Category: Greek Islands hotels (page 2 of 13)

Luxury lodging: More new hotels, suites and villas opening on Mykonos in 2021

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Mykonos visitors can choose from a vast array of holiday accommodations, ranging from cozy studios to spacious designer villas and luxurious hotel suites with private pools. Here’s a look at several more of the island’s impressive new lodging options for 2021.

 

Bedrooms at some of the new hotels opening on Mykonos in 2021

Some of the beautiful new bedrooms where guests will enjoy resting and recharging after a day at a beach or a late night in the island’s legendary bars and clubs. Top row: Agrari Black Villas (left), Soleila villa, and The Elaia House. Second row: Once in Mykonos (left), Noima, and UBUD. Third row: Mykonos Euphoria Suites (left) and Kalesma. Bottom: Mykonos Earth Suites.   

 

Luxury of choice: Each year dozens of new accommodations open on Mykonos to sleep the steadily-rising numbers of tourists who flock to the island for spring, summer and fall vacations. In New hotels, suites and villas on Mykonos, we profiled 10 such newcomers, including Airbnb studio rentals, luxury hotels and vacation villas. Here, in Part 2, we shine the spotlight on 7 more properties that have already opened or will be opening their doors in 2021.

They include:

♦  Agrari Black Villas

♦  Noima Luxury Suites

♦  Bonzoe Homes & Villas

♦  Bill & Coo Villas

 ♦  Habitat Mykonos All-Suite Hotel

♦  UBUD Mykonos

♦  Panormos Bay Luxury Suites

Please click on the link below to see the profiles on page 2 of this post.

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What’s new on Mykonos in 2021

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From an impressive airport overhaul to bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, hotels and villas, there are lots of new things for visitors to discover on Mykonos this summer. Here’s a sneak peak at some. 

The new terminal at Mykonos International Airport

A 4-year, €25 million project to expand and improve Mykonos International Airport (JMK) was completed recently, just in time for the 2021 tourist season.  The terminal building has been completely overhauled and enlarged, and will impress with its striking modern look based on traditional Cycladic island design elements. The terminal now boasts a larger arrivals area, more departure gates, a new baggage handling system, plus new shops, restaurants, washrooms and VIP lounges. Upgrades also were made to the runway, ramps, parking, and terminal curbfront.  The terminal entrance is shown in this photo from airport operator Fraport Greece.

 

Noteworthy newcomers:  Spring has sprung, and pandemic-weary people around the world are wondering whether they will get a summer vacation this year. Millions are hoping to holiday in Greece, and many have set Mykonos in their sights. As the most exuberant, exciting and hedonistic island in Greece,  it’s quite possibly the ideal holiday destination for anyone looking to let loose and experience unbridled joy, freedom and self-indulgence — something most of us have only been able to dream about during the lockdowns and quarantines that have kept us cooped up at home for much of the past 12 months.

It’s no wonder Mykonos maintains such immense appeal for people desperate to escape the mind-numbing tedium and disruption of the Covid-19 crisis. While the island’s wind-whipped natural landscapes are barren, arid and austere, they provide the perfect backdrop for the bliss and pleasure-focussed activities and attractions that have made Mykonos one of the most desirable summer holiday destinations in the Mediterranean.

Crisp white sugar-cube houses, hotels and villas gleam in the sunshine on rugged, rocky hills. Sparkling turquoise seas splash against craggy coastlines ringed with secluded coves, scenic bays and crescent-shaped sandy beaches.  A magical atmosphere pervades in Mykonos Town, where glamorous fashion boutiques, exquisite art galleries, stylish cocktail bars, elegant restaurants, budget-friendly fast food joints and delightful dessert shops sit nestled inside a mesmerizing maze of cobbled lanes and bougainvillea-draped courtyards. Of course, there’s also the allure of the dynamic dance bars,  bustling beach clubs and the electrifying late-night party places that have made Mykonos legendary for robust dusk-to-dawn revelry and unabashed adult entertainment. The island’s long-established reputation as a summer playground for the world’s beautiful, rich and famous only adds to its cachet as a great place to get away from the everyday grind back home.  

