THE WEEKEND: If you’ve done Crete, Corfu and Kos, follow royalty, billionaires and inthe-know A-listers to the Greek Riviera. Located on the eastern Peloponnese, pretty Porto Heli is known as the Hamptons of Greece and has been the holiday of choice for wealthy Athenians for years. It’s the ideal twin-centre break if you have time to take in the capital too. Everyone from Tom Hanks to Ronaldo retreat to the area’s clifftop villas to enjoy secluded coves, olive grove blanketed hills and deserted beaches.
WHERE? A three-hour drive (or 20-minute helicopter hop) over forested mountains from the capital, Porto Heli is a remote fishing town on the Aegean coast. Hotels are scarce though chic global beach brand Nikki Beach has a property and the major chains are rumoured to be moving in soon. Instead, bring a group and take over a sprawling villa outside the town. The Greek Villas portfolio manages privately-owned properties across the country but their places in Porto Heli offer supreme all-outluxe for doing nothing in style. Enormous Villa Esquire has a separate beach house bigger than the average London flat while Villa Tatler is a modern, all-white pose pad that looks straight out of Love Island.
THE STAY: Villa Dwell is complete with its own bell tower, mini vineyard and a garden filled with wild flowers, and lavender and lemon trees. There’s a huge seawater pool lined with day beds and a picturesque terrace for alfresco meals overlooking the idyllic pebbly cove below, reached by a private path through the gardens. Eight bedrooms sleeping 16 have spectacular sea views, limestone floors and marble en-suite bathrooms stocked with organic products made of local olive oil. Grab the master if you can for a vaulted wooden ceiling, spalike walk-in shower and floor-to-ceiling glass doors to wake up to a view.
THE FOOD: There are several good restaurants in Porto Heli but if you don’t want to spend half your trip navigating nausea-inducing winding roads, plan to eat in. A private chef can be arranged for an extra cost and is worth the splurge. Ours whipped up piled-high halloumi salads, delicious, flaky cheese pies and platters of grilled meats with tzatziki and pitta. They will also stock the fridge with wine and snacks to can help yourself to while lazing by the pool.
ASK ABOUT: Backpacker-free island hopping. The villa’s concierge service can arrange a private boat to collect you from the villa’s own beach and whisk you straight to the stylish car-free island of Spetses, once the second biggest shipping centre in Greece. Take a horse and carriage ride to tour the island, stroll the old harbour and people watch in seafood restaurants.
AND AFTER THAT? A day trip to the ancient open-air theatre at Epidaurus is worth the drive. Climb to the top tier of marble seats for mountain views and to experience the astonishing acoustics that make it possible to hear someone speaking without a microphone on the stage far below. Afterwards, call to handsome Nafplion, once the capital of Greece and now a charming seafront town with a magnificent Venetian fortress, narrow lanes draped in blooming bougainvillea and a gelateria on every corner.
NEED TO KNOW: Nightly rates at Villa Dwell start from €2,140 thegreekvillas.com or call +30 210 64 10 280