Many wellness companies fail to recognise one of the essential pillars of wellness: happiness. They focus on extreme fitness through unrealistic boot camps, where celery juice and smoothies are the only options on the menu. But, after a full day of healthy activities, it's human instinct to crave some reward. If we do not get one, our happiness levels deplete, leaving us dissatisfied, and we often return home ready to gorge on everything on offer!
The Andronis Group clearly understands that the secret to wellness is balance, which breeds happiness. When we feel happy, our bodies release chemicals and signals to the brain that make us feel good, reducing stress and increasing overall wellbeing.
As a woman who has worked in the high-pressured, high-stressed corporate world for over two decades, finding and maintaining balance has become a lifelong mission. How do we find balance in the ever-changing world of the 'new normal' we live in, where employers and clients demand speed of delivery and growth of change? In recent years I have discovered that slowing down for a moment can, in fact, help us speed up; even the fastest car in the F1 needs a pit stop to stay on track, right? So, when the invite arrived on my desk to attend an award-winning luxury wellness experience, how could I say no?
Situated on the idyllic island of Santorini, live a collection of luxury wellness hotels by the Andronis Group. Each hotel is uniquely different, but all share the same philosophy 'to ensure guests live the holiday experience in full, in every way, every moment of their stay'. The island resides on volcanic rock that provides an undeniable earthy yet electric energy that leaves one feeling grounded and invigorated.
The group have charged itself with redefining and reimagining hospitality, focusing on space, peace, and unparalleled service. During my visit, they certainly achieved that.
My experience started in Imerovigli, a Santorinian gem on the island's most romantic coast, with views stretching across the breathtaking Caldera. The Caldera of Santorini has cave houses and architecture built on volcanic soil. Words cannot describe the awe-dropping beauty of this place; a picture cannot capture its full glory, so I will express the feeling I felt when I stepped out of my Andronis Concept suite onto my private terrace. Immediately excited to see the infinity pool built out on the edge of the cliff landscape to look out onto the horizon of the Aegean Sea. At that moment, it was as though time stood still, with an incredible rush of feelings of wonder and gratitude for our wonderful planet. It was a tantalising beauty that made me feel alive, yet the vastness of the water and its tranquillity immediately allowed me to relax completely. The weight of career aspirations, targets, goals, and expectations evaporated into the ether, and at that moment, I belonged to the Andronis Concept, which is all that mattered. A wise man once told me there is something about large bodies of water that influence our nervous system.
Staring at the ocean changes our brain waves' frequency and puts us into a calm meditative state. Listening to the waves activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which makes us more relaxed. In addition, the negative ions in the sea breeze have a mood-boosting effect. What a perfect destination.
Andronis Concept Wellness Resort Santorini has 29 pool suites and villas, with sophisticated yet minimalist interiors, but it's the private outdoor terraces that receive the gold star and its resident restaurant, Throubi. Fine dining at its best, Santorinian gastronomy, created using the fresh raw ingredients from their garden. An evening meal here is not just dinner; it's an experience, a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. The competition between the beauty of the sunset views from the restaurant and the artistically created and flavoursome dishes leaves you in sensory overload.
The Kallos spa is the hub of wellness at this hotel, and whether it is a traditional massage, advanced beauty, or yoga, there's something for everyone to enjoy. My curated program consisted of all of the above and a non-evasive bio-energy session with Dr.Zulia Frost.
The spa boasts two pools and a hammam area, but be sure to immerse yourself in the hot cave pool to get an authentic feel for Santorini and its hot springs. My favourite activity was aerial yoga, something about hanging upside down and looking out onto the Caldera from the elevated yoga studio was utterly magical.
My wellness journey continued in the spectacular town of Oia. If you have seen the Santorini picture-perfect postcards with the white buildings nestled into the cliff edge and the bluest sky as the backdrop, chances are it's Oia. The perfect honeymoon destination; as you walk through the busy winding paths in this town, you can feel the love! And, if it's love you want, in the form of cuisine, then I must mention Lauda Restaurant, Santorini's first-ever restaurant, labelled 'the best restaurant in Santorini' for a reason; simply put, it is. Lauda is the resident restaurant at Andronis Boutique, and although I didn't stay there, I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to try the legendary 3 Michelin Starred Chef Renault's creations.
The Andronis Arcadia is the newest member of the Andronis family in Santorini. The all-suite hotel offers an exceptional standard of comfort, and I preferred the elegant modern living space. The hotel has a different atmosphere from the Concept, I enjoyed a more vibrant feel, but, I did miss those spectacular views. Each suite here boasts its own private pool and terrace, but as this hotel had an onsite beach club offering chillout music, cocktails, and delicious sushi from the Pacman Sunset Restaurant, I spent most of my time here after treatments. Did I enjoy a cocktail or two? Of course, I did! This group promotes a balance, and an 80/20 rule, so it would be rude of me not to enjoy the entire experience.
A jam-packed agenda of wellbeing curated by Director of Wellness, Carla Sage, is what I received at the Evexia Spa, the centre of wellness at Arcadia. Guest comfort and experience are a priority here with its newly installed private spa pool, beautiful design, and unique water path, known as the Kneipp pools, designed to ignite reflexology points. I recommend following the Kneipp experience with a deeply relaxing foot massage to leave you feeling refreshed, reset, and relaxed. If feet are not your thing, delicious sound baths, kundalini dance, and regular treatments are all available. Finally, I was honoured to experience an excellent session with Royal Acupuncturist Ross Barr. If it's good enough for our Royals, it's good enough for House of Coco.
How would I sum up my experience with the Andronis?
Cosmopolitan life at its best, the highest level of luxury, the best quality food (and alcohol); yes, all of that in a wellness resort. As I asked at the start of this article, 'Have the Andronis Group just redefined wellness by achieving the perfect balance? My verdict? I believe they have.
Wellness retreats from €3,045 for 3-days (two adults sharing a Sunset Suite including breakfast) based across either Andronis Arcadia and / or Andronis Concept
Acupuncture by Ross Barr and sessions by Zulia Frost are bespoke and tailored to the individual; POA.