The boss of the girls behind Viking Village is targeting a new resort overlooking Greymouth
The man behind Calendar Girls is asking for consent to build an accommodation complex near Greymouth.
The boss of Christchurch’s Calendar Girls strip club, James Samson – who has opened a Viking-themed retreat in the West Coast wilderness – is seeking consent to build another resort.
Samson’s company, BL Group, has applied to Gray District Council for permission to use the land to build a reception centre, backpacker lodge and 50 eco-pods in the hills above Greymouth.
The application says the proposal exceeds the permitted floor area for non-rural activities, but because the overall environmental effects would be less than minor, it asked council not to notify it publicly.
Samson originally owned Calendar Girls and still works in the business, but his mother, Vicki Samson, took over after being imprisoned for drug trafficking in 2004.
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Samson, who says he hasn’t had any problems for 15 years, and his son David have also built an off-grid Viking village at Kaiata near Greymouth, which houses four ‘barrel’ accommodation pods built with timber sourced from from Scandinavia. .
Its website promises “the ultimate escape for battle-weary warriors,” and eight more barrels are planned.
“Located on New Zealand’s famously rugged west coast, this untouched and epic slice of Valhalla is the ultimate retreat for off-the-grid rest, relaxation and rediscovering your inner Norseman,” he says.
Samson said the project started as a way “to try to get my son out of trouble” but turned into a business plan to offer something different to West Coast tourists.
“When I heard 10,000 international visitors pass through Greymouth every week but they got off the train and laughed, I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to find out what land is for sale,'” he said.
Gray District Council has unveiled an ambitious multi-million dollar plan to repair the decline of Greymouth’s central business district in 2019.
BL Group’s application for the new complex says the 77-hectare site is accessible via Nikau Valley Road and is heavily vegetated with steep ravines.
Only 1.2% of the site would have buildings, including a reception center with a capacity of 300 people and a backpacker lodge which would contain 200 beds, a communal lounge, kitchen and bathrooms.
The site would also include 200 parking lots and 50 self-contained two-person eco-pods, each with a kitchen and bathroom.
“The goal of eco-pods is to create an unforgettable experience that allows visitors to connect with nature,” the app says.
The site is within the designated Outstanding Natural Landscape of the bush covered hills behind Greymouth, but an ecological assessment revealed that the effect of the proposal on flora and fauna would be low, including the native lizards that live in the region.
It states that the applicant would mitigate any effects with dense buffer planting and pest and weed control, and restore native vegetation.
The buildings would be designed with natural and sustainable materials, placed between ridge lines and constructed in colors compatible with the existing environment.
“The proposed development will generate employment for the operation of the development and create income for Greymouth by attracting people to the area and creating a tourist destination,” it says.
He said the visual effects were low to moderate as the buildings would be largely obscured.