La Maison Vert Amande
Like many Philhellenes, French-born Geraldine adopted a little corner of Greece as her new home. She came to Kea island and found her soulmate George, with whom she transformed the traditional family home from 1880 into a gorgeous eco-friendly guesthouse.
Geraldine and George call their house ‘La Maison Vert Amande’, meaning the Almond-Green House, a name which pays tribute to the noble almond trees that dot the island. As soon as you reach this place, you’ll be immediately struck by the positive aura and soulful vibe that it has. For starters – and with a true touch of French sophistication – Geraldine loves art, antiques, photography, fine food and excellent wine. She takes pride in restoring old furniture pieces and preparing homemade jams. George on the other hand is a third-generation apiculturist, or in more simple terms a seasoned beekeeper and honey-maker who has a passion for nature and the land he lives on.
This eclectic mix within the couple is reflected in the traditional house itself and its spacious bedroom, complete with welcome modern comforts such as Wi-Fi and fridge.
A farm at your front door
Together, the Gallo-Greek couple developed their garden and farm of 16 hectares, cultivated with fruits, vegetables, fruit-bearing trees, olive trees, and flowers to say the least. You’ll also notice that there are beehives on the ground, and you’re going to test some fantastic organic honey as a result, along with excellent olive oil.
You can buy the superb homemade honey produced onsite and excellent olive oil with olives from the property itself, made with lots of love and offered at very modest prices to guests. Interestingly, all this is just 100 meters from the sea as well, steps away from one of the most idyllic beaches of the island – the bay of Spathi.
Tastes of heaven
Prepare yourself for a delectable breakfast that will give you energy for the rest of the day. A variety of homemade jams, delicious cakes, the property’s very own honey, Greek yogurt, a variety of breads, farm eggs and fresh orange juice are all part of this morning welcome.
You can also ask Geraldine to prepare a sumptuous Greek dinner made with fresh seasonal organic produce, a lot of it coming right from the garden. You’ll be eating a meal with ingredients that were sourced only a few meters away, not half way around the world! Those on special diets (vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, gluten free, low salt) can also be catered to.
Whether you’re having breakfast or dinner, if the weather’s fine (which it is most of the year) you’re going to love having your meal on the veranda.
The island of Kea might not have recycling facilities, but the owners of ‘La Maison Vert Amande’ are going out of their way to recycle as much as possible. They compost leftover food or give it to the chickens, minimize the use of plastic as much as possible, and make an effort to reduce trash.
There is a conscious choice not to place air-conditioning units but to use good ceiling fans instead, keeping in mind that the old bioclimatic architecture of the house also maintains it relatively cool in summer. Solar water heating reduces electric use as well. There was another smart decision not to have a pool on the grounds to respect the natural landscape and simply because a lovely beach with a gorgeous bay is only 100 meters away.
Preserving and maintaining the old house is a green accomplishment in itself, so is the integration of Cycladic design and architectural elements. Noteworthy as well are the efforts to source local products for breakfast, combining this with the produce of the estate.
No or very little pesticides and chemicals are used on the estate, and there are efforts to ensure that the honey adheres to organic production principles. The use of local plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables as much as possible contributes to local sustainability and ensures a lower carbon footprint.
Yet best of all is the human factor at La Maison Vert Amande, complete with an eco-minded philosophy and a love for nature. This is one guesthouse you're really going to enjoy staying at.