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Visitors to northern Cyprus set for lap of luxury July 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus.
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Largely unnoticed until recently, vast sums of money have been transferred to northern Cyprus from other countries, including Turkey, that are attracted by the general lack of few high-quality tourism facilities and a mega potential for tourism growth. Although the territory remains internationally unrecognized, construction on new resorts is set to continue

If ever there was a place that should be attracting tourists, northern Cyprus is just such a place. Sandy beaches, quiet coves, a slow pace of life, fresh food and friendly people – the perfect place to rest, walk and breathe clean air.

How has this select area so often described as a part of heaven escaped the overbuilding and overrun of tourists?

It escaped because the Turkish military intervened in 1974 to stop the fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and to prevent the annexation of the entire island to mainland Greece. The Turkish military is still there because of the inability of the two sides to reach a comprehensive agreement under which the two communities can live together. Any proposal put forward by the Turkish Cypriots is automatically rejected by the Greek Cypriots while proposals suggested by third parties are usually rejected by one or even both sides. The problem, now 36 years old, continues in spite of the cheerfully optimistic chirping of the current political leaders on both sides.

The Cyprus issue has not recently been making the bold headlines it made when Rauf R. Denktaş was president of northern Cyprus between 1983 and 2005. His successors have maintained a lower profile and yet have not enjoyed any more success than Denktaş did.

The Greeks and Greek Cypriots called for and received an embargo on doing business with northern Cyprus. The embargo included restrictions on buying and selling goods and on foreign investment, and it prevents airlines from flying directly to northern Cyprus without touching down in Turkey, the only country to recognized the northern part of the island as an independent country. A number of years ago members of a delegation from Greece, which included a prominent businessman from Greek Cyprus, met with their counterparts in Istanbul.

When the Greeks were asked when the embargo against north Cyprus would be lifted, it was breathtaking to hear them reply there was no embargo. To this day, there is an embargo on northern Cyprus, although it no longer stops foreign companies from setting up shop there.

This was not the case many years ago when the island was still united. Can Aziz Kent, for instance, began to build a hotel on Turkish property in 1971 on the northern shore of the island.

The difficulties he faced in getting permission and the obstacles thrown his way never stopped him from completing the erection of the Celebrity Hotel; they just extended the amount of time it took. As late as 2005, there was a threat to take him to court on the basis of his having built his hotel on Greek Cypriot land although he could prove the contrary.

Only in the past couple of years have Greek Cypriots achieved any success in claiming compensation for property they owned prior to 1974. However, at that time, they owned just over 58 percent of the land in the north, which leaves quite a large amount available for development, even with a mountain range that traverses the length of the island.

Nonetheless, the prospect of property ownership issues have thrown something of a scare to individuals who have purchased homes there in spite of Turkish Cypriot government assurances to the contrary. The many properties and lands for development are no longer snapped up with great eagerness.

But, rather unnoticed until recently, some large amounts of money have been transferred to northern Cyprus from places, including Turkey, that have been attracted by the low number of high-quality tourism facilities and its mega potential for tourism growth.

Later, the Mercure and the Kaya Holding Foundation appeared on the scene, constructing the Kaya Artemis and the Mercure Hotel, Casino and Wellness Resort. In addition, the Malpas Hotel and some boutiques such as the Abbey Inn and the Residence and Bellapais Gardens now exist.

The island can now boast of several quality tourism properties, which did not exist even just five years ago. The Mercure Hotel Kyrenia and the Kaya Artemis have several hundred rooms and facilities only matched in such places as Dubai. The Kaya Artemis has an impressive 726 luxurious rooms, a 3,000-square-meter Las Vegas-style casino, a full-on shopping center, multiple indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa, beauty parlors, a business center and conference rooms.

The Mercure has 299 rooms, including 18 suites. It also has three restaurants and four bars, shops, a spa, a life and fitness center, a sauna, a jacuzzi, a Turkish bath, a steam room, a heated indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool, a children’s pool and its magnificent ballroom.

The popularity of Çatalköy

Visitors to Çatalköy, about 10 kilometers from Kyrenia, feel as though they have stepped back in time and have found a perfect Mediterranean village, with its quaint and pretty village square, whitewashed buildings, local convenience shops, restaurants and coffee bars. Çatalköy is a very popular place for visitors to the north of the island. It is a beautiful, traditional Cypriot village with wonderful Mediterranean and mountain views. It is about to be the location of two five-star hotels.

The Malpas Hotel and Casino in Çatalköy offers 174 rooms and suites, restaurants, pools, a leisure center and gym, a wellness center and a shopping arcade among other amenities.

The latest five-star hotel has yet to open. Its opening was being reserved for July 24, when the Cratos Premium was supposed to stage a birthday party for world-famous actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. The singer, however, succumbed to Greek Cypriot pressure to cancel the concert and will now no longer appear at the hotel.

The Boz Group, founded in 1964 in the building sector, has made an ambitious investment of $220 million to produce the Malpas Hotel and Casino, which combines the magical world of Las Vegas, the good taste of Paris, the irresistible entertainment of Ibiza and the quiet of Bali all under the same roof. Cratos Premium is also the largest tourism investment on the whole island.

Cratos Premium aims to offer the best service, best restaurants, best bars, best beach club, best disco, best taverns, best pubs, best jazz club, best Far East, Spanish, Italian, kebab and fish restaurants, best steak house, best beach snack, best entertainment, best spa and best casino experiences for its guests. The 200,000-square-meter Cratos Premium is one of the biggest hotels in Kyrenia, the tourism capital of northern Cyprus.

Guests of Cratos Premium will also have a chance to shop in elegant stores such as Vakko, Cengiz Abazoğlu, Damas, Akay Optical, Memduh Erdal, Pondi Cherry, Cratos Mall, Fred Perry and Taka.

Patisseri in Cratos Premium presents elegant brands such as Lindt, Hacıbekir and Häagen-Dazs, while there is a Fish & Caviar House in Cratos Premium as well. Visitors can also enjoy some relaxation with delicious beverages at the Italian Cafe Sega Fredo and the North Shield Pub.

The casino at Cratos Premium Hotel will further be the first choice for fans of games of chance. Cratos Premium’s Casino has been equipped with many new machines that do not even exist yet in Las Vegas. For maximum play-fun, all machines are connected to one jackpot and $1 million worth of special chips have been prepared.

Port Cratos is on the beach side of the hotel, the biggest beach club in northern Cyprus. Its historical architecture will create a Mediterranean village atmosphere on the northern part of the island, while Port Cratos will be the center of several kinds of elegant restaurants, bars and discos. Urban Bug Underground Bar, Q Jazz, Golden Cage, Ganita Taberna, VIP Club, Günaydın Steak House, Big Chef Restaurant and Mey Fish Restaurant are some of them.

As one person who is involved in tourism in northern Cyprus has said, “Basically, if you want extreme luxury and true five-star sumptuousness, northern Cyprus sets new standards for luxury holidays that have to be experienced to be believed.”

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