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Our quarantine reads Part 2: Greek hotels and restaurants on travel hot lists for 2020

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Rendering of the main swimming pool at Royal Senses resort on Crete

A rendering of the main swimming pool at The Royal Senses Resort & Spa, scheduled to open in late June on Crete.  The Royal Senses was included on The Telegraph‘s list of 10 amazing new Greek island hotels to book in 2020.

 

Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens website hotel photo

The Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens, a legendary hotel on the Athens Riviera that re-opened last year following extensive renovations. The hotel was profiled this spring by World Traveller magazine.

 

A short social media promotional clip for Kaliya, a much-anticipated new restaurant opening this summer in Fira, the capital of Santorini. Kaliya is among several sumptuous Santorini dining spots cited by World Travel magazine.

 

Where to stay, dine and drink: Each winter and spring, major newspapers and travel magazines publish articles describing new and noteworthy places to stay and visit in Greece, and this year they’ve done it again, even though the Covid-19 pandemic turned international travel planning upside down and left everyone wondering if there would even be a tourist season in 2020.  Would any of the hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars described in the travel media be able to open this year?

It looks like there might be part of a summer travel season after all, now that the Greek government has announced (on April 28) its plans for lifting lockdowns, gradually restarting the country’s economy, and possibly re-opening its tourism infrastructure and facilities as early as July. Although details about when — and which — foreign visitors will be allowed to enter Greece are still up in the air, it appears summer holiday travel to Greece will be a possibility for some people.

Given that hopeful prospect, we have compiled this post to highlight travel articles we have read over the past month during our own coronavirus home quarantine.   It’s a round-up of recommendations and travel reports for hotels, resorts, villas and restaurants in Greece that captured the attention of international travel media experts.

If you’re among the fortunate people who get to visit Greece this summer and experience any of the properties and establishments described in these publications, do drop us a line once you’re back home, to let us know how you enjoyed them.

 

 

The Times article about 30 best places to go in Greece

 

If you’re having trouble choosing where to go once Greece re-opens its borders to international tourists, The Times article 30 best places to stay might help you narrow your options. Then again, it could confuse you even more, since it describes so many outstanding accommodations to consider.

Whether it’s adults-only on Santorini, kid-friendly on Rhodes, eco-conscious on Crete, a rustic mountain retreat or a luxury hilltop villa, the newspaper’s top picks cover most travel lifestyles, though the list does lean mainly towards higher-end and design-forward hotels. 

Hotel, resort and villa recommendations on the newspaper’s list include the following Greek island regions:

♦ Crete

♦ Antiparos, Folegandros, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos and Syros in the Cyclades island chain

♦ Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Kythira, and Lefkada in the Ionian group of islands 

♦ Hydra and Spetses in the Saronic Gulf

♦ Skiathos and Skopelos in the Sporadic isles, and

♦ Kos and Rhodes in the Dodecanese archipelago

For mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, the article suggests stylish accommodations for:

♦ The Athens Riviera

♦ Halkidiki

♦ Monemvasia, Nafplio and The Mani in the Peloponnese;

♦ Parga, Perdika, Sivota and the Zagorochoria areas of northwestern Greece.

 

 

Santorini hotels, restaurants and wineries

World Travel Magazine February-March 2020 cover

Canaves Oia Epitome luxury hotel was the shooting location for the cover photo for World Travel Magazine’s February/March 2020 issue

 

When Nasos Kouzelis wrote What’s New Santorini?,  tourism-related businesses on the island were excitedly preparing for the launch of the 2020 travel season. “In just a few days’ time,” he said, restaurants would be setting their tables and wineries would be polishing their glasses to welcome their first guests of the year. His article was originally published in the February/March 2020 edition of World Travel magazine, so Kouzelis would have submitted it to the editors weeks before Greece went into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those opening plans have since been put on ice, of course, and at this time no-one knows exactly when Santorini’s tourist season for international travellers will finally start.

But by the time that happens, there will be even more built-up anticipation for the opening of some eagerly-awaited new restaurants and hotels that Kouzelis describes, along with the return of some much-talked-about accommodations and dining spots that made their debuts in 2019.

Among the hot spots Kouzelis mentions:

♦ in Oia village: the Canaves Oia Epitome and its Elements restaurant, and the Andronis Arcadia Hotel and its Opson restaurant;

♦ in Imerovigli village: Cavo Tagoo Santorini hotel and its restaurant, OVAC, plus OMMA Santorini hotel and restaurant;

♦ in Fira, the island capital: Katikies Garden hotel, Panigiri Restaurant, and the brand-new Kaliya restaurant;

♦ at Monolithos beach: the Nikki Beach Santorini Resort & Spa;

♦ at Baxedes beach near Oia: the all-day lounge restaurant Laze;

Avantis Cellar Door winery and restaurant in Kontochori near Fira, and Mikra Thira winery on nearby Thirasia island.