 

Soleila and Etherium Mykonos Villas at Kalafatis

Vacation rental villas are in high demand on Mykonos. This photo shows Soleila (left) and Ethereal, new “twin” villas on a sun-soaked hillside at Kalafatis.

 

Kalesma Hotel on Mykonos

This image shows the Kalesma luxury hotel in the Aleomandra area of Mykonos. Several leading travel and lifestyle publications have ranked Kalesma among the world’s top new hotels for 2021.

 

Beaches, food, drink and fun are among the top features that draw crowds to Mykonos.  Paradise, Super Paradise, Platis Gialos, Psarou and Paraga are among the island’s most iconic beaches, but dozens more — from hidden coves to quiet, pristine shorelines and busy golden-sand strips fully organized with bars, restaurants and water sports amenities — mean there’s a sensational seaside to suit any traveller’s lifestyle, needs and preferences . First-time and repeat visitors also come to dine at the superb restaurants and dance at the notorious party venues they have been hearing about for years. Paradise Beach Club, Tropicana, Cavo Paradiso, Skandinavian Bar, Astra, Caprice, Nammos, Remezzo, Katrin, Kastro and Kiki’s are perenially-popular tourist hangouts, but visitors also throng to newer hotspots that regularly feature in their Instagram and Facebook photo feeds,  including Scorpios, Alemagou, Principote, 180 Sunset Bar, JackieO’ Beach Club, Lohan Beach House, Buddha-Bar Beach, M-eating, and more.

The logo for Joker Mykonos

Bordello Mykonos Italian dinner show

Lio Mykonos promotional image for its summer 2021 opening on Mykonos

Images of Noema restaurant on Mykonos

Mykonos Social restaurant by Jason Atheron

Five much-anticipated additions to the Mykonos dining and nightlife scenes in 2021 are the weekly Joker Mykonos dinner and party events; the Bordello Mykonos series of Italian Dinner Show parties, the Lío live cabaret restaurant and club, Nōema restaurant, and the Jason Atherton restaurant Mykonos Social.  

 

Ensuring that Mykonos remains vibrant and enticing is the bevy of brand-new tourist-oriented enterprises and attractions that debut on the island every year. A building boom that began in the mid-2010s has added thousands of  hotel and villa beds to the island’s accommodation capacity for overnight guests, and is still going strong with dozens more  villas, hotels and  rental homes currently under construction and in early stages of development. This has led to corresponding growth in travel-related hospitality and service businesses — retail shops; drinking and dining establishments; personal health, beauty & spa services; transportation and tour providers; and so on. Each new tourist season brings even more things to do and places to discover — an impressive feat for a small island that already boasts an incredibly wide range of options for rest, relaxation and entertainment. 

That trend continues in 2021, despite the tremendous upheaval and uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted on the international travel industry. Mykonos is set to welcome dozens of new establishments whose owners and management expect a good summer for the island’s tourism industry, and see an even brighter future for holiday travel in the forecast.

 

Bill & Coo Mykonos villas

Aerial view of Noima Mykonos Luxury Suites Hotel

Aeonic Suites & Spa luxury hotel on Mykonos

Agrari Black Villas on Mykonos

Among the fabulous accommodations opening on  Mykonos this summer are the Destino Pacha hotel at Agios Stefanos (top), new 1-bedroom villas at Bill & Coo Hotel in Mykonos Town; Noima Mykonos Luxury Suites at Agios Ioannis;  Aeonic Suites & Spa near Korfos beach; and Agrari Black Villas near Agrari beach.

 

Food, drink and entertainment newcomers set to make waves on Mykonos this year include live dinner show clubs, elegant restaurants and cocktail bars, cafes and bakeries, and specialty food shops. You can see some of them in our post Hot new places on Mykonos in 2021

This summer’s new accommodations range from studio apartments to luxury hotels, lavishly-appointed suites, and spacious private villas. You can see them in our post New hotels, suites & villas on Mykonos.

 

Mykonos: Yours for life is a scenic 1-minute video that will instantly put you in a Mykonos frame of mind.  It’s from a joint travel promotion campaign by Marketing Greece and the Municipality of Mykonos.

