All the Cyclades Islands are magical, but what sets Naxos apart is its greenery in an otherwise arid group of islands. Hidden in this green paradise, off the beaten path and some 500 meters above sea level, is the very eco-friendly ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat. If you like clean island air, Mediterranean nature, chic hospitality and fantastically healthy gastronomy, this property will even exceed your expectations.
Just 20 minutes away from the port town of Naxos (i.e. the island’s capital Chora) and not far away from the gorgeous little village of Halki, the ELaiolithos Retreat arose from the dream of Greek-American owner Helen Marakis. “My mission is to convey my love for my island to all my guests” she reveals. Returning to her native Naxos after 30 years in New York and armed with a pioneering green business spirit, Helen realized her quest for establishing an eco-friendly luxury retreat that encourages traditional Naxos to embrace a more sustainable model of tourism.
ECO STAY: CHIC YET GREEN
Yet all the suites feature the best of Cycladic design and architecture, natural colors and fabrics, fine toiletries, outdoor patio with sitting area, luxury eco linens by CocoMat, coffee maker and electric kettle, wifi internet, and an unbeatable natural ambiance that words simply can’t do justice.
A HIKING PARADISE AND MORE
ELaiolithos is the first hotel in Naxos to be awarded with the Gold Level by the Greek hiking network known as “Hikers Friendly Hotels”. There are amazing hiking paths around the property that start right from the olive groves at its doorstep and the juniper forest nearby. A short hike leads you to the stunning 11th century church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis in Halki village. Dozens of such attractions accessible by hiking include mystical Byzantine churches that are hundreds of years old, archeological sites that are thousands of years old, blessed waterfalls in a secluded village in the valley, and a giant tree that must have recently celebrated its 800 years of life. On another note, the nearby village of Moni has a strong weaving tradition and the women’s weaving workshop is highly recommended for visitors who want to encourage this rare art.
GASTRONOMY: LOCAL, NUTRITIOUS, SOPHISTICATED
Naxian cuisine is considered one of the most wholesome and healthiest in Greece, and Helen – working closely with her talented chef – promises some outstanding new takes on local recipes in her kitchen. Concepts such as farm to fork, probiotics, slow food, organic, free range, and locally produced all come together in creating the best of island cuisine, including many vegetarian and vegan options, as well as paleo, Keto and gluten-free choices. Add to this local Cycladic wines, mountain herb tea, savory homemade pies and cheeses from nearby producers, and you’ll be on your way to culinary bliss as nature intended it to be. These tastes are rarely found beyond the confines of sunny, verdant Mediterranean localities.
Worth mentioning as well are the hearty and very eclectic breakfast dishes from Greek yoghurt with superfoods and local heather honey to “secret recipe” fruit marmalade and Naxian pancakes. Wood-burning stoves, goat cheeses, sweet grapes and ripe tomatoes mix with traditional Greek orange cake and fruit preserves to embellish the breakfast table the likes you’ve never seen. When it comes to omelets and eggs, Helen’s motto is “We know the hen who laid the eggs”. Against this backdrop, both taste and nutrition are guaranteed at ELaiolithos.
From its initial conception, ELaiolithos was built to be green. As the owner proudly puts it the property offers “luxury accommodations with an emphasis on ecology and ethical living without skimping on the room service.” Bioclimatic building materials, Greek and Cycladic inspired design, eco-friendly cleaning agents, respect for the surrounding environment, local building materials (including stone and marble from the island itself), water-saving mechanisms, and even the age-old, Greek eco-innovation of pressed cement mortar are all part of the property’s eco philosophy. The rooms themselves boast eco safes, the latest in LED lighting, energy-saving appliances and card keys, and other natural/eco products and services. Lastly, ELaiolithos is embellished with eco art that graces its walls: a noble initiative that supports local artists!