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Unlike the tourist-tainted landscapes of neighbouring of Cancun and other Caribbean resorts; Santorini, Greece provides a seemingly untouched backdrop of white hills, red beaches and blue seas.
A gem of Santorini, the Ikies Traditional Houses, sits high atop the archipelago of islands in the village of Oia (pronounced E-ah). Ikies houses are divided into studios (one bedroom), maisonettes (loft bedroom), and suites. Each lodging has its own intriguing name — presumably derived from local occupations — such as artisan, boatman, collector and antiquarian.
The eleven luxury dwellings are carved out of pumice and designed to blend in with the surrounding architecture — hence “traditional houses”. The theme of bright white with a highlight of blue windows, roofs and shutters create a mesmerizing effect when pared with the Aegean’s cerulean waters and red clay cliffs.
Ikies makes brilliant use of their surroundings by perching their apartments on these cliffs, and expanding the space even further with private patios, Jacuzzis and pools, all of which are carefully crafted for viewing of Oia’s famous sunsets.
Beyond the intricately detailed infrastructure, Ikies has become renowned for its obsession with service. One satisfied review read, “Their staff lives for nothing more than to refill your cocktail. Continental breakfast, light fare and cocktails are all served to your room (or terrace or pool area). For the romantically-inclined, Ikies also offers a full service honeymoon package, with champagne breakfasts, flowers, satin sheets and the works.
With its full-service amentities and incomparable landscape, Ikies is a prime example of what this region has to offer. Stay tuned to Coolhunter to learn the ins and outs of the best places to vacation in Santorini, Mykonos, and Athens as we will be reporting live in September. By L. Harper
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Located at Imerovigli on the northwest coast of the Cyclades island of Santorini, Greece, Grace Santorini is earning a reputation among Santorini's luxury boutique hotels as THE place to dine.
The surroundings are, of course, divine with the azure ocean, the white-washed buildings, the dark and barren cliffside creating a Greek paradise. Views over the Caldera Basin and Skaros Rock surround the hotel.
The year-old alfresco show kitchen is presided over by chef Sprios Agious who's gained new influences during his work over the winter with Michel Roux Junior of Le Gavroche, London, and Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn, in Maine, USA.
The kitchen serves fresh and innovative Mediterranean cuisine that everyone is talking about including grilled calamari on summer-green ragout and grilled Aegean Sea octopus and balsamic glazed monkfish. Guests can dine alfresco on the moonlit terraces, by the infinity pool or in the dining room or lounge inside.
Grace Santorini is part of the Grace Hotels Group. We only feature hotels we have personally experienced - and we have not stayed at Grace Santorini - so we are not sure what the rest of the hotel is like. The reputation of the food has come to our attention from several sources.
We have experienced Ikeas on Santorini and highly recommend it. - Bill Tikos
Restaurant Farma Kreaton (Meat Farm in Greek)is the recently opened addition to the well publicized Fabrica Kreaton restaurant located in the center of the city of Komotini, (Adrianoupoleos 4) in northeastern Greece.
The architecture and interior design of both spaces are by Minas Kosmidis (Μηνάς Κοσμίδης) with offices in Thessaloniki and Komotini.
In the case of Farma Kreaton, graphic designer Yiannis Tokalatsidis created the minimalist, hand-drawn graphics and cut-outs of cows, chickens and the scenery of the countryside that set the whimsical barn-yard chic tone to the entire space.
The 270 square-meter (almost 3,000 square- feet), 150 seat new restaurant is in essence an additional open-concept eating area to the existing Fabrica Kreaton that, in turn, is themed around a Greek butcher shop. Both are housed in a renovated 1950s farm house with a large yard.
In Farma Kreaton, in addition to the graphic components, we were attracted to the lovely, white-painted wood floors and the overall feel of a temporary barn-raising supper.
The simple plank tables, the mismatched, unpretentious chairs, the humble potted plants and herbs on the tables, all exude a feel of a space dedicated — just for the moment — to sumptuous eating and enjoyment of good company.
The hay bales, pick forks, watering cans and cut-out animals remind the diners of the work done and to-be done on the farm, the dinner beings just a moment of celebration — perhaps of a good hay harvest or a successful calving.
In short, Minas Kosmidis and his team have managed to create a believable semblance of a working farm without going overboard and ending up with a contrived, pretentious “concept” instead.
The food at Farma Kreaton is typical Greek meat-based plates, and the diners are predominantly locals. Tuija Seipell.
Biribildu is a new souvlaki restaurant in the Alimos (or Kalamaki) area of Athens. The quirky design of the casual fast-food eatery is by Thessaloniki architect Minas Kosmidis whose Farma Creaton restaurant we have featured previously.
