Review of Ekies All Senses, Greece
‘Tomorrow morning and we will dance’, Voula whispered as her olive-skinned face broke into a knowing smile. Little did I know that to ‘dance’ meant embarking on an intense and passionate affair. 60 minutes of physical embrace and 15 minutes of quiet contemplation. Just enough time to be swept off my feet and fall head over heels. Move over Mr Smith – if there’s one thing I can recall most vividly from our 48 hours at Ekies All Senses, it’s Voula’s warm face leaning over mine against a backdrop of white linen wafting in a warm breeze. Article published on Mr and Mrs Smith November 2014.
For those that haven’t had a Thai massage, or have had a bad one, I suggest hopping on a plane to the Greek peninsula of Sithonia and spending some time with Voula. Not knowing what I had signed up for, the idea of an ‘active’ massage was initially alarming: an hour of semi-sleep is more what I had in mind. Voula stayed true to her word and we danced. Knees over thighs, feet over shoulders, head touching toes, I was stretched, pushed and pummelled into almost catatonic nirvana. Encouraging words uttered throughout made any English inhibitions drift away and on the declaration ‘I’ll just put my next appointment back a bit’, I thought we might actually be in love
On bounding back into the arms of Mr Smith my enthusiasm was met with a slightly blank (jealous) face. After a passionate monologue about retraining as a Thai masseuse I promised to book a couples treatment next time. For now though, we had our own mini Greek playground to explore. Finding Ekies involved winding through a maze of scruffy little roads, seemingly designed for our bashed up late-90s Fiat Panda. On entering the ‘boutique’ grey of the resort gates, the car became a little more conspicuous. Handsome Greek 20-somethings came to fetch our bags and the sophisticated vibes of Ekies quickly drew us in.
Ekies is an eco-enthusiastic design-lovers’ dream: it’s every bit the aquamarine-sky, turquoise-water, brilliant-white-sand fantasy you want from Greece, without a hint of the nasty neon – this place is properly hip, with crisply designed suites and a super-cool ‘wet bar’ with a line of stools facing the waves. It likes to tread lightly, too, which means a kitchen garden, organic products and tree trunks sprouting through floors (architects worked around the pine forest, and not a single tree was felled during renovations).
The fabrics, furniture and design all murmur a playfulness. Reception alone is an eclectic whirlwind of open fireplace, antique chairs, hot-pink billiard table, vintage glassware and huge driftwood sculptures. The Fiat Panda now a distant memory, we meandered through gardens and around the pool, dotted with funky installations – hammocks, futons, chintzy parasols, hanging chairs – all splashed with colour and designed for drifting off under the Mediterranean sun. In contrast, our room was all muted urban tones and understated furnishings. Any initial disappointment at the lack of flair evaporated the moment we sunk into that bed. Then muted became restful and restful became just what we needed.
From the main road we could see a vast expanse of turquoise below, but Ekies’ own beach on Vourvourou Bay feels more like a lake. Pretty and tranquil, the beach, bar and restaurant all look out across clear waters surrounded by gentle hills peppered with olive and pine trees. From the beach itself you can see fish darting about, and you can wade out a good 50 metres before contemplating swimming. We even spotted an octopus from the hotel jetty.
For kids, it’s a dream come true – which does mean there is quite a lot of them in holiday time. The bartender must have caught the expressions of this pair after a romantic escape; he was quick to inform us that next year the beach will be split into separate areas for families and couples. Although the Ekies beach is alluring in its own right – aided by the sink-into sun loungers, Balearic beats and cold beers – I craved that turquoise expanse and clear horizon.
I wasn’t left hanging. A five-minute stroll from the hotel brought us to Karidi, one of the most perfect beaches we have ever stepped foot on. Soft, white sand shelving gently into a vivid gemstone-coloured sea alive with welcoming waves, surrounded by sun-drenched rocks, pine-shaded spots and just a few bronzed humans. After a good 15 minutes of puppy-like squealing, stripping off and running in and out of the sea, Mr Smith finally got his wife back. We swam and slept, slept and swam, drenching our bodies in sun and emptying our minds. When back home is grey and lives are busy, this is exactly what I crave.
Back to Ekies and another evening of sunset gazing, ouzo and seafood unfolded. The beachfront bar is a textbook spot for maxing out on sundowners while a lingering sunset drifts unnoticeably into night. Where the Ekies nightly buffet is all about volume, the à la carte menu is more about taste. Feta-stacked salads, chilli-soaked octopus and rich moussaka are the perfect complement to the many Greek wines on offer. As darkness fell, candles lit up a couple having a romantic dinner on the beach and others snuggling up on those sink-in sun loungers. Gradually children filed off to bed and all that was left to contemplate were the stars in the sky and another day of salty breezes, cold beers and sand between the toes.