The Rhodes Less Travelled
Mykonos overrun? Santorini overpriced? Chantal Borciani finds eco paradise at Gennadi Grand Resort and rediscovers the island of Rhodes – Greece’s unsung hero
It’s 9am and I’m hiking up the hillside, nourishing sun warming my back, the Aegean Sea breeze ruffling my hair and wild sage flanking the trail. In the distance, a pretty white-washed sugar cube village nestles into the hillside and below, the valley is littered with olive trees which, I’m told by our friendly guide, date back more than 300 years. The entire vista is backed by the glittering sapphire sea – this is Rhodes, but not as we know it.
While other islands overflow with jet set and package holidaymakers alike, the south east corner of Rhodes remains mercifully unspoilt and bewitching in its beauty. With wide sweeping beaches – 40km in total – this region is becoming the hot spot for luxury getaways, with well-heeled travellers making the most of the restful beaches, retreats and clutch of high-end hotels.
According to Greek mythology, the gods gifted the isle of Rhodes to Helios, the sun god, and the island has basked in more than 300 days of sunshine ever since. True to form, even in the coldest winter months temperatures rarely dip below 14°C, and visitors can expect to be sunbathing poolside even in November.
Lindos Town, located midway along Rhodes’ east coast, is famous for its clifftop acropolis and is a captivating warren of whitewashed houses with pebble paved courtyards, Byzantine churches, local craft shops and bougainvillea-clad restaurants. And while hiking, biking, kayaking and sailing are some of the best ways to appreciate the island’s natural attractions, rest, relaxation and a dash of luxury are never far away.
A 20-minute drive south from Lindos, Gennadi Grand Hotel channels Palm Beach vibes with a hint of Elle Décor and is one of the reasons the island is in the midst of a luxury travel renaissance. The super-stylish eco hotel opened in 2018 and features 288 rooms, with 161 of the suites boasting private seawater pools – chic, open plan and exquisitely executed.
Pure shores meets Ibiza beach club, Gennadi’s stylish low-lying design ensures every balcony, restaurant and roof terrace is afforded soul-soothing views of the Aegean. While the private plunge pool suites are totally heavenly, the three main pools will not disappoint either. The main outdoor pool is straight up rock-star chic; worthy of a Vogue summer shoot, the turquoise water is flanked by luxuriant day beds and picture-perfect palms with views out to sea. Order a cocktail, recline with a book till sunset or devour salads billowing with fresh feta on the poolside terrace – provenance is key at Gennadi with all the restaurants using hyperlocal and independent producers where possible.
The large property ensures guests have lots of space and privacy – whether holidaying with family or as a couple – and thanks to the slick architectural design the hotel blends with its surroundings, enviably sandwiched between mountains and cobalt sea. Tennis courts, on-site watersports, aqua pilates and an outdoor aerial yoga studio (slated for launch this summer) will keep active travellers well occupied and the wide selection of restaurants, from traditional Greek to wonderful rooftop brunches will be a pull for foodies. Kids can enjoy the discrete children’s club and playground while the subterranean Grand Spa provides holistic relaxation for adults under a green roof – quite literally, as the roofs are sown with wild grasses and flowers. Steam, sauna, hammam, a Kneipp foot spa and a host of muscle-melting massages are on offer.
Once revived and rejuvenated, hike, bike or kayak and enjoy more of those captivating island views. Discover the windsurfing beaches on the southern peninsula and head north to the UNESCO-listed Rhodes Town. With wellness, style and unbeatable cultural highlights, this pretty enclave is fast- becoming the new boutique kid on the block.