It’s 4:30am and the alarm clock’s panic chorus has struck. My bed is comfy, my room a serene haven of white walls and gauzy curtains that blow in the breeze, behind which the Aegean Sea in the distant laps. There is no reason to want to leave exactly where I am at that moment except for the alarm clock, which is ringing a different tune – and the whirlpool jacuzzi that’s waiting for me in my reception room. Because while early morning wakeup calls are anything but fun a lot has got to be said for early morning wake up calls with a 15 minute jacuzzi session slotted in before the delights of Skiathos airport (read into that: an angry policeman/airport security/ bag scanner who’s heavy workload has, I’m supposing, slowly chipped away at his joie de vivre leaving him intent on making tourists’ last memories of Skiathos negative ones). In fact the promise of quarter of an hour in the tub is all the encouragement I need to leap out of bed, switch off the alarm – not even a thought of using the snooze button and diving into my own personal jacuzzi.
I’m staying at Kassandra Bay, a deluxe five star resort on Greek Island/Mamma Mia mecca, Skiathos. But there’s no peeling paint or denim dungaree clad owners jumping into the sea because they can’t keep their books in order. Kassandra Bay is slick. It’s got its own private beach with call buttons so that you can place drinks orders with the bar staff, who are a good five minutes and 20 stairs away. Being served gins and tonics on the beach is hard to beat but the bar staff have a decent, and creative, cocktail menu that should definitely be sampled too. Made with melon and apple liqueur, The Bay is a jewel green hue to emulate the colour of the sea, maple sour made with vodka, fresh lemon juice, egg whites, angostura bitters and of course maple syrup is an alternative, sweeter take on a whisky sour while my favourite has to be the pimped up Toasted Pina Colada. Still creamy, still sweet but with toasted coconut sprinkled on top and almond liqueur and Greek yogurt, an altogether more sophisticated flavour.
It’s got its own, admittedly small, spa (I go for the Holistic massage, using Polynesian oil Manoi de Tahiti: 45-60 mins of drool-inducing bliss) It’s got two large swimming pools, (with an infinity pool planned for 2015/16) plus if you’re lucky enough to book into one of the deluxe suites or junior suites, on the ground floor, you’ll get your own personal swimming pool, or as mentioned, a jacuzzi on the upper floors.
It’s got effortless style: terracotta pots play house to herbs, glass lanterns hang from branches, white paper light shades bob in the wind at the white wood bar veranda and pops of pink red and orange flowers surround the gardens. In true Greek fashion it’s even got cats too: lots of them tumbling in the bushes and geraniums. IT’s got (almost)… everything. OK the high tourist turnover, with many staying half board, means buffet breakfasts and mass catered meals aren’t for everyone but there is also an a la carte restaurant and it’s only a ten minute drive /or water taxi (£2.50 a journey with multiple stops) to Skiathos old town.
Kassandra Bay may not be the gastronomic destination of the island but it’s definitely the indulgent destination.
From simple touches like free fruit and chilled soft drinks in each room to the outrageous luxury of a speedboat trip around the island. Kassandra’ Bay’s own beach is home to Stefanos Ski School, and the resort offers special tailor-made speedboat trips, with Stefanos as your captain. After learning how to set the anchor, guests can take out simple motor boats on the water themselves (70 euros plus fuel). We opt for a Stefanos Speedboat Special though. As he cuts through the Aegean’s uncharacteristically bumpy waves, out of straws we sip mini bottles of Prosecco and help ourselves to beer and soft drinks.
‘If you don’t rent a boat, you haven’t seen anything. You need a boat to see Skiathos, ‘ says Stefanos – and he’s right.
We jump off the back of the speedboat into the bathwater-warm Aegean sea, sunbathe and eat freshly grilled Octopus, washed down with cold beer at busy Koukounaries beach, and people and beach spot as Stefanos whips us around as much of the island as possible. Skiathos only measures 12km across and it’s possible to hire a speedboat (with driver) for the whole day – rates still tbc.
But the end of season waves prevent us doing the full circumference. Travelling at the end of the season also means popular taverna Arco is shut. This small taverna right on the shoreline serves up traditional Greek dish and is a hit with locals throughout the summer months. With its golden sand and aqua marine waters, idyllic island Tsougria is unfortunately off limits to us too: its two beach bars are only accessible by boat. I guess that just means there’s plenty to do here on a return trip: and no Mr Security/Luggage handler your bad manners have not put me off coming back. Plus I’ve got a jumbo-sized jacuzzi with my name on it.
An executive junior suite with jacuzzi and sea view starts at 220 euros per day, bed & breakfast. A one-bedroom deluxe with private pool, garden and sea view from 260 euros, as is an interconnecting family room with sea view. For more information about the hotel and its facilities, visit www.kassandrabay.com.
As well as flights to Athens from Aegean airlines reach Skiathos via hydroferry from Volos, prices start at £37.50. For more info, visit www.aegeanflyingdolphins.gr.