MYKONOS He­donis­tic plea­sures rule amid the white­washed vil­las of the Cy­clades

James Ni­cholls savours the lifeen­hanc­ing light and sea of Mykonos, savour­ing its he­donis­tic de­lights.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Contents - Travel file Ac­com­mo­da­tion my­co­ni­anam­bas­sador.gr Get­ting there There are reg­u­lar 40-minute flights from Athens, or go by boat from Pi­raeus (it takes 2–4 hours, de­pend­ing on the ferry). Din­ing www.nam­mos.gr www.scor­pios­mykonos.com

II know on ar­rival that I am in for a very spe­cial treat. The Mel­temi wind blow­ing in from the Aegean Sea is warm and invit­ing, car­ry­ing hints of the plea­sures that we are to dis­cover on this leg­endary is­land.

It’s lit­tle won­der that so many hol­i­day­mak­ers es­cape to Mykonos and its sur­round­ing Greek isles. To come here is to live the good life in sur­round­ings so idyl­lic that you can soon for­get the dayto-day obli­ga­tions and chores to which we are all sub­ject and be­holden.

I quickly find my­self to­tally re­laxed, re­freshed and rein­vig­o­rated by the sea, sun­shine and won­der­ful cui­sine.

Greek haven The My­co­nian Am­bas­sador Re­lais & Châteaux is re­garded as the finest ho­tel on this Cy­cladic is­land. It draws on

the own­ers’ an­ces­tral ties to the land, as well as the Greeks’ long-stand­ing legacy of hos­pi­tal­ity. As we are soon to dis­cover, a stay at the Am­bas­sador proves as he­donis­tic as the is­land it­self.

Our ho­tel is sit­u­ated just above the cos­mopoli­tan bay of Platis Gia­los. We pass our first af­ter­noon on the beach, loung­ing at the edge of the azure wa­ter and strolling the board­walk lined with bou­tiques and restau­rants.

Blue, along with white, are colours very much as­so­ci­ated with Greece, in­deed be­ing the colours of the na­tional flag. And th­ese colours are re­flected ev­ery­where on the is­land. The blue of the sky and sea, and the shut­ters of the blind­ingly white houses and myr­iad churches are seen ev­ery­where you look. Mykonos is very much a sum­mer des­ti­na­tion, and it’s not hard to imag­ine it as the Ely­sium that Homer wrote of in Book IV of The Odyssey, “where all ex­is­tence is a dream of ease./Snow­fall is never known there, nei­ther long/frost of win­ter, nor tor­ren­tial rain,/but only mild and lulling airs from Ocean, bear­ing re­fresh­ment for the souls of men” (as trans­lated by Robert Fitzger­ald, 1963).

It’s easy to lose days re­lax­ing at The My­co­nian Am­bas­sador in one its sleek white suites or be­side the stun­ning pool, but there is much more to do on Mykonos, by day and by night.

Time to ex­plore

No visit would be com­plete with­out a trip to pump­ing Nam­mos Beach Club, the pin­na­cle of Greek Is­lands chic. We de­cide to make the short walk from the ho­tel and, with my part­ner and our son lead­ing the way over the hill, I fol­low along, mar­vel­ling at the num­ber of superyachts and gor­geous hulls rafted up, filling the bay be­low. Boat spot­ting is one of my favourite ac­tiv­i­ties and I am de­lighted to see Lady Hertha, built in 1935, set­ting it­self apart from the mod­ern crowd and moor­ing fur­ther out.

Ar­riv­ing at noon, we find the res­tau­rant busy al­ready. It is easy to un­der­stand why; the ser­vice is at­ten­tive and the

food ex­cel­lent. Fresh fish and salad is the or­der of the day, washed down with a bot­tle of lo­cal white wine. The at­mos­phere is fun and vi­brant, the clients happy to dine in so­phis­ti­cated beach­wear, of­ten with an added touch of bling, re­flect­ing the res­tau­rant’s glam­orous, bare­foot style. After lunch we ven­ture fur­ther along the beach to the Riva Yachts’ new Pri­vate Deck ex­pe­ri­ence, where own­ers both present and fu­ture can get to know this en­dur­ing icon of the Mediter­ranean life­style over a re­fresh­ment in a re­laxed en­vi­ron­ment.

We rent a lit­tle Peu­geot and head for Agios Sostis and lunch at Kiki’s Tavern the next day. You can’t book at this offthe-grid hideaway, so we are ex­pect­ing a wait. The wel­come is ef­fu­sive, though, and the time quickly passes with the help of free wine and wa­ter. The oth­ers head down to the wa­ter to cool off while I keep vigil and save our places – if you leave you lose, and the door­man, like a placid Cer­berus, sees all.

In­side the sanc­tu­ary of this rus­tic open-air res­tau­rant, we are cooled by the shade of vines over­head and treated to a vista of the wa­ter be­low. The tra­di­tional chicken, pork or fish cooked sim­ply over the grill is de­li­cious and, of course, ac­com­pa­nied by an oblig­a­tory but su­perb Greek salad. The serv­ings are enor­mous – so much so that we ne­glect to leave room for the sig­na­ture homemade desserts.

Leisurely days

The next day, we en­joy the beach at Agia Anna on the south­east coast of the is­land. The roads are nar­row, but there is no hurry and lit­tle traf­fic. We feast on pasta at a beach­side res­tau­rant and head home happy, our skin crisp with the salt of the sea.

After ex­plor­ing the charis­matic laneways of Lit­tle Venice in Chora, aka Mykonos Town, we head for the chilled-

“We head home happy , our skin crisp with the salt of the sea.”

out Scor­pios Beach Club, a laid­back hip hang­out for the cool set – an­other day, an­other beach, an­other de­li­cious meal. And each day ends with the most peace­ful of slum­bers.

In The Greek Is­lands, Lawrence Durell wrote, “Never will you go to sleep so soundly as you will in Mykonos – and it is the deep sleep of early in­fancy. In the morn­ing, when you push back your shut­ters, the white­ness comes up to meet you again like the caress of wet eye­lashes.” I can as­sure you his words ring true.

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04 01 Pool­side at The My­co­nian Am­bas­sador 02 Blue and white pre­vails 03 The is­land is worth ex­plor­ing 04 Dessert at The My­co­nian Am­bas­sador

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07 05 Mag­i­cal Mykonos 06 Pri­vate Jacuzzi at The My­co­nian Am­bas­sador 07 Nam­mos res­tau­rant serves the fresh­est of seafood 08 Scor­pios of­fers whole­some cui­sine in laid­back lux­ury

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