A Day Spent with Greek Tycoons on the Island of Spetses
They say all good things must some to an end or do they say the best is yet to come. Pulling into a world of bliss, Spetses town and it is no wonder why they call it the Island of the Greek Tycoons.
The impressive century-old Poseidonion Grand Hotel stands out dressed in gold and reminiscent of the days of Elizabeth Taylor, Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman.
Today it is the playground of the rich and famous with old school glamour. The Greek and foreign aristocracy and royalty flocked in the early 20th Century for balls, dinners, and bathing – and the now modernized and still luxurious Poseidon Grand Hotel (built in 1912) attests to that grand epoch.
After a long day at sea, we entered the lobby and like the hotel itself, the entrance was grand with a classical ambiance and finesse and a sense of serenity. Not like other hotels with long check-in lines, just a desk with a very welcoming and hospitable staff waiting to take us to our room. In fact, we received two calls from the concierge prior to our arrival asking when we would arrive so that he could meet us at the pier and help with the luggage. As we pulled in he was there. Attention to detail is my motto and this hotel surpassed my expectations.
I chose the VIP 2-bedroom Suite in the historic building. Our luxury suite featuring two bedrooms with king-size beds, each with an en-suite marble bathroom separated by a living and dining room. It was the perfect accommodation for 2 couples.
Enough privacy and yet a room in the center to get together in for cocktails. It came in handy before and after our nights out on the town. The room was simple with clean lines exuding exquisite luxury. We spent the late nights talking and taking in the views of the Argo Saronic Gulf and the picturesque port of Dapia from our sea-view balcony.
I had every intention of taking a swim in the pool but unfortunately never got around to it. We never got around to eating at Bostani either. It is the Poseidonion’s farm to table restaurant located a few miles from the hotel on their own farm. There is only so much you can pack into one day and we were enjoying every minute of it.
Instead, we decided on drinks at the Palm and the mixologist did such a good job we stayed for not just one but a few of their specialty cocktails. After all, we were on vacation!
The next day we would enjoy breakfast at the hotel at On the Verandah with views of the sea and Greek scrambled eggs with tomatoes or Kagianas. Each part of Greece has its own version, and this did not disappoint. There were many traditional Greek breakfast items and our waiter was more than happy to send out almost everything so that we could have a taste! I’ve eaten around the world and this was a treat!
Spetses, the new Greek Riviera
The Saronic isle with no cars allowed has pretty horse buggies, flowery villas and sandy beaches. For the adventurous the island has no shortage of motorized water toys. It is an island that attracts well-healed Athenians and international visitors, however hardly any from the United States. It is often referred to as the new Greek Riviera. Spetses, the home of superyachts reminded me a lot of Portofino, glamourous with gorgeous people all dressed to the nines!
The main port of Spetses is filled with motorbikes, bicycles and the bustle of everyday life. The Palio Limani, (Old Harbour) a 15-minute walk from the center will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. The first thing you will notice is the unique metal mermaid, the Greek heroine Bouboulina. She stands proudly watching over the main port.
Grand homes in every shade of pastel and bold colors overlook the rock harbor. It is here where you can see the superyachts docked in crystal blue waters and see the traditional Kaiki boats that are built and restored in traditional boat sheds. The Old Harbour has no shortage of places to enjoy the serenity.
Strolling Around Spetses
Take a walk through the intricate winding streets and you will come across fabulous boutiques as well as the busy fish market.
Along the way, admire the many cobbled lanes, barbershops, and tavernas. We decided on Tarsanas, renowned on the island for their freshly caught fish and local specialty Fish a la Spetsiota. It was a hard choice because I had my heart set on the grey lobster at Patralis Psarotaverna.
Maybe tomorrow night…
Private Yacht Tour to Porto Heli
The next day and back on the yacht we headed across the water to Porto Heli. Many tourist head to Mykonos and Santorini leaving this island to be Greece’s best secret. There is no other place in Greece with this concentration of wealth. Vanity Fair termed Porto Heli the Southampton of Greece because of the palatial, sprawling estates costing tens of millions of euros.
A few years ago, the Financial Times reported a sale in the Porto Heli area of a 40 million-euro home that was bought by a Greek shipowner and his Russian wife. The in-the-know discerning globetrotters come to Porto Heli, a very laid-back version of the Amalfi Coast and Positano, but with no tourists or backpacks.
Porto Heli is peace.
Situated in the rich agricultural region of Argolida, Porto Heli is a foodie paradise. Much of the wine, cheese, fish, honey, olives, and olive oil comes from the surrounding region. Many other luxury Mediterranean destinations have been overrun by brand-name shops but to date there are no chain stores in town. Given the fact that there is certainly a moneyed crowd, I expected to see a Gucci or a Fendi. Not yet but how far away is that reality.
The question remains is how long before Porto Heli becomes the next St. Tropez and loses it rustic small-town charm?
AMANZOE an Aman Health and Wellness Retreat
What inspired me to go to Porto Heli was my mission to visit Amanzoe an Aman Health and Wellness Retreat and the most exclusive hotel chain in the world.
With exquisitely designed guest pavilions and beach cabanas all with private pools this contemporary acropolis sits on a hilltop, surrounded by undulating olive groves and overlooking the turquoise Aegean Sea.
This resort gave a boost to the island and to the Greek travel industry introducing a new generation of monied visitors. They arrive by helicopter from the mainland, powerboats and superyachts.
Amanzoe’s nightly rates start in the four figures and are completely sold out in July and August. This is a property that has been on my bucket list for a few years and will be my top of choice for setting up a women’s retreat in March.
Health and Wellness at Amanzoe Porto Heli
What better place to celebrate health and wellness and to provide meaningful and lasting change in body and mind than in one of the great healing centers of the ancient world, the Asclepion of Epidaurus.
This vast masterpiece of greek architecture, dedicated to the gods of Epidaurus, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to temples and an amphitheatre.
Close to Amanzoe, people would come to spend the night in the complex, hoping Aesclepius, the doctor-god, would visit them in their dreams and prescribe them a personal pathway to health. Continuing the traditions, Amanzoe taps into the region’s healing heritage and cultivating immersive, personal routes to wellbeing.
Holistic, balanced, bespoke; from cleansing and weight-management to balance movement, nutrition, mental and spiritual elements it is the pathway to a better self.
Views on Porto Heli
After a swim on the beach we headed to the main building on the hilltop. Picked up by one of the resort’s drivers we piled into a luxury Range Rover for a quick 10-minute drive up with unbelievable views and a history lesson of the island.
They say a picture is worth a dozen words – look at some of ours. Impressive does not describe this luxury resort with a starkly beautiful Peloponnese landscape. Amazing Amanzoe!
Amanzoe - A Perfect Destination for a Celebration
With breathtaking views of the Aegean, I can’t think of a better place to celebrate an important occasion.
Do you have something you want to celebrate?
Amanzoe Site Inspection
After a 2-hour site inspection with the GM we were hungry and chose to go back to the beach for lunch. Missing Italian we chose a few different wood-fired pizzas, Greek salad and Mezedes or Greek bites all paired with wine.
More than satisfied and in awe of the property, it was time to get back to the yacht and to leave this heaven on earth.
Until next time.