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article imageCroatia and Greece: A tale of two Nikki Beach resorts

By Paul Bradbury     Jul 29, 2014 in Travel
Nikki Beach Resorts are planned in both Croatia and Greece. While one is about to open in 3 days, the other has some way to go.
The expansion of the Nikki Beach Hotel and Resorts chain will continue in Greece on August 1, 2014 with the opening of its newest resort, Porto Heli. According to the official press release:
Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts, a luxury lifestyle hotel management company, will open its newest resort in Porto Heli, Greece, on 1 August 2014.
The Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli is situated on the bay of the cosmopolitan Porto Heli, known as the Greek Riviera, and was converted following the vision of Jack Penrod, founder and owner of Nikki Beach Worldwide.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli in Greece  which is set to open on August 1.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli in Greece, which is set to open on August 1.
Nikki Beach Hotels
“Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli – Greece will be a unique Beach Club location integrated with high-end lifestyle hotel services, offering 66 luxurious rooms and suites and a variety of Nikki Beach signature dining options,” according to an announcement by Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts.
The collection of beachfront suites offers direct views of the Aegean Sea and room features such as the entertainment wall and over-sized bathrooms. Some suites even benefit from private pools and decks.
The boutique resort also offers refined cuisine in its three restaurants and lounges and an exclusive Nikki Spa.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli - suite with sea view.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli - suite with sea view.
Nikki Beach Hotels
Originally conceived in the 70’s, the property has been fully reconverted by Gatsarelia Design and Arch group into a supreme and modern state of the art beachfront venue.
The resort is just a two hour drive from Greece’s capital city, Athens.
The opening will be watched with some envy by Norwegian investors from the firm PPK Nekretnine, whose planned Nikki Beach resort on Croatia's premier island of Hvar is some way off a grand opening, despite the fact that the company started the process of land acquisition in 2007.
Croatia has branded itself as 'the new tourism star of the European Union' (see video below), and the EU's 28th member certainly has plenty to offer tourists with its endless coastline, pristine Adriatic sea, sunshine and more than a thousand islands.
The potential of Croatian tourism is huge, both along its sun-kissed Adriatic coast, as well as inland, and the country offers an astonishing variety of heritage, gastronomy, culture, adventure and beach tourism, which has the potential to generate tourism revenues far larger than the current 16.5 percent of GDP. One area which is holding Croatia back, however, is the development of quality, luxury hotels, and the case of the two Nikki Beach resorts is instructive to highlight the challenges facing foreign investors in Croatia.
The proposed Nikki Beach resort on Croatia s premier island of Hvar  where no construction has yet t...
The proposed Nikki Beach resort on Croatia's premier island of Hvar, where no construction has yet taken place since the initial purchase in 2007.
Nikki Beach Hotels
Greece, which is not known for its efficient bureaucracy, has been struggling with its own financial crisis within the global downturn, and has been forced to deal with negative publicity and feelgood factors in its tourism sector. As the official video below shows, the response has been intelligent, and effective, with official tourism numbers up 18% for the first half of 2014 over what was already a record 2013.
Tourism in Croatia is booming also, with the Dalmatian capital of Split leading the way, as previously reported on Digital Journal, and yet the potential for Croatia to exceed its impressive recent tourism growth with the right support for foreign investors is tantalising indeed.
The case of the two Nikki Beach resorts is perhaps the starkest contrast available of the differences in foreign investment climate, and it demonstrates both the potential of Croatia and the frustrations many foreign investors in Croatia have experienced, although there are signs that things may finally be changing for the better.
According to sources close to the new Greek resort, the property, which then consisted of an old hotel (later completely demolished) was purchased in 2006. An initial partnership with Nikki Beach was signed in 2010, and as early as 2010, it was announced that the resort would open in 2014. Construction did not start until all permits were obtained in 2012, and the hotel is set to open on schedule at the beginning of next month.
The Nikki Beach Croatia story has a similar time-line, at least initially. Croatia's most exclusive island of Hvar, officially Europe's sunniest and with recent celebrity visitors including Prince Harry, Tom Cruise, Beyonce, Ellen de Generes and Bill Gates, was chosen as the location for the first Nikki Beach resort in the country in 2007.
As of 2014, not a single foundation has been dug, as issues over ownership continue to dog the project, where it appears the local municipality sold the investors land which actually belonged to the state. After years of wrangling, the investment of some 250 million euro and 500 precious local jobs appeared to be in the balance as the Norwegian investors threatened to quit the project, demand their money back and potentially throwing the local authority into bankruptcy as a result.
The case was sadly not atypical in Croatia, which has a reputation for bureaucracy and problems with land ownership, and the fact the country's island of Hvar has not yet managed to approve the legal construction of a development of more than 12 apartment units in more than a decade — despite huge international investment interest — is a sign of the difficulties that have faced investors wanting to invest in the rich potential of Croatia's upmarket tourism.
Change may be forthcoming, however, as the Nikki Beach Croatia project looks once more as though it may be back on track after the intervention of the regional governor of Split-Dalmatia County, Zlatko Zevrnja, who recently met the local authorities in Sucuraj on Hvar with the Norwegian investors and agreed a framework to move the project forward for the benefit of all. The Nikki Beach website is now promising a finished Hvar resort in 2016.
With the ability to land on sea and regular airports  a flight from capital Zagreb to the island of ...
With the ability to land on sea and regular airports, a flight from capital Zagreb to the island of Rab will be a 37-minute transfer reality from next month.
European Coastal Airlines
The positive political intervention by Zevrnja is timely, and it coincides with the last furlong of a 13-year battle experienced by European Coastal Airlines, which promises to deliver the first modern schedule hydroplane service in Europe next month, with a first flight also destined for Hvar, to the town of Jelsa.
If this change in investment climate in Croatia continues, then the new tourism star of the European Union will soon be burning very brightly indeed.
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