New hotel greece

Last week I had the opportunity to connect in person with WorldHotels hoteliers from around the world at our Annual Conference in Bangkok. It was a truly remarkable event that captured the spirit of our brand, from the insightful knowledge sessions to the incredible entertainment. I am grateful to all who attended for their commitment to WorldHotels – I hope you are leaving Bangkok as energized about our brand as I am. Together with Larry Cuculic, President and CEO of BWH Hotel Group® and the entire WorldHotels team, we are building a path toward even greater success for your hotels and the future is looking brighter than ever.  

SINCE it has been lavishly blessed by nature with beauty, wealth and clear, clean skies, it is hardly surprising that the Greek island of Chios has attracted a great many visitors over the years, most of them uninvited. The first was Poseidon, who seduced a local nymph, thus begetting the handsome boy Chios or Snow, who gave the island its name. Then came Pelasgi, Lelages, Carians, Ionians, Persians, Athenians, Macedonians, Romans, Saracens, pirates, Venetians, Genoese, Franks, Catalans and, of course, the Turks, who stayed over 300 years and committed one of the most gruesome massacres in modern European history. But the latest invasion has some way to go before it wreaks any significant damage.

At the airport in Samos, the island just to its south, jets from Frankfurt or Berlin never seem to stop unloading their human cargo. But the main arrivals in Chios are still the propeller plane from Athens and the steamer from Piraeus. New vacation hotels are being built, others planned, but mostly on the beaches in and around the characterless village of Karphas, in the southeast. Chios is one of the larger Aegean islands, 33 miles long and at its widest point 15 miles across and most of its 50,000 people, among them some of the richest and most distinguished in Greece, have other things to do than sell postcards and ice cream to the Germans and the British. That is good news for those in search of a peaceful yet stimulating vacation, especially those able to avoid the months of July and August. You might reserve a room at the Kyma on the southern edge of Chios Town, a family mansion expanded into a family hotel, and historically important as the place where a treaty with the departing Turks was signed this century. A balcony room there, or in the more luxurious but less intimate Chandris next door, brings with it the lapping of waves and a view directly across the strait that narrowly separates the island from Turkey. Then rent a motorcycle or a car, neither of which is expensive by Greek standards, and drive to the medieval villages of Mesta and Pirgi in the south or to the wilder north, where you will find no more than the occasional passing motorist. You may even find that you are only one of two or three visitors to the monastery of Nea Moni, looking at mosaics rated among the very finest in Greece.

NEA MONI is a good place to start a tour from the capital, Chios Town, a port that offers more bustle than beauty. Drive up and across the craggy mountain of Piganias, maybe stopping to look back across the Aegean to the Turkish village of Cesme. Turn left, and there, attractively clustered in a valley, are the domes of a monastery whose building in 1042 is itself part of Chios legend. The story goes that three ascetic monks saw a strange light below their cave, which, when they descended the next morning, they could not precisely place. Their somewhat eccentric response — Chios is an island much troubled by forest fires — was to ignite the brush and branches around the site. And there, surrounded by charred wood but unsinged itself, was an icon of the Virgin Mary.

They took it back to their cave, singing hymns, only to find that it kept returning to the myrtle bush where they had found it. But the icon was not altogether satisfied with the chapel that they then proceeded to build there. It spoke, saying Constantine Monomarchus, then in Lesbos, would become Emperor of Byzantium. They rushed to tell him, and he promised to found a monastery if their prophecy came true, giving them a ring as a personal guarantee. Six months later he ascended the throne, and two years after that the monks finally persuaded his courtiers to let them and their aide-memoire into the royal presence. Up went Nea Moni, a glorious haven for an icon that still hangs by the altar, the Virgin’s face black with time but surrounded by the tiny tin legs, hearts and heads that grateful supplicants still bring her when she grants a cure.