One of the best beaches of the Cyclades has been destroyed for the sake of building a resort which, to us at least, appeared kitsch, poorly maintained and empty.
On Sunday 20 August, thirty members of our association ventured on a journey to Ios’ Papas Beach. That beach was perhaps Ios’ most beautiful. It had a large wetland protected by a 2012 Presidential Decree, a network of streams feeding the wetland, and a rich ecosystem. Unfortunately, many of these features were altered or damaged by the construction of Calilo hotel, owned or managed by the companies LUCAS AE and SHARIVAN, which are connected to Mr Michalopoulos.
One of the aims of our visit was to assess whether the beach was easily accessible. In a previous post published in June, we had written that the old path to the beach from the road to Kalamos was poorly maintained and hazardous, whilst access by road was only available for those using (and paying for) the hotel’s facilities. Our post triggered an out-of-court protest by Mr Michalopoulos and his companies. Among other things, they mention that (a) they are not responsible for path’s condition, as long as access to the beach is possible, and (b) the road is indeed private for internal use of the hotel. These statements do not contradict ours, as we mentioned in our own out-of-court response and protest. Through our visit, we aimed to obtain a fully up-to-date impression of the situation in the area. What we saw was worse than what we had described in our earlier post.
Right next to the hotel’s main entrance exists a sign pointing to the path’s entrance. The latter entrance is located about a kilometer away, along the dirt road to Kalamos beach. When driving on that road, the sea view is obstructed by the hotel’s external wall. Where the path begins, a small parking exists along with a second sign displaying the path’s entrance. That entrance is a narrow and low opening in the hotel’s external wall.
The old path is untouched only for a few tens of meters. It is then obstructed by water pipes, construction materials and a road. After we passed through these obstacles, we found even more obstacles. The path became full with plastic bottles of water and other rubbish. This seems ironic for a hotel that markets itself as a leader in environmental matters and that advertises its collaboration with NGOs on limiting single-use plastic. The path next took us to an artificial plateau in which were construction waste, a small tennis court with a metal fence, and wooden sheds with beds in them. At that point we thought how the hotel’s motto “Create A Life to Fall in Love With” relates to the sheds and the people sleeping in them.
The plateau ended with a cliff. Some of us tried to descend that cliff following the direction of the old path, which we remembered from our trips years ago. At that point, the staff of the hotel asked us politely to go to the beach by following the road rather than the path (i.e., the cliff) so that we do not risk getting injured. This is the same road that Mr. Michalopoulos and his companies mention as private in their out-of-court protest. We followed that winding road and after getting lost inside the hotel, we managed to make it to the beach.
Unfortunately one of the best beaches of the Cyclades has been destroyed for the sake of building a resort which, to us at least, appeared kitsch, poorly maintained and empty.