Kazakhstan to Offer Tourists Caviar Baths
What to get the oligarch who has everything? How about a caviar spa experience on the shores of the Caspian Sea?
Billed as a “black caviar spa for real gourmands,” this is one of the leisure experiences that will be available at the upmarket Kenderli resort in Kazakhstan when it opens its doors in a few years. If immersing your body in a bath of fish eggs is not to your taste, how about “dances with seals?”
These and other once-in-a-lifetime experiences are being touted to lure tourists to a part of Kazakhstan not known for bringing in the holiday hordes: the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, where, if developers get their way, a high-class resort will soon spring up out of the desert, reports Tengri News.
The development blueprint expects that by 2020 over half a million tourists will be flocking to Kenderli every year, with foreigners making up over half of the projected 642,000 visitors. Russia is considered the most promising market, but the resort will also target holidaymakers from other parts of Central Asia and the former Soviet Union, and visitors from Turkey and the Middle East.
Developers have an ambitious vision for Kenderli as “a superb 21st century tourist coastal resort” that will become the “best” on the Caspian, “the perfect destination for domestic and international tourists, generating wealth for the region and wellbeing for our people.”
So far, however, the $3.3-billion project remains on the drawing board, with no funds yet raised, the Trade and Investment Ministry told Tengri News – although there have been expressions of interest from Iranian investors, among others.
If it gets off the ground, developers will be hoping Kenderli doesn’t turn into a white elephant like Avaza, the Caspian resort which opened five years ago down the coast in Turkmenistan, whose expected hordes have failed to arrive.
Kazakhstan is certainly more tourist-friendly than reclusive Turkmenistan. This year Astana eased visa requirements for several countries (in a pilot scheme that will be reviewed next July) as the government strives to put the country on the tourist map.
Caviar spas might offer novelty value to draw crowds to this remote spot (which lies around 200 kilometers south of the oil hub of Aktau). But it will take more than a tub of endangered fish eggs to really get the resort off the ground.
Joanna Lillis is a journalist based in Almaty and author of Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan.
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