'Viking' village planned for Guilford
GUILFORD — At a recent Select Board meeting in Guilford, board members learned about a planned luxury hideaway off of Weatherhead Hollow Road.
"Viking Village will consist of six luxury cabins, secluded in the wilderness away from road noise, homes, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life," wrote Chris Willett, operations manager for Viking Farms, in an email to the Reformer. "There will be a great hall for grand events of all types of uses. There will be activities for guests who want a true wilderness experience. Such activities may include horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, ATV trail rides, [and] Viking experiences. ... The Village is close to skiing, kayaking, water sports, [a] maple sugar house where you can bottle your own syrup, and a plethora of other outdoor activities."
Viking Village and Viking Farms, formerly known as Black Bear Sugarworks, are the brainchild of Paul Belogour, who founded Boston Merchant Management Services - later known as Boston Merchant Financial Services - in 1988. According to My Venture Pad, as BMMS CEO, Belogour "help[ed] thousands of individual brokers and investors across the world make money using international trading tools and innovative software."
Belogour declined the opportunity to speak with the Reformer. Willett said once Viking has moved through the permitting and licensing process, Belogour will make himself available to the media.
Belogour, his attorney and his design consultant spoke to the Guilford Select Board on Aug. 12 and then again on Aug. 26. Belogour requested time to talk to the board to get the OK to improve a portion of Stony Hill Road, at the end of which is located Viking Village, at his own expense.
Belogour described Viking Village as a concept that represents "the era of the Vikings [but] something that is ecological friendly where people can stay in the woods in rustic looking cabins exploring the nature of Vermont." The concept includes a "mess hall," for meals and events.
"If this project is successful, I might expand it," said Belogour.
The cabins existed on the site before Belogour purchased the land and he has been renovating them. Because Guilford doesn't have zoning regulations, he does not need approval from the town for his project. However, any road improvements, which might also include the installation of a new culvert, have to clear state wetlands regulations.
Jeff Goodrich, of Pathways Consulting, told the board on Aug. 12 that Belogour would like to widen the road from its current 10- to 12-foot width to 18 feet with 2-foot shoulders on either side. Belogour will need permission from a neighbor to grade off of the sides of the road to decrease runoff, but plans to build a retaining wall, from materials mined from the property, until he gets that permission, said Goodrich.
Goodrich said Viking Village has already received its wastewater permit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Eventually, said Belogour, he would like to open to the public a portion of the 17 miles of trails on the 1,000 acres he owns for hiking and trail riding.
His nearby venture, which Willett operates, is Viking Farms, which has 15,000 taps on 800 acres on Locust Hill. Belagour purchased Black Bear Sugarworks from Mark Hastings, who had purchased the location from Higley Dairy Farm.
Belogour also established a website, VermontMapleSyrup.com, to market all things Vermont.
According to its website, VermontMapleSyrup.com has created an online community for all goods made here in Vermont by farmers and artisans. "We are hoping to create a strong online marketplace for Vermont Vendors and help them get their products viewed throughout the country. Our goal is to incorporate all things made locally here in Vermont into one location ..." states the website.
The website hosts more than 30 vendors, for which it charges a 20 percent cut of all sales.
The website is intended to create "a new open trading environment, which can provide greater transparency in the purchasing process of availability, prices and stock levels," states the website.
In addition to maple syrup and maple sugar, vendors on the website offer beverages, gourmet foods, organic CBD, organic body products and crafts.
"Paul also has a few other really great developments going on, an interesting one being a co-op incubator space for entrepreneurs," wrote Willett in his email to the Reformer.
According to the agreement approved by the Select Board on Aug. 26, after completion of the road upgrades, the town will not be responsible for road maintenance beyond the existing 211-foot section of existing Class 3 road.
Belogour started his career in finance at the Bank of Boston, working in its foreign exchange department where he learned about retail foreign exchange.
In a 2013 interview with Finance Magnates, Belogour said he established his first foreign exchange firm, CBFX, with Commerce Bank and Trust. After selling CBFX, Belogour went on to found BMFN, offering business-to-business foreign exchange services with a network of "introducing brokers" in more than 100 countries. According to Investopedia, "An introducing broker is a broker in the futures markets who has a direct relationship with a client, but delegates the work of the floor operation and trade execution to another futures merchant, typically a futures commission merchant."
Belogour went on to design software known as UniTrader for use by "investors, introducing brokers, and market leaders."
In March of this year, Belogour, who also goes by Pavel, gave an interview to Express Digest, in which he talked about his other ventures, including Miss UniTrader, a beauty and fashion contest that is held in Shanghai, meant to "introduce Western fashion and beauty to the Eastern reality."
Belogour also donates money to Chinese schools and hospitals to support the local communities.
According to Vents Magazine, Belogour runs a Ukrainian software development company and has organized a soccer team. "Belogour insists sports is a great way to motivate software engineers and keep their energy levels high. The businessman provides his soccer team with equipment and support necessary to keep practicing and winning."
Belogour is also the benefactor of musicians and artists, including Jason Cardinal, a one-man-band musician from Massachusetts.
"There are plenty of bright people around who are talented, and sometimes they lack basic things, and that stops them from moving forward," Belogour told Express Digest. "I believe helping them reach their full potential has a powerful impact. I am trying to change the world in a myriad of small ways. I know even a little can go a long way. If more people find the time and resources to help others, our world will be a better place for everyone."
The Aug. 12 and 26 meetings of the Guilford Select Board were recorded by BCTV and can be viewed at www.brattleborotv.org.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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