5 Fab Green Holidays
With stylish “urban nature concept” sanctuaries, farm-to-fork adventures, and blissed-out city stays, Greece is getting greener every year. Amanda Dardanis introduces 5 wonderful destinations – from organic farms to barefoot-luxury beachfront retreats – where you can boost your eco-cred this year.
The Hands-on One
Eumelia Farm & Guesthouse
There are few better ways to bond with Greece and her timeless traditions than on an authentic agri-tourism adventure.
Eumelia Farm & Guesthouse, in the Peloponnese’s stunning Laconia region, is one of the most progressive organic eco-farms in this country.
Your habitat will be an ancient olive grove and herb fields, near the village of Gouves, that’s been cultivated by the one family since the 1890s. Built in the traditional Greek farmhouse architecture, but with modern comforts, each dwelling has its own private garden and a large veranda with wonderfully-relaxing views over the farm and the surrounding mountain ranges of Parnonas and Taygetos. The buildings are heated and cooled with geothermal power, using heat pumps to minimize the use of petroleum or electricity (while the farm’s natural waste management system, based on the root system, was the first of its kind in southern Greece).
Feed your spirit in pursuit of traditional Greek farming activities such as olive harvests, almond picking, organic wine production and wine-tastings, herbal soap making and seasonal cooking, while you sample the unspoiled glories of the Mediterranean landscape. The farm-to-table philosophy extends beyond the kitchens here to the e-shops run by Eumelia – buy on site or order the produce online.
Eumelia makes a superb base from which to explore the Peloponnese’s spellbinding sights -from ancient Sparta and rugged Mani, to Byzantine Mystra and the medieval castle town of Monemvasia – as well as from which to embark on any number of eco-tourism pursuits such as mountain biking, hiking or canoe/kayaking.
Eumelia Farm & Guesthouse (Gouves, Laconia, tel: +30 694.715.1400, www.eumelia.com) is open all year-round. Their popular olive harvest packages are in November and December. Guesthouses are €100 per night (for 2 persons sharing); or €120 for family guesthouses with up to 2 children (€30 each extra person).
The New One
Opora Country Living
From the utterly perfect landscape of Opora Country Living, you’ll look down upon the cobalt sea and red-tiled roofs of Nafplio and breathe the sigh of the deeply contented (and the faintly smug). That’s because you’re among the lucky few to have discovered this gorgeous and classy haven that opened just one year ago. Enveloped by olive groves and orange trees on 30 acres, Opora has an exclusive rural feel, but is only 10 minutes from the stunning castles, Italianate squares and cosmopolitan delights of romantic Nafplio.
Your lodgings? Century-old former olive oil warehouses that have been converted into beautiful French contemporary-style stone farmhouses, equipped with handy kitchenettes, Coco Mat beds and cosy fireplaces. Enjoy a hearty organic breakfast of Greek pies, omelettes, pancakes, home-made yoghurts, honeys and jams on your peaceful private terrace while you plan the day’s assaults. Perhaps some on-site wine tastings, olive harvesting or beekeeping workshops. Or a jaunt to epic Epidaurus just 30 minutes away. You’ll be charmed by Opora’s many hospitable touches (such as gifts of family-produced olive oil to take home). Your only regret? It being too cold to take the plunge in the ravishing outdoor infinity pool.
+30 275.202.2259, www.oporacountryliving.com
The Athens Rivera One
The Margi & Margi Farm
Sitting pretty on the south-western foot of the Hymettus mountain range, deluxe Vouliagmeni – with its palm tree-lined boulevards and marinas – is to Athens what Cannes is to the Cote d’Azur.
And for years, the elegant Margi hotel has been one of our very favourite Vouliagmeni boltholes, thanks to its ravishing pool area and chic, inviting interior. Now, there’s another great reason to head to the Margi: their outstanding Margi Farm, which was launched by owner Maria Stavridis’ and her son Giagkos Agiostratitis in 2015, as a means of supplying the 5-star boutique hotel with much of its own home-grown produce – and to also serve as a model farm advocate.
Margi Farm is a beautiful 20 acre parcel of land, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, in Kalyvia, Attica, where hotel guests and eco-minded members of the public can participate year-round in the popular Farm to Fork experiences.
Enjoy a guided walk in the organic garden where, depending on the season, you’ll have the opportunity to harvest vegetables; and participate in live-cooking demonstrations and tastings with the Margi’s chef. Children will love the “Little Farmers” activities such as feeding the animals, building a scarecrow, picking and planting vegetables, and meeting Billy the Rescue Donkey.
Each Thursday, the farm hosts an authentic, organic Greek Farm Dinner (based around the “locavore” principles of local vegetables in season). It’s a simply wonderful journey of food and wine, accompanied by live Bouzouki music.
Margi Farm dinners are held every Thursday between 6-10pm and are priced at €79 for adults and €39.30 for children (2-12 years). This includes transfers from the hotel, dinner and entertainment. To book, visit: http://margifarm.gr/
The Island One
Olive Green Hotel
Let’s be frank, Heraklion probably isn’t the first place to spring to mind if you were looking to find an eco-oasis in Crete. What with all the constant to-ing-and-fro-ing of ships, ferries and aeroplanes, Crete’s sprawling commercial hub is often seen more as a place to visit, than stay.
But the arrival of the Olive Green Hotel, just a few short months ago, has been a game changer. Conscientiously clean, this ecological newcomer combines high-tech luxury with a bright and airy contemporary design, and has already made quite the name for itself on the local city hotel landscape.
Solar panels, water management systems, green building practices, usage of environmentally friendly materials and employee engagement, are the key pylons of Olive Green’s eco-kudos.
Greenery features prominently throughout the hotel, while the interior palette of wood, metal and concrete is minimal yet cheerful. Once inside your room, everything is controlled through a tablet: heating, lighting, even the “do not disturb” sign. It’s a clever touch.
Reasonable rates (starting from around €70 a night) reflect the fact that Olive Green lacks some resort facilities such as a pool, gym or spa. But if you are in the market for a tranquil base in the heart of Heraklion, (that’s easy walking distance from bars, restaurants, shopping, and cultural attractions such as the Heraklion Archeological Museum), this is the one for you.
Olive Green Hotel, Idomeneos 22, rooms from about €70-100 per room per night, tel: +30 281.030.2900, www.olive greenhotel.com
The City One
Radisson Blu Park Hotel
Pedion tou Areos
How’s this for bringing the Outside in! The Radisson Blu Park Hotel took as inspiration for its radical rebirth, the huge “Field of Mars” park (don’t you love the name) that extends just outside its deluxe doors. The new look is called an “Urban Nature Concept”. And if you book into one of the hotel’s deluxe suites overlooking the park, (pictured), you’ll feel like you’re literally staying inside the park itself – with tactile grass effect flooring under your feet and stylishly-rustic wooden surfaces (to rest your green tea on!). But don’t spend all your time chilling in the room or you’ll miss the ultra-glam rooftop restaurant St’Astra with its heaven-sent Acropolis views.
Radisson Blu Park Hotel Athens, Leof. Alexandras 10, tel: +30 210.889.4500, www.radissonblu.com. Standard rooms start from €100 a night, junior suites are €190 (with breakfast included).