October 26, 2023 by Hidden Doorways
Home to some of Greece’s most significant archeological ruins and many of its prettiest villages, the Cyclades are a much-adored holiday destination for good reason. But beyond the well-trodden resorts of towering Santorini (only 40 minutes away by boat) and luxurious Mykonos (just 30 minutes by helicopter) are a selection of more intimate islands for those seeking sanctuary and space. Enter Folegandros, a small island in the southern Cyclades that’s home to unspoiled views and the sustainably designed luxury resort, Gundari.
A palpable sense of calm trickles through your veins before your toes are even over the threshold. A raw beauty from the outside-in, Gundari’s rugged rocky facade (consciously excavated from stone that surrounds the property) ensures you feel constantly held by Mother Nature. Within no time, you’ll find that sense of sanctuary won’t leave your side as the resort’s soothing energy takes hold and works its magic.
Impeccably appointed, Athens architecture studio Block722 is responsible for creating Gundari’s grounding interior and exterior design language. Fusing Greek and Scandinavian design principles, the decor centers on its connection to and respect for nature with a palette informed by the island’s ancient, unchanging tones. Stone and timber are present in every room from its soul-nourishing restaurant to its 25 suites and 2 villas. Before construction work even started, the team collected over 600 seedlings to nurture and return to the earth, helping it to regenerate with indigenous plants. Renewable energy sources, carbon monitoring, low-light pollution design, 100% electric on-site vehicles and membership to EarthCheck (the world’s leading environmental certification within tourism) shows how seriously Gundari takes its sustainability pledge.
Its commitment to being planet-conscious doesn’t stop at decor, extending to its dining offering too. Not only is Gundari’s restaurant Orizon steered by a Michelin-starred chef, but its dishes are created using ingredients from its own organic farm that operates with a circular approach to cultivate the land. Farm-to-table and sea-to-shore contemporary Greek cuisine nourishes guests from dawn to dusk, with the option to design a custom menu as its culinary team host bespoke sunset dinners directly on the farmland.
Days at Gundari are typically spent moving from the comfort of your suite’s king-size bed and private heated plunge pool (yes, every room has a sizeable outdoor space with sea views and loungers galore) to the spa for a healing sound bath or meditation session followed by a tension-releasing holistic treatment. From here, perhaps you’ll float down to the principal pool, swimming up to the bar to request an artisan cocktail from one of its mixologists as the sun starts to dip on the horizon, being played out by Gundari’s carefully curated vinyl-only playlist, inspired by the Japanese Jazz Kissatens of yesteryear.
But if the wild calls to you, a selection of experiences put together by true connoisseurs of Folegandros are yours for the taking. Sail to hidden bays on a private boat, roam free around nearby islands by a short helicopter or boat ride, dive into the Aegean’s depths by signing up to a world-class scuba trip that’ll journey down to kaleidoscopic reefs, climb cliffs as you tread nature trails on guided hikes, or traverse the far corners of the island on wheels thanks to Gundari’s fleet of electric bikes or charming Mini Moke EV.
A short drive away is a pristine beach where you will find Gundari’s beach house, so that sustenance and shade from the beating Greek sun are always but a few sandy steps away. And instead of battling through crowds of tourists as you might elsewhere in the Greek isles, Folegandros’ picturesque villages are unspoiled and best enjoyed at an unhurried pace. Be sure to visit Chora, where in its labyrinth of charming squares authentic island life plays out with backgammon beneath the bougainvillea in the afternoon before the night takes hold and its restaurants and bars come out to play, enticing locals and guests to merrily mingle.
An extraordinary oasis teetering on the edge of the Aegean Sea, to land at Gundari is to be whisked away to some place otherworldly…