 

*Photo credit notes: The images, photos and videos included in this post were sourced from websites and/or social media posts published by the respective businesses.

 

New Royal Senses Resort & Spa opens on Crete this summer

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Screenshot of main web page for The Royal Senses Resort & Spa Crete

An artistic rendering of one of the four communal swimming pools at The Royal Senses Resort & Spa, a brand-new Troulis Royal Collection luxury hotel near Rethymno on Crete. 

 

Hotel profile by mygreecetravelblog.com

 

Our flight to Greece this month was cancelled by Covid-19 travel restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped us from daydreaming about taking a trip later this summer to enjoy some desperately-needed holiday downtime. One spot we find particularly appealing is a new luxury resort on Crete, where we fantasize of pampering ourselves with elegant accommodations and amenities, superb food and scenic surroundings — the perfect tonic to relieve pent-up stress and worry from the extended period of pandemic lockdowns this spring.

That place is The Royal Senses Resort & Spa near Rethymno, where we see ourselves social distancing in style in one of the spacious double rooms or a  junior suite equipped with a private swimming pool. Or perhaps we would splurge on a chic elite suite or a roomy grand villa with a stunning private infinity pool.  For a change of scenery we would lounge by one of the four communal pools, explore the resort’s farm and gardens, recharge with a massage or an herbal spa treatment, and then savor a delicious meal at one of the three restaurants or some of the pop-up food bars in the hotel’s Market Place. And of course we would take day trips to explore the island’s amazing sites and attractions.  How sweet it would be to revel in such comfort and luxury — and discover spectacular Crete — while putting the world’s tumultuous troubles temporarily out of mind!

It’s unlikely we will personally be able to visit Crete in the near future, since spring was the only time we could go to Greece in 2020, but other travellers will get to experience that dreamy holiday bliss when The Royal Senses welcomes its first guests this summer.

The resort is situated on the northern coast of Crete close to Panormos,  a traditional seaside fishing village with charming cobblestone streets, a medieval church and picturesque coves with sandy beaches. Also in convenient close proximity are Crete’s three biggest cities — Rethymno, just 20 minutes away, and Chania and Heraklion, each about an hour’s drive. All boast fascinating historic sites and a tremendous variety of beautiful attractions for visitors to discover.

The Royal Senses occupies a hillside location overlooking the 100-acre seafront property of its older sister hotel, The Royal Blue, which recently underwent a major renovation. The two are showpieces of the Troulis Royal Collection, a locally-owned and operated brand of destination lifestyle resorts which aim to make guests “feel like they are part of the unique life force of Cretan culture.” 

“We share a vision for heartfelt hospitality. We are agents of the Cretan culture and community. We create places that give value to guests, employees and the island. We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural says,” says a mission statement on the Collection’s website.

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more of The Royal Senses on page 2 of this post.

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First vegan hotel in Greece, Koukoumi, set to open on Mykonos this summer

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 This 2-minute promotional video explains the inspiration and philosophy for the new Koukoumi Hotel, and features beautiful views of famous Mykonos landmarks and island scenery 

 

Holistic lifestyle hotel: The first — and only — authentically vegan hotel in Greece is set to open its doors on Mykonos this summer, promising to bring both “a breath of fresh air” in hospitality and a “new life philosophy” to the Island of the Winds.

Situated on a hillside near Ano Mera, in close proximity to Kalafatis, Kalo Livadi and other top southern coast beaches, the 4-star Koukoumi Hotel is a project of the Kontiza family of Mykonos. The property has been designed in traditional Myconian architectural style and boasts 14 “boho chic” suites, a  restaurant featuring ethnic, Mediterranean and Greek-inspired vegan and raw cuisine, a swimming pool, spa and fitness center, and its own fruit and vegetable garden.

“Koudoumi” is a Myconian word which translates as “sheltered from the wind” and “a cozy place for snuggling.” To stay true to its name, the hotel has been conceived as “a peaceful sanctuary” where sophisticated travellers can “enjoy life without harming animals, the environment, or [them]selves,” the Koukoumi Hotel website explains.

Rooms include spacious standard, superior and executive suites that can accommodate up to 3 guests each, as well as deluxe and master suites that can sleep two persons each.

