Magical. Beautiful. Unique.
Actor, guest writer and regular Simpson Traveller Helen Grace explains how being in the right place at the right time led to a once-in-a-lifetime experience on stunning Meganissi.
"Just back from a wonderful family holiday on Meganissi and already missing the simple pleasures of this idyllic little island, where snorkeling, kayaking, skimming stones and a game of Uno proved entertainment enough for our two children. Unusually, not a single squabble over whose turn it was on the iPad. But I can tell you about that another time. My reason for writing now is quite different and totally unexpected."
By an enormous stroke of luck, we were enjoying a sundowner one evening in Vathi harbour when we struck up a conversation with an elegant French woman called Nathalie. I’m not sure exactly how we managed it, but before I’d finished my Pina Colada we’d been invited to spend a night at the brand new (not quite open) boutique hotel Keromoussi. The words ‘sneak-preview’ and ‘guinea-pig’ came up (which sound so much nicer in a French accent) and the next thing I knew, it was all arranged.
Keromoussi is the vision of Nathalie and her husband Jean Paul, a charismatic French couple who lived on Reunion Island for many years and have travelled extensively in Greece looking for the perfect spot to set up the kind of barefoot chic, intimate retreat you might expect to find in the Indian Ocean. And let me tell you, they have found it. As Jean Paul said, ‘Perfect water, stunning views - but without the sharks.’ All true – with the added bonus of dolphins (which we saw) and turtles (which sadly we didn’t – but I know a man who did).
"There is an effortless sense of flow between contemporary interiors, expansive terraces and the numerous little pathways that meander down to the sea."
Set in four acres at the tip of a peninsula, 4 luxurious suites have been built to a striking single-storey design, yet somehow melt into their spectacular waterside location. There is an effortless sense of flow between contemporary interiors, expansive terraces and the numerous little pathways that meander down to the sea. Jean Paul is rightly proud of the landscaping, most of which he has done himself and he told us how on his first visit to the plot he had to climb a tree to even glimpse the sea. He has re-cycled the stone and rock excavated during the build, to create sculptures, steps, secret hideaways, seating areas and a permaculture garden that is already bearing fruit. He has also uncovered two areas of beach - where he insisted we ‘road-test’ the service – so we spent a glorious few hours swimming, lounging and ordering freddo cappucinos and ice-teas – it would have been rude not to!
It transpired that ‘road-testing’ was the reason we found ourselves in this fortunate position. Jean Paul and Nathalie had invited us, along with a couple of local friends, to spend a night and see if there was anything lacking. Not much is the answer. The infinity pool was being filled while we were there and Jean Paul was hard at work planting in the gardens. Everything else is up and running and there was a real sense of excitement about the place, which opens at the end of August.
The suites are sensational, the coco-mat beds are supremely comfy and the squashy sofas on the terrace where drinks and snacks are served are to die for.
I’d have already booked for next summer, were it not for one thing. Jean-Paul and Nathalie won’t have us! Though they are naturally fun and charming hosts who couldn’t have been nicer to our children, Keromoussi is to be an adult-only retreat. We were in the right place at the right time and had a once in a lifetime experience. The place is breathtaking. Magical. Beautiful. Unique. I suspect the word will travel fast."