What do you call a resort staffed exclusively by blonds on an island shaped like a pair of high heels? A killer business model, according to Olialia (pronounced ooh la la), a Lithuanian company with diverse interests. But in the Maldives, the chain of islands in the Indian Ocean where this “fantasy resort” is to be built, locals say it is just that—a fantasy.
Olialia’s blond ambition has already translated into a successful brand in Lithuania, where its fair-haired models are shills for everything from cola to computers. When news of its latest plan broke in the Maldives, a Muslim country, comments on a news website called the idea “racist,” “sexist,” even “illegal.” Maldivian law states that foreign developers must hire at least 50 per cent locals—a challenge considering the islands’ darker-haired inhabitants. Olialia’s solution? Wigs.
For now, the resort’s opening is planned for 2015. Olialia says it has secured funding, though Maldivian tourism officials say they haven’t had details. “We welcome any investment for discussions so long as it is backed by serious finance with a realistic business plan,” wrote one in an email to the Guardian, underlining “realistic.”