It seems like it’s been ages since I last traveled to the Cyclades Islands in Greece. Yet my reluctance to travel abroad during a pandemic quickly vanished upon my arrival on the island of Paros. I decided to book a resort that didn’t require a rental car, instead choosing a property where I could walk around the bustling, whitewashed port village of Naoussa, which is the hub of activity on the island. .
As Mykonos and Santorini filled with tourists, the more relaxed vibe of Paros and its little neighbor Antiparos won me over as a safer and more relaxing sanctuary. I spent a few wonderful days exploring both islands, focusing on less touristy options and more private excursions.
It was truly refreshing to see that many new hotels on the islands are owned and operated by powerful young women, all dedicated to spectacular design, hospitality and creating a unique guest experience that will last. forever.
Cove Paros is owned by the beautiful and charming Youli Papaioannou; her family has been in the hospitality industry for years, having launched their first hotel in Zakynthos in 1992. Tourism and hospitality have always been part of her life, and she has a personal attachment to the island and to nostalgia. of the childhood that surrounds him. Having spent countless summers there with her family, she wanted to recreate the magic of those moments for her guests.
âThe passion for hospitality is a lingering mystery that the Greeks know well,â says Youli. âIt’s in the culture, in history, there were ancient laws protecting its sanctity. It is also probably inevitable, at one point or another, that an entrepreneur in Greece like me will take an interest in tourism and the opportunities it offers. The Cycladic topography alone would make anyone fantasize about their own boutique sanctuary. But it takes a special formula of creativity, will and commitment to realize our aspirations and make our inspirations tangible.
Paros is one of the most popular islands in the Cyclades, famous for its wide sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and secret coves to explore. It is also easily accessible from Athens, with high speed ferries or short direct flights. I preferred the ferry, and when booked first class it has a private area on the upper deck with a butler providing food and bar service.
The main village of Paros is Naoussa, which is full of traditional tavernas, upscale restaurants and bars. The area is teeming with young locals and visitors every night which adds to the burgeoning energy of the area, but there are plenty of options for finding a waterfront table for dinner. Around my stay there were superyachts delivering celebrities like Justin Bieber and Charlize Theron and billionaires like Jeff Bezos, all exploring the charm of the island.
Cove Paros is the newest resort on the island of Paros, located a short walk from the town. The upscale aesthetic of the resort coupled with authentic Cycladic hospitality makes the property one of the most sought after by visitors. With its prime location directly on the sandy beach overlooking the peaceful Agioi Anargyroi coast, it is the ideal retreat for couples and families.
The complex has been created with a stunning modern design, all organized by the architectural firm eDje. Usually, hotels with a minimalist aesthetic are cold and sterile, but Cove Paros is so well designed that you feel like you are in your own private villa.
The hotel offers 45 suites, including five signature suites with private pools and are truly the best way to experience this beautiful hotel. They have stylish interiors, a large outdoor terrace, a master bedroom with a sumptuous king size bed, a separate living room with two sofa beds, and a stunning bathroom with perhaps the best water pressure I have ever had. known in an island complex.
Lazy days here are spent soaking in your private pool, swimming in the gorgeous main pool, or lying on the sandy beach with plush lounge chairs, palapas, and food service. Meals are expertly prepared in the resort’s RADA restaurant overlooking the beach, using pure produce and seasonal ingredients. The staff are young and energetic, and by the end of your stay you will likely know everyone by first name.
Dinners are a late experience in Greece, usually starting at 10 p.m. We spent hours strolling through the town’s narrow stone passageways, past countless shops and tavernas. The charming waterfront is filled with colorful fishing boats seemingly melted into the crowded harbor. There are plenty of dining options, including the more popular (and expensive) Statheros and Barbarossa, but try to select a taverna where locals hang out to avoid tourists.
The Rooster is owned by the elegant and charming Athanasia Comninos. Her adventure in Antiparos began when she wanted to create a destination of personal growth and where clients can experience happiness in simple pleasures.
Comninos has two children and left his career in interior design and magazine work at Vogue Greece. After working for her family’s shipping company, she decided to quit everything and focus on her personal passion project. She cares a lot about Antiparos and its safeguard. You’ll never see a beach club with cocktail service or a DJ beating the main pool at this property; it is tranquility at its best.
Antiparos is located less than a mile from the larger island of Paros, where the seven-minute ferry travels from port to port every hour until after midnight. I wanted to see what it was about at the sparkling new hotel called The Rooster, located on Livadia Beach.
Antiparos is a calm and reserved island, filled with a special charm and full of attractions. It’s obvious why so many famous faces make this island their summer home (Tom Hanks owns a villa here.)
Designed as a wellness and lifestyle hub, The Rooster isn’t overly dramatic or pretentious. It’s created more as a holistic experience and an escape from civilization, with its camouflaged aesthetic blending into the hillside. It’s slow living at its best.
Le Coq offers 16 detached houses, all with a unique style where you feel at home. There is also a separate farm house that can accommodate six people. All houses include private gardens, outdoor showers and direct views of the sea or the surrounding landscape. You may never see another guest during your stay unless you venture into the main lobby and bar. There is no pool or central service on the beach to create a more tranquil, private, and less resort-like experience.
The House of Healing is one of the real highlights of the property where guests can participate in guided rituals, such as the sacred bath, sound healing, or practice yoga and meditation throughout the stay or a visit. of a day like me.
The therapists are masterful, including Abi, who provided one of the best Ayurvedic massages of my life. With just two treatment rooms and a small outdoor pool, the spa was created to be your own personal sanctuary where you will rarely meet another guest.
Led by rock star executive chef Andreas Nikolakopoulos, dining in the Secret Garden under the stars is an evening of sheer gastronomic pleasure. The farm-to-table restaurant offers freshly caught fish, local vegetables from the resort’s farm, all integrated with modern international cuisine.
One of my favorite spots at the hotel is the huge open-air bar overlooking the sea, where the bartender prepares passionate cocktails as you watch spectacular sunsets over the secluded bay.
HOW TO EXPLORE BOTH ISLANDS
I discovered Seacret Cruises after doing extensive research on the best way to explore the islands of Paros and Antiparos when time is limited. Young and handsome company owner Dimitris Vakakis created a masterful morning exploration with a luxury RIB boat, allowing us to venture into hidden caves, tunnels and secret bays.
Most charter companies have catamarans or yachts that don’t give access to these hidden spots, but with Seacret Cruises you have the opportunity to really discover new places for more privacy away from the boats full of tourists.
We embarked from the port of Aliki in Paros around 9 a.m. for a visit to the best spots in southern Paros and the Antiparos Islands. The typical day cruise lasts 8 hours, or a half-day cruise can be booked in the morning or at sunset.
We visited caves for underwater exploration and stopped at rocks to snorkel through the landscape of southern Antiparos. The boat gave us access to cave tunnels ideally opening onto calm water for swimming. Dimitris also provided snacks and cocktails at the most romantic private sandy coves.
The perfect itinerary for the morning was to visit the beautiful Panteronisia (Blue Lagoon), Faneromeni beach, the famous seal caves, the uninhabited island of Despotiko with its archaeological finds, then have lunch at the famous seaside restaurant. Captain Pipinos on Antiparos. There are many other options for exploring the land, but in the sweltering heat of summer, being out on the open sea and swimming in the warm waters was the best way to spend your vacation.