The Greeks once ruled the Mediterranean, and one area businessman is amassing his own Greek-themed empire along Wisconsin Dells Parkway.
Mt. Olympus owner Nick Laskaris expanded his property on the Strip late last week when he purchased the Star Motel property - consisting of Star Motor Inn, Star Motel and the Colossal Buffet - from the Jakubow family.
Laskaris now owns a mile of Dells Parkway frontage in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton from Top Secret to the Star Motel.
Laskaris wouldn't say how much he purchased the property for, but has already begun remodeling the buildings. They will be painted white and blue to match the buildings in Mykonos Village.
The hotel rooms on the property, which Laskaris calls "classic Dells motel rooms," will be renovated for about $8,000 each and will expand on Mykonos Village.
The buffet will be transformed into Mt. Olympus' central registration building for current and future rooms and suites at Hotel Rome, Mykonos Village and Bluegreen. Limited check-in service will still be available at Hotel Rome after the renovation is complete.
The 90-plus rooms on the Star property brings Laskaris' total number of rooms and suites to more than 400.
His property off Wisconsin Dells Parkway is now more than 200 acres.
"We've been working on the purchase for a little over a month," Laskaris said. "But I've been after the property for years.
"It's size was intriguing to me," he said of the 50-acre property, which is mostly wooded and includes the former Black Forest Campground. "Mt. Olympus is positioning themselves to become the mega resort of the Wisconsin Dells area."
One of the reasons he bought the property is to ensure the Strip stays popular with visitors.
"I don't want more employee housing on the Strip," he said. "One of my concerns, and something I'm trying to eradicate, is future employee housing from our older motels."
Laskaris said he has considered building an apartment-like complex toward the back of the Star property for some of his 700-plus summer employees, about 80 percent of whom are foreign students.
"It would be totally against our best interest to not ever look at building a future housing development for our very important employees," he said of Dells-area business owners.
The Star property will feature "primitive lodging" where guests can spend the night in windmills and tree houses.
Three of the four large swimming pools on the property will stay for now, as will the tennis courts.
The Jakubow family has owned the Star property, which was previously undeveloped, since 1960, Zane Jakubow said.
"We were there before the interstates were open," he said. "We used to drive Highway 12 from Chicago."
Jakubow said the property has been for sale on and off since his father, Frank, died 11 years ago.
"We just kind of lost heart in it," he said of the family's mood after his brother died eight years later. "All that place does is reminds my mother of the loss."
Zane said the campground is still intact but hasn't been operational for a few years.
The Laskaris family moved to Wisconsin Dells in 1970, and Nick's dad, Jim, started a hot dog and hamburger restaurant called Big Chief on a 20-acre parcel off Highway A. The family still owns the property.
Six years later, the family leased property on the Dells Parkway and got into the go-cart business.
When the lease ran out, the family started building go-cart tracks on Highway A, eventually having eight.
In 1990, the family bought a 35-acre parcel on the Strip, where Mt. Olympus now sits. In the next five years, five go-cart tracks were built.
In 1995, the park expanded into roller coasters. The Laskarises built three wooden coasters in the next three years.
The family purchased another 27 acres in 1998 and erected the 65-foot tall Trojan horse.
A year later, the park, then known as Big Chief Carts and Coasters, was added onto again with the purchase of King Ludwig Park, a 45-acre property.
In 2003, Jim was hit by a motorcycle while out for a walk in Florida and died Thanksgiving Day.
Almost a year later, Nick renamed the family's park Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park in honor of his father's Greek heritage.
Nick partnered with the Mattei family's Treasure Island Resort in 2004 before buying the waterpark resort in March 2007 and transforming it into Hotel Rome.
He also bought the Pleasant View hotel and made it the Hotel Rome Value Hotel. Within the past year its name has been changed to Mykonos Village.