LEADsantoriniVisiting the island of Santorini, Greece, in March was the perfect time to experience the beauty of the area without the crush of tourists. We experienced complete solitude while wandering the cobble-stoned alleys along the wide, shining ocean, breathing in the fresh sea air, and watching seagulls fly loops among the round, blue tops of churches.

Santorini, or Thera as it is also called, is a small island located in the South Aegean Sea at the southern end of the Cyclades group of isles. She has a coastline of 43 miles (69 km) and covers an area of about 37 square miles (96 km²). The island, shaped almost like a half moon, is all that is left after a volcanic eruption around 1640 BC.

Visitors arriving by boat sail into the flooded crater with towering cliff walls crowned by tiny white houses. Though seemingly inaccessible and steep in the west, Santorini’s east side boasts white sand and pebble beaches.

At the gorgeous and shimmering white Aressana Hotel, situated centrally in the main town of Fira, the lack of crowds was blissful. The squeak of our sneakers on the polished floor echoed across the bright, empty lobby decorated stylishly with flowers and minimal furnishings.

A smiling clerk waited behind the desk like our own private consultant, ready to provide us
with plenty of cheerful advice about the island. We arranged with her to have a taxi driver take us on a grand tour of Santorini the next day, a luxury we could actually afford in a season when the taxis have nothing better to do.

Our room, reached through several elegant white arches, was comfortable, clean, and bright. The large window was hung with white curtains and allowed the sunshine in to pool on the thick carpet. Walking outside onto an open terrace, I could see the gleaming, jewel-like swimming pool, not in use in March when daytime temperature range from 46-60 F (8-15 C), but beautiful nonetheless.

After a satisfying night of sleep, we awoke to find the most magnificent breakfast buffet spread I have ever experienced, complete with the requisite fresh Greek yogurt with peaches. Sunlight flooding through the glass doors lining the wide, tiled dining room
emphasized the lushness of the food and the luxury of the surroundings.

The azure blue of the swimming pool right outside the windows picked up the tones of the sparkling ocean beyond, and we could already feel the relaxation inspired by this delightful hotel washing over us. I heaped a plate with blueberry muffins, chunks of fresh fruit, and freshly toasted bagels, knowing we had made the right choice about where to stay.

A suited attendant came to our table, which was spread quaintly with a red-and-white checked table cloth, asking our orders for eggs or Belgian waffles, and tea, coffee or orange juice.

No other guests appeared. March, it turned out, was the right time to visit, and the lavish welcome of the Aressana Hotel was all for us and us alone.

If You Go

The five-star Aressana Hotel (84 700 Fira, Santorini-Hellas) has well-appointed rooms ranging from US$ 135 in the off-season for a standard double room (ground floor), to US$ 260 in August.

Tel: +30-22860-23900
Fax: +30-22860-23902
Athens Office: +30-210-9919349
E-mail: [email protected]

Greek National Tourist Organization

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