When visiting the islands of the Aegean, one is confronted by the vastness of nature. An endless sparkling sea leading in all directions to a sky too vast and silky blue to be real. It humbles the proud and inspires the courageous with its scale and in the face of this rugged beauty, a local sense of community, family and hospitality has become as legendary as the ancient heroes that once conquered this stunning sea.
On the island of Santorini, two hundred kilometres southeast of the Greek mainland, two towns, Fira and Oia, cling to the cliff face above an underwater caldera left over from a volcano that gave the island its shape in the 16th century. Overlooking islands to the west and beaches of black, red and white lava pebbles, Fira, especially, is gifted with the most spectacular sunsets in the evening and cool shady mornings to contrast with the unimpeded sunshine of the day.
It is within this town of whitewashed, cubiform buildings where travellers meet Athina Luxury Suites. Since 2014 when the current owners Artemis Argyrou and Panagiotis Iglesis took over the hotel, they have matched the location stride for stride with the very best of luxury, comfort and Greek hospitality. The Cyclades are not a place for half measures, and they have taken the luxury of their accommodations to the extremes.
Twenty five suites are available at Athina and from the upscale sophistication of the decor to the smallest details in the rooms, every aspect is designed to pamper and delight. Panagiotis reveals that they scoured the globe for the highest quality amenities and most notable and trusted brands to create an atmosphere of refined opulence. The linens, towels and bathrobes are all Guy Laroche while Hermes, Guerlain and Balmain amenities grace every bath, meanwhile handmade eco-friendly mattresses guarantee every guest a deep peaceful sleep.
Wherever possible, unique tailoring brings out the best of the immediate surroundings, the outdoor furniture (by Vondom Italy) is designed to encourage guests to relax and enjoy the views, while the beds and sofas are perfect for an afternoon nap. In the Royal Suite, every detail exudes charm and grace, from the handmade Greek furnishings from Leontiadis to the statue of the goddess Athina from the world-famous sculptor Goumas.
Employed stylings and decorations are a unique combination of minimalism and modernized traditionalism. The buildings themselves are constructed using local volcanic rocks and ecological materials from the very island. All of the rooms come equipped with showers and some also with bathtubs and many of the suites also offer heated plunge pools and balcony hot tubs. So, guests can enjoy a wonderful soak while soaking in the scenery.
No two of the suites are the same and each offer something different to the guest depending on the occasion for their stay or their particular tastes. For example, the Royal Suite with an outdoor jacuzzi, allows guests to bask in the sunshine and look out at the extraordinary surroundings. In contrast the Grand Cave Suite with indoor and Outdoor Jacuzzi, offers a completely different style of decor and atmosphere. The bold uniqueness of each of these locations beckons guests of all creeds, while the dizzyingly high standards of customer care make them want to stay longer.
“If you are going to stay on an island renowned for its legends,” Panagiotis says, “You should stay somewhere legendary.”
While the location inspires the imagination, the various sea and land activities available on Santorini will empty the stomach. Here is the double-whammy where Athina Luxury Suites make sure they leave their mark on all the visiting guests. Esperisma, their onsite bar and restaurant is headed up by their Executive Chef Dimitris Chasiotis, an artist of the culinary brush whose expert use of fresh local ingredients creates immersive and delicious meals encompassing the wonderful tastes of the region.
“Our carefully curated collection of local wines, inspired cocktails and Illy coffees ensure that every sip is one to savour,” Panagiotis says, “And our available menu brings an entirely new dimension to a guest’s stay. We knew when we opened Athina almost ten years ago that we had to make sure that the food was on par with the accommodation as great food is part of great hospitality.”
WHAT GUESTS CAN EXPECT
Aiming to supply a personalised, boutique level of service, the feedback from guests is very important to Panagiotis. It also helps to further inspire and guide the twenty-eight members of staff to always do better. Already considered by guests to be the best hotel on the island, the aim is always to further impress and inspire.
This tracks with a philosophy of hospitality that is intrinsic to the business. The ancient Greek idea of philoxenia inspires hospitality, generosity of spirit and warm welcomes. Sacred at the hotel, this philosophy can be seen in everything they do as they continue the spirit of sophisticated hospitality that Greece is so famous for. Indeed, to ensure that nothing important or desired is missed, guests are encouraged to complete a questionnaire before they leave so that improvements or advancements can be made.
A GREEN PHILOSOPHY
Santorini, with its multi coloured cliffs and spectacular weather is one of the most exquisite landscapes in the world. With an implied duty of care, Athina have a responsibility to be action based in their philosophies and not simply green wash themselves as so many hotels are liable to do.
As such, every member of the Athina team takes their environmental responsibility seriously and take part in a variety of energy-saving and eco-friendly measures. Dual-flush toilets, LED bulbs and automatic outdoor lighting conserve resources without sacrificing convenience or luxury. Waste is limited due to rigorous recycling procedures, the cleaning products that keep the villas sparkling and pristine are all strictly natural and certified eco-friendly and guests are encouraged to reuse towels.
“Additionally, we are a proud participant in the Green Soap program which allows us to recycle leftover soap and other cleaning products,” Panagiotis says, “Our efforts to be eco-friendly are an important part of our philosophy of Greek hospitality and another way to pamper our guests.”
Despite their approach to limiting their impact on the environment being in-effect since their opening, Panagiotis is nonetheless grateful that they adopted this focus early. A tide of interest in how destinations conduct themselves when it comes to the environment has been rapidly rising over the last few years. Travellers are increasingly aware of how the locations they stay in contribute to their own impact and carbon footprint and are choosing carefully.
Happy to be the example of how eco-conscious working and high-end luxury can co-exist, Athina Luxury Suites has proved why Greece was considered the seat of enlightenment for so many thousands of years. For the next thousand they can be known as the seat of luxury and comfort as well.
PRICE: The average price for the high season is around 800 euro per night including breakfast.
ADDRESS: FIRA – SANTORINI – GREECE
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +30 228 602 4910