Our two resort picks in Porto Heli, Greece
Tiffany Dowd finds herself seduced by the energy and soothed by the tranquillity of two very different resorts; Nikki Beach Resort & Spa and Amanzoe in Porto Heli.
Situated on the east coast of the Peloponnese and across from the cosmopolitan islands of Spetses and Hydra, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa and Amanzoe bring energy and tranquillity to the popular coastal town of Porto Heli.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa
I arrive after a scenic two-hour drive from Athens to Nikki Beach and the hotel reception is a hive of activity with staff preparing for the infamous White Party to mark the season’s opening. Nikki Beach is renowned for its White Parties and tonight international press and the elite of Greece have been invited to fete the 66-suite resort while a world-famous DJ spins tunes into the night.
A bevy of guests lingers poolside as I pass through the sleekly decorated white and blue lobby down to the Beach Club. A sandy beach overlooking the Porto Heli bay is steps away, and already up-tempo music gently pulsates as if handing me an invitation to slink into a beach bed with a cocktail and dissolve into the afternoon. It’s seemingly the perfect place for those seeking a low-key vibe to chill out by day and a vibrant party experience by night.
Nikki Beach is renowned worldwide for its STAY.LIVE.PLAY concept and jetsetters and loyalists flock to its many worldwide locations just for the experience, engulfing you in the hip, playful mood that is the resort’s hallmark. My Nikki Signature Suite offers an instant sense of calm, no doubt a result of its ethereal design, soothing white decor and calming view of the bay. Monsoon rain showers and a personalised mini-bar add to an indulgent stay.
The creative cuisine at Café Nikki has an impressive array of light meals, including the ‘Sexy Salad’ (a mix of lobster, prawn and crab) and sushi that would rival any top Japanese restaurant.
After a late night of dancing at The White Party, the only evidence of any extravagant celebration is the parade of late-night revellers hiding behind sunglasses sauntering at midday into Café Nikki to sip mimosas and indulge in the Sunday recovery brunch.
The next day I head to the exquisite 38-suite Amanzoe, only 10 minutes outside Porto Heli, to hide away for a few days of serenity, spa and a little me-time. Aman is derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’ while zoe is the Greek word for ‘life’, words that capture the essence of this secluded resort.
As the car pulls up to the arrival pavilion, I am instantly taken in by the classical architecture, its striking columns lined with olive trees and reflective pools. The resort is surrounded by the Peloponnese countryside on one side and the vibrant coastline on the other, which in the early evenings becomes the gathering place for apéritifs and perfect sunsets.
My ultra-private guest pavilion with its own swimming pool feels like a sanctuary. If it weren’t for the Aman Spa, Beach Club and a choice of restaurants to lure me, I might never leave my room. The open-plan design and minimalist decor with marble and wood accents create a welcoming haven typical of Aman. I enjoy a private dinner in one of the jaw-dropping, private Aman Villas overlooking the Aegean Sea. The villas range from one to five bedrooms, each with two dedicated staff members, and are ideal for private getaways or family gatherings.
Greek wellness rituals at the Aman Spa
With sightseeing planned for the following day, I make an appointment at the Aman Spa for one of the signature treatments using a combination of Greek wellness rituals and Asian techniques. Stavros, the spa director, takes me through the variety of treatments available, and he recommends a ritual using natural ingredients including local honey that leaves me completely renewed. While I relish the Zen-like state I achieve at the spa, I promise myself at some point during the day to also take a highly praised pilates or yoga class offered in the yoga pavilion.
Best of both worlds
While both are destination resorts on their own, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa and Amanzoe also serve as great launching points to see the nearby Greek islands. From Amanzoe’s Beach Club, guests can island-hop to the charming and historic Spetses or visit the picturesque town of Hydra where donkeys and water taxis are the only means of transportation.
I spent an enjoyable afternoon browsing the shops in Spetses and taking a horse and carriage to a restaurant for a leisurely seaside lunch. When thinking of the Mediterranean, many popular destinations come to mind — from the romantic and historic to the exotic. With the chill atmosphere of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa and the calming experience at Amanzoe, Porto Heli offers the best of both styles so you never have to choose between partying until dawn and indulging your senses.
Accommodation www.nikkibeachhotels.com/portoheli & www.amanresorts.com/amanzoe
Getting there Nikki Beach Resort & Spa and Amanzoe are a 2.5-hour drive from Athens or a two-hour journey by sea on a hydrofoil from the Athenian port of Piraeus. Guests may also charter a helicopter – a flight of just 25 minutes from Athens Airport. Airlines including SWISS fly to Athens from Australia via Zurich. www.swiss.com
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