An enchanted oasis of semi-wilderness: coves of bright white sand, rocks sculpted by the wind, a crystal-clear tract of sea with a thousand undertones that change colour constantly, following the seasons and the rhythm of the wind, and intensely fragrant Mediterranean maquis – thus it appears in all its beauty, a pearl set within one of the outcrops of north-eastern Sardinia.
This is the breathtaking scene that so fascinated Prince Karim Aga Khan one spring in the late 1950s, and which led him – thanks to his enlightened vision – to realise his dream of creating one of the most exclusive destinations on the global map of elite tourism: the Costa Smeralda (or "Emerald Coast")
The Costa Smeralda Consortium was founded here on 14 March, 1962, with six founding members – Prince Karim Aga Khan, Patrick Guinness, Felix Bigio, John Duncan Miller, Andrè Ardoin and René Podbielski –preceded by a letter of intent in 1961. It was established as a not-for-profit association, with its own Articles of Association, geared towards promoting urban and territorial development and exercising control over the architectural development of the area. Immediately after the establishment of the Consortium, it was decided to set up a prestigious Architecture Committee, charged with the responsibility of drafting strict development plans and carrying out architectural monitoring, with a view to ensuring the conservation of the existing natural heritage and delineating a style with the capacity to combine the natural beauty of the area with elements of the local construction tradition.A number of leading architects were asked to join the Committee: Luigi Vietti, Jacques Couëlle, Michele Busiri Vici (a descendent of a patrician Roman family that had been practising architecture since the Baroque period) and Antonio Simon Mossa. It is to them – as the originators of a particular architectural style inserted within a landscape to be protected and safeguarded, and above all to their undisputed leader, Prince Karim Aga Khan, a forerunner of sustainable development, who guided them through every phase in the construction process with enthusiasm and passion – that we must be grateful for the achievement of a level of planning quality and territorial management that has made the Costa Smeralda one of the very rare examplesof a healthy, balanced form of tourism development; perhaps the only real example in the Mediterranean. From the outset, all of the operations driven forward by the Costa Smeralda Consortium have been inspired by a rock-solid commitment to safeguarding the area's ecological and environmental assets, developing the area under the monitoring of the Consortium's own technical and landscape bodies, applying urban-planning formulas, construction modules and architectural styles that, always in compliance with the most rigorous environmental values, would echo – and in the process, preserve – the values of Sardinian culture, built up over thousands of years.
Alongside the responsibilities associated with urban and territorial development, over time the Consortium has also taken on the no less important responsibility of protecting and increasing the value of the existing real estate assets. It is a concrete commitment that is manifested to this day through careful monitoring of the environment and the provision of a series of services of the highest quality.
Today, through the redoubling of energies and investments, the Consortium aims to underline its role as a guardian of the territory, preserving the natural heritage with sustainable projects and initiatives that are compatible with the modernity required by the development strategies, in order that the legendary reputation of the Costa Smeralda should remain unrivalled within the global tourism market.