How was Costa Rei born? Who built the Costa Rei? In what years was the Costa Rei built?
Costa Rei and its white sandy beach surrounded by Mediterranean scrub and wild nature, remained an isolated and almost deserted area populated only by shepherds who led the animals to graze until the early sixties.
In 1962 a twenty-two year old Belgian boy, originally from a town near Aversa, fell in love with this uncontaminated place with its crystal clear sea and linked his destiny with it, his name was Guido Van Alphen.
Guido’s father owned a real estate agency in Belgium but business at that time was not going well because of the high price of land because of the investment of many settlers returned from the former Belgian Congo.
They learned that the wealthy businessman Aga Khan bought at that time hectares of abandoned coastal land in Gallura.
They arrived in Sardinia when Marcel Stoffelen, a former Belgian settler who owned some land decided to sell it and come to visit the island in search of interesting purchases.
Guido’s father sent his son in 1962 together with Stoffelen to evaluate the right investments to look for throughout Sardinia, with two million lire of the time equivalent to about 40 thousand euros today.
They left Brussels for Genoa on their BMW 1500, by ship to Porto Torres, stopping at Alghero, which was considered the gateway to Sardinian tourism,
went on to Bosa but didn’t find what they were looking for.
All that remained then was to discover the southern part of the island near Cagliari where, thanks to their contact, the surveyor Pietro Valerio, who knew the most beautiful places in the south-east and the families of shepherds from Barbagia, who were then the only landowners on the south-east coast.
They searched the western part of the Gulf of Angels with Santa Margherita di Pula and then continued eastwards to Villasimius which was only a small village of fishermen and coalmen.
The prices of the land were not as favorable as they thought and were joined by another professional, Solinas, who advised to visit the very interesting land of the town of Muravera overlooking the sea.
The road to get there was very demanding, not asphalted, completely white.
They left from Villasimius and arrived at a crossroads that connected Castiadas with the sea, they had to stop the car and continue on foot following a path where the oxen passed.
Used guido van alphen 1962
They went up a hill in the middle of the green called “Monte Turnu” and opened to their eyes “an incredible spectacle”.
That Monte Turnu was the guardian of an endless white beach that ended in a crystal clear turquoise sea that continued to the other mountain called “Capo Ferrato”.
In the middle of this expanse of sand and Mediterranean scrub there was the “Monte Nai” that overlooked the entire area.
There was also a pond called “Piscina Rei” and a small hill called “Sa Punta Rei”.
The name was decided: COSTA REI.
The Belgian couple could not know that that coastal area surrounded and protected by that lush nature was discovered and inhabited by Neolithic Sardinian populations 5000 years earlier.
Proof of this are 22 menhirs in Piscina Rei dating back to the Ozieri culture (3200-288 BC) which testify that the place was considered magical.
It was I, then, to give that territory the name of Costa Rei. A couple of years later it was used for the first time by the Provincial Tourist Board of Cagliari.
It was the spring of 1962, nature was the mistress and everything was still untouched.
Guido expressed his interest in about 80 hectares of land that belonged to two families of Villagrande Strisaili (Demurtas and Mighela) who bordered on Capo Ferrato and occupied more than a kilometer of coastline. They were purchased at 200lire per square meter for a total of 160 million lire.
Costa Rei therefore cost 160 million lire in 1962.
To emulate the Aga Khan and its Costa Smeralda, however, it took a lot of money and then financiers. to be born Costa Rei needed all the urbanization works and essential services. Van Alphen wanted to buy the land in advance with the two million and then began to sell the first lots to pay for the owners.
He then found two other partners: Eddy Schillemans who intended to build a hotel (which later became the VILLA REI) and Frans Verhoeven who wanted to build a tourist village.
Thus was born the “COSTA REI SPA”.
After 3 years in 1965 the hotel and some villas, a bar with seawater pool, were ready. the “Villa Rei”, was the first tourist facility built on the coast.
With the companies, the works of a very young Belgian architect Eric Balliu, winner of the prestigious Premio Roma Architettura, who had decided to test his talent and creativity in Costa Rei, also arrived at Costa Rei. It was Eric Balliu who conceived the design of the first Villas, perfectly integrated with the surrounding environment, made with a flat roof and covered with earth to be able to cultivate a garden. The idea, which is now very topical, was born with the intent of making invisible the buildings within the Mediterranean, so as not to spoil in any way the wild and evocative scenery that would be presented to the first guests of Costa Rei.
Because of the Italian bureaucracy that even then played a fundamental role, unfortunately, never arrived the desired funding and then the two partners Stoffelen and Verhoeven set up on their own.
The “Bridge” law for bathing areas provided for permits only in the presence of plans for municipal subdivision and hit hard the dreams of Guido Van Alphen.
The land could no longer be sold and failed to pay the owners also investing in other land in Monte Nai and Piscina Rei (hectares of land in Piscina Rei and other hectares along the coast of Sarrabus, the so-called “Monte Nai”) that allowed him to move forward until 1967.
Guido tried to follow his dream by also managing the Hotel Califfo between Cagliari and Villasimius, but the end came in 1971 when the Italian tax authorities asked him for taxes not paid by acts of sale of which he was the prosecutor.
It was Yvan Verschelden and Herman Taillieu who completed the project.
The end of everything had come, he lost everything and his dreams ended, he returned home.
“In Sardinia – he wrote a few years ago in a letter – I have nothing left. I left only my heart”.