weekend: If you’ve finished off Crete, Corfu, and Kos, follow the kings, billionaires, and A-list celebrities to the Greek Riviera. Known as the Hamptons of Greece, the beautiful Porto Heli in the eastern Peloponnese has been the vacation favorite of Athenian wealthy for years. It’s a perfect two-centre break if you have time to enjoy the capital as well. Everyone from Tom Hanks to Ronaldo retreats to the area’s clifftop villas to admire secluded coves, olive groves covered hills and deserted beaches.
where? A three-hour drive (or 20 minutes by helicopter) over the forested mountains from the capital, Porto Heli is a remote fishing town on the Aegean coast. Hotels are scarce although global chic brand Nikki Beach has ownership, and major chains are rumored to be moving soon. Instead, bring a group and pick up a sprawling villa just outside the city. The Greek Villa Group manages privately owned properties across the country, but its Porto Heli venues offer all the ultimate luxury for doing nothing in style. Enormous Villa Esquire has a larger than average London flat on the beach, while Villa Tatler is an all-white modern setting board that looks straight out of Love Island.
Residence: Villa Doyle is complete with its own bell tower, small vineyard, and garden filled with wildflowers, lavender and lemon trees. There is a huge seawater pool lined with daybeds and a picturesque terrace for outdoor meals overlooking the pebbly cove below, accessed via a private path through the gardens. Eight bedrooms of 16 have fantastic sea views, limestone floors and marble en suite bathrooms stocked with organic products made from local olive oil. Get Mr. If you can get a vaulted wood ceiling, a walk-in shower stall and floor-to-ceiling glass doors to wake up to the view.
the food: There are many good restaurants in Porto Heli, but if you don’t want to spend half your trip navigating the nauseating, winding roads, plan to eat in. A private chef can be arranged for an extra cost and it is worth it. Whipped halloumi salads, delicious cheese pies, and grilled meat dishes with tzatziki and pita. They will also store wine and snacks in the fridge to help yourself while relaxing by the pool.
Ask about: Hopping between backpacker-free islands. The villa’s concierge can arrange a private boat to pick you up from the villa’s private beach and take you directly to the elegant, car-free island of Spetses, once the second largest shipping hub in Greece. Take a horse and carriage ride to tour the island, stroll the old harbor and people-watch at the seafood restaurants.
And then? The day trip to the ancient open-air theater of Epidaurus is well worth the drive. Climb to the top floor of the marble seating to enjoy mountain views and experience the amazing acoustics that make it possible to hear someone speaking without a microphone on the stage below. Next, call the handsome Nafplion, once the capital of Greece and now a charming waterfront city with a gorgeous Venetian castle, narrow lanes covered in flowering bougainvilleas and gelateria shops around every corner.
Need to know: Nightly rates at Villa Dwell start from €2,140 at thegreekvillas.com or call +30210 64 10280