Saturday, 01 October 2016 00:00

Grace Santorini receives spectacular upgrade

    Luxury boutique hotel group, Grace Hotels, has reopened its iconic destination Grace Santorini following extensive enhancements. The hotel’s complete renovation provides guests with a significantly upgraded experience, whilst retaining the intimacy it has become synonymous with. Innovative design, a new champagne lounge, an extensively expanded culinary experience and a holistic approach for enriched luxury wellness reinforces Grace Santorini as one of the world’s top luxury boutique hotels.

    The refurbished rooms and suites, whilst maintaining the Grace hallmark of elegance and simplicity, have a contemporary style, combining cutting-edge, bespoke design alongside traditional hand-crafted pieces. The luxurious bathrooms offer double vanity units with marble carved basins and spacious rain showers with mosaic feature walls. A new and innovative in-room bar offers, amongst other unique amenities, a cocktail-making kit for guests to create their favourite cocktails, either by themselves or with the help of an expert mixologist. This new feature is available as part of ‘Bespoke by Grace’, an initiative which allows guests to personalise their in-room experience and request unique local experiences to enrich their visit.

    Spectacular views

    The new champagne lounge provides breathtaking views of the caldera from its location – 363m above sea level. Showcasing the finest champagnes, cocktails and premium spirits paired with the chef’s signature dishes, it offers the ideal vantage point to witness the dramatic changing hues of the legendary Santorini sunset.

    Gastronomy plays an integral role throughout the hotel experience. The restaurant, ‘Santoro’, is expertly led by Executive Chef Spyros Agious, comprising a unique menu that is influenced by his passion and experience of the Mediterranean.

    To meet the demands of the growing number of people seeking enhanced wellness, the hotel has created a new yoga and pilates studio with an adjoining fitness area featuring the latest ‘Technogym’ equipment. Complimentary group yoga sessions are offered twice daily, whilst those wanting a more tailored approach can reserve private training, which can be taken within the hotel surroundings or across the rugged landscape of Santorini.

    A balance of luxury and understated beauty

    The renovation consultancy and interior design for Grace Santorini was handled by Fifth Element Interiors, London, and SMK Interiors, Greece. The plans for Grace Santorini involved adding to the beauty of the interiors, that had been the subject of consistent critical acclaim since it opened, reimagining the minimalist whitewashed rooms whilst delivering something authentic and true to its Hellenic heritage.

    The 21-room hotel is carved into the cliff-face 300m above Santorini’s volcanic caldera. Award-winning architecture practices Divercity and Mplusm, known for their ability to handle challenging briefs in a variety of locations and contexts, were responsible for the original development of the hotel, completed in 2008. In 2010, they were tasked with the addition of ‘The Villa’, a 400m2 luxury residence complete with its own volcanic spa, completed in 2012.

    The understated design allows the extraordinary landscape to take centre stage. The hotel provides a contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture, employing economy of space and simplicity. The infinity pool’s jagged outline echoes the zigzag paths that cross Santorini’s sheer terrain.

    Founders of Fifth Element, Christina Logothetis and Staci Perkins-Surla, comment: “Our challenge was to preserve the original use of white and avoid cold minimalism, ensuring a balance that reveals an unmistakable sense of luxury and understated beauty. By subtly introducing a new colour palette with furnishings, fixtures and fittings, exuding the highest standards of quality, we aimed to set standards on the global stage.”

    Rooms and suites

    The refurbished rooms and suites, whilst maintaining the Grace hallmark of elegance and simplicity, have a contemporary style, combining cutting-edge and bespoke design alongside traditional hand-crafted pieces.

    The objective was to maximise the ability to enjoy the view and the space outside. Grace Santorini’s hotel rooms all have a frontal orientation to make the most of the panoramic views. Every single room allows you to have breakfast outside, 19 of the 21 rooms include plunge pools and the largest rooms have round day beds with retractable canopies.

