Lithuanian ‘island of blondes’ to be shaped like giant high-heeled shoe

Ambitious plans by Lithuanian mega-brand Olialia to develop an ‘all blondes’ resort – in the shape of a gigantic high-heeled shoe – have entered phase two, after the company reported that a delegation had visited the Maldives and selected three islands suitable for the project.

Olialia did not reveal the name of the islands, but did publish CGI images of the planned resort, designed by “famous Lithuanian architect” Valerijus Starkovskis, and claimed it that construction would begin “in a few years” with a grand opening in 2015.

Tenders for operators of the hotel, restaurants and serivce providers “would be announced soon”, the company said, also claiming that it would hold a “worldwide competition” to select the manager of the blonde island, “which every citizen in the world will be able to participate in.”

Aside from reclaiming an island in the shape of women’s footwear, the present draft includes an initial 61 guest villas, several restaurants, a nightclub, a beauty salon and spa centers, a marina, a boardwalk, mall, helipad and a “centre of harmony and psychology”. Olialia said it intends to eventually increase the resort to 500 rooms.

The central gimmick of the proposal is to staff the resort entirely with blondes and ensure all buildings “comply with the spirit and the worldview of blondes”, because, according to Olialia’s managing director Giedre Pukiene, “blondes are a great power that should not be underestimated. We are smart, beautiful, reckless and purposeful.”

Olialia's MD Giedre Pukiene

In addition to the resort, a specially designed charter airline staffed only by blondes, ‘Olialia airlines’, will deliver tourists to the island, Pukiene claimed.

Investors apparently include interests in Lithuania, Russia, UK, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and an as-yet undisclosed Maldivian travel company.

Olialia is a highly recognisable brand within Lithuania with a reported income of $US10 million. It claims to be an Eastern European version of Richard Branson’s Virgin company, and is well known for its gratuitous use of blonde women in its marketing. The company now markets an assortment of products ranging from Cola and Italian pizza restaurants to luxury limousines, a nightclub and a (blonde) modelling agency.

Olialia made headlines worldwide in September after it first proposed the Maldives resort concept, sparking heated debate over whether such a resort would be discriminatory or too controversial for the country’s conservative self-image – or even whether the whole idea was a devious marketing gimmick.

If legitimate, the resort faces several practical obstacles – the first being that so far, the Maldivian Tourism Ministry knows nothing about the project.

“I’m sure I would have heard about this,” said Minister of Tourism Mariyam Zulfa, adding that such project would eventually pass through the tourism ministry, be subject to the Tourism Act and ultimately require cabinet approval “and debate over the various merits and demerits.”

However, she said, the government “promoted private enterprise, and was not in the [business] of either killing or encouraging ideas. What a private party does is their prerogative and we do not interfere in how resorts are run.”

After lowering cabinet’s raised eyebrows, a second challenge for Olialia would be Maldivian employment regulations, which state that resorts must employ a minimum of 50 percent Maldivian staff – few of whom are naturally blonde.

Thirdly, several local marine biologists contacted by Minivan News who were shown images of Olialia’s resort pronounced it “ridiculous”.

“I couldn’t comment until I see the shape of the original island,” said one, “but there’s no visible beach protection and the island would suffer from huge erosion – the beach would just disappear – while sedimentation could kill the surrounding reef.”

“I don’t know if I should laugh about it or cry about the degradation of human species,” said another, after seeing the images.

Nonetheless should the Maldives hesitate in its embrace of the concept, “we have received offers of cooperation from the owners of islands in Greece and the Carribean,” Pukiene noted.

“Currently, the experts are studying the benefits of 12 islands. We do not exclude the possibility of opening several blondes resorts, because the interest in the project is huge.”


Lithuanian company reveals plans to open ‘Island of Blondes’ in the Maldives

A Lithuanian company has unveiled plans to build an ‘Island of Blondes’ in the Maldives, a resort it claims will be staffed exclusively with “beautiful blonde young women”, featuring “entertainments”, spa centres and an education centre “which will teach female guests to always be perfect and look great.”

The resort will be constructed under the Lithuanian brand Olialia, managed by the small European country’s largest newspaper, Vakaro Žinios. The company also operates a pizzeria, payment card, limo and bus service, and sells ice-cream, soft drinks, chips, and computers decorated with Swarovski crystals, and runs parties at popular Lithuanian nightclubs.

Local tourism industry website Maldives Traveller revealed that the project was expected to open in 2015 and would be funded by investors from Lithuania, Russia, UK, Germany, United Arab Emirates and an undisclosed Maldivian travel company.

In an interview with Maldives Traveller, Olialia’s Giedre Pukiene told the website that the company was already in negotiations “with the owners of several atolls, who are ready to cooperate in the creation of the island of blondes.”

The working title of the resort is to be ‘Olialia Paradise’, Pukiene told Maldives Traveller, but noted that this was subject to change.

The project will also include the creation of an airline and yacht service for visitors to the island, both staffed exclusively by blondes.

“The pilots and stewardesses on the planes will also be blonde only,” Pukiene confirmed.

On paper, the project is likely to encounter logistical difficulties. Resorts in the Maldives are obligated to employ at least 50 percent Maldivian staff who naturally have dark hair. Olialia has not revealed whether local staff will be required to use bleach.

State Minister of Tourism Mamduh Waheed said he was unaware of the proposed project, but noted that the Ministry of Tourism had no involvement in negotiations between operators and leaseholders.

“The Ministry officially has no role to play in negotiations, and I think it would be out of line for us to do so, but we certainly facilitate and assist those operators seeking to acquire property,” Mamduh explained.

If it goes ahead, the project would take the country’s tourism industry in a different direction to that proposed in May by visiting Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, who noted that investing in a resort profiting from the sale of alcohol was already technically haram (prohibited), and recommended the country encourage investment in halal (permitted) tourism.

Such resorts, he suggested, should be “exclusively halal, free of pork and alcohol, and with proper segregation and dress code – it will be a benefit.”

President of the Adhaalath Party and State Minister for Home Affairs, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed, said that even if a company attempted to open a resort as the one proposed by Olialia, ”nothing against the Tourism Act can be conducted in the Maldives.”

”Tourism is not bad itself, but it can also be conducted in a bad way,” he said. “Ever since the beginning of tourism in the country has become broader day to day, and the government has established the Tourism Act to maintain and organise the industry,” said Sheikh Rasheed, explaining that the employment of female staff was also regulated by the Tourism Act.

”There should also be a percentage of Maldivians in all the resorts, according to the Act,” Sheikh Rasheed explained. ”I don’t really think the Tourism Act allows such an island to be developed in this country.”

State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Shaheem Ali Saeed had not commented at time of press.
Head of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, said he thought the idea was “beyond a gimmick” and “so totally spectacular and different a business model that it could very well succeed.”
Sim said he did not believe such a resort should encounter objections from the conservative establishment in the Maldives, “because if [the country] objects by singling out a physical characteristic, we’re not going to attract anybody.”
The ‘Island of Blondes’ is not the first ambitious resort development to be proposed in the Maldives.

In March the government signed an agreement with Dutch Docklands to develop a gigantic floating golf course, holding a signing ceremony in the President’s office.

”Golf has a good market in the world, and most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” observed Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair at the time.