Renting a house on one of the Greek islands has long been a classic spring and summer escape for Americans, as well as for northern Europeans. An Arcadian landscape of olive groves and lemon trees, limpid sea, healthy food, friendly local people and reliably perfect weather all contribute to the allure. And in the time of coronavirus, a self-contained vacation with family or friends has obvious appeal. The choice is dizzying, both in the number of islands and the types of property available. However, starting points are provided by two of our recommended hotels — Amanzoe and Elounda Mare — both of which offer glamorous villas of varying sizes.
Amanzoe is located two hours by car southwest of Athens, on the Peloponnese peninsula, close to the fashionable yachting town of Porto Heli. (Helicopter transfers are available.) The region has several important archaeological sites, including the classical theater at Epidaurus, the citadel of Mycenae and the temples of ancient Corinth. The exceptionally picturesque islands of Spetses and Hydra are within easy reach.
In a stunning hilltop location overlooking a cobalt-blue bay backed by craggy mountains, Amanzoe comprises 38 freestanding Pavilions with private plunge pools, designed by American architect Ed Tuttle. The resort also offers fully serviced one- to nine-bedroom Villas, with views over olive groves to the Mediterranean. For example, a four-bedroom Villa comes with traditional dry stone-clad walls, sand-colored marble floors, a 66-foot heated swimming pool, a private chef and a dedicated host. As well as a spacious living and dining area, the property offers a spa room, a media center and an expansive terrace.
Elounda Mare is located on the north coast of Crete, a long, narrow island (about 165 miles from west to east), which is dominated by a spine of dramatic mountains that rise to 8,000-foot Mount Ida. The resort overlooks scenic Mirabello Bay near the busy resort town of Agios Nikolaos. As well as 46 rooms in the main building, there are 36 one- to three-bedroom bungalows with private saltwater pools, set amid lush gardens that extend down to the sea. In addition, one- to two-bedroom Minoan Royalty Villas With Private Pools, constructed from local wood and stone, offer up to 1,600 square feet of indoor space, marble baths with steam showers and private fitness areas.
To find luxury villas in Greece, Andrew Harper Travel works with Abercrombie & Kent Villas, chiefly for properties in Corfu, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini, and Villas of Distinction, which has a number of houses in Santorini. Of course, suitable villas on a wider variety of islands, including Paros and Antiparos, can also be located by our Travel Office staff.
During our trip to Paros we briefly rented one of the 24 new Acron Villas, located just five minutes from the Parīlio Hotel. Our “Turquoise 2-Bedroom Villa Seaview Private Pool” had a fully equipped kitchen, a pleasant living area with a white-cotton upholstered sofa, a dining table for eight and a woodburning fireplace. Two relatively small but comfortable whitewashed bedrooms came with queen-size beds and built-in desks. Other Acron villas have three, four or five bedrooms. All come with private pools and enjoy a tranquil setting just outside of charming Naoussa, with its many restaurants, bars and shops. More attractive and comfortable than luxurious, they are an excellent and good-value option for families or groups of friends.