About Time: You Tried Island Hopping in Sporades, GreeceBy Rose Tobin
The end of the season can be the best time to book a holiday. Kids are safely back at school and, yet, the lazy Mediterranean heat will dawdle on for another couple of months. Across southern Europe, sleepy sunlit islands relax back to their untouched state as the hoardes depart. If you’ve ever suspected that island hopping in Greece is more hassle than it’s worth, the quick and easy ferry rides between the islands of Skiathos and Alonnisos in the Sporades Archipelago, just a four hour plane ride away, provide the perfect solution.
Santikos Collection is a range of four hotels based over the two islands of Alonnisos and Skiathos. It’s a family run business and the owners seem to be on first name terms with every member of staff they encounter – a sure sign you’re in safe hands. The two islands, just an hour apart, seem world’s apart and this divergence means that between them, there’s something for everyone. We took on the arduous task of testing out three hotels to bring you the insider scoop on how to get the best out of these island paradises.
Island Hopping in Sporades: Skiathos Princess Hotel
Skiathos Princess Hotel: The Lowdown
Skiathos Princess manages to tread the very fine line between feeling like a trendy bohemian dream, simultaneously to a tightly run ship where no detail is missed. This glamorous resort stretches itself out across a pristine private beach on Skiathos’ southern coast, a quick drive from the island’s tiny airport and its picture perfect main town. All the rooms have large balconies, some even come with private pools, and are spacious, opulent and an easy stroll to the pool or beach.
Skiathos Princess Hotel: The Food
Five restaurants comprise the resort’s food offering, each with an individual twist and all with a focus on fresh, healthy food that still always feels indulgent. The best is undoubtedly the beachside PR Ammos restaurant, where that morning’s fish are served delicately alongside a never-ending array of salads and appetisers in the most convivial family style, overlooking the sea.
Skiathos Princess Hotel: The Facilities
Skiathos Princess is honestly where we think the relaxation fairy comes for a holiday, but if you absolutely must tear yourself away from possibly the most comfortable sun loungers we have ever sampled, there’s a fully stocked gym, a world class spa with the option for treatments on the beach, as well as hikes, swimming classes, paddle boarding and a truly dazzling array of activities at the kid’s club. Skiathos Princess is among the first in Greece to dedicate itself wholly to wellness. And if yoga’s your thing, it holds it’s very own YOGAFest every year.
Skiathos Princess Hotel: Island Hopping Extra
Not content with bringing you the most beautiful beach on Skiathos, the resort also offers private boat rides to uninhabited islands nearby. Sending you off with a gorgeous picnic, you can spend the day swimming in superlatively clear water and exploring oregano-scented hills occupied only with the sounds of island songbirds. Pure heaven.
Island Hopping in Sporades: Aegean Suites, Skiathos
Aegean Suites, Skiathos: The Lowdown
Slightly further inland than Skiathos Princess, but still boasting the same glorious sea views with an easy stroll to the beach, Aagean Suites is the last name in romance. Nestled into the hillside, each secluded room feels entirely private, whilst the quiet pool area, relaxing spa and personalised concierge service all amount to a feeling of sumptuous solitude for you and your paramour.
Aegean Suites, Skiathos: The Food
There’s a poolside bar and restaurant serving fresh juices, a Bourbon and Champagne lounge and the irresistible Pelagos gourmet restaurant, providing a candlelit setting for the best of Mediterranean cuisine alongside the finest selection of Greek and international wines. There’s also a small but perfectly formed gym, and guests have the use of facilities at Skiathos Princess too, just down the road.
Island Hopping in Sporades: Marpunta Village, Alonissos
Marpunta Village, Alonissos: The Lowdown
Imagine a tiny, unblemished fishing village full of dazzlingly white walls, hanging off a cliffside over turquoise water, completely forgotten by time, and you’re somewhat close to picturing this totally individual resort. The Santikos family literally discovered such a place, abandoned a few centuries ago, hidden deep within the pine forests of Alonissos and made it home. As such, every room is completely different, literally a quaint fisherman’s home.
Of course, each has been updated to the highest standards, with private terraces overlooking the sea, waterfall showers, gigantic double beds and almost total silence except for crashing waves. The resort boasts an array of tiny private beaches from which you can watch for dolphins in the foam, as well as a pool and countless activities to keep you occupied – from kids clubs to daily fitness classes. There’s even a helipad, should you wish to arrive in style.
Marpunta Village, Alonissos: The Food
There’s a pool and lobby bar, as well as the option to eat on the beach if booked in advance, but the real draw here is a stupendous buffet at each meal in Marpunta Village’s main restaurant. Never have we seen the like of such a gigantic array of stunning dishes; every taste is catered for, the food is mesmerisingly unending, and the restaurant wins the award for dishing up the largest prawns we’ve ever seen – almost as big as our heads. The best fish in the region is caught every day from the pellucid water surrounding Alonissos and the hotel will proudly show off the best of the day’s catch if you ask.
Santikos Collection: Our Verdict
From the comfort of a boat, the archipeligo appears at first glance a collection of almost indistinguishable islands. Yet, with each new cranny explored it’s apparent that everything from the foliage to the food tells the story of islands that can seem worlds apart. The same can be said for the hotels in the Santikos Collection; although sharing the same fanatical attention to detail combined with lazy bohemian vibes, each resort feels so different from the last that it’s possible to feel like you’ve had several holidays in one. With a new focus on the British market, book now whilst everything still feels charmingly fresh and undiscovered.
For more information, see the website here.