The hotel restaurant will offer a completely vegan menu, and pledges that its delicious recipes “will challenge you to reconsider everything you believed about food before!”

The Koukoumi Spa has been designed as a “haven of relaxation”  in which guests can detox, de-stress and rejuvenate “with soothing massages, healing treatments for face & body or by using the sauna.”

The hotel also has an indoor fitness center, staffed by a personal trainer and sports nutrition advisor who can tailor cross-functional training programs to help guests develop their own specific physical fitness programs and wellness goals.

Reservations can be made through the online booking page of the Koukoumi Hotel website, or through the hotel’s listings on booking.com, TripAdvisor and Expedia.

Below are several renderings of rooms and hotel facilities; additional images and information can be found on the Koukouimi website and on the Koukoumi Facebook page. A number of photos also can be viewed on the hotel’s Instagram.

 

A rendering showing an exterior view of Koukoumi Hotel on Mykonos

A rendering of the swimming pool at Koukoumi Hotel Mykkonos

Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos fitness room

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos 2020 opening announcement

 

Lonely Planet’s April issue looks at ‘legendary’ Crete and 15 other Greek Islands

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Cover of the April 2020 edition of Lonely Planet travel magazine

The cover of Lonely Planet‘s April issue promises to help readers find a perfect Greek Island holiday destination

 

Island profiles: Wondering where to take a holiday in Greece if Covid-19 quarantines and lockdowns get lifted in time to permit a trip sometime during the summer or fall? If you think an island might be the best place to de-stress once the pandemic has passed, Lonely Planet magazine has some excellent suggestions for you to ponder.

The travel publication’s April 2020 edition spotlights a selection of 15 household-name and lesser-known isles in its cover feature, Find your perfect Greek Island: Secret experiences the locals love, from Anafi to Zakynthos

“Here we outline the most original slow-travel experiences across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, from local festivals to hidden beaches — and beyond,” writer Oliver Smith explains in his introduction to the 12-page guide.

The piece profiles Folegandros, Hydra, Symi, Tinos, Chios, Zakynthos, Paros and Antiparos, Sifnos, Milos, Skiathos, Anafi, Ikaria, Kea and Limnos, providing a brief island description, suggesting accommodations to consider, and noting how to reach each island. Beautiful, full-colour photos illustrate an enticing place or sight in each destination.

The magazine also includes Gods’ Own Country, a 12-page feature story about Greece’s biggest island, Crete. 

“Beyond the harbours and white-sand beaches of Crete lies a land rich in history and myth, home to deities and monsters from the Minotaur to the thunder-god Zeus himself. We embark on a quest to discover this island’s legendary legacy,” Christa Larwood writes in the article introduction.

Both articles are interesting reads, and the stunning photos that accompany them will certainly provide a welcome distraction from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

If you can’t find the April magazine at a retail outlet or a library, you can order a copy or purchase a digital download for your tablet or smartphone directly from the publisher. 

Screenshot of Greek Island guide in the April 2020 edition of Lonely Planet travel magazine

Illustrated with enticing photography, the magazine’s Treasured Islands feature suggests 15 places to consider for a “slow travel” experience

 

Screenshot of feature article about Crete in the April 2020 edition of Lonely Planet travel magazine

The feature article Gods’ Own Country takes readers on a journey across Crete, from the scenic seaports of Chania and Rethymno to the Samaria Gorge, the Palace of Knossos, and the Lasithi Plateau.

New Kalesma Mykonos luxury hotel suites, villas & restaurant set to open in June

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Kalesma Mykonos hotel & villa complex sunset view

Kalesma Mykonos hotel & villa swimming pool

Kalesma Mykonos hotel suite terrace view of Ornos Bay

 Kalesma Mykonos, seen in renderings provided by the hotel, is comprised of 25 luxury suites, 2 villas and a signature restaurant showcasing Cycladic cuisine. A collection of whitewashed houses, the newly-built property occupies a hillside location overlooking Ornos Bay on Mykonos.  

 

Inviting newcomer: A unique collection of luxury suites and villas will make a distinctive mark on the Mykonos boutique hotel scene when it opens its doors this summer.

