ATHENS – After promising to allow greater access to public beaches being taken over by private operators, Greece has celebrated another luxury resort on the Athens’ coastline catering to the rich, with a private beach that’s technically unlawful.
It’s the One&Only Aesthesis on the so-called Athens Riviera where land has been taken over by rich companies further blocking access to the sea and beaches guaranteed by the Constitution but ignored by governments.
A succession of administrations, including the ruling New Democracy, has allowed 50 percent of public beaches to be leased to private companies charging as much as $380 a day to use umbrellas and lounge chairs.
This summer, angry citizens on some islands protested that many beaches were taken over completely which led to a brief crackdown and some penalties but saw luxury resorts excluded.
The Robb Report, a magazine catering to the rich, noted that One&Only Aesthetis, that opened oddly on Nov. 11 during the low season after missing the hot summer period, will make sure only guests can use the beach.
“The brand’s first outpost in Greece, its private stretch of coastline promises paparazzi-free sunbathing, while its Guerlain Spa delivers treatments inspired by ancient wellness traditions and designed exclusively for the resort,” it said.
The magazine noted that Athens is a hot spot now for tourists and that the “vibrant capital is abuzz with stylish hotel openings, from the Bauhaus-style Apollo Palm to the Parthenon-facing Dolli.”
It said One&Only Aesthesis is “also the buzziest,” and noted it’s set on a 50-acre coastal forest in Glyfada, a half hour from the Acropolis, and on a site where a resort drew names like Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot and Richard Nixon.
In an all-out push to bring in more tourists and investors to Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended the inauguration of the resort in October and praised the investors bringing it.
Nightly stays in the summer are almost $3,000 a night for prime suites with a sea view and the website said the resort is “Carved out of native stone and seamlessly fusing indoor and outdoor spaces, the resort’s rooms, beachfront bungalows and villas capture the convivial spirit of the Hollywood Grecian era.”
It added that, “This coastal-chic aesthetic elicits far more than memories alone – for many Greeks, it will transcend time and transport them to the paradise of their youth,” and another era.
Mitsotakis said that the resort is evidence of the government’s strategic decision to upgrade domestic tourism and extend the tourist season year-round, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.
“It always seemed odd to me that a city with 50 kilometers (31 miles) of coastline did not focus on resort development along the coast,” said Mitsotakis, adding development is spreading now with other projects.