1. Miraggio - the giant built with a loan from state-owned BDB
The five-star Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort in Kassandra gained notoriety in 2021, when Kiril Petkov, then caretaker economy minister, made revelations about a loan of 120 million levs extended by state-owned Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) to Bulgarian company International Investments. The loan was used for the acquisition of the hotel at the end of 2019. Unofficially, the transaction was connected to Delyan Peevski, a member of parliament from the Movement for Rights and Freedom party, who was sanctioned under the U.S. Magnitsky Act.
The Miraggio is a 300-room hotel that is part of the assets of Greek company Med Sea Health, whose accounts do not make it clear who the shareholders are. However, official registers show that during the time of the acquisition Bulgarian national Sanko Maksimov Peshev, who sits on International Investment's board, joined the company. International Investments is sole property of East West Properties, which is fully owned by Emil Robertov Vasilev. East West Properties manages a franchise for Bulgaria of RE/MAX - the largest franchised real estate agency in the world.
The revenues of Med Sea Health came in at nearly 12 million euro in 2018-2019. In 2020, the hotel practically did not work and its turnover dropped to 300 thousand euro. The loss for the Covid-marred year was 5 million euro against a 6.6 million euro loss in 2019. In addition, there are 54 million euro of debt due in 2034 on the balance sheet, and there is a registered mortgage of 78 million euro on the properties of Med Sea Health and Mare Village used "to secure a loan to their parent company, granted by a foreign bank" (probably BDB).
Lukan Lukanov choses Thassos after Velingrad
The five-star Thassos Grand Resort is an investment of Bulgaria-based joint-stock company Eton through its Greek subsidiary Reala. The main shareholder of Eton is Lukan Lukanov. The company's main activity is connected with his hotel business. Lukanov is also chairman of the board of directors of cosmetics company Aroma, in which he is also a shareholder.
The hotel is located on 43 acres in Agios Ioannis Loukas. The land was purchased in 2008 and the hotel opened in 2016. Thassos Grand Resort has 174 rooms and suites and two single-family villas overlooking a private beach. The entire investment together with the land has reached 17 million euro, according to information from Lukanov. He also owns the four-star Grand Hotel Velingrad in Bulgaria, which has been operating since 2006.
According to the latest published report of Reala, the revenue for 2020 was 684 thousand euro, while in the pre-Covid year 2019 the turnover was 2.9 million euro. Logically, the hotel was at a loss in 2020, due to the pandemic.
3. Luxury next to Mount Athos
The 5-star Mount Athos Resort is located above the beach in the Greek town of Ierissos, 10 km from the closed monastic area of Mount Athos. The first guests were welcomed in the summer of 2020. The rooms and apartments total 74 in newly built bungalows.
According to the Greek Commercial Register, the company-owner of the hotel, Mount Athos Resort, is managed by Ani Arsova-Karamfilova, Asen Nikolov and Greek citizen Apostolis Moudoulias. There is no information about the shareholders. Capital Weekly's research showed that the project is unofficially connected with construction company Build Invest Bulgaria, which is headed by Asen Nikolov and is under the control of Penko Penkov.
4. The Bulgarian campsite
The oldest and largest Bulgarian presence in Halkidiki is the so-called "Campsite of Vesela Lecheva". Full details about the start of the project are missing, but Bulgarian newspaper Express reported in May 2007 that the now deceased husband of former Socialist member of parliament Vesela Lecheva - Manol Velev, and his partner Anastasios Petkos concluded a 16-year concession contract for 16 thousand acres on the coast of the Sithonia peninsula of Halkidiki. In addition to the beach, the two have also leased a part of the forest to make a holiday village, according to the media report. The property is owned by the Bulgarian Zograf Monastery in Mount Athos. The concession contract was concluded about a month after the visit of the former Bulgarian interior minister Rumen Petkov to Mount Athos. Manol Velev was in the delegation led by the minister.
Today, Porto Elea Samrіng & Resort has 10 villas, 20 mobile homes, three apartments and four double rooms in a hotel.
According to the company-owner of the campsite, MVP Holidays, the revenue for 2020 was 634 thousand euro. A year earlier, it was slightly over 1 million euro. In both years the company reported a net loss - of 268 thousand and 81 thousand euro, respectively. In the balance sheet, its assets are valued at 2 million euro.
5. The others in the neighbourhood
A check in Greek registers made by local sources shows that through a joint venture, Teodora Radkova Georgieva and Georgi Petrov have an investment in Halkidiki. Georgieva was a former member of parliament from GERB from 2009 to 2021 and lived with the former director of state-owned Bulgartransgaz Georgi Gegov (who died in 2018).
In 2019, Bulgarian media published information that Georgi Batakov will invest in a five-star holiday village with 233 beds in Greece. He is one of the owners of the Bulgarian family company Kronos, which produces and trades nuts.
In April, Greek and Bulgarian media reported that Bulgarian businessman Spas Rusev has bought the villa of the last King of Greece, Constantine II, in Porto Heli (Peloponnes) for 10 million euro. The purchased asset appears to be for personal use, but it also has investment value due to its uniqueness - a private beach, 30-meter pool, and 12 bedrooms.
Christos Nicolaidis, a journalist at SKAI TV and Radio Thessaloniki also contributed to this article.