Le Chateau – a new concept
By Margaret Sheard
A while ago I wrote an article about Serhat Akpinar – A Man with Vision (to read this article click here) and I am presently also collaborating on another project with John Aziz Kent, another man with vision. Serhat Akpinar, the Founding Rector and Chancellor of Girne American University had a vision of a first class education system in North Cyprus and John Aziz Kent had a vision of tourism to ensure the future of North Cyprus. Now these two “Visionaries” have come together and education and tourism have amalgamated in the form of the re-birth of Chateau Lambousa in Lapta which will bear the new name of Le Chateau.
In March 2013 an agreement was made between Serhat Akpinar (GAU) and John Aziz Kent (Celebrity Group of Hotels) in respect of Chateau Lambousa and GAU have taken over the lease of the hotel for 15 years. GAU will be restoring the hotel to its former glory which will be in keeping with the concept of Lambousa and King Praxander who was reputed to have founded the original Laconian city and settlement of Lambousa in the thirteenth century BC.
There are many very good and luxurious hotels along the coastline of North Cyprus but Le Chateau, when completed, will stand out as a remarkable and beautiful place to stay for visitors from all around the world.
We recently met up with Serhat Akpinar to discuss the plans for the re-birth of the hotel and he gave us the following information about the concept of this huge project. This is a major project for Serhat Bey and he has formed a very good team around him to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Co-ordinator for the project will be Assistant Professor Dr. Ismet Esenyel (Head of the School of Tourism), there will be input from Captain Miss Aybike Alev Yanar who will be the Manager of Le Chateau, and Alp Karaca who is the Architect from GAU will be assisting with the restoration and refurbishing of the building.
We were interested to learn that Captain Miss Aybike has worked on the yacht “Savarona” which is a very historical vessel. In 1938, the Turkish government gifted the yacht for its ailing leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who spent only six weeks aboard before dying a few months later.
The building will retain its medieval charm with much of the original stonework being preserved and many of the existing features which will be refurbished to bring them into line with the expectations of modern-day travellers. The entrance to the hotel will take the form of an entrance to a castle and will set the stage for a wonderful experience. It will be a 5* rated 250 bed hotel with 2 Executive King Suites named Praxander and Lambousa and there will also be 2 honeymoon suites, all rooms will be en-suite and tastefully furnished in keeping with the style of the hotel. The hotel will also incorporate conference facilities, a gymnasium, spa, fitness suite etc. There is to be an English bar and breakfast area as part of the new facilities. The hotel will be wheelchair friendly and there will be a lift to the upper floors
There will also be facilities for weddings to be held in these beautiful surroundings and of course there are the honeymoon suites for the happy couples.
The outside area of the hotel will be landscaped with tranquil areas of garden. There are plans for 2 pools, one of which will be a magnificent pool area and will incorporate a bridge, a waterfall and an island area where there will be a piano. The pool will have the facility for 7 different changes of colour so yet another dramatic feature. I can visualise people lazing about by the pool or taking advantage of cooling off in the water to the strains of music being played on the piano, idyllic is the word which comes to mind. The second pool will eventually be covered so this will be ideal for the winter months.
The area at the front of the hotel is very large and as well as the pool area there is to be a 200 vehicle drive-in outdoor cinema, maybe another first for GAU and the country. There will be ample car parking for visitors to the hotel. There will also be 2 tennis courts in the grounds.
In addition to the hotel itself, there is also a complex of 33 holiday bungalows and 2 villas which surround a nice pool area and these will also be undergoing refurbishment along with the hotel itself.
Whilst the hotel falls into the realms of tourism, there is also an educational aspect in that the students from GAU will be able to further their chosen profession by continuing with their internship at the hotel to gain working experience in all aspects of the running of an hotel. The GAU Tourism and Accommodation Management and Gastronomy Culinary Arts Department will be located at the hotel and of course the hotel will also attract employment for many local people.
It is anticipated that Le Chateau will be completed and officially opened by the end of 2013 and this will be a memorable event in the life of Chateau Lambousa. In the meantime the refurbishment work is continuing, with the rooms being virtually stripped ready for their new look. At the moment it appears to be a scene of “organised chaos” but everyone knows what they are doing and what they need to achieve and I am sure that by the time I write a further progress article everything will be starting to take shape and the new image will be very apparent.
Whilst talking to Serhat Bey, he mentioned that he and a colleague, Ferhat Atik, are in the process of writing a book about Cyprus in Trojan times and Egypt. It is intended to leave a section of the story in the rooms of the hotel and hopefully this will whet the appetites of would-be visitors who will be clamouring to come to the land of Lambousa and King Praxander.
We took the opportunity of going back to the hotel to take some photographs of the start of the refurbishment and realised the mammoth task ahead. Most of the rooms have been completely stripped of fixtures and fittings as well as the existing furniture and work has also started on the roof area where there were many people working hard to make it completely weatherproof. I am sure that when we make another visit in a couple of months time to do an update we will see a vast difference to the interior as well as the exterior of Le Chateau.
Photography by Chris Elliott