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Exploring LagOmar – Omar Sharif’s Former Home on Lanzarote

LagOmar (or Omar´s Lake) is undoubtedly one of the most high impact properties on Lanzarote. And little wonder, as this 1001 Arabian nights themed extravaganza was formerly owned by the Hollywood legend Omar Sharif (hence it´s name), the star of numerous screen blockbusters such as Doctor Zhivago, Funny Girl and Lawrence of Arabia.

 

Swimming Pool, LagOmar, Nazaret, Lanzarote

Swimming Pool at LagOmar

 

The Manrique Myth

The story of LagOmar has been greatly (and at times inaccurately) mythologized over the years. It wasn´t for example created by the island´s most famous artist and favourite son César Manrique, although it pays much more than just a passing nod to his distinctive design style, which is evident in most of the island´s main tourist attractions, but he is said to have suggested the overall theme. And it was already in construction when Omar Sharif visited the island in 1972 along with the cast and crew of Spanish production The Mysterious Isle.

British Built Property Dedevlopment

Indeed the house had in fact been built by a British property developer called Sam Benady, who was hoping to use this pilot as a type of show house for attracting further investment. Benady was aided by one of Manrique´s closest associates Jesus Soto, hence the many similarities in design and style to the artist´s home and studio (now the César Manrique Foundation) located just down the road in Tahiche.

Either way however the property was a seriously impressive piece of architecture, set in a disused quarry and contrasting the red stone of the surrounding volcano with traditional white washed walls and an abundance of brightly coloured tropical planting. As you´d expect from a top end holiday home it also boasted a swimming pool tennis courts and loads of secret nooks and crannies around the grounds.

High Stakes Hand of Cards

Sharif was so impressed when he set eyes on the building – which at that time was the only edifice in Nazaret – that he bought it there and then on the spot. However, he wasn’t able to hold onto it for very long, as he was challenged to a game of cards by the crafty Benady, an accomplished bridge champion and promptly lost it in a high stakes hand.

Restaurant, Bar & Museum

 

Entrance, LagOmar, Nazaret, Lanzarote

1001 Arabian Nights....

 

Today LagOmar operates in a number of functions. It is home to a pricey restaurant, which serves modern international cuisine against the impressive backdrop of the former swimming pool. The La Cueva Bar also opens throughout the week, which is a great spot to visit as this enables you to explore the grounds at night for the price of just a beer. There´s also a house museum which is open daily, with tours conducted on the half hour from 11am onwards, with admission costing €5 for adults and €2 for kids.

The Museum of Casa Sharif houses pictures of the actor and the property developer at the card table as well as a special Sala Jesus Soto, which showcases more of this leading architects work both on Lanzarote and around the Canary Islands.

Adios Omar

It is said that Sharif was so upset about losing LagOmar that he never returned to Lanzarote again. At the time there seemed to be a constant stream of VIP´s visiting Lanzarote as the island was still a very novel travel destination and package holidays hadn’t yet reached the masses, so ensuring a degree of exclusivity. Some would argue that it´s a shame that the island isn’t still home to a celebrity of Omar Sharif´s status, as this would certainly have helped to bestow some much needed cachet.

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