Rebecca Hall heads to the Dexamenes Seaside Hotel on the west coast of the Peloponnese to get her vino on.
Greek islands are all the rage when it comes to a summer vacation. Mention to anyone that you just want to flop by a beach in luxurious surroundings, people tend to think of Santorini or Mykonos. But don’t overlook the Greek mainland, in particular the Peloponnese.
Really an island within the mainland as it’s a peninsular surrounded by water on all sides, the Peloponnese connects to the mainland at two points; the famous Corinth Canal and the Rio Antirrio Bridge–one of the world’s longest multi-span cabled-stayed bridges which links to the quaint mainland town of Nafpaktos to the north.
The Peloponnese is also home to Ancient Olympia–and with vineyards galore in the region, where better to base myself than in the unique Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, a mere 24 miles away from the ancient site by car.
A unique concept, Dexamenes is an industrial design hotel, but feels anything but. I wasn’t sure what to expect upon arrival as I have always been somewhat suspicious of ‘minimalist design’, but I needn’t have worried. But first we need to go back somewhat to understand why Dexamenes was designed in such as way.
The Dexamenes story
The whole social and economic structure of the western Peloponnese, as well as the infrastructure of the whole country was shaped by the cultivation and trade of currants. To cut a long story short, eventually, any unsold stock of currants was turned into wine, hence wineries and distilleries in the region were introduced.
Dexamenes was one such post-war winery, built in the 1920s and located on the coast so wine could be loaded directly onto the ships.
Since its abandonment in the 1920s the winery was left to the elements until the current owner Nikos Karaflos came along and saw its potential. Wanting to preserve the heritage of its era yet create a unique, comfortable, understated luxurious place to relax, Dexamenes Seaside Hotel was born.
The 34 suites are housed in two rows of old wine tanks–have you ever slept in wine tank–where close inspection of the details shows pipes and taps through which the wine once flowed.
There’s a choice of Beachfront, Courtyard or Backyard/Garden view wine tank suites. The Courtyard is dominated by two signature silo tanks surrounded by water which makes use of the unique inside space by hosting yoga sessions and various art exhibitions.
My Courtyard suite was 30sqm with a Cocomat mattress–another Greek brand success story–and 15sqm patio for me to relax and eat my breakfast at if I didn’t feel like sitting at the restaurant.
Talking of restaurants there’s a beachfront bar, ‘Ex Engine Room’ restaurant where seating is taken outside in the courtyard and Beach restaurant where snacks are served. All ingredients are sourced locally, in keeping with supporting the local economy and the menu changes regularly. I found their moussaka to be delicious and definitely unique to the other ‘everyday’ moussakas eaten.
There’s no swimming pool at Dexamenes but as it’s right on the coast, there’s no need. Roll out of bed in the mornings and spend all day on a sunbed, or head to nearby Ancient Olympia or the wine routes for a spot of touring before coming back to relax the rest of the day away. For me, a two-night stay was just enough to do both; spend time exploring the region and the next day merely allowing myself some downtime on the beach after a late rise. On the opposite coast, Zakynthos island was visible–easy to reach by a 30-minute drive to the small port of Kyllini on the west coast where you take a ferry to Zakynothos and Kefalonia.
All images (C) Claus Brechenmacher _ Reiner Bauman
Tell me more about Dexamenes Seaside Hotel. Peloponnese
Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, Kourouta Beach | Beach Front,
Suites start at €161–€351 per night depending on suite and season (this is low season price).
There’s also a luxury two-story neo-classical villa on-site with three bedrooms, kitchen and patio right onto the beach. This starts at €728 per night in low season.
Be sure to take the free short tour of the resort after breakfast as the helpful member of staff will explain how it came into being, more about the area, the tradition of currants in the region and why Dexamenes was so vital in its heyday.