Luxury is probably the most over-used word in the millennial age, but the essence of true luxury is unswervingly exhibited through scarcity, authenticity and exclusivity. The Grand Resort Lagonissi creates an experience that is deeply personal, magical and truly exclusive
By: Niyoshi Shah
Posted on: January 16, 2018
LF Says: ★★★★★
As a consumer and connoisseur of the luxury travel sector, I’m always keen at looking at the industry from a wide-angled lens that cover multi-disciplinary perspectives. There is an amplified need to experience authenticity, peel back layers of local culture that have been cloaked by mass tourism, and live through to tell a legitimate tale of superfluous luxury. The Grand Resort Lagonissi, grand by name and by nature, has long been one of the more prestigious destinations favoured by the rich and famous across the globe. A staggeringly vast property nestled in the unmatched Athenian Riviera, it is a 72-acre peninsula south of the Greek capital. Very few resorts in the world hold a candle to the hospitality, elegance and statuesque exuberance exhibited by Grand Resort Lagonissi.
Celebrity Name Check
The property feels like its own private enclave, a Grecian utopia that disconnects you from the world. Extensive grounds, service and amenities, all blessed with delicious Mediterranean flair, makes it the preferred destination of top-notch celebrities like George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, Leonardo Di Caprio, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Kylie Minogue to name a few. The property offers way more than pure commercialism can warrant. And it’s no wonder: the crystal clear Aegean sea soaring into the powder blue star-lit sky, combined with the private sandy coves visible from my private infinity pool suite made for the most spectacular setting that I have ever seen. It’s the sort of place you go to when you want to be both lazy and luxurious, pampered and peppy at the same time.
Deluxe Sized Spectacle
A world in itself, the resort houses 191 rooms, 76 suits, 10 restaurants, the only helipad in Athens, lear jet services, yachts for hire, a fitness and spa centre, tennis court and 11 odd banquets including a 2,500 sq feet ballroom called the “Olympia”. The property holds 16 beaches to choose from, be it private and secluded, with or without beach club, with sandy or pebbled shores, offering water sports or not, and the list can go on!
I spent three nights in a Deluxe Bungalow with a zero-edge pool, an in-room gym, sauna and a private wooden deck. The décor was all charm, elegance and sophisticated luxury. The infinity pool overlooked the sea, with the sort of view that will make you forget you’re spending an entire paycheck on a night or two of extremely sound sleep
The Ambassador suite, Royal suite and Dream Suite, which run upwards of $4,000 a night (cash in those points!), come with direct sea views, gardens, private kitchen and are outfitted with the most James Bond–esque tech features—like no-touch, motion-sensored lighting, motorised drapes and curtains, smart thermostats and a Business Center, personal butler and Private Parking Area. Phew!
It was at the Captain’s House, their Italian restaurant, I dined at during my first night. There’s no cooler place to sit, drink a spritz, and watch the world float by. Overlooking the lagoon, the posh elegance of the interiors matched the scrumptious dishes prepared. The Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions, Homemade Ravioli Llagostada with Smoked Cheese, and Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella left an aftertaste that was magical for an inveterate food lover like me. The restaurant interiors were enhanced with soft pastel hues and a rustic stilted décor at the patio. I savoured authentic Mediterranean flavours at the beach-front “Mediterraneo” Restaurant the next day where the Fried Calamari, Chick Pea Croquettes and Linguini Pasta made the cut to my “Most Delectable” list.
A relaxing swim in the sea followed by an hour long massage therapy session at the Marina Spa loosened my sore joints and unequivocally lifted my spirits for the entirety of my stay. The THALASPA Henri Chenot, makes for the perfect place for relaxation and harmony, offering a uniquely Eastern approach to holistic treatments.
By my second night, I realised it was time to throw away my ambitious agenda, embrace the inner lazy me, and let the calm tranquillity take over.
The entire resort is designed in white, almond, tan and piercing blue accents – from drawer nobs, table pieces and doorways to faucets, head boards and patio furniture. The vibrant vertical gardens and herbal structures create a touch of verdant aesthetics that blends into its natural landscape.
The Olympia, Ilida and Delphi ballrooms’ spectacular setting and architecture is an unforgettable stage set for the wedding, anniversary or celebration of a lifetime. But the real draw is the yacht-like club “Veghera”. With a splendid assortment of cocktails and an ambience akin to a luxury cruise ship, replete with sleek wooden flooring and enormous sails, Veghera is unabashedly swanky. It’s a great way to cosplay Clooney for a night. And if you just got a promotion, go all out and captain one of the hotel’s custom yachts into the riviera. No word on whether you can successfully dip into the sea; if that's your thing, enter at your own risk.
There are dozens of staff casually milling around in their buggies, waiting to dote on you, and as soon as you lift your glass there's someone there with a coaster, waiting for you to return it to the table. During my stay, one thing was amply clear, The Grand Resort Lagonissi is not a party island, but an island for torrid romance, low gears and quintessential downtime.
A mere 50 minutes from the central city of Athens, I spent my days visiting the awe-inspiring Temple of Poseidon, hit the beach and tennis courts, had a memorable wine appreciation session with the in-house Sommelier and a serene afternoon swimming in the in-room pool. One can also grab a bike and head to the nearby beaches. Those characteristically Greek striped umbrellas are just waiting for you to nap under.
As tourism is responsible for a majority of the government's income, exemplary hospitality has become something of an art. And that art is demonstrated by the service staff, chef, buggy drivers, bartenders, bell boys and every attendant at the resort that regularly features in The Leading Hotels of the World’s top five resorts.
Lastly, I admit I am a spoilt traveller, and a sense of disillusionment is almost anticipated, even at the very best resorts. However, the only disappointment I experienced here is when I had to leave. It was a truly incredible experience that went beyond a luxury villa stay.
LF Says: ★★★★★
Seasonal Hotel: Hotel closes from October 23, 2017 to May 1, 2018
Coordinates: 40 th. K.M. Athens Sounion Avenue, 19010 Lagonissi, Attica, Greece