lefkada – for the maintenance and renovation of certain buildings, such as Aristotle Onassis’ famed “Pink Villa”, tree planting and earthworks.
Now, with the recent approval by the Central Architectural Council of the architectural study for the island’s redevelopment – a project titled “VIP Exclusive Club”, the company established by Rybolovlev to realize his plans, Mykinai S.A., is moving to obtain the necessary construction permits with the aim of beginning the main body of construction works in the coming months.
“This amounts to the end of the processes which lasted for about three years and wouldn’t have been completed if the investment did not have the support of the Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, and the Alternate Minister of Development Nikos Papathanasis. The island of Skorpios constitutes the best advertisement of Greece abroad, contributing to the upgrading of its tourism product,” Sergey Chernitsyn, an adviser to Dmitry Rybolovlev, told Kathimerini newspaper.
The Rybolovlev family’s plans include turning Skorpios into a “smart” island with the installation of a fiber optic network. The construction timeline foresees the works being completed by the end of 2023, so that the island is ready to host its first guests in the summer of 2024.
Members of the Rybolovlev family will reside on Skorpios for certain periods, and for the remaining time it will be available for rent. According to reports, the minimum cost to rent the island will be 1 million euros for a week-long stay, with up to 50 people accommodated.
The redevelopment of the island will be divided into 9 sections, while the residences that will be developed, according to the photographs obtained by Kathimerini, will be built into the landscape in order for them to be in harmony with the environment, and to ensure privacy and unobstructed views towards the islands of Meganisi and the Tilevoides chain.
According to the plans, the buildings to be constructed include a “master suite” where the Rybolovlev family will stay when they visit the island, about ten large and medium-sized villas and the so-called “Hill House”.
As for the Pink Villa which has a floor area of 150 sq meters, and was renovated several years ago (the structure already existed on the island prior to Onassis’ time, when it was used as a stable), the Russian tycoon has not decided yet whether to convert it entirely into a museum or to keep it as a residence as it is today.
According to the plans drawn up for the island, the buildings will be distributed in such a way as to resemble a small, informal settlement; however at the same time the functional independence of each home will be maintained.
Apart from the accommodations, which comprise the Pink Villa, the master suite and the individual villas, a key element of the development plan is the construction of a multi-functional center and sports facilities. These will be located at a central site on Skorpios where some sports facilities had already been constructed in the past.
As individuals involved in the project explain, the aim for the specific development is for the island to have “Davos-like” services and facilities, i.e. for it to be able to play host to closed, VIP conferences. Of course, in contrast to the Swiss resort town of Davos that hosts the four-day global economic forum in which up to 15,000 people take part, the planned conference center of Skorpios will have a capacity of only about 100 people, with such events comprising a supplementary activity – part of the development of low-impact activities on the island.
The open 5-a-side football pitch of the multi-functional center will be able to host small-scale sporting events, while an amphitheater will also be constructed on the island for private concerts and performances to be held.
The marina “Christina” will also be upgraded in order for it to be able to accommodate large vessels, although its capacity will not change, meaning that only one mega-yacht will be able to be moored at once. However the island also has a large number of protected bays where vessels can anchor.
Bioclimatic Design and Smart Devices
On the new Skorpios, where the principles of bioclimatic architecture will be implemented, wastewater treatment facilities, desalination units, electric car charging stations and a local irrigation network using treated wastewater will be developed.
The island of Skorpios will also be connected (via undersea cable) to the electric grid of Lefkada, a cellular base station will be created near the heliport, and a network of fiber optic cables will be laid down along the roads through which the island’s smart devices will be connected.
In total, the plans provide for constructed areas to cover a maximum area of 21,547 sq meters, of which the existing buildings account for about 4,000 sq meters; the remaining 17,552 sq meters will be covered by new constructions.
Responsible for the architectural design of Skorpios is the Norwegian firm Snøhetta, which has realized a number of innovative high-profile projects, including the new Library of Alexandria, the first underwater restaurant in Europe and the new headquarters of Le Monde newspaper in Paris.