Michael Leptos, a key figure in the island’s flourishing property development sector, died on Sunday aged 83.
The island’s business community and Paphos is mourning the loss of a pioneer who built a tourism empire that stretched across Cyprus and Greece to the Middle East.
He is succeeded by his sons, George and Pantelis, who have been running the Leptos Group for some time.
The Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) expressed deep sorrow, saying Michael Leptos was “a great person and entrepreneur. He leaves behind him worthy successors of his creative legacy.”
The Paphos Chamber of Commerce described him as “a visionary who focused on the implementation of his goals.
He chose to establish his business in the then-neglected Paphos region because he appreciated the natural beauty that reminded him of his beloved Kyrenia.”
The Paphos Regional Board of Tourism, of which he was driving force, said: “The business community of the country is poorer after the passing of Michalakis Leptos, who leaves behind him a vast legacy in the hotel industry, the property development sector, education, health and so much more.”
Michael Leptos rebuilt his property empire after losing everything in the 1974 Turkish invasion, including developments in Greece, travel services, construction and more recently, Neapolis, the first private university built from scratch that opened its doors in 2010.
Leptos started in the 1960s with a hotel and residential properties in Kyrenia but lost it all to the war.
He started again by developing major projects such as Saudia City in Jeddah that included a complete town of 4,500 homes, earning him the funds to buy land in undiscovered Paphos and gradually becoming the biggest landowner in the area.
The first project was Kamares, a holiday village with traditional architecture that has grown to a 1,000-plus unit development.
To date, Leptos has sold more than 25,000 villas and holiday homes in 325 developments.
In 1982, Michael established Leptos Calypso Hotels, owner and operator of the 5-star Coral Beach Resort that was listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange in 1986.
Since then, the company built the adjacent Thalassa boutique hotel overlooking the popular Coral Bay and presently boasts 3,500 beds in all its properties, including the Panorama in Crete.
The Leptos Group, with sons George and Pantelis on board, continued to buy property and its star acquisition was the 111 hectares in the Yeroskipou area, home to the Neapolis university town in an ambitious development worth €1.5 bln that includes a private hospital, as well as an innovation and research centre and the Neapolis Smart Eco City.
The Leptos Group expanded further in Greece with holiday homes and residential projects in Athens, Crete, Santorini and Paros.
The group’s new jewel in the crown is the Del Mar luxury development that is fast becoming a landmark on the Limassol coastline.
Michael Leptos was also a self-declared environmentalist, organising annual tree planting in the Paphos area with at least 30,000 planted so far.
He was also the Honourary Consul General for Jordan.
His funeral will take place at noon on Tuesday, January 5, at the Panayia Pantanassa Church in Paphos.