The article is illustrated with beautiful pictures by Christos Drazos, one of the most sought-after professional hotel and restaurant photographers in Greece.

 

Please click on the link below to read about more travel publication profiles of hotels and restaurants on Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Ios and the Athens Riviera.

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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.

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Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines

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GEO magazine June 2014 cover

GEO magazine profiled Greece in its June 2014 issue with a cover photo of Mandrakia village on Milos and an “Escape” feature on the “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” They’re obviously not secret anymore!

 

Summer reads: When I’m not in Greece I enjoy reading about it — in books, magazines, online travel forums and websites. Thanks to feature cover stories about Greece published by three major European travel magazines recently, I’ve got plenty to read while relaxing on my balcony this summer.

Here’s a look at what the three magazine cover stories say about Greece:

  GEO magazine June 2014

I discovered GEO magazine from France purely by chance — I was looking for another magazine at a newsstand when a photo on GEO’s bold green cover caught my eye. It was the picturesque harbour at Mandrakia, a fishing hamlet on Milos, under the headline: “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” I couldn’t resist and bought the magazine after taking only a cursory glance at the contents.

It turns out there are 28 full pages of text and beautiful photos about several Greek islands including Kythera, Kalymnos, Milos, Santorini, Chios, Aegina, Tinos, Skyros, Folegandros and Rhodes. The stories aren’t travel guides — they don’t recommend hotels to stay in, for instance, or suggest the hottest restaurants and coolest beaches to visit. Some of the pieces provide brief descriptions and overviews of the destinations, while others take an insightful look into how the Greek Islands have been affected by the country’s devastating economic crisis. The sale of island real estate to foreign billionaires is considered in part of one report, for example, while another piece profiles people who have started new business ventures selling local agricultural products.

 Island village photo foul-up

 GEO magazine photo of Astipalea

Mon Dieu! GEO magazine mistakenly published this eye-catching photo of Chora village on Astipalea to illustrate a short piece about Chora on Kythera — another island in a completely different area of Greece.

 

One of the GEO feature’s excellent photos — spread across pages 36 and 37  — really piqued my curiosity. It shows a white-domed church rising from the middle of a huge stone castle perched on a hilltop. The slopes below the castle are stacked with white cube houses that descend to a row of derelict windmills. I instantly recognized the location — Chora village on Astipalea, a butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese archipelago. I had shot photos from almost the identical vantage point when we visited Astipalea in 2009. However, the picture accompanied an article about Kythera, which is part of the Ionian island group, and the text said the town in the photo is that island’s capital, also called Chora. (Most main towns on Greek islands are called Chora).

I haven’t been to Kythera yet, but I was absolutely certain the photo was from Astipalea. So I poured through my photos to confirm I was right (there’s more than 300 pictures in my Astipalea collection on Flickr). Sure enough, details in my pictures of Astipalea’s Chora matched the same features visible in the GEO image, which was credited to Velissario Voutsas /IML – Hemis.fr, a French photo agency. Obviously someone on the magazine staff had made a big boo-boo by purchasing the wrong stock image to illustrate the article!

(You can learn more about Kythera, and see photos showing what its Chora looks like, on the comprehensive Visit Kythera website.)

Photo flop aside, the GEO stories are compelling reads, and are bound to encourage people in France to consider island hopping in Greece on an upcoming vacation. Moreover, photos and information about Leros, Kalymnos, Chios, Skyros and Tinos will encourage travellers to visit charming islands that often get overlooked because they aren’t instantly-recognizable mainstream tourist destinations like Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos.

 Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading this report.

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Imagine swimming with this view of Syros!

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An infinity pool with an amazing view of the Kini Bay region of Syros island

 

I felt a tinge of envy when we saw the infinity swimming pool at this hilltop villa while hiking through the Danakos area of Syros island last week. The pool and adjacent terrace enjoy jaw-dropping views of the scenic Kini Bay region of Syros as well as Giaros island in the distance. The sunset views from the pool must be incredible since they’re spectacular even from sea level in Kini village. Below is a side view of the pool and villa. Click on the photos to see larger-size images.

 

 A villa with an infinity swimming pool on a hilltop in the Danakos area of Syros

 

 

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