If the expectation for a Mykonos first-timer is that they’ll spend their vacation beach club–hopping, I failed — and I’m okay with that. Instead of jostling for EUR 200 (INR 18,007) daybeds, I spent those balmy summer afternoons half-nude on my villa’s terrace atop a massage bed, retreating to a tiny private beach to wade in brisk Aegean seawater, and indulging in Greek food and wines alongside one of the world’s most striking new hotel pools.
If, like me, you’ve ever been put off by Mykonos’ party island notoriety, the new 40-suite Cali Mykonos — far removed from the Dom Perignon–fueled raucousness the Cycladic island has become synonymous with — might be the luxury resort you need. And it was just named one of the best new hotels and best beach getaways on Travel + Leisure‘s 2023 It List.
All you need to know about this stunning Greek Island hotel
Cali Mykonos is a family-run affair, spearheaded by 20-something Greek American Kyriakos “Eric” Mourkakos (Cali is partly named after his mother). The first-time hotelier chose a craggy swathe of cove in the hushed Kalafiti village several years ago to fulfil his vision of a relaxed sanctuary, a bold antidote to the island’s typical “party animal” shtick.
And what a vision it is: boxy, white-washed pool villas scattered like sugarcubes atop a plunging headland strip, fortified with a maze of on-site reclaimed stone, all underlined by a showstopping infinity pool (reportedly Mykonos’ longest) resembling a ribbon of liquid sapphire.
Suites and villas, fortified by Greek stone and marble, soothe the senses in muted tones of blue, white, and grey. Most rooms have a heated saltwater plunge pool with a pergola-crowned terrace, all facing the vast Aegean Sea, and this is where most residents retreat when not at the ginormous bar-lined communal pool or the private sandy cove.
The resort’s Greek pedigree runs deep by design, from the resort’s designers themselves (Athens-based STFN Labs) and canvas sketches from local artists to the star senior staff, hand-picked by Mourkakos himself from some of Greece’s best hospitality venues.
Cali’s culinary offering is top-notch — difficult to be anything less when it’s run by Lefteris Lazarou, owner of Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside. Cali Restaurant’s Greek and Mediterranean menu keeps it simple, elegant and locally sourced when possible, where the herbs accompanying your freshly caught whole seabass or Greek salad might have been plucked from the roof gardens topping Cali’s villas.
I still croon to the memory of biting into my first strip of luscious grilled black pork from the “deconstructed” gyros plate during a poolside lunch, and a post-dinner treat of gooey caramel and chocolate chip cookies from talented pastry chef Konstantina Tzempetzi. If you’re into cocktails, or mocktails, ask for Cali’s bar manager Leonidas “Leo” Duka, as his enthusiasm and impromptu creations will add a new dimension to the beverage experience.
When guests do want to venture beyond the resort to explore Mykonos and the surrounding islands, leave it to the effervescent Matilda Botsi, the head concierge with Les Clefs D’or credentials, to curate the finest insider-style experience. Ground transfers to cultural sites, exclusive restaurants and beach clubs can be arranged, but the ultimate trip is chartering one of the Cali’s slick yachts to coastline-hop around Mykonos, or visit neighbouring islands like Naxos, via the glittering Aegean.
Some of Cali’s offerings were still in its nascent stage when I visited, so those coming for this year’s forthcoming summer season are in luck. Travellers can look forward to a dedicated spa wing equipped with treatment rooms, hammams, saunas, and ice rooms; a yoga and Pilates studio; multi-bedroom villa additions including the grand four-bedroom Villa Calliope; and a poolside sushi restaurant. Looks like one of 2022’s hottest resort openings is poised to become even hotter in 2023.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: GEORGE FAKAROS/Courtesy of Cali Mykonos
All INR conversions were done at the time of writing