Skorpios, a paradisiacal private island in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece, has long been a playground for the rich and powerful. Bought by shipping tycoon and playboy Aristotle Onassis for a modest 3.5 million drachmas – roughly £10,000 today – in 1963, the 205-acre island has hosted numerous lavish parties throughout the years and was famously where Onassis tied the knot with his love Jacqueline Kennedy in 1968.
After Onassis died in 1975, the island passed down through the family, becoming the property of Athina Onassis Roussel, his 36-year old granddaughter, in 1988, after her mother Christina died of a heart attack. Skorpios was later sold by the Onassis family to billionaire Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $153 million in 2013 and has since remained largely unused – that is, until now.
In December, plans to turn Skorpios into a luxury resort were officially approved by the Greek government. With an estimated cost of $200 million, the ambitious project is scheduled for completion by 2024, transforming the famous private island into an exclusive destination for the international jet set.
Available to rent at €1 million per week, the island will include a ‘master suite’ where the Rybolovlev family will stay when they visit the island, a five-star hotel, villas, a farm and vineyard, a spa, a sports complex, an artificial lake, a helipad and a 5-a-side football pitch.
The renovation, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta – who have previously realised a number of high-profile projects, including the Library of Alexandria and the new headquarters of Le Monde newspaper in Paris – also hopes to convert Skorpios into a ‘smart’ island with the installation of a fibre optic network.
‘The basic idea is to create a green island with the greatest possible use of its existing landscape, structure and incomparable beauty,’ Rybolovlev said last year. ‘Our family’s goal is to create the first luxury accommodation complex in Greece, located on a private island. It will be unique in the Mediterranean. At the same time, all works are being done very carefully and in complete harmony with the environment.’
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