Location: Zakynthos – the third largest of Greece’s Ionian cluster – is a tale of two islands, with as much a reputation for tranquil bays and tavernas as for the boisterous nightlife of its south coast. Luxury retreat Olea All Suite Hotel, the island’s first true design hotel, is firmly in the former camp. Perched on a hillside in Tsilivi in the east, the expansive hideaway is a haven of space, quiet and still waters. Yet it’s not your typical whitewashed Grecian wonder; striking architecture and a masterful use of natural materials make this a thoroughly modern escape, for peace-seekers and design lovers alike.
Architecture: Deepest, lushest Zante, as the island is known to locals, might not be the first place you’d expect to find a Brutalist gem, but there’s no mistaking the hints of architectural heritage in Olea’s intersecting blocks and swathes of ecru-coloured plaster. Less Brutalist is the resort’s sense of flow, and it’s evident that care has been taken to maximise privacy whilst maintaining an open, indoor/outdoor feel. At the heart of its low- slung landscaping lies a vast 4,000-square-metre pool with 93 cubic suites, some stacked, running along the edge of the waterline.
The design and concept come courtesy of Athens- and Stockholm- based architecture practice Block722architects+, which created the space for Xenos Hotels and has several contemporary Grecian retreats in its portfolio. The transition from the suites and terraces to the communal spaces, including a trio of slick restaurants, spa and even a yoga pavilion, is seamless. ‘The most important thing to us was how the guests would experience their surroundings,’ explains Katja Margaritoglou, the firm’s co-founder and interior designer. ‘The design connects the indoors with the outdoors in a way that helps them explore the resort in its entirety.’
Design: Olea’s indoor spaces are designed to slot harmoniously into its surroundings, but take more inspiration from the island’s rocky interior and rugged coastline than its cerulean-blue seas. ‘The idea was to introduce a resort that embraces everything that makes this island so wonderful, but in a contemporary way,’ says Venia Xenou of the Xenos group.
This is Grecian minimalism all grown up, with layers of tonal, earthy colour in shades of stone, sand and linen, as well as abundant wood. Bamboo, rattan and grasses are used in inventive ways – to screen skylights and terraces for ultimate privacy; to thatch roofs; to shade an open-walled restaurant from the sun – and add a touch of tropical flair. The Presidential Suite’s vast 105 square metres and sweeping island views might just offer unparalleled Mediterranean magic. From £141 per night; oleaallsuitehotel.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration September 2019
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