When I got invited to Greece in June I was most excited that we were planning a beach day in addition to exploring Thessaloniki. Crystal clear water that is bluer than blue, fresh seafood, and sunsets at their best. Luckily not only the Greek islands hold the promise of all of that, but also the peninsula Halkidiki which is an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki. With such proximity, it is dubbed the city’s Hamptons and many locals have holiday homes there. When I found out that there were some excellent dive spots as well, I immediately extended my stay – after all, my new Scubapro equipment needed to be baptized as soon as possible.

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While our beach party day at Lefki Ammos Beach Bar was everything one expects from a day at the Mediterranean Sea, my arrival back in Halkidiki is a different one and I am greeted with a torrential downpour of note. Patrick, my driver, tries his best to convince me that the weather will surely clear up in no time and entertains me with stories about the area. Halkidiki is a peninsula made up of three legs: Cassandra, Sithonia, and Mount Athos. According to local saying you go to Cassandra if you want to find a woman as it is the Ibiza of the area, to Sithonia if you have a woman, and to Mount Athos if your woman left you – it is a monastery and women can only view it from the sea with a safe 500m distance. I am headed to Ekies – All Senses Resort in Sithonia where I can indulge in my inner hippie in a chic, chilled environment as it is the quintessence of barefoot luxury. It is also located with a view on Mount Athos so I plan on waving hello from the distance.

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It is also the childhood holiday destination of Alexandra Efstathiadou who used to come to a hotel in the exact same spot. From early on she was in love with the location that combined pine tree and olive forests with the ocean, creating a holiday heaven in green and blue. When she found Porto Capis, home of her happy childhood memories derelict years later she knew she wanted to bring it back to life somehow. The idea was not to simply reopen the old hotel but to create a space that would combine its natural beauty with contemporary Greek design, both complementing each other. It took a few years, but thus Ekies, the love child of a beautiful location, Alexandra’s vision and the work of skilled local designers and builders, was born.

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The staff is as friendly as the are efficient and Effie at the front desk checks me in, books spa treatments for me, and gets me settled for lunch in no time. I sit in Koutali, the winter garden and a la carte restaurant and watch the world drown. When it rains in Halkidiki, it pours. Ekies is definitely prettier with the sun out, but it does have a certain charm sitting bundled up with a glass of wine and listen to the rain. By the time I am done with my salad – I try my hardest not to ask for extra cheese! – my room is ready. Room is an understatement though as I am in a railroad suite of white, wood, and calm. Everything is clean and modern, but somehow earthy at the same time – a perfect example of Ekies’ design philosophy which is eco-chic at its best. The room opens to my very own patio, which while hidden opens to the garden and comes, of course, with my own private jacuzzi. It makes me a bit sad to be on my own, but there is also a complimentary bottle of champagne so I drown my sorrows instead of mope…#firstworldproblems

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Just in time for sunset the sun actually makes an appearance drenching everything in gold and pink. Considering the waterworks, I just witnessed the name Kanata Wet Bar is adequate in more than one way for their outside terrace. I climb onto one of the covered day beds for a little lazy work session while the staff and the last rays of sunshine dry the rest of the wet bar off. The coast is now clear and so is the view over Vourvourou Bay, offering up a spectacular Greek sunset.

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As I am booked with half board I join the other guests for a buffet style dinner Kouzina, which is right next to the terrace and also covered with a glass roof. As far as buffet style eating goes dinner is quite good and only interrupted by a few children running, screaming, and plotting to throw spaghetti. No, no, of course, I am exaggerating, but Ekies is extremely child-friendly – great for Travelettes with little ones, but something to consider if you are seeking romance for two or solitude like me. The latter I find after dinner in the ‘treehouse’ overlooking the bay and hidden away from any soccer games or spaghetti monsters. Hidden nooks and crannies are another specialty here.

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After sleeping in my cloud-like bed, which is actually an ecological Coco-mat, the next day, unfortunately, brings more cloudy skies. I decide to make the best of it, have an indoors day, and make my way to the spa. Here I give myself into the skillful hands of Matina and her team who are in charge of my well-being, inside and out. Ekies’ spa specialty is an Ancient Greek massage which origins date back to Hippocrates. With a mix of deep tissue, suction cups, horsehair brush and powder treatment this massage is invigorating and relaxing at the same time. After my nap my treatment I get a Greek yoghurt facial which I almost lick off – while I was never a fan of yoghurt before, Greek yoghurt is something else. Luckily the breakfast buffet is stocked with plenty as well as seeds, nuts, dried goji berries, and different honey varieties so I restrain my urges and let the yoghurt work its magic on my face instead.

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The sun comes out in the afternoon and so I spend my time between the very chic pool, feeling like a 70s Bond Girl and in the water hammock. Mind you, the water is a lot colder than I usually prefer it and so I move onto the floating deck instead. It also means that I have to squeeze myself into a 5mm wetsuit (not an easy task after a week of Greek food!) the next morning for my diving excursion. After Thailand, I am spoiled for warmer water and for more marine creatures, but it is good to be in the water again. While I don’t know how to assemble my brand new BCD and regulator on my own, I feel quite like a grown up diver and very excited to get everything into the sea. Back at Ekies I finally put my private jacuzzi to good use to rinse my equipment in style.

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I have my final dinner at Koutali, which offers a modern take on traditional Greek dishes. While I haven’t had bad food during my entire stay in Greece, this dinner takes it up a notch and I am more than a bit sad that it will be my last meal. I order a last glass of Biblia Chora which has its home not far from Sithonia and watch a final sunset.

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Over the bay, I can see the outline of Mount Athos. Apparently a female journalist once snuck in disguised as a man. I don’t see the point; I don’t think the view could be better on the other side and at least here kids and Travelettes are more than welcome.

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Ekies kindly organized one complimentary night as well as my spa treatments – thank you!

All images by Annika