The Basque word Biribildu means to turn, to make a round, to round out, to perfect, and the round form appears frequently in the design. As a traveling circus goes around from town to town it became a fitting theme for the casual eatery that offers gyros made with meat off a vertical rotating roaster.
Two circus carousel horses imply going around and around,and they also direct the customer traffic toward the ordering counter and large menu. The tables are circular, as are many of the circus-themed wall decorations.
The kitchen, washrooms and storage areas are hidden inside huge wooden “boxes” that give a nod toward the transportation crates used by a travelling circus.
The cash desk is inside what looks like a tiger’s cage and above it hang the knives of, Mr. Biribildu, the circus master himself who is, apparently, a mean knife-thrower.
We like the overall midway and boardwalk feel of the 80 square-meter (860 sq.ft.) space with its eclectic juxtaposition of elements such as the Mediterranean plaster mouldings in the ceiling and the tile pattern covering the air vents, mixed with the floor treatment that resembles a typical circus-tent floor: wet sand. - Tuija Seipell.
Just before the Holiday shopping season last year, Greek Jewelry designer Ileana Makri opened an intriguing retail store on Patriarhou Ioakim Street in Athens’s posh fashion district of Kolonaki.
She hired Greek architect Stelios Kois to envision an environment for not just her own jewelry but also for fashionable creations of other designers. The Makri is not new to retail, as her first entry, Mageia, also in Athens, opened in 1987. Mageia was also the setting for the launch of her precious jewelry line in 1996. Steeped in symbols, nature, mystique and multicultural lore, her pieces featured snakes, evil eyes, insects and other nature-inspired themes created in gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other precious materials. Barneys New York noticed, and from there on, Makri has been part of the jewelry scene, and not just in the up-market fine jewelry segment but also in costume jewelry .
Celebrities and stars, from Jennifer Lopez and Faith Hill to Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum and Rita Wilson, have walked the red carpets of the world wearing Makri’s pieces.
As one would expect, Kois and project manager Antriana Voutsina with team members Nikos Patsiaouras, Marielina Stavrou, Konstantinos Karanasos and Alexandros Economou, used Makri’s work and philosophy as inspiration for the new Athens store.
The quality of light, geometric patterns, exquisite workmanship and intricate detailing are all essential in Ileana Makri’s work in which she transforms “memories to jewelry”, as Kois expressed it in a brief.
In the “peculiar forest” that Kois’s team created, our eyes are drawn to the strong, angular lines of the glass-and-metal trees on which jewelry and other items are displayed. The trees allow 360-degree viewing of the items inside the branch-boxes. We like the scarcity and strength of materials: metal, glass, wood and stone that gives the items on display a minimalist backdrop.
However, our favourite aspect of the store is the exterior. The window opening that appears like a big picture frame, was divided into three segments: Two windows framed with black stone protrude from the façade and, in between them, a narrow door made of black-stained oak leads into the store.
The narrower of the windows is for exhibiting the latest collections. It also frames a display tree and shows off our other favorite feature: the narrow, stone-clad staircase that leads to the jeweller’s workshop. - Tuija Seipell.
A confident black margin drawn on a crisp sheet of pristine, white paper anchors everything on that sheet and divides it decisively into sections. But it leaves everything else free and open; to be decided later, to be filled in - perhaps in writing or with drawings or other media.
That same feeling of order and balance - and also of rejuvenating freedom - permeates this Olivier Dwek-designed residence on the island of Zante. Zante, also known as Zakynthos, is one of the Ionian Islands that also include Kefalonia, Ithaca, Corfu and Paxi along the western coastline of central Greece.
The elegant dwelling sits confidently on the ocean-side ledge of the island, overlooking the neighbouring island of Kefalonia (or Cephalonia).
The British-born, Brussels-based, 45-year-old architect Dwek is a master of the pure, clean line.
In the Zante residence, the first level includes an entrance hall, outdoor dining room, kitchen, living room, patio, swimming pool, terraces and a bedroom. The large master bedroom is located on the second level.
All windows look over the steep hillside and face the beautiful vista of Kefalonia.
There is so much we love about this project. Obviously we are drawn to the elegant minimalist white-and-black scheme, the efficient, open floor plan, the overall openness, the refined proportions, and the complete lack of gimmicks or unnecessary enhancements.
And we always love a structure that leaves room to breathe, see, hear and experience the surroundings.
But in this particular house, our favourite feature is the black margin. We see them in the frames for the windows and sliding doors, the edges of marble counter tops, the play of light and shadow on the white surfaces.
These margins border and outline the life inside and outside, and they define the scenery and direct the viewer to the incredible surrounding beauty. - Tuija Seipell.