When I sit down with Greek-American owner Kyriakos Mourkakos (Eric for me), he makes it clear that his extremely polished passion project was designed to make an impact. And that is the case. He chose a prime location for his new family business. Kalafati has long been a delight for jet-set crowds, for those seeking respite from the 24-hour parties and sweaty clubs. That’s why, Eric tells me, they chose to build a hotel there – “for something low-key and away from all the craziness.” An obvious family man, the 27-year-old entrepreneur has kept Cali close to his heart – the hotel is named after his own mother and everyone from his father to his sister is involved. The architecture, interiors and design are the work of SFTN Labs, an Athens-based studio run by his cousin. The vision was simple: to create an “ultra-luxury”, “ultra-isolated” hotel that does not impose anything on the landscape. At first glance it is delivered and impressively so. When we find ourselves at the Pool Bar surrounded by his friends, he also highlights all the inspiration drawn from his homeland. “Virtually all the materials we used come from the mountains.” The marble is Greek; the creators are Greek; the stone is Greek; and even the flora and fauna are native to – you guessed it – Greek.
An image of Cycladic chic that lets the environment do the talking. Palettes of muted greys, creams and blues reign supreme. Again the work of STFN Laboratories, materials originating from Greece serve as a major design cue with a simplicity that trumps overt interior design trends. There’s a mishmash of natural Greek marble – quarried from Volakas to Mikinonon and beyond – on the terraces and in the pools. All raw materials from scratch, including stone desks, were hand-selected from the nearby mountain. The gleaming white walls are awash with uniquely Greek art and sketches drawn on canvas from across the country, and a carefully selected mix of Myconian bric-a-brac vases rest on the agate workspaces. Well-lit bathrooms are clad in pink, white, or gray marble and have towering rainfall showers timed to shell out the extra water pressure. Beds? Firm yet comfortable, handmade in Greece, with linens made from natural materials. Each room, regardless of category, has a private terrace with stunning views of the coast. We stayed in Room 201, a comfortable deluxe pool suite for two dressed in more of that marble, eco-friendly Athens linens, and the show – a gigantic terrace with a saltwater plunge pool, lounge chairs, and a sleek sitting area topped by a pergola overlooking views of the Aegean Sea.