"The Serrenia road skirted a private airstrip beside an imposing villa with gilded finials like a castellated fairy battlement. Their shadows curved around a white onion-buld roof, an invasion of a new Arab architecture that owed nothing to the Maghreb ... The brassy glimmer belonged to the desert kingdoms of the Persian Gulf, reflected through the garish mirrors of Hollywood design studios, and I thought of of the oil company atrium in Dubai that I had walked through a month earlier, pursuing my courtship of an attractive French geologist I was profiling for L'Express."
"This was Serrenia, as generously wooded and landscaped as Cap D'Antibes. There was a harbour lined with bars and restaurants, a crescent of imported white sand, and marina filled with racing yachts and cruisers. Comfortable villas stood behind the palms and eucalyptus trees, and above them was the liner-like prow of the Club Nautico, topped by its white satellite dish.
Purpose-built in the 2000s by a consortium of Anglo-Dutch developers, Serrena was a residential retreat for the professional classes of northern Europe ... To an outsider, the retired residents of the Eqyptian coastal resort of Serrenia belong to an idyllic community, enjoying a lifestyle of constant cultural and sporting activity ..."
Of course, that was all taken from Ballard's 'Cocaine Nights', with a few words changed to reference the apparently real Serrenia as opposed to the entirely fictional Estrella de Mar. But can anything in literature be as bizarrely late-period Ballard as the actual Serrenia promo video and website? Is it even for real? Watch the embedded video:
And here are some choice quotes from the promo (although for the full effect you really have to hear it with the
disturbing reassuring voice and sinister ethereal soundtrack, above).
"Here you will find the most luxurious super-yachts in the world, with their private berths." "The marina harbors a place to relax, dine and be entertained."
"A seven star hotel with its own private beach that will cater for your guests' every need"
"Serrenia offers its residents access to the most exclusive and luxurious spa in the world, a water-world of over 20000 square metres. Here you will find the perfect harmony between body and mind. The entire destination is a garden. It is the paradise the pharoahs dreamed of creating. A garden of precious life."
"Your home comes with unrivalled levels of services, including on-call personal chefs ready to prepare cuisine from around the world."
"With a dedicated airport reception, and with direct personal transfer to Serrenia's heiipads, your arrival could not be easier."
"And with access to some of the world's most exclusive sports facilities, you can spend the days doing what you enjoy."
"Unrivalled security ensures peace of mind."
"Relax in the knowledge that you, and your family's, privacy is guaranteed."
"Where could such a place exist ... Serrenia. On the banks of the Red Sea. Egypt."
"Serrenia. The world's most exclusive waterside address. Welcome home."
Perhaps most of all, this section from the 'PEACE OF MIND' section of the website.
"Peace of mind. It's a given. Discreet, effective and efficient security is all part of the Serrenia experience. The security is there, all but invisible, building layer upon subtle layer. The very latest in high-technology protection, 'laser' fences, detect movement and 24-hour CCTV monitors constantly. Even after having been granted access to Serrenia through the main Sahl Hasheesh gate, visitors will still have to pass through one of the three main entry gates. The Hotel and 'exclusive zone' will be controlled by another security layer each with extra gates. Finally access to Palace Island is regulated by an additional layer of security and another gate. Experienced professionals, recruited from across the world, have given their expertise to create a secure haven, and to supply the most unobtrusive of safeguards, while all staff are rigorously vetted. Highly trained personnel are available at all times to offer support, though chances are you’ll never even know they are there, to guarantee your safety and freedom, so that you can enjoy the luxury of protection without feeling confined."
One's tempted to say "you couldn't make it up" except that, essentially, Ballard already had.