It was then that Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, now Aga Khan IV, a businessman and religious leader for Ismaili Muslims, paid the island’s coast a visit. He found the pristine waters a vibrant emerald color, punctured by giant granite rocks, and decided to purchase the land from the peasant women to build his own personal villa, constructed to resemble a fishing village. Not long after, his wealthy friends wanted in, and Costa Smeralda began to transition into a high-end luxury destination. The Prince’s villa was expanded and converted into the now-famed Cala di Volpe hotel, and the white-walled Hotel Romazzino was built just a mile up the coast. The Aga Khan was rigid about the aesthetics of his carved out paradise, and formed a consortium to enforce strict architecture standards that are still in effect today. The style is vaguely grecian, but with deeper ruddy hues and amoeba-shaped archways and windows. The hotels’ smooth stucco walls still blend into the cloudy coastline, folding in around you.