Feature

Will life be better on 'Blonde Island'?

At a proposed resort in the Maldives, brunettes will be as rare as a chilly day. Could this fair-haired retreat really be built?

In an effort to celebrate blondes — or to exploit stereotypes about them, depending on your point of view — one company plans to open a resort in the Maldives, the small island nation southwest of India, that will feature a staff made up entirely of fair-haired men and women. Olialia, a highly visible "mega-brand" in Lithuania, has told reporters it has found three suitable plots of land, and will move ahead with its plans to build its hotel — in the shape of a high-heeled shoe, naturally — by 2015. Will this resort really be more fun? A brief guide:

Why a blonde-only resort?
Because blonde "is light. It attracts people like sunshine," says Lauryna Anuseviciute, Olialia's 24-year-old brand manager (herself a former model), as quoted by the Associated Press. The company's managing director, Giedre Pukiene, echoes that sentiment: "Blondes are a great power that should not be underestimated."

Will brunettes really be banned?
Not exactly. Anuseviciute tells the AP that "Staff who are not blond will wear a blond wig to make everyone look similar. That will be part of their uniform." Even if the resort wanted to hire all-natural blondes, it would be hard-pressed to do so. Companies in the Maldives must employ at least 50 percent locals, and at least half of Maldivean women are brunettes.

What will the resort be like?
Once travelers disembark from Olialia Airlines — a special, blonde-staffed shuttle that will run from Lithuania to the Maldives — they will be privy to amenities common to tropical resorts. Olialia's development plans include 61 villas, several restaurants, a nightclub, a beauty salon and spa, a marina, a boardwalk, mall, helipad, and a center for "harmony and psychology." Of course, every building, according to the plans, must "comply with the spirit and the worldview of blondes." About 65 percent of the staff will be women.

Is this a joke?
The company behind it certainly isn't. Olialia, says Minivan News, is a "highly recognizable brand within Lithuania with a reported income of $10 million." The business fashions itself as the Eastern European version of Richard Branson's Virgin empire. And it has used a "troupe of glitzy models with platinum hair to market just about anything from potato chips to pop music."

What has the reaction been?
In Lithuania, "the small women's rights movement is cringing in disgust," says Liudas Dapkus of the Associated Press. But Anuseviciute insists this "is not discrimination" and draws this comparison: "If a ballet is casting for a male-only dance performance, is it discrimination against women when they only hire men?"

Will the resort really get built?
That remains unclear. For one thing, the Maldives' tourist board, which would be instrumental in approving the project, is completely unaware of it. For another, marine biologists warn that construction will lead to an environmental disaster. And even if Olialia overcomes those issues, it's an open question whether the Maldives, a politically conservative, Muslim nation, would be the right location for such an outré endeavor.

Sources: Associated Press, Minivan News

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