The Ultimate Summer Destination in the Med
Mykonos has retained a wild, natural beauty all its own while evolving into one of the most glamorous 21st-century destinations of choice. Jet-setters, sybarites and sophisticated connoisseurs of the Aegean migrate from all corners of the globe to live out summers of supreme indulgence.
With its magnificent sandy bays and clear waters, lively atmosphere and hive of nightlife, the incessant buzz and crush of clubs, restaurants, tavernas, and cafés in Mykonos Town, the island’s seductions are such, that guests return year after year, spellbound by the unique atmosphere and energy. The authentic Greek experience of hospitality and luxury is all still here, and travellers are delighted to find the same beauty and generous welcoming spirit that captivated the celebrities of the 1960s when they discovered this unspoilt rocky island far from the madding crowd.
In the exuberance of the 1990s, many more luxury hotels opened on Mykonos, drawing new guests, notably from America, then central Europe, and of course the party crowd, turning it into one of the most seductive playgrounds in the world.
“However many tourists come, little Mykonos will not let the stranger down.”
Among the first to foresee the potential for luxury hospitality was the founder of the Myconian Collection, George Daktylides. His son Vangelis tells the story:
‘My father built the first private hotel on the island and was the first to be awarded five-star status in 1992 for the Ambassador. (More about Our Family Story) As his sons, we now lead the Myconian Collection. Our family business has grown from a pioneering one to become the benchmark of island hospitality, with roots that go back beyond living memory and a commitment to Mykonos that extends just as far into the future.
As locals, there is a mutual dependence with the people and the land of Mykonos, and with the rest of the world through our guests. Our respect for the land and its people is reflected in our actions, giving back through environmental conservation initiatives, local sourcing, waste recycling and consistent support to the Cycladic island communities. There’s a real sense that we are all connected.’
A Destination for All Seasons
People love the glamorous Mykonos summers, but its winters are just as beautiful. This is when the beaches take on a stormy mantle and the small fishing boats reclaim the bays from the departed yachts. It’s when the old men in the towns drag their tables and chairs into the port to do battle at backgammon (‘tavli’). It’s when the whitewashed Greek Orthodox churches are decorated for their saints’ days and the fish market is given back to the locals and the early morning deliveries of bread from the old bakery become social visits. Time slows down as the island catches its breath before the next summer’s arrivals come with the swallows.
“There’s a real sense that we are all connected. As locals,’ says Vangelis, ‘there is a mutual dependence with the people and the land of Mykonos, and with the rest of the world through our guests.”
Much like our neighbor Delos, which gets its name from the ancient Greek phrase ‘brought to light’, here the sun shines up to 300 days a year. It’s a radiant dazzling seascape with tremendous allure.
Mykonos itself spans an area of just under 86 square kilometres, known as the ‘island of the winds’ since it is visited both by the Sirocco – the warm Saharan wind – and the cooling Meltemi breeze that passes through from the north in July and August.
Myths and Culture
Adaptable, free-spirited Mykonos has been home or reluctant host to the Neolithic Kares, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Minoans, Ionians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. The global appeal of Mykonos has been there since the beginning. Its people accommodated varying cultural and political influences over the ages, becoming seafarers, fishermen, successful traders, pirates, and eventually islanders with a famously generous spirit.
Traces of a place steeped in myths and ancient history lie in the fold of the land. The famous ‘Mykonos Vase’ that depicts the earliest dated Trojan Horse (Archaic period ca. 670 BC) was found here. In Greek mythology, this is the place where Zeus did battle with the Titans, and its granite outcrops are said to have been formed by the corpses of the giants killed by Hercules after he lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. In fact, the giant boulders strewn across the island are said to be the petrified testicles of those slain giants.
The neighboring island of Delos (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the most significant mythological and archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Delos was a holy sanctuary long before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo, god of light and Artemis, goddess of hunting. Evidence of habitation on the island dates back to 3000 BC and Delos rose to prominence during the Mycenaean period, its reputation as a sacred island attracting large numbers of devotees.
Trade flourished, transforming Delos into a robust commercial port for almost a thousand years after 800 BC. From 478 BC it hosted the treasury of the Delian League before it was removed to the Acropolis in Athens. A small museum amongst the ruins of the ancient city (which once housed over 25 000 people) contains many important artifacts unearthed during the ongoing excavations of the site.
“Whatever architecture had to say, it said it here.”