Many hotels in Greece are bright white and curved, their smooth shapes dotting the landscape like dollops of whipped cream. Not Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, which was constructed from a former wine factory and opened in 2019 on the wild coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.
Its lines are industrial and angular, the colours rusty hues that call to mind grape juice stains. The hotel’s aesthetic is an entirely novel approach to Greek hospitality — and pays homage to the country’s long wine-making history.
“The factory was once very important for the local economy,” said Nikos Karaflos, the owner and manager of Dexamenes. “I was born in this area — I want to preserve the culture and history of this place.”
This luxury resort in Greece pays homage to the country’s long wine-making history
Greece’s Peloponnese region experienced a boom in wine production starting in the 1860s when the industry in France collapsed because of a phylloxera epidemic. But as the French vineyards recovered in the early 20th century and Greece suffered from an unstable agricultural market, the promising Greek industry faltered. By the early 1980s, the Dexamenes factory had fallen out of use.
In 2003, Karaflos and his family purchased the site, and in 2013 he partnered with the Athens-based architecture firm K-Studios to plan the renovation. The timing was serendipitous: after decades of producing mediocre wines, Greece’s industry was kicking into serious gear. Since then, Greek varietals, like the white assyrtiko and red agiorgitiko, have made a comeback.
The first thing you see when you enter the grounds of Dexamenes are two enormous silos in the centre of a reflecting pool. These structures were once used to store grape must; now, with their roofs removed so the stars twinkle overhead, they serve as spaces for private dinners, wine tastings, wellness events, and art installations. (A few summers ago, the hotel held a tasting accompanied by a modern dance performance in the pool.)
The 34 rooms, called WineTank suites, are housed inside concrete vats once used for fermentation; each one has clean lines and minimal décor, with the pipes that once channelled the wine still visible. (There are also two larger accommodations, the Sea View ChemLab suites.) Should you overindulge at lunch or dinner, you’ll easily fall asleep on the natural-fibre mattresses — or perk up in a walk-in rain shower.
For the full bottle list, which has a special focus on Peloponnesian wines and a whole section devoted to natural and biodynamic Greek bottlings, dine at dex. Machina restaurant, located inside the winery’s former production centre. As for the wines from the original Dexamenes factory? Karaflos and his family finally finished the last of them last year. There are new Greek wines to save for the future.
(Hero and feature image credit: Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Baumann/Dexamenes Seaside Hotel)
This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com