Kalesma Mykonos will bring chic designer digs, destination dining, “private experience concierges” and a traditional Mykonian village vibe to the Ornos area when it opens on June 1.

“Inspired by Cycladic architecture, combining tradition with contemporary elements, Kalesma is a design aficionado’s dream,” according to a property description brochure provided to me by the hotel.

Aerial image of a private terrace and pool at Kalesma Mykonos Hotel

An aerial view of the pool and patio at one of the Kalesma Mykonos suites. Each of the hotel’s accommodations has its own private heated pool.

 

With its Cycladic-style whitewashed houses that spill down a slope of the Aleomandra peninsula on the southwest side of Ornos Bay, Kalesma has been built to resemble a traditional island village.  Suites, villa and common area interiors will feature sleek minimalist design details, fashioned with locally-sourced materials. Each accommodation will boast its own private heated pool — a rarity on Mykonos.

The 25 suites are 680 square feet in size and can sleep either two adults and two children, or three adults. Each unit boasts a 970-square-foot terrace, furnished with poolside lounge chairs, and offers impressive, unobstructed sea views. “All accommodation features original artwork and expansive bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs and an outdoor shower on a private patio,” the hotel’s publicity brochure notes.

“Kalesma is also home to two spectacular, earth coloured private villas, one with two bedrooms and one with three. Ideal for entertaining or family holidays, both feature an open plan living room with cosy sofas, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen with pre-stocked food and wine fridges. A personal chef is available to villa guests if they wish to organise an intimate gathering or romantic meal on their terrace. Villas also come with their own fitness rooms complete with Technogym equipment. A stay in one of these private villas combines self-contained serviced residences, with access to exceptional hotel facilities and each will have a dedicated Villa Manager on call to coordinate guests stays,” the brochure adds.

When they’re not admiring and relaxing in the beautifully-designed private and public spaces, Kalesma guests will enjoy fabulous scenic views including beautiful Ornos Bay, the Aegean Sea, and both the sunrise and sunset.

Kalesma is a Greek word for “inviting,” and the hotel complex and its services have been meticulously planned to foster an inviting, welcoming ambiance and provide outstanding hospitality. “The look and feel of a traditional village is deliberate, as Kalesma is all about making guests feel at home and encouraging a neighbourhood vibe, enhanced by weekly intimate dinners,” the hotel description says.

Kalesma Mykonos hotel PERE UBU restaurant

Kalesma Mykonos hotel sunset lounge fireplace

Top: The al fresco patio for PERE UBU restaurant (there’s an indoor dining room as well); bottom: the outdoor fireplace at the Aloni lounge.

 

Kalesma’s centerpiece will be its restaurant and “social hub,” PERE UBU, whose menu will spotlight Cycladic cuisine incorporating seasonal local products.  Created by the owners of the acclaimed Pere and Ubu and Sea Spice restaurants in the glam Glyfada district of Athens, Kalesma’s PERE UBU will offer “a laid-back atmosphere during the day with chilled summer music, delicious small plates and light lunches. By night, it transforms into a sophisticated eatery, serving simple, elegant dishes showcasing the local produce alongside innovative cocktails keeping guests fuelled into the early hours.”

Open to the public, PERE UBU has been conceived as a destination restaurant whose inspiring cuisine and comfortable atmosphere  will entice visitors from across the island. However, the restaurant also will host intimate weekly dinners exclusively for Kalesma’s own guests. 

With an open fireplace, the Aloni Sunset Lounge is another common space that is expected to become a popular gathering spot for sunset viewing over cocktails or late evening conversation and nightcaps.

Additional amenities include a private on-site chapel for wedding ceremonies, and a boutique shop offering luxury brands, accessories and local products.

Aerial view of Kalesma Mykonos hotel

Aerial view of the Kalesma Mykonos hotel property

These aerial images show how Kalesma’s hotel, villa and common-area buildings have been designed in the distinctive white architectural style of the Cyclades islands, and positioned to resemble a traditional Mykonian village 

 

As part of the Kalesma hospitality team, private experience concierges will be “on hand to help guests discover the islands hidden gems including local eateries, exclusive boutiques and picture-perfect tiny churches. They can also arrange trips to some the island’s 25 beaches – from the hottest beach clubs to wide stretches of golden sand and secluded swimming caves, known only to the hotel’s private tenders. Private yacht charters and helicopter transfers are also available upon request for those who wish to truly push the boat out and experience the island from a different perspective.”

