11 abril 2008

Frikinoticia: los líderes también duermen

Forget Chequers and the Palace of Versailles. The next time Gordon Brown or Nicholas Sarkozy need a bolthole in which to recharge their batteries or a place for a private pow-wow, they might find themselves lured to a new retreat amid the pink rocks of the Nevada desert.

Donna Vassar, part of the Vassar education dynasty, has launched plans to build a $300m (£150m) private getaway for stressed-out presidents and prime ministers who want to "reconnect with their unique purpose in life".

The Universitas Leadership Sanctuary is intended as part monastery and part conference centre where the most powerful men and women on the planet can get away from it all with a combination of reading, contemplation and even a spot of gardening.


To remind them of their role as leaders of the planet, the sanctuary will be built in the shape of a four-storey globe on the shores of Lake Las Vegas, a privately-owned lake in the south Nevada desert where temperatures can reach 50C at the height of summer.

Vassar, whose family established the liberal arts college of the same name in New York State, has unveiled plans which include libraries, contemplation spaces and debating chambers. She intends to recreate a monastic existence which means entourages of press officers, policy advisers and secretaries which routinely support world leaders will be banned. There will even be a garden to provide food for the sanctuary tables, raising the prospect of future world leaders tilling the soil together while ruminating on the direction of the latest round of world trade talks.

Speaking through a spokeswoman, Vassar said visitors would be encouraged "to keep things informal in order to submit to the relaxing atmosphere".

"The place is designed to strip away the layers of protocol that build up around these kind of people and help them get back to clarity. They can also use the place like a monk might. There will be libraries and a garden to produce food, although I can't quite see Gordon Brown going out and tilling the land."

The main globe building will be on four levels. The ground floor will house a library and the first floor a debating chamber, while on the second floor will be technology to help make the building energy efficient. At the top, under a dome of glass, will be the spiritual heart of the development - the contemplation space where leaders will be encouraged to sit in silence.

The world leaders will have simple quarters next to the globe where they will be able to eat and sleep during retreats lasting a weekend or longer.

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