    Inspired by the island’s ‘yposkafa’ cave-like dwellings, the hotel has rounded walls and domed roofs excavated from the rock-face. All-white interiors with brushed concrete floors reiterate the trademark whitewashed houses of the Cyclades.

    Elements of local materials and architectural techniques can be found throughout the hotel. This is exemplified by the feature of volcanic rock fragments that are positioned in the windows of four rooms, interspersed with apertures that provide glimpses to the sea. This echoes a local architectural technique in which minimal amounts of mortar are used, leaving gaps between the stonework creating a light-filtering screen that allows privacy, ventilation and casts dappled shadows as the sun goes down.

    Accents in turquoise, aubergine or navy are featured in some rooms, a colour palette synonymous with Santorini and the Mediterranean. Traditional Aegean walnut was used for the design, as opposed to non-indigenous wood like teak and driftwood found in other island properties. Products from the local region complement the interiors and include handmade walnut desks with Vibeffe 9500 marble and walnut coffee tables. Wardrobes with solid walnut interiors also feature alongside an innovative in-room bar which will offer a cocktail-making kit for guests. The luxurious bathrooms offer double vanity units with basins hand-carved from solid Greek statuario marble and spacious rain showers with mosaic feature walls.

    The sofas are handmade in Greece and upholstered in C & C Milano fabrics along with handmade throws and rugs especially hand-dyed for Grace Santorini. Rooms are complete with a curated collection of accessories, including pieces from the Cycladic Museum and Greek artisanal marble bowls. Further details include marble accessories and brass bookends based on traditional Greek design from Two is Company.

    Santoro

    Santoro offers dining inside or al fresco on the open terrace alongside Grace Santorini’s iconic infinity pool. The restaurant design capitalises on its location that boasts one of the world’s most awe-inspiring views and showcases the legendary Santorini sunset.

    The newly-designed restaurant is lighter and more sophisticated than its previous incarnation. A white feature wall has been created with Greek triangular scalloped design. This is punctuated by iconic black ‘Here Comes the Sun’ pendant lanterns, originally designed by Architect Bertrand Balas in 1970. Reminiscent of the light at sunrise and sunset, the rounded lamps are made from satin aluminium and anodized copper.

    The angular design of the windows echoes the zigzag paths that cross the island. Discrete built-in banquettes allow guests to enjoy the view in privacy. Niches in the wall display porcelain bottles, pods and teardrops by acclaimed Ceramicist Sophie Cook.

    Champagne lounge

    The new champagne lounge provides breathtaking views of the caldera, offering the ideal vantage point to witness the dramatic changing hues of the legendary Santorini sunset, facing the awe-inspiring immensity of the panorama from its vast floating terrace.

    Inside, a feature wall is made of lava rock from Santorini using local architectural techniques, with a mirror behind it to reflect the light. A fully-lit honey onyx bar with brass shelves provides a dramatic statement foil to the dark volcanic stone. The bar is furnished with Emperador marble coffee tables, barstools and armchairs handmade in Greece upholstered in C & C Milano fabrics.

    A curated collection of modern art is showcased in the champagne lounge from the renowned RARITY GALLERY, the first Greek gallery to exhibit the works of internationally acknowledged contemporary artists.

    Yoga and pilates studio

    The new yoga and pilates studio allows guests to take in the breathtaking panoramic views whilst enjoying their classes. The interiors are white and calm with walnut and plenty of mirrors to allow the light to reflect back into the room and accentuate the effect of the scenic surroundings. The space is complete with Reformer Pilates machines and cutting-edge ‘Technogym’ fitness equipment.

    Photography

    A commissioned capsule collection of photography by renowned Art Photographer, Yiorgos Kordakis, is showcased throughout the hotel, offering a different view of Santorini with abstract scenes of the island. The Hephaestus and Calliste photography employs an abstract style of ‘less is more’, without the cliche blue and white, to reveal Santorini’s raw beauty whilst leaving much to the imagination.

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