As told to Kate Lough
“After studying in London, I returned to Greece and worked as an economist. I would spend my weekends and holidays exploring the Greek islands and I fell in love with Milos. It is not yet touched by mass tourism and is very much as it has always been. It has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times and evidence of this is everywhere, in the ancient theatre, the early Christian catacombs, the fragments of old walls and pithoi you casually discover at the roadside on the way to the sea. It is also a nature lover’s paradise with many spectacular beaches where you can still be alone, even in August.
In 1989, on a whim, I bought a centuries-old ruin with an amazing view. The project was too big for me to do alone, so I enlisted the help of the state and this meant having to operate it as a guesthouse, which was ready by 2007. It turned out that I loved the giving side of hospitality as much as being on the receiving end. My passion for travel gave me the insight to offer the best experience to my guests. This B&B was my first love and where I mostly reside in the summer when I come to Milos. It is in the middle of a traditional village and it really evokes an authentic experience.
I had always wanted a property right on the water’s edge in the Cyclades with a gorgeous sunset view. I had been looking forever, so when (in 2007) I finally found a small piece in Skinopi, I bought it instantly, not really thinking of the difficulties I might face in terms of permits. I ended up buying 20 properties over the course of 10 years to be able to complete the project, opening Skinopi Lodge in July 2016.
We have four villas (with three more on the way in 2021) and each one has a total absence of decoration; the interiors are bare white walls, polished cement floors and as little furniture as possible. I tried not to distract from the beauty of the natural surroundings. I wanted to empty the mind and to give people the chance to disconnect. There is an emphasis on natural materials and as much outdoor living as possible, with only outdoor kitchens and outdoor showers which the guests love. We took extreme care while building and managed to save all the landscape around the villas. Skinopi is a massive herbal garden with some olive trees scattered around. We produce our own extra virgin olive oil which the guests find in their villas.
I want my guests to feel the same magic that I feel when I am in Milos. To immerse themselves in the pure and untouched landscape around them, to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in the Aegean and to feel the energy of a place with so many rich layers of history. We want to safeguard the beauty and heritage of the island by introducing our guests to the traditions and culture and making them part of environmental initiatives. For the small scale of the Aegean islands, there is no other way than such slow tourism. We have seen the devastating effects of mass tourism in some of the islands; we need small private businesses that offer personalised and unique experiences for the guests. This has always been the very essence of Greek hospitality.
Milos has the most amazing coastline in Greece and it is best seen by boat. We take guests on our boat for day trips, to the desert island of Polyegos, which has the most beautiful blue waters and nearby Kimolos for a dinner of fresh fish on the beach. There’s also hiking to the top of our hill to the ancient obsidian mines, jeep safaris to deserted beaches and yoga at sunset. Sunset leaves one speechless — it is the magic hour of Skinopi. My favourite thing to do is to take my SUP out at sunset and paddle up the coast all the way to the edge of the bay, passing in front of ancient catacombs and small fishing villages.
But really my dream day would be to stay in one of the villas, swim off our private deck, cook in the kitchen, shower outdoors, watch the sun and then, in the absolute darkness of nights, marvel at the Milky Way. Essentially, not leave Skinopi at all…
Have a look at Skinopi Lodge