Andronis Concept: Holistic hospitality in the heart of Santorini

Zoe Gunn

4 August 2022

Forget the white villas you think you know, Andronis Concept is a Santorini experience with a difference

4 August 2022 | Zoe Gunn

I

’ll admit that it took me a while to see the appeal of Santorini. Arriving via a three-hour ferry from Mykonos, queasy from sea sickness (and, admittedly, one too many cocktails on my birthday the day before), we were deposited into an unlovely port backdropped by an imposing cliff face.

Where, I wondered, were the iconic cerulean domes and white-washed villas that dominate Google Image searches for Santorini? Perhaps once we were atop the cliff they would reveal themselves.

But, as we climbed, it became clear that to call Santorini ‘beautiful’ would be something of a misnomer. As we rounded the clifftop, long, flat planes sprawled below us and the ocean glittered in all directions, but the landscape was barren, plagued by strong winds and a rainless climate that make it almost impossible for anything green to break through the dark volcanic earth.

Which isn’t to say Santorini is devoid of charm. There is undoubtedly drama in its mountains and seascapes; it is perhaps best described as ‘handsome’, in the way one might talk about a young Queen Elizabeth II. And yet I couldn’t quite fathom why, with the lusher landscapes of Paros, Ios and Hydra nearby, Santorini had become a go-to Greek island for tourists from Europe, the US and beyond.

Then the sun began to set.

The happy byproduct of a long-extinct volcano, Santorini’s unusual crescent-shaped topology almost perfectly frames the sinking sun – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by a host of luxury hotels, Andronis Concept included, that have perched themselves improbably on a thin strip of cliff-edge in the centre of the crescent, overlooking the island’s famed caldera.

In fact, wandering around Andronis Concept, the wellness arm of the Andronis hotel group which operates five luxury hotels on the island, you get the sense that everything here has in some way been influenced by this stunning natural spectacle. Instead of leaning into the aforementioned traditional white-and-blue colour scheme (which, it transpires, you'll find in the island's northernmost town Oia), Andronis Concept is a study in soothing natural architecture, with polished concrete floors and curving sandstone-hued walls designed to make the hotel appear as just another feature of its rocky surrounds.

This carefully-curated naturalism is belied by a rather ingenious layout that allows 24 of the 28 suites, each of which comes with its own private infinity pool, some of the best sunset views on the island. Achieved by arranging rooms over multiple floors, with living areas and smaller terraces overlooking the hotel’s main pool towards the east of the island, bathroom and dressing spaces offered on a mid-level mezzanine, and the bedroom and pool terrace at the top, making the most of the western views, the effect is more akin to staying in a miniature townhouse than a standard hotel bedroom.

And don't worry if you're unlucky enough to find yourself in one of the four rooms without a view. Andronis Concept’s fine dining restaurant, Throubi, has been positioned to offer some seriously special golden hour action. Just be sure to book your 7.30pm table in advance: the restaurant has inevitably become something of a social media hotspot and the night we visited the #influencersinthewild were out in force, with one particularly dedicated Instagrammer spending the best part of an hour regaling us with her full repertoire of breast and behind accentuating poses. Talk about dinner and a show.

Thankfully, the menu of upscale Santorinian classics by chef Charalampos Koukoudakis was diverting enough to draw attention back to the far more serious business of supper. Being a wellness hotel, Andronis Concept also drafted in a nutritionist to consult on the menu (the restaurant is named after a therapeutic herb that grows on the island) but dispel any notions of bland kale salads and joyless bone broths, there’s plenty of indulgence here. Larger appetites should opt for the eight-course degustation menu (complete with wine or cocktail pairing), while highlights from the a la carte menu include a moreishly umami wild mushroom, cous cous and blue cheese starter, a decadent main of Wagyu striploin with tsipouro sauce, and a coconut vacherin dessert that suggests the presence of a highly-experienced pastry chef.

Of course, being a wellness hotel, there are plenty of ways to work off any excess. At check-in all guests are presented with a schedule of the coming week’s classes, which include everything from sunrise yoga and caldera hikes to aerial hoop sessions and mindful eating, while resident MD Dr. Zulia Frost is on hand to offer high-tech wellness profiles and construct health programmes based on your personal needs.

These offerings are supplemented by a regularly changing roster of visiting practitioners who split their time between Andronis Concept and Oia sister-hotel Andronis Arcadia. During our stay, we were schooled in the art of tension-trauma release (a practice that relaxes the psoas muscles to release unwanted energy and stress from the body and is far less scary than it sounds) by California-based yogi Tammy Hayano. Other recent visitors have included experts in the arts of acupuncture, reflexology, meditation and aromatherapy.

If you’re after something a little less strenuous, book yourself into the hotel’s Kallos spa, which has been decked out with flickering candles and domed ceilings to resemble a serene underground grotto. Designed with a guest-first approach, which means your entire experience takes place in the spa’s chic, spacious treatment rooms for utmost privacy, the menu of Ila treatments spans everything from 30-minute Back to Health massages to three-hour wellness journeys designed to leave you destressed, rested and balanced.

And, really, isn’t that all anyone wants when they go on holiday?

 

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Read more: The Med's top yachting destinations

Rooms at Andronis Concept start from £350 per night, visit andronis.com