Today (June 26, 2019): Review of Canaves Epitome (Santorini, Greece).
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Canaves Oia Epitome
- Tip: get comlimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular islands. Yet at Canaves Oia Epitome, you may feel you have this enchanting isle almost entirely to yourself. This luxury resort is located above the picturesque fishing town of Ammoudi (near Oia) and privacy, style and an almost zen-like calm are the order of the day. There’s a lot to love about Canaves Oia Epitome, from the fabulous pool villas and innovative rooftop terraces to the chic design and spectacular private infinity pool, which all captures the essence of Santorini’s surrounding volcanic landscape. Then, as evening unfolds, the hotel reveals its greatest treasure: the best sunset views in Oia. Guests here seek inner peace and rejuvenate with signature spa treatments, and indulge on world-class Greek cuisine in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.
Have you ever stayed at Canaves Oia Epitome? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Canaves Oia Epitome is the latest luxury hotel to open in Santorini, Greece’s most spectacular island. Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic eruptions causing the collapse of a mega volcano’s central part, hereby creating a large crater (caldera). The spectacular island offers visitors magnificent landscapes with blue domed chapels and whitewashed houses perched on black volcanic cliffs, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful shimmering Aegean waters. Santorini is the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, and also enjoys a growing reputation as a wedding destination for couples from all over the world.
- Canaves Oia Epitome is located off the charts in a quiet area on the outskirts of always-bustling Oia, right above the picturesque port of Ammoudi, which is famous for its traditional fish restaurants. The ultraluxe property is a 10 minute walk downhill from the center of Oia village, where you find picturesque alleys, lively restaurants and bars, dozens of souvenir shops, and breathtaking caldera views. If you don’t want to walk, the hotel also offer 24/7 complimentary transfer by car upon request. The property is also within walking distance of the small and tranquil beach of Katharos. The airport is 20 minutes and the ferry port about 40 minutes by car from the hotel, with complimentary pick-up and drop-off service provided to all guests.
- The property’s magnificent minimalist design is inspired by traditional Cycladic whitewashed architecture, mixed with modern elements. Natural and earthy materials, such as black local Santorinian stone, are extensively used in both the public areas and accommodations, creating stone-clad pavilions that blend with the rock of the surrounding landscape and root the hotel in its volcanic environment. This sense of context is elaborated on with the addition of ancient olive trees and large, strategically placed rocks throughout the hotel in a landscaping concept designed to minimize the visible footprint of the original concrete structures.
- The property’s layout is simple but convenient. The main pavilion houses the light-filled lobby, an intimate bar area, and a chic dining room. These stylish spaces are connected via arched doorways and open to a stunning terrace with spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. The terrace is built around a fabulous, multi-level infinity pool, edged in dark, volcanic rock and lined by private cabanas, dining tables and some seating areas. A second restaurant – accessible to non-residents via a separate entrance – is located beneath an extensive pergola on the pool’s eastern end. The main pavilion also features an extensive rooftop terrace (perfect for private events) and has a spa treatment room and gym in its basement.
- Canaves Oia Epitome’s 24 suites and villas – each equipped with its own private plunge pool – are located in two rows of pavilions next to the lobby. During my visit, I stayed in a two bedroom pool villa, styled in minimalist Cycladic design. The villa’s idyllic entrance courtyard lead to a small sitting area and the master bedroom with kingsize bed and ensuite open-plan bathroom. The lower level featured a cave-like bedroom, a wet area with rain shower, a sitting area, and a separate bathtub. The villa’s highlight was the terrific terrace, which offered impressive vista over the Aegean Sea; the terrace was equipped with a covered dining area (with a large arched opening framing the gorgeous view), a sundeck with comfy loungers, and a plunge pool with a see-through glass wall that allowed you to peek into the lower-level bedroom.
- The hotel offers the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the famous Santorini sunsets. This is a huge advantage as compared to staying in the village of Oia itself, where most hotels do not have sunset views (this is a simplification as it depends on the time of year). Another plus is that you watch the sunset here in all tranquility and without the herds of tourists that gather in Oia. In addition to the benefit of enjoying prime sunset views from your private terrace or the hotel’s public areas, you will also get an extra two to three hours of late afternoon sun as compared to the hotels in Oia (which are often in the shade a few hours before sunset). If you adore the evening light and sunset (like I do), my advice is to stay here and not in Oia center.
- Canaves Oia Epitome has two restaurants: an elegant dining room inside the main pavilion which serves more casual fare (limited menu); and Elements Restaurant, the hotel’s sublime fine dining venue where Executive Chef Tasos Stefatos has created a prolific and sophisticated tasting menu of modern European cuisine with Greek touches (one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life). The tasting menu includes an amuse bouche tomato fritter starter (cooked on burners by the table), velvety foie gras enrobed in a chocolate crust, nitrogen clouds rising from plates of carrot textures, and the innovative ‘Letter from the Ionian’: a pork cheek goulash delivered in a brown envelope with your name on it. Elements Restaurant offers amazing sunset views and has two floating outdoor tables which rank among the world’s most romantic dining spots.