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more images of Kalesma Mykonos on page 2.

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Top Greece travel reads of 2019: Best articles, stories & profiles of Greek islands

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Tinos island as seen from a departing ferry

Chania harbourfront at sunset

Arkoi island ferry port

cliffs below Chora village on Folegandros island

Sarakiniko beach on Milos island

the western coast of Andros island IMG_1111

From the top: Tinos seen from a departing ferry; the Chania harbourfront at sunset; the small port pier at Arkoi; soaring cliffs beneath the whitewashed buildings of Chora village on Folegandros; rock formations at Sarakiniko beach on Milos; a mountain and beaches on the west coast of Andros. These are some of the places profiled in my favourite articles about Greek islands in 2019.

 

Magazine articles and newspaper stories about Greek Islands are the focus of this post, the latest instalment in my series of “best travel reads of 2019.”

The reports I have included in this list are the ones I liked the most last year because they me made wish I could rush right away to the island being discussed; taught me about interesting places, attractions and activities I wasn’t aware of previously; or provided thoughtful insights by exploring destinations from a unique and captivating perspective. Some are educational; some are inspirational; others are simply fascinating or fun to read.

Though they were published during 2019, all of the reports and profiles are worthwhile reads for anyone planning or thinking about a trip to one or more of the islands either this year or sometime in the near future.  They provide helpful practical information about intriguing things to see and do,  suggest areas to stay in or specific accommodations to consider, and offer ideas for discovering and experiencing the unique local character, history and features of each island. I have included links to the online source of the articles so readers can bookmark the ones that interest them for further reference.

The islands featured in my best articles round-up are:

♦ Amorgos, Andros,Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Milos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Syros and Tinos in the Cyclades;

♦ Ikaria in the eastern Aegean;

♦ Arki in the Dodecanese; and

♦ Crete

I’ve listed the articles in alphabetical order by island name so readers can easily scroll to a specific destination that interests them.

— Amorgos —

Screenshot of National Geographic article about Sister Irini on Amorgos

Screenshot of National Geographic article about Sister Irini on Amorgos

 

A highlight of our trip to Amorgos back in 2009 was a visit to the island’s best-known monument, the Chozoviotissa Monastery. Founded in the 11th Century, the whitewashed, fortress-like edifice clings to the face of a rugged cliff hundreds of meters above the sea. It is such an incredible sight, my first glimpse of the brilliant white building literally took my breath away.  I’m still so fascinated by Chozoviotissa that I get excited whenever I see photos of it on my Instagram feed, or find video views of it on YouTube.

While I’m certain we will pay it another visit next time we return to Amorgos, there’s a much newer monastery I’m equally keen to see. It didn’t exist when we travelled to the island, and I didn’t learn about it until I read Meet the tourist who became the only nun on Amorgos, a National Geographic piece published on January 17 2019. 

 

Written by Terri Steel, the article is an engaging story of transformation — a profile of a woman who decides to turn her life in a totally new direction while restoring a derelict church property into a lush garden “paradise” now known as Agios Georgios Valsamitis Monastery.

“She first came to the island as a young mother and wife 35 years ago; after her husband passed, she chose a new path. Her name is Sister Irini, now, and she remains Amorgos’s only nun,” Steel writes, noting that Sister Irini took her vows as a Greek Orthodox nun in 2011. 

“Seven years ago, Sister Irini began transforming a long-abandoned monastery into an oasis. Visitors come throughout the year to walk her bountiful garden lined with Byzantine frescoes, to hear her story, and to purchase her magnificent paintings of religious icons.”

Steel relates part of the sister’s story, outlines how the nun spends her days and speculates on how the “heavenly landscape” of Amorgos may have encouraged Sister Irini to pursue a simple, holy life there.

The article is illustrated with images of beautiful Amorgos sights and scenes captured by photographer Chiara Goia.

