Sitting over a martini at the famous Buddha-Bar Beach overlooking the most private stretch of sand possible in Mykonos, I’m getting a distinct feeling of déjà vu. I’ve not been here before but there’s something about the wicker furniture, the gorgeously sexy low lighting, the outsize jars giving off light, the whirring fans on a wooden slatted ceiling, the lapping of the sea and the view across to those beach cabanas on the water-break with candles flickering inside that’s ringing bells.
We had the same feeling as we walked in past the Oasis Pool & Lounge, a stretch of water with cabanas jutting right out into the water, almost under water level so you’re right there in the pool having your cocktails. It’s all so lovely and luxurious, you’d think you’d remember. ‘Have you seen Greed, the film with Steve Coogan?’ asks someone fabulous from the hotel. ‘It was filmed here.’ Of course it was! Where else would you film the story of the most extravagant party ever held in the Aegean.
Minutes later, said fabulous woman has called up international Michelined-up superstar chef Jason Atherton on Facetime – he’s in Dubai or somewhere but more than happy to take the call – so he can welcome us to Mykonos Social, his first Mediterranean restaurant and one he’s rightly proud as punch of. That’s Santa Marina for you. Taking everything several notches up. The people on the private yachts out there must be well jealous of us, staying at the Santa Marina.
Our room is so delicious I might have it in a salad later. With a square plunge-pool fringed with lawn, complete with sea views – bigger suites have full-size pools – it is glamorous from its four-poster bed with black bamboo frame through to chic black bamboo screens, huge seaside-themed photographs to furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in a Chanel showroom, all white with black piping. A walk-in wardrobe – of course! – a Jacuzzi bath (well, you’re not going to have a still bath when you’re at the Santa Marina!) lined with Acqua di Parma shampoos and body washes.
The whole thing was the brainchild of a wealthy Greek shipping magnate, who loved to come to Mykonos to party and bring his Hollywood superstar friends to join him. The party would start in town then it would be all back to his at Santa Marina to carry on. And that party spirit is still very much in evidence here with glamorous evening wear floating around the Buddha-Bar Beach, where you can tuck into a seafood supper if you’re having a night off the Mykonos Social up there.
We’re totally not having a night off, mind you, not when the atmosphere at Mykonos Social is all Chiltern Firehouse laid-back glamour and the food (Greek, Mediterranean, takes on gazpacho, green grain risotto, twisty, fresh) easily the best you will get on the island – we think we can put our necks out far enough to say that.
But that’s one of the choices you’re going to have to make at Santa Marina; Mykonos Social, Buddha-Bar Beach or, even closer to the Med action, Santa Marina Beach Bar where it’s tootsies in the sand, the sea beyond all sweet from all that sun. The Oasis Pool & Lounge or the gorgeous strip of almost-private beach where they look after you like you’re Joan Collins and where you can have a nice little lunch or just cocktail after cocktail between dips in that very easy-swimming bit of private sea. Maybe you’re going to trot down to Ornos for a drink or step over the stepping stones into the Ginko spa for some major pampering? It’s your holiday, you choose.
As for us, we’re going to order up another perfect martini in Buddha-Bar Beach and gossip about the celebrities who come here – though we’re far too discreet to name names.