- Breakfast is served in the dining room in the main pavilion, on the infinity pool terrace, or in your room for no extra charge. It’s a daily changing three-course breakfast menu, inspired by different regions of Greece, offering a wonderful alternative to the all-you-can-eat-breakfast buffets in most other high-end resorts. For example, one of my breakfasts was inspired by the island of Crete, and included a bread pasket with home-made jams, fennel pie with feta cheese and spring onion, an omelette with staka and apaki, and mizithra cheese with honey and sesam. By the way, breakfasts here include champagne as standard. Cheers to that idea!
- In addition to the spectacular sea views, sleek design and top-notch accommodation, it’s the super-friendly staff and world-class service that makes this hotel a stand-out in Santorini. Most staff members at hotels in Santorini work on seasonal contracts and are often inexperienced students, which may results in subpar service, but not so at Canaves Oia Epitome, where the staff is well trained and eager to please. I have no words to describe the hotel staff’s kindness, attitude and genuine eagerness to make my trip special and to ensure that my experience was exactly what I dreamed it would be. I felt looked after by every member of staff, from the management at the reception to restaurant waiters, pools staff, and housekeeping.
- The property is managed by Canaves, a well established and extremely successful hotel brand on the island of Santorini. The Canaves story began in 1985, when the Chaidemenos family transformed Oia’s 17th-century wine caves into designer-chic (and now iconic) boutique hotels. The name of the hotel, “Canaves”, means exactly that: cave houses. The birth of the Canaves Oia brand also introduced the all-white minimalistic design concept, which has been mimicked since then by countless hotels all across Greece and redefined the meaning of luxury accommodation in the country. In 2010, the second generation of the Chaidemenos family, Markos and Alexandros, took over management. Canaves Oia Epitome is the sister resort of Canaves Oia Suites in the heart of Oia, which I reviewed here.
- The Canaves Oia properties are all member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (“SLH”), which is a collection of more than 500 independent hotels in more than 80 countries. Before these hotels are welcomed into the SLH collection, the SLH team visit each one, checking them against a long list of must-haves. One of the nice perks of staying at a SLH property, is that you can register for free for SLH’s loyalty program (called ‘Invited‘). As an Invited member, you’ll get exclusive benefits from day one (such as complimentary breakfast). SLH also has an exclusive strategic alliance with Hyatt, giving World of Hyatt members the opportunity to earn and redeem points and receive exclusive on-property benefits at any participating SLH hotel (including upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, and breakfast). At the moment, the Canaves properties don’t participate in the alliance with World of Hyatt, although that may change in the near future.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Canaves Oia Epitome is the most exclusive hotel in Santorini, and the only property on the island to offers both sea and sunset views from each room. Words can’t describe how amazing the place is. Views are breathtaking, service impeccable, accommodations top-notch, and gastronomy word-class. Yet, there are some things you need to know when considering a stay here:
- Since it’s not located on the volcanic rim, Canaves Oia Epitome does not offer any views of the famous Santorini caldera. The hotel offers a different type of experience on the island, with a quiet setting and amazing sunset views. It’s only a 10 min walk or 5 min by complimentary car shuttle to Oia center, where the caldera can be admired in all its natural splendor. If a room with a caldera view is a must, I recommend staying at Canaves Oia Epitome’s sister property, Canaves Oia Suites, which I reviewed here.
- A small road (connecting Oia village with Ammoudi port) runs in front of the property. Don’t be put off by this since it’s a quiet road with low traffic and you cannot see the road from the villas nor the pool deck (unless you swim to the edge of the pool).
- Accommodations are located in two rows. Those in the front row have unobstructed sea views and enjoy complete privacy. Those in the second row still enjoy a great sea view although they also look over the grassy-roofed front-row villas. More problematic is that some of these second row pavilions lack privacy: the two bedroom villas are located on the lower two floors of these pavilions, while the pavilions’ upper floors house the suites which look out directly over the terrace of these two bedroom villas.
- At the moment, the property has no real spa center as there’s only one spa treatment room, located in the basement next to the gym. That said, spa treatments are also provided in the privacy of your villa, and there are plans to open a more extensive spa and wellness facility on site next summer.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 10/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: currently not present
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9,4/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Canaves Epitome (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: book or request a villa in the front row for complete privacy and unobstructed sea views.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Santorini is spring and fall when the weather’s warm and the crowds are few. Like all of the Cyclades, Santorini welcomes the most visitors during the summer, so you’ll need to make your reservations at least two months in advance to travel then.
HOW TO GET THERE
Canaves Epitome is located a 30 minute drive from Santorini (Thira) National Airport. The latter is a very small and unpleasant airport, served by most European charters and some full-service and low-cost airlines in tourist season (click here for a direct link to their websites), but has no direct overseas connections. A new terminal building will open in 2021.