 

— Andros —

Screenshot of Conde Nast Traveller September 2019 article about Andros island

 

In 2019, prolific travel writer Rachel Howard penned two feature articles about Andros — one for Conde Nast Traveller magazine (top), the other for The Sunday Times newspaper (below).

 

Screenshot of Rachel Howard Sunday Times article about hiking on Andros island

 

Andros is a big island, and we knew we would barely scratch the surface when we spent six days there in late May of 2015, even though we split our stay between towns on opposite sides of the island. Last year, when I read two revelatory articles about Andros, it really hit home just how much we didn’t get to see or experience. I felt hugely disappointed when I realized we had missed some of the island’s best features.

Both stories were written by Rachel Howard, for different publications.

The first, Andros: Greece’s hidden hiking hotspot, was published January 27 2019 in The Sunday Times.   

Noting that Andros is a lush, mountainous isle, Howard observes that the “forested peaks are ribboned with streams and ravines careen down to wetlands teeming with wildlife. One third of it is a nature reserve, there are dozens of stone villages camouflaged in the hills and it has about 70 beaches, many of the best accessible only by boat or on foot. So it’s hardly surprising that Andros is carving out a niche as a year-round hiking destination.”

Hiking is what drew Howard to the island — she spent several days walking segments of the island’s 200-mile network of footpaths, many of which have been cleared and waymarked by the Andros Routes volunteer organization.

She describes trekking a circular route in Livadia, “a valley dotted with magnificent manor houses, where some of Greece’s most illustrious shipping families hole up for the summer,” gentler walks from the Ktima Lemonies guesthouse estate to the villages of Lamyra and Menites and to the island capital, Chora, and a 6-mile trail from the mountain village of Vourkoti to remote Achla beach. 

“Venture towards the highlands and you’ll stumble upon abandoned watermills, medieval watchtowers and cascading waterfalls. It’s easy to imagine Pan charging through the woods, but you’re more likely to meet a farmer threshing with an ox or frying sausages and potatoes in pork fat in an outdoor wood-fired oven,” Howard says.

Although we did some scenic walks during our own Andros visit, we didn’t get to explore any of the specific paths Howard talked about, or any of the trails marked and maintained by Andros Routes.  I’d love to get back to Andros to check some of them out, and perhaps attend one of the programs at Melisses guesthouse, located above Paleopolis Bay on the west coast of Andros.  Howard says bloggers and authors visit Melisses “to present cooking workshops and creative retreats such as illustration and travel photography, hosted by Allegra Pomilio, a glamorous Italian food stylist and a wonderful cook.” An Andros holiday with plenty of scenic walks and the opportunity to attend a creative retreat would be right up my alley.

Howard’s second article, Is this Greece’s undiscovered island? appeared in the September 2019 edition of Conde Nast Traveller magazine. Unlike the previous story, which focussed on island walks, this report is a more general overview of the island’s recent history as well as its top sights and leading attractions.

Howard notes that three Greek shipping dynasties — the Embiricos, Goulandris and Polemis families — put Andros on the map in the early 20th Century.  These wealthy families shared some of their largesse locally: They “paved the streets in marble, built imposing mansions and museums filled with billion-dollar art,” constructed the island’s first high school and hospital, and built a beautiful retirement home.

“Because the island’s shipping families used patronage as a show of power, Chora has an embarrassment of cultural riches. There’s an archaeological museum, a maritime museum, the Kaireios library with archives stretching back to the 16th century, and an open-air theatre where Pandelis Voulgaris, one of Greece’s most accomplished directors, stages the Andros International Festival, a summer-long celebration of the arts,” Howard notes.

Since  shipping was the island’s primary source of employment and income for so long, Andros didn’t have to begin  developing a local tourism industry until just a few decades ago. Tourist traffic is now picking up as more people learn of the island’s scenic hiking opportunities, and visit to see its lush natural greenery and “densely wooded hills and ravines” — features they won’t find on other islands in the Cyclades.

