Find balance in Santorini
For the ultimate in mind, body and soul revival, head to the southern Aegean. Our Lifestyle Editor, Camilla Cary-Elwes, shares her review of her stay at two Andronis hotels in Santorini.
Created by a catastrophic volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago, the Hellenic arc of Greek islands is said to have a unique energy vibration. At the very heart of this forcefield is the beautiful island of Santorini. One of the most visited places in the Greek archipelago, the island is known for its unique microclimate, whitewashed buildings and bright blue sea – and now for its wellness offering.
Andronis hotels in Santorini – a review
Staying at Andronis Concept
On the island’s western coast, teetering at the edge of the dramatic caldera, is spa hotel Andronis Concept, near the small town of Imerovigli. In an area where space is at a premium (Santorini hosts two million visitors a year), Andronis Concept has the luxury of peaceful space. The rooms are all spaciously minimal yet luxurious. Each is equipped with a private pool and terrace, many of which face west, in prime position for the island’s famous pink sunsets.
The earth-coloured buildings flow around the volcanic hillside and every corner is more photogenic than the last. The clean lines of the polished concrete interior merge with vibrant flowerbeds and otherworldly rock gardens filled with crystal boulders and succulents. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream.
Soothe mind, body and soul
It is apt it was a Greek poet, Hexiod, that first said ‘Moderation in all things’. And the Andronis ethos is all about moderation, not denial. Good food is fundamental to this – as can be seen at Throubi, the resort’s main restaurant. The menus (overseen by a nutritionist) are extensive. From Greek fare with a twist, to the ultimate private dining experience, that takes in Yellowtail with turnip puree, truffle and mushroom tea via wagu beef with sweet potato cream – all served with a premier sunset vista. In the spirit of moderation, be sure to try the local Assyrtiko wine. This grape is unique to the island’s volcanic soil and microclimate.
So far, so good. But the spiritual heart of the hotel has to be the Kallos spa and yoga studio. The ancient Greek word kallos means beauty – a combination of physical beauty, the virtues of one’s soul and emotional energy. The spa goes beyond simple pampering to focus on the union of mind, body and spirit. It has three therapeutic relaxation programmes – Be Destressed, Be Rested and Be Balanced. There’s also input from visiting practitioners, wellness analysis and yoga sessions.
This is a place to elevate your yoga practice to new heights – literally. Classes take place in a glass-balconied studio perched high atop the caldera, with what must be the best views on the island. Take a sunrise or sunset class with Eleni, or for the ultimate experience, try ariel yoga and stretch unencumbered by gravity.
At Andronis Arcadia
The village of Oia is at the epicentre of the Santorini tourist hordes. Tour buses arrive daily with picture-hungry visitors who snake through the narrow streets, hoping to get a snap of one of the most photographed sunset scenes in the world – the iconic domed blue roofs clinging to the cliffside above the glittering Aegean.
Removed from the crowds but close to the action and those views is another in the Andronis family, the livelier Andronis Arcadia. Like the Concept, Arcadia has the same expansive outlook and low-key luxe feel. Every room opens onto a private terrace with its own pool – all facing west for a ringside view of the sun setting.
The poolside Pacman dining area overlooks the main infinity pool and is buzzy hang-out by day and opulent sushi restaurant by night.
Sample the wellness offering
While it would be easy to spend the days sipping cocktails by the pool bar, the wellness offering is the main draw here. Evexia is the biggest spa on the island. It boasts a Kneipp circuit, airy glass-fronted yoga studio, plus a whole host of treatments, expert talks and tailored therapies to nurture mind and mood as well as the physical.
Stressed, fatigued, or struggling to escape a churning thought pattern? A sound bath or kundalini dance session might be just the thing to switch the reset button. The former is a fully immersive way to be still and present, the latter a way to break free from whatever is holding you back. And don’t worry, guests wear masks to spare self-consciousness – so you really can dance like no one’s watching.
The reviving Kneipp water path is made up of two water walkways, one hot, one cold. As you pass through the circuit, the contrast of hot and cold narrows the blood vessels, promoting blood and lymphatic circulation, and a surge of feel-good endorphins.
Andronis spa director, Carla Sage, is on a mission to treat and restore mind, body and soul. To do so she has curated a world-class selection of therapists and wellness professionals as part of Andronis’ visiting practitioner programme, which runs throughout the year. While we visited, acupuncturist and women’s health expert, Ross Barr, and pain specialist, Dr Zulia Frost, were on hand.
With a cult following in the UK (including royals), and a hefty waiting list for his London clinic, Ross uses five element acupuncture to treat everything from fertility to digestive problem to insomnia. Ross’ approach to treatment is unique to each individual, their situation and lifestyle, and his remarkable treatments integrate and regulate the organs – restoring the body to its default setting.
Interactive neurostimulation pioneer, Dr Zulia Frost, is another regular visitor. She developed the FlexBeam. This therapeutic device uses red and infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing process by boosting microcirculation. Treatments use this in conjunction with the remarkable InterX. InterX uses gentle pulse stimulation, and a unique feedback system, that responds to the body’s resistance. It locates problem areas and achieves both pain relief and speeding up natural healing.
For something special…
Pushing the boat out? Andronis’ Michelin-star restaurant Lauda is in Oia village on the iconic cliff face.
Back in the 1970s when Oia was a sleepy fishing port, Lauda was the only restaurant. It was a meeting point for locals and the location of the village’s only phone. Now it is a relaxed and unpretentious fine-dining experience on what must be the world’s most romantic balcony. Enjoy panoramic ocean views and an inspiring menu by Michelin-starred chef, Emmanuel Renaut. In this theatre of food, mini donuts disguised as rocks, deconstructed olives, absinth sugar cones and other surprising delights are rolled out with unmatchable flair.
Images: Camilla Cary-Elwes/Tryfon Georgopoulos