Greece has become the ultimate European destination, rivaling even Italy, capturing the hearts of American travelers for the past five years. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Greece opened its doors early and welcomed visitors. With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning views of the Aegean Sea, delectable cuisine, and diverse subcultures, Greece offers an unforgettable experience for jetsetters, romantic honeymooners, and families alike. Our 18-day journey across four islands showcases the incredible diversity this country has to offer.
Mykonos, once known primarily for its vibrant party scene, has evolved into a multifaceted destination that caters to a range of interests. Returning visitors often find themselves skipping Mykonos Town altogether, opting instead to indulge in daytime shopping or savor a delightful meal before the festivities begin (usually after midnight). The Daktylides family, our esteemed Greek hosts, have established multiple “communities” around the island, comprising a total of 11 hotels, with another one soon to be unveiled. With over 1200 accommodations and 600 private pools, each hotel boasts its own unique ambiance and décor, catering to diverse preferences. To provide you with further insights into these remarkable properties, we have included a brochure prepared by our dedicated team at Lush Experiences. This brochure encapsulates our firsthand experiences during numerous site inspections, our stays at each hotel, and our conversations with luxury travel advisors, who have shared valuable insights into their clients’ preferences.
Among the Myconian Collection, the newest addition is Myconian O. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by hidden gates reminiscent of a scene from a James Bond movie. Our favorite suites are located on the ground floor, offering private pools set amidst lush gardens, alfresco dining areas, and indulgently designed bedrooms that evoke a sense of sophistication and an allure that would tempt any guest staying a week to never leave this seductive space. The chic pool area is so captivating that guests often opt to relax and immerse themselves in the ambience instead of venturing just a few steps away to the charming Hornos Beach. To top it all off, our seven-course tasting menu at the restaurant surpassed all expectations, representing the epitome of new-Greek culinary excellence. At night, the restaurant offers a mesmerizing view of the illuminated pool.
Before moving on to the next island, allow us to share a few insights about the ferry system. Navigating the ferries can be challenging, even for the most seasoned and patient travelers. We must inform you that this aspect of your journey does not reflect the luxury experience you will enjoy elsewhere. However, as an alternative, helicopter transfers are available. Be prepared for the chaotic lines and boarding process. We strongly recommend booking Platinum class tickets, which provide worthwhile amenities for a modest additional fee of $10 to $20 per person. Our fellow travelers advised limiting island visits to a maximum of three per trip. We did, however, discover a unique service offered by certain local Destination Management Companies (DMCs) that can ease the stress of the process by handling your clients’ luggage door to door.
Santorini, a visually captivating island, never fails to leave a lasting impression. Most guests naturally desire a hotel facing the Caldera for their first visit, and Mystique is the perfect choice. Located at the far end of the “hotel zone” and just below Oia, it offers what is perhaps the most secluded and private setting of all of the hotels. With a range of accommodations, including rooms with Jacuzzis and one with a private pool, Mystique captures the essence of Santorini. Each room and suite are a delightful surprise, ingeniously engineered to fit into the rock of the crater. They are among the largest accommodations available on the island. The resort also features a pool near the main restaurant, where guests can enjoy the breathtaking views. At Mystique, you can always count on consistently excellent and authentic Greek cuisine.
For those traveling with children or seeking a slightly more budget-friendly option, Vedema is the perfect choice. Situated on the opposite side of the Caldera, it offers lovely views of the island and sea in a charming village-like setting. Attached to a vineyard with a history spanning over 400 years, Vedema exudes authentic island charm. The resort provides family-friendly facilities, spacious suites, and a more expansive layout, all just minutes away from Thira.
Paros, the newest hotspot in Greece, has gained recognition among those who have moved on from the Mykonos party scene and seek peace, quiet, and genuine Greek authenticity. Cosme, blends seamlessly with Paros’ natural terrain with its understated exterior. It occupies one of the island’s most coveted beaches. This year, it was voted as one of the top 100 hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure readers. After experiencing its easy and graceful elegance, you will understand why many guests describe feeling embraced by this hotel. Paros remains a hidden gem, waiting to be explored, so make sure your clients visit before it becomes a regular stop on cruise itineraries.
Lastly, Crete holds a special place for me as a history buff. As the largest of all the Greek Isles, it boasts centuries of fascinating history, having been occupied by Romans, Venetians, Ottomans, and others until the Germans, in World War II, were the last non-Greeks to control Crete. A tour of the island delves into its rich historical tapestry, including the infamous Spinalonga Island, known for its most recent history as a leper colony.
For a stay that escapes history and epitomizes modern luxury, Blue Palace is the perfect choice. Its rooms, suites, and villas all offer stunning views of Elounda Bay and Spinalonga. Blue Palace is one of the grandest hotels on the islands and pampers its guests with 5-star luxury, impeccable service, a variety of fine dining and casual outdoor venues, and an expansive spa. The resort has played host to renowned guests such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and others seeking seclusion from the media.
In conclusion, I cannot emphasize enough the passion and enjoyment the private owning families of our Greek hotel collection have and how it shines through at all our Greek member hotels. Revisiting those we had seen before, as well as discovering our newest gem, reminded us of why Greece captivates so many repeat travelers, and us. – By Brad Beaty