“Divided by four towering mountain ranges, the landscape is surprisingly varied and the weather can change around each bend. One moment it looks and feels like Tuscany, the next the Scottish Highlands. Watermills, dovecotes and watchtowers materialise in misty valleys,” Howard says. “Andros has plentiful springs and streams, waterfalls and wetlands. Every village has a communal marble washbasin fed by ice-cold mountain water. Venturing deeper into the mountains, carved fountains in village squares give way to waterfalls cascading through forests of chestnut, white poplar, oak and maple,” she adds.

If you have been to the Cyclades before but haven’t yet seen Andros, try adding it to your next island-hopping itinerary; you’ll find it’s a striking contrast from the arid brown landscapes dotted with whitewashed villages that are so characteristic of its neighbouring isles.

Please click on the link below to continue reading island profiles on page 2 of this post.

 

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Above the rest: Panoptis Escape luxury villas set to open in May on a Mykonos mountaintop

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Aerial view of Panoptis Escape villas at Elia beach on Mykonos

From their lofty aerie overlooking Elia beach, guests of the Panoptis Escape villas will enjoy unrivalled 360-degree views of Mykonos and the sea, plus both the sunrise and the sunset.

Daytime aerial view of Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

Sunset view of Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

 

Peak perfection: An exquisite new mountaintop villa retreat will be opening on Mykonos this summer, promising “pure relaxation,” “laid-back luxury,” and exceptional personalized service  along with “breathtaking sunrise to sunset sea views.”

Perched on a rocky peak high above Elia beach, Panoptis Escape is an enclave of luxuriously-appointed boutique accommodations that include honeymoon suites and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas.  While the villas can be booked on an individual basis, the complex can be reserved in its entirety as well. Featuring more than 1,900 square meters of indoor space, 2,500 meters of outdoor space, 12 swimming pools and 21 bedrooms that can sleep up to 69 people (42 adults and 27 children), Panoptis will provide a perfect private getaway space for a wedding party or large group of family, friends or business associates on a corporate retreat.

Panoptis is the 10th and newest 5-star property in the Myconian Collection luxury hotel and villa chain, owned and operated by the Daktylidis family of Mykonos. It is scheduled to open in May.  Five other Myconian Collection hotels are clustered on the same steep mountainside at Elia — the Imperial, Royal, Villa Collection, Utopia and Avaton. Panoptis overlooks these sister properties from its enviable summit position. 

 “Panoptis” translates as “where man meets his gods,” and villa guests could well feel like they’re in heaven as they savour the scenery and serenity at their lofty lair.

Each of the accommodations include “en-suite multi bathroom facilities and luxury toiletries and amenities, separated living rooms with mini kitchenette facilities, refrigerators, wine coolers, coffee machines and electric kettles and a fully equipped kitchen.”

The property features a welcome area, lounge, open-air bar, outdoor open-air kitchen with BBQ, restaurant facilities, and a wellness studio. Guests can relax on sunbeds on the Myconian Collection’s private section of Elia beach, and have access to spa facilities. Private vehicle parking is available, while a helipad can accommodate up to three helicopters for guests who arrive by air. A staff of 20 — receptionists, bar and kitchen personnel, housekeepers and maintenance crews — work on site.

Daytime aerial view from Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

Daytime (above) and sunset-time views (below) from one of the private swimming pools at Panoptis Escape

Sunset view from the Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

 

I can only imagine the fabulous impression Panoptis will make on visitors — and how amazing it will be for them to spend their vacation relaxing amidst such sumptuous surroundings and spectacular scenery. We have thoroughly enjoyed staying in two of the Myconian Collection properties — the Ambassador at Platis Gialos (our first hotel on our very first trip to Greece), and the Imperial — so we have an idea of what the Panoptis guest experience will be like. And we’ve already seen its breathtaking views with our own eyes. During our stay at the Imperial, we climbed to the top of the mountain above the hotel, and stood near the spot where Panoptis now sits. The views were outstanding, so I feel a tad envious of the lucky guests who will enjoy them from the comfort of private pools and patios at the Panoptis.

 

Seaview patio at Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

A seaview patio for one of the villas

 

Open air dining room at Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

An open-air dining space on one of the villa patios

 

Panoptis is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and can be booked through its listing on the SLH website.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted additional photos showing some of the villa interiors and outdoor spaces.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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