The Councillor for Urban Planning for La Aldea de San Nicolás town hall, Naira Navarro, has issued a statement, following an interview on radio station Cadena Ser last Friday with the representative of a now infamous US company known as Kokoon, stating very clearly that La Aldea say no project of any kind has been presented to the town council regarding the supposed “macro complex” Kokoon resort in La Aldea.
The company behind Kokoon were supposed to be re-launching their long-stagnated project to create a large super-luxury resort dedicated to health and well-being, this time in La Aldea (Gran Canaria), to focus on a high-class clientele, especially from the USA.
The company, fronted by a Norwegian named Per Solli, has once again forecast that the facilities are to include a “7-star hotel complex”, although that is still not officially a recognised category, as well as a private hospital and clinic for the recovery and treatment of sports injuries, state-of-the-art sports facilities, stables, Michelin star restaurants and an amphitheater, among many other high end facilities to cater to elite sports and entertainment professionals.
The first we heard of this project was more than 8 years ago, when Solli and his supposed investment group, headlining some very well-known names from the worlds of gourmet catering, sports and entertainment, were planning to build something on the north coast of Gran Canaria. This suddenly switched to the south-coast, though the promotional video continued to locate it elsewhere, with the engagement of a member of one of the largest land owning families on the islands, changing the plan to construct this massive project among the banana fields at the mouth of the Barranco de Arguineguín. By 2015 the project site had switched again, this time to Maspalomas, with plans to construct a major concert stadium to showcase internationally recognised stars. All went quiet for a couple more years until Kokoon started announcing they had yet again shifted their proposed development site to the west coast of Gran Canaria, setting up a small office in La Aldea de San Nicolas recently as proof of their ongoing work.
Kokoon et al claim that the project represents an investment of more than 2 billion dollars, though there is no evidence yet of how much capital has actually already been raised, and there has never yet been any technical documentation submitted, to our knowledge, for any of the project licences and permissions that would be required for a project of this scale. The administrative process for such a project would take at least ten years here in The Canary Islands to be properly considered and green lighted, yet the Kokoon Company venture do not appear to have ever once tried to start the necessary procedures to really get the project on the road. Nevertheless in the interview recorded on Friday it continued to be claimed by the promoters that they have approved plans include two major developments, a 6,000-square-meter shopping centre and a 16,000-square-meter “private town with high-security villas for long-stay clients.”
“We have chosen La Aldea for its state of isolation, for its scenic beauty and its climatic conditions,” said María Ángeles Travieso, business director for Kokoon, on Cadena SER’s Hoy por Hoy El Drago program on Friday. The company’s shareholders are still said to include the very famous Ron Atkinson – ex-football coach to Manchester United or Atlético de Madrid – and Terry Slater – the music industry mogul who’s notable professional career has included big names like Queen and Durán Durán, both of whom The Canary News have met with directly on the subject, among others.
Ángeles Travieso emphasised during her interview that local employment will be prioritised: “we are already collecting CVs for future hiring in the municipality.”
During the interview, she affirms that negotiations with political representatives are in fact well advanced, and pending the technical part of the project. Likewise, she emphasised the viability of the proposal and invited people to send their resumes to be part of the staff for this “super luxury resort”.
La Aldea say No
La Aldea de San Nicolás town hall‘s Urban Planning Councillor, Naira Navarro has this Monday morning explained that at a meeting with company executives they were told that “any initiative that is intended to be carried out in La Aldea must adapt to current regulations and respect the values and idiosyncrasies of the place.” Therefore, said the councillor currently “there is no place” for this tourist complex, discussed on the radio station, which seems to have been thus far limited to the infographics and glitzy video animations. A technique that has become a repeated trademark of Per Solli’s continued assertions that this project is going ahead.
In addition, Navarro emphasized that the Government group is investing “seriously” on tourism that revolves around natural and cultural heritage. A plan that advocates carrying out a type of sustainable tourism that activates the local economy.
A lot of talk
Earlier this year Solli, and his concept company Kokoon, announced, once again, that they were looking for investors here on the island, and published a prospectus video that appeared slightly more focused on pyramid style investment structures than it did on regulatory frameworks.
Solli has a long history of being questioned about his declarations and practices, both here on Gran Canaria and in his home country. One publication, Bodonu, followed his progress from his years running a nightclub in Norway, published a 15 page exposé describing a trail of disappointed business partners and out of pocket investors, which Kokoon then spent significant resources taking to court to get the publication to retract it’s many damning statements regarding Solli’s businesses and the Kokoon project itself, which in the end they eventually did.
It will be interesting to see what they try to come up with next. You never know, perhaps they really will build a glittering seven star resort for the stars, one day, but for the moment, it seems, not in La Aldea.