ekies-all-senses-greece

Greece will always be a summer favourite, but there’s no denying that it was once notorious for fuelling mass tourist mono-culture. Brash resorts were built illegally, rural communities were forgotten and fragile ecosystems were turned into commodities. Yet, as travellers seek to reduce their environmental impact, the popularity of agro-tourism is helping to slow down the detrimental effects this fly-and-flop approach. We’ve picked out six of our favourite hotels on the Greek islands that are putting sustainability first.

1. Ekies All Senses Resort

The epitome of  barefoot luxury is the all-natural playground of Ekies All Senses. It took 11 years to create this  striking hub that fuses minimalist, industrial and playful visions of four prominent Greek designers. Non-toxic paint was used across the property, they have strict waste policy and natural bedding is used throughout the 69 rooms. The hotel also hotel works closely with Boroume, a local charity that takes leftover food and shares it with people in need. Stay in the “pine” suites that blur the boundaries between out and in. Natural materials (think Greek marble, recycled pine planks and rattan furniture) blend seamlessly with the forest that engulfs the property. Nothing too strenuous will be on the itinerary here, evidenced by the ample lounging facilities (think wave-lapping hammocks, giant bean bags and dreamy daybeds) scattered throughout the property. Lazily sink into the stools at the wet bar that overspills into the Aegean Sea and order a shot of homemade ouzo.

 

2. Coco-Mat Eco Residences

Renowned architect George Zafirious transformed a cluster of former miners’ houses into a hip, beachfront retreats. In order that Coco-Mat Eco Residences gained optimum eco-credentials, he followed bioclimatic architecture principles to ensure that natural air conditioning flows throughout, while ample natural light floods the two-storey apartments. Brushed concrete floors, bleached cottons and up-cycled wooden furniture complete the stripped-back, bohemian feel. Borrow an electric, wooden bicycle to explore the island – the neighbouring bay of Koutalas remains completely untouched and is often deserted. Kitchen cabinets come ready stocked and brimming with local produce and a herbal bar can be added if required. Can’t haul yourself from the cloud-like Coco-Mat beds? The beachfront daybeds can be dressed up so you can sleep under the stars.  

 

3. Eagles Palace

Fringed by arguably the best beach on the Athos peninsula is the majestic Eagles Palace. One of the first Greek eco-hotels, the sprawling resort is about education as much as implementation. Beach-cleaning initiatives are regularly organised with local primary schools and educational workshops centred on protecting emigrating birds are run regularly. A huge emphasis is placed on next-door-neighbour suppliers; dishes are decorated with herbs plucked from the poolside bushes, olive oil is harvested from the surrounding groves and zesty cocktails are topped with a local distillery’s boutique gin. Giving little reason to leave the eco haven, beachfront parasols have in-built buzzers to summon  sundowners instantly. You’ll feel less guilty knowing they’ve been garnished with a sprig from within-arms-reach potted plants.

4. Eumelia

Leading the way for Greek agro-tourism, Eumeleia (meaning “harmony”) is a high-end, sustainable farming retreat in southern Greece. Set among rich olive groves and an abundance of fertile terrain, guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in their farm-to-table philosophy. Fruit for breakfast is grabbed from the gardens and almonds are gathered each afternoon. Enrol in a cooking workshop to create the Greek staple dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves) filled with smoked trout caught from a nearby mountain spring. Pack your freshly made snack as fuel for your hike up the towering Mount Taygetos, where you’ll be met with panoramic views of the Laconic region. Despite the family farm 19th-century origins, Greek-made luxury mattresses, soft towelling robes and powerful rainforest showers all come as standard.

 

5. Levendis Estate

Odysseus’ mythical island of Ithaca is an enchanting retreat for anyone looking to slow down. Priding themselves on their ability to revitalise frazzled patrons, the homespun farming cottages are hidden within rosemary-perfumed gardens and all look out over a twinkling infinity pool. There’s also no Wi-Fi within a 3km  radius. Farming influences flow through the whole of the estate, with a focus on preventing water waste. A pioneering rainwater system is fed to the gardens from an intricate system of ground and soakage pipes, which help keep their botanical bounty rich and fruitful. Birdlife contributes to the compost system and 100% natural cleaning products are used throughout, while water from the nearby Kalamos spring is said to possess healing properties, so drink up.

 

6. Native Eco Villa

Perched atop the highest point of the Caldera are three designer eco villas that have earned the nickname “the balcony to the Aegean” due to their commanding sunset and sea vistas. The trio of “native eco villas” were the first properties on the island to be awarded the “Green Key” accolade, which has leads the way in promoting eco-friendly practices. Acting as a poster child for future developments, only materials from the island have been used to carve out this slice of Cycladic luxury. Expect white walls, sumptuous Coco-Mat linens and artisan seagrass baskets complemented with splashes of sapphire blue and a mirror-glaze sea views from skylight showers. Slink smugly into your rooftop jacuzzi for a soak beneath the stars.  

 

Native Eco Villa

Levendis Estate

Eumelia

Eagles Palace

Coco-Mat Eco Residence

Ekies All Senses Resort

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