We approached the island, a hushed voice ‘it looks like a James Bond set’. It did. A whitewashed sun-bleached hotel on a private island, we were being transported from the mainland by the hotel ferry, a converted fishing boat, our luggage was being transported via a unmarked white van on an unseen boat to the North side, the only vehicle allowed on the island.
Wide marble steps, built to impress, rose from the landing area, leading to a large, open area with a fountain. Crossing this area to the hotel reception, which is decked out in dark wood and leather. The 1970s hotel is frequently described as tired and in need of refurbishment on review websites, I disagree. The faux Art Deco suited the environment; this was a hotel that Hercule Poirot would feel at home in, the long corridors to the rooms on each floor would give Stephen King and idea for a sequel. However, the private island that could be circumnavigated in 15 minutes was pure Dr No. A short walk to the right of the hotel brings you to a gothic castle, which we told by another guest that Edward and Mrs Simpson had stayed; information that I’ve been unable to confirm. The shoreline beyond the castle was undeveloped and rocky. Scattered in the forest that covered the whole island were abandoned cabins, which were last used for refugees in the Baltic war. The only wildlife on the island was rabbits and bats. The rabbits, having no predators, roamed with no fear, an idyll that Fiver and Hazel had dreamed of.
The bar staff’s uniform was blue and white hooped tops with dark trousers or skirts. The restaurant staff wore light blue shirts with dark trousers. Obviously, the bar staff with their hoops were the heavies, the ones with the weapons and the training and would protect the island from invaders. The restaurant staff worked in the subterranean cavern, twisting dials, talking on telephones and making notes on clipboards.
The pool was on the same side of the hotel as the bar, a few steps down from the outside tables. Viewed from the bathing platforms by the rocky shore on the East side of the island, double metal doors large enough to allow access to small lorry could be seen, built into the side of the pool with signs forbidding entry and danger of death, the concrete path leading to these doors breaking the grass verge where rabbits lazily nibbled. The shark pool must be just behind the doors.
One evening at a beach barbeque, under a full moon, we were buzzed by a light airplane. Helicopters regularly flew over the island; my daughters felt that they had to remind me that I wasn’t James Bond. The striped staff watched as the aircraft disappeared towards the horizon.
Super yachts would moor in the harbour opposite the island, stay for a couple of days and then move on, small boats would gently putt-putt their way across the bay before pulling into the landing stage to disembark day-trippers to take advantage of the artificial beaches on the East side of the island.
His henchmen kept the people happy and entertained, however, the man who ran the island was never seen, whether he was Blofeld or Dr No, he kept a low profile, no doubt the abandoned and seemingly derelict lighthouse behind the castle was his base.
We kept a low profile and slipped away early one morning, I will be back.