The Eagles Villas recently opened as an extension to the five star Eagles Palace resort. The clutch of villas are located only a ten minute drive from the picturesque village of Ouranolopis, the physical border before the holy grounds of Mount Athos, on the quietest finger of the three digit Halkidiki peninsula.
Each of the 42 stylishly designed villas – complete with private plunge pools and backed by breath-taking views of Mount Athos and a Hollywood blue bay below – enable guests to indulge in the show-stopping food and facilities of the resort whilst enjoying their own quiet corner of Greece. And there’s even a private island just for guests. Not much more to ask for, really.
Available with one, two or three bedrooms, the villas are attractive to any combination of visitor, with or without children.
I travelled with my husband, Martin, for a long awaited getaway (less romance, more peace and quiet without our children). But equally we spotted guests of all ages. Though the venue seemed especially popular with worn-out young couples with babies who could sun themselves next to their plunge pool while their little one had a morning snooze inside. They doubtless also took advantage of a helpful kids club to enjoy something long and cool at the beach bar.
Located over a slim bridge from the main Eagles hotel, the stone cube-shaped Eagles villas blend into a hillside crammed with woozily scented herbs such as lavender and rosemary, olive groves and a palette of lipstick-bright flowers.
We opted for a junior pool villa. With a spacious open plan bedroom and seating area with sofa bed, it was ideal for two adults (and one child – though not this time for us). It was also within an easy stroll of the various Eagles Palace restaurants. Located at some height from the beach (though only a five minute walk – with countless hotel buggies offering 24/7 lifts around the resort), there was something especially uplifting about being able to gaze down on the slumbering bay on waking each morning.
Food & Drink
Choice is a wonderful thing until you have to make it – and at the Eagles Palace and Villas it’s simply overwhelming.
Lofos is the Villas’ relaxed fine-dining restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each morning, it was a struggle not to overload on home-made bread, local honey, traditional greek cheese pie and sumptuous figs.
But there are so many places to eat here. We especially loved the options of the fishy, beachside Armyra restaurant: crisp local sardines, and pillowy soft sea bass washed down with the local Ouzo (though wine connoisseur will enjoy the wine list).
One night we opted for Eleonas by Fuga, an Italian themed restaurant where the freshly made pasta is doused in herby tomato sauces and the pizza is to die for.
Though if you want the fine-dining experience Kamares by Spondi is the place to eat. Apostolos Trastelis, an award-wining legend of the Greek dining scene, and owner of Michelin starred Spondi and Hytra has acted as consultant at Eagles Palace, overseeing all the restaurants and bars in the hotel and this has his fine fingerprints.
The beauty of the Eagles villas and palace is that you can be as active or lazy as you want. Certainly at the beginning, lazy aced the choice – though my cycle-mad other half immediately hired one of the bikes available on the beach front and went cresting the hillsides around the resort. (Being located on a peninsular the views of the sea lapping each side of the landscape are worth the toil).
For me, there was just too much temptation to do nothing – what with my own plunge pool, a separate heated freshwater pool with a knock out swim-up bar. And of course the private beach where attentive staff appear like a mirage to bring that ice cold coke and where stands are thoughtfully placed, crammed with towels, lemon flavoured ice water and fresh fruit.
On a moderately active day I made it to the blissful Elemis Spa for a creamy facial – something I never have time to do at home. (I didnt dare tell my teenage daughter there’s also a small children’s spa menu).
If I had had the inclination there was also morning yoga and free lessons in Greek cuisine.
A Junior Pool Villa starts from 442 Euro per villa per night on BB basis.
One of the great attractions of the Eagles resort are the islands which slumber off the coast of Halkidiki. On one day we hired bikes at the Eagles Palace, and took the two mile ferry trip over to Ammouliani. Fringed by dazzling beaches and azure blue waters, this little island – with a resting population of around 600, though it swells to far more in season – heaves with olive trees, secret alley ways and, as a bird sanctuary lots of feathered visitors.
On another occasion, we hired a motorboat at the hotel and journeyed over again to Ammmouliani, this time to swim and dip around the shore line. However one of the stands out places to visit was the adjacent uninhabited island of Drenia.
This unspoilt chip of land has now been privately rented by the Eagles Palace and Villas so that guests can visit the gorgeous white sands and crystal waters of this little island. Truly, as out motor boat cruised to a standstill and we jumped into the translucent sea; it felt like the outside world was a place far too far away to worry about. Pure magic.
A ten minute taxi drive – the hotel provides shuttle buses – will take you to Ouranopolis a charming town built on the shores of the Singitic Bay on the site of an ancient city of the same name.
Speckled with pretty shore side taverna and cobbled streets crowded with geranium, the town is crowned by the imposing tower of Ouranopolis. Now serving as a museum of Christian antiquities from Halkidiki, visitors can also learn about writers and aid workers Joice and Sydney Loch who visited the village in 1922. They never left, paying a peppercorn to live in the tower and help the young community to establish itself, setting up medical care and encouraging the creation of a cottage industry for locals producing handmade carpets.
For many people, though, Ouranolopolis provides the gateway to Mount Athos, from where daily boats travel to view the monasteries of the holy mountain. Though – and ladies please look away now – only men are permitted to actually enter the Mount Athos region. Women are not allowed within 500m of the coast. But it can still make for an enchanting boat ride.