Calilo, the first 5 Star Resort on enchanting Ios, part of Greece’s Cycladic Chain in the heart of the Aegean, just north of Santorini – delivers an idyllic paradise. Here you can bask in the sun, bathe in azure seas and dine alfresco amid nature’s splendor – away from the crowds. Calilo is wonderfully remote, a 30-minute drive from the main town Chora and the lively nightlife the island is known for.
Opened this July, the glam beachfront hotel boasts winding stone walls, the owner’s eye-catching signature sculptures and whimsical flourishes throughout, a large lovely curved swimming pool, swings suspended over mosaic mini pools, in water tables and loungers, palapa daybeds, and thatched cabanas fronting the beautiful sea. In 2020, Calilo is introducing eight new super luxury suites, a spa wellness center and five miles of walking trails plus 20 sunken rock pools.
This stunning island retreat is the brainchild of Angelos Michalopoulos and his wife Vassiliki Petridou. The Greek native couple lived in New York and decided to move back to their homeland to bring up their children. They immediately fell in love with Ios, it’s unspoiled landscape and pristine beaches and bought about one quarter of the 40-square-mile island around a decade ago in order to preserve its natural beauty and protect it. Their plan incorporated transporting more than 60,000 trees including 550 ancient olive groves, saved from becoming firewood on the mainland and earmarked 99 percent of their land for conservation.
Calilo is ideally situated on pretty Papas Beach. Set in a valley, it’s surrounded by over 1,000 acres of untouched terrain with hillsides of yellow rock and green flora punctuated by winding trails and groves. The environmentally friendly resort, mainly built of local stone and materials quarried on site, reflects the original style of dynamic duo husband and wife team Angelos and Vassiliki who are conservationists, developers and artists.
Suite-sized rooms are airy with supremely comfortable king size beds surrounded by floors, walls and ceilings meticulously carved from thousands of pieces of Greek marble in beautiful hues of black and white. Every piece of furniture at Calilo is distinctly sculpted and all of the fanciful motifs on headboards, wardrobe doors, tables and chairs are designed by the owner and made here, along with the illustrated books in your suite. Gorgeous bathrooms done in marble from head to toe with huge round stand-alone tubs would have delighted Cleopatra.
Outside: you have your own private outdoor living space. My open air playground featured a large marble pool, multi level ponds with a waterfall, yet another pool on a raised platform with an in–water sunbed, comfortable loungers, outdoor shower and an elevated space with a lamp and covered bed should I drift off to dreamland.
As for the cuisine, guests enjoy superb Mediterranean fare with vegetables, fruit and herbs from the resort’s organic garden at the scenic open-air restaurant. Some of the many standouts included luscious grilled octopus salad, tastiest linguine with seafood, freshest local fish of the day and mouth watering Ribeye black Angus.
In addition to water sports and boat excursions there are miles of coastline and walking trails with unblemished scenery. Many prefer to unwind in their serene Calilo sanctuary, relaxing on the secluded golden sand beach gazing out at the blue Aegean.
If you want to leave paradise and check out the social scene in Chora with its traditional whitewashed houses and windmills, the resort offers transfers by car or boat. I visited some of Angelo’s and Vassiliki’s other venues on the island, all constructed with the environment in mind, and recommend them. These include: excellent rooftop dining at Agalia Luxury Suites, boutique hotel near town; Pathos Sunset Lounge and Restaurant – the island’s coveted ‘in’ spot; stylish Free Beach and Bar Restaurant; and Erego Beach Club and Restaurant on Koumbara Beach which looks out towards the owners’ own private island of Ethousiasmos reached by a man-made causeway. Their spectacular house, which they have rented out to movie stars and celebrities, boasts the biggest, most glamorous pool I have ever seen.
To learn more visit calilo.com.