It is a fine thing to awake and to step on to a balcony with a view, beyond palm trees, of an Aegean beach; it is a finer thing to have slept, the mild nights of spring allowing, with a window wide open enough to hear the sound of the waves on the gentle shore.
So it was during two nights spent at the Eagles Palace hotel in Ouranoupolis, on Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula, after a leisurely bus trip of some hours from Sofia which culminated in being received as a complimentary guest at the hotel, on the eve of a trip to Mount Athos, the borders of which lie just a few kilometres away.
Our group was received a day earlier than originally had been planned, and this shorter notice did nothing to diminish the aplomb of the staff, who welcomed us smilingly with champagne and all reservations and rooms in immaculate order.
So close to the spiritual centre of Athos, that haven of stoic Christian Orthodoxy, the hotel is, by contrast, a place of leisurely indulgence, even though for those who can afford it, it often as served as a bed for the nights preceding a cruise past the shores of Athos.
In business since 1925, born and as now a family enterprise, guests have included Maria Callas (the bungalow in which she customarily stayed now bears her name), a scattering of European royalty, and closer to the traditions of the nearby monasteries, Patriarch Bartholomeos I, the Ecumenical Patriarch and, as such, the "first among equals" of the world’s leadership of Orthodox Christianity. Do not ask about latter-day VIP guests; the management’s rules about discretion forbid any disclosures, and we journalists are discreetly asked not to dispatch paparazzi to the precincts of the hotel. In the case of The Sofia Echo, an easy enough request to grant; we are just not that kind of newspaper.
Now under the stewardship of Konstantinos and Lena Tornivoukas, current controllers of the family business, the hotel has been renovated and throughout has a strikingly modern interior.
There are 165 rooms, suites and bungalows, with 20 sea-facing junior suites, 12 seafront junior suites, 13 40 sq m family suites, 95 twin rooms with a view of the sea or the garden, and four one-bedroom suites, and among other options (lest I bore you with numbers) the 180 sq m Maria Callas bungalow, which we were invited to inspect; its features include, among several other things – such as the private pool of the kind attached to most of the bungalows – a DVD of a performance by the diva.
There are extensive spa facilities, thankfully without the slightly mouldy cloyingness of some spa outfits that I have seen in other countries, and a host of other features such as a conference centre, complete with a news conference room of which Tornivoukas availed himself to explain to us his outlook for the season (adapting offers and rates to the context of the economic crisis, with some encouraging indications that the rate of reservations thus garnered was paying off).
I am fond of seafood and that variety of Balkan cuisine which is Greek (and I have no wish to start any arguments about the antecedents of various dishes of which certain countries claim to have generated the original) and, given my exacting expectations when it comes to etiquette, was impressed by the conduct and linguistic skills of the serving staff – though as we roamed and plundered the extensive and attractive buffet, the waiters had little to do other than keep our glasses of the enchanting white wine of the region filled on cue.
A final note, on an issue so close to the hearts and lungs of the rival camps; the lobby, rooms and restaurants are non-smoking throughout, so for the smokers, it was a step outside to balconies and those views of the Aegean, which all other things being equal, is no bad thing.
Sofia Echo Media is part of the Economedia Group.
The news and information content on this website is provided by our editorial team and is copyrighted.
Any unauthorised reproduction or use of it is strictly forbidden. Reproduction of this website's content is permitted only
with prior written permission from the Editor-in-Chief, should be propertly acredited and provide an active link back to our site.
Comments posted by the website's visitors are independent of the editorial materials and do not represent the views of sofiaecho.com.
Sofia Echo Media cannot be held responsible for the statements contained in visitor comments.
The percentаge change in the shares' prices are based on the price of the last transaction of the current session compared to the
price of the last transaction of the previous session. Bulgarian Stock Exchange data is not real-time, but updated every 15 minutes,
and should not be used as a basis for decisions about buying or selling stock options.