Travel: Discover the Charming, Sedate Side of Mykonos
A family run, luxury hotel chain is a rare thing indeed, but of there’s one country that does it better than most, it’s Greece. Bethan Andrews discovers the Myconian Collection…
The Myconian Collection, a portfolio of outstanding hotels on the historic island of Mykonos, was set up by local man George Daktylides, who once upon a time decided to build Mykonos’ first out-of-own hotel. He became the island’s third hotelier when Kohili opened in 1979, and having had the pleasure of meeting the family on my trip to Myconian Collection, it’s clear that success has come on the back of a lot of hard work.
Three of the nine-strong portfolio are among the five Relais & Châteaux on Greece, one a Member of Design Hotels of the World, another two are Members of The Leading Hotels of the World, and the others are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Clearly, they are doing something very right.
‘Our parents built the Myconian Collection from the ground up and my brothers and I are as proud of our roots as we are of how much we’ve grown,’ said Vangelis Daktylides. Meeting Vangelis and his children was lovely, and it’s not out of the ordinary to bump into them, all welcoming smiles.
I stayed at the Myconian Utopia Hotel, perched on the hills above Elia Beach, an area renowned for its fine sand and blue water. It’s also home to the incredibly luxurious Myconian Villa Collection, the Myconian Imperial Resort and Royal Myconian Resort, as well as the Myconian Avaton Resort. South of the island, Myconian Ambassador Hotel beams over the bay of Platis Gialos – the pearl in a string of celebrated beaches.
Ιn Mykonos Town, overlooking the Alefkandra windmills, stands the five-star Myconian Kyma Hotel, Myconian Naia Hotel and Myconian Korali Hotel. Each offering is unique and incredibly beautiful. Utopia in particular won me over with the most incredible sea-view room, huge freestanding black stone bathtub, rainforest shower and zen interior. It’s arty, seriously stylish, and you can get lost just meandering around its corridors, designed to mimic the streets of the Old Town.
The locals call Mykonos the ‘windy island’, and it’s easy to see why, but I found the breeze pleasant in the sun
The pool area at Utopia commands a breathtaking position overlooking the ocean and, at night, comes alive with twinkles from the under-pool lighting. The locals call Mykonos the ‘windy island’, and up here it’s easy to see why, but I found the breeze pleasant in the sun, and it complemented the organic design of the property.
The ease of being shuttled down to the beach whenever you fancied was also a winner for me, and it deserves its reputation as one of the best beaches on the island. As I arrived to my sunbed, I was greeted by a platter of fresh fruit and a cocktail.
If you are a spa lover then this one will wow you, especially with the thalassotherapy. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was black, something not often seen, but sitting amidst the water of the pools in the dark was a calming experience. The facial that I had was also calming, and I left feeling positively reset – it’s easy to forget about the outside world here.
Mykonos is enchanting and, despite its reputation as a five-star party island for the rich and famous, it has a secretive and sedate charm about it, full of quaint corners and local kids careering down the cobbled streets. I would recommend an organised tour of the town, as they are incredibly detailed and teach you about all of the hidden treasures in the popular destination.
Being able to visit and understand the traditions of the family chapels in the town was fascinating, and we were even lucky enough to see the island’s one resident pelican. We were also fortunate enough to do a tour of Delos, an UNESCO heritage site just off the coast of Mykonos. We were taken there by a beautiful yacht, something that can be organised by the hotel.
Mykonos is enchanting and, despite its reputation as a five-star party island for the rich and famous, it has a secretive and sedate charm about it
According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island and his sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece, making Delos a prosperous trading port. The island still bears the traces of this world from the 3rd millennium B.C. The site is extensive and the museum is a brilliant way of envisaging the world that made Mykonos what it is today.
Once we arrived back from the island, we ate lunch at Ambassador, a hotel that beautifully blends a lively vibe with a feeling of whitewashed calm. Like the food at each and every resort restaurant in the Collection, the lunch was incredible – fresh, local and with extensive offerings.
I looked forward to meal times as each dish was presented exquisitely and incorporated a farm to fork philosophy. The local aspect of the hotels came into its own here as well, as Daktylides has built up strong relationships with farmers across the island.
This was clear to see when we dined at Pavilion at Utopia and Nostos Pool Bar at Imperial on our first day. The fish and seafood options were fantastic, and I would recommend sampling the octopus dishes.
If you want to experience something high end, but with the personal touches of a smaller, family-run establishment, then this is the island and the Collection for you.
Myconian Collection offers rooms at the Myconian Utopia resort from £268 per night. See myconianutopia.gr