Rhodes – a place where my best friend from primary school went on her holidays circa 1985, not somewhere I have ever really considered visiting, unless of course they still sell ‘I ❤ George Michael’ pencil cases. When I get on a plane, I like to go far, far away (probably more so now than ever…) and get right out into the world for big adventures but this year’s different.
I need to go on holiday to rest, renew and re-energise. Neighbouring ‘it island’ Mykonos floats all my boats but this summer, cosmopolitan partying is off the holiday wish list. I need to hit the re-set button.
Rhodes is a four and a half hour hop from Glasgow, just enough time for four episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a couple of glasses of wine and a few close your eyes and dream of what lies ahead moments.
What lies ahead for me (as far as I know…) is the Gennadi Grand Resort, a new minimalist luxury eco-resort, blending into the Aegean coastline of the less-explored Southern corner of the largest Dodecanese island.
From the airport the resort is a 50-minute drive – a dreamy whizz past clusters of white sugar-cube houses, Byzantine churches and endless miles of mountainside scattered with cypress and pine trees, far away from the tourist resorts; everything begins to feel quite rustic quite quickly.
Until we arrive at the resort… a stunning, ultra-modern collection of buildings. Futuristic in style, it feels very LA with the white angular buildings set against the mountain backdrop – a bit like going on holiday to the Getty Museum.
The design philosophy is built around the concept of ‘Wellness Architecture’; healthy, sustainable buildings if you like. Spaces that have been designed to look structurally beautiful whilst delivering a checklist of seven healthy building categories – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mental health.
Gennadi Grand Resort delivers this through a seamless balance of style, luxury and thoughtful design and architecture; a neutral palette, sharp angles and slanted roofs that complement the surroundings and optimise the micro-climate conditions, its low-slung buildings are made from locally sourced porphyry rock, chosen for its minimal maintenance properties. The resort has a focus on water consumption and uses a reverse osmosis system to deliver 20,000 litres of clean, sustainable water.
Floor-to-ceiling windows allow the natural sunlight to stream through the buildings, paths around the resort are dotted with all manner of pools and glistening water features and low sunken lush gardens with indigenous flowers and olive trees – it all makes for the most incredibly uplifting experience.
Gennadi Grand is stylishly sophisticated in an entirely feel good, minimalist way. Zero opulence and unnecessary fuss.
Our room is a spacious Scandi-chic Junior Suite which has a separate lounge area, terrace and private pool. Decorated in creamy neutrals with ocean blue accents, natural wood surfaces with mood lighting, the room is designed in such a way that every bit of space is maximised for function and utility but not at the cost of comfort and luxury.
White fluffy bathrobes hang in the bathroom area, double sinks set in a long marble surface with generous storage beneath; ample drawer and cupboard space with probably enough space to hang the entire contents of your suitcase. In keeping with the resort’s eco-ethos, there’s no bath, but it’s not missed. The walk-in waterfall shower is instantly invigorating and there are pools in every direction you turn your head anyway.
With 288 rooms, nine restaurants, lounge bars, a spa, gym, three huge swimming pools, chill pools, water features, tennis courts and private beach, the resort is vast; everything thoughtfully spaced out so it always feels peaceful, quiet and totally relaxed.
I’m a 6am riser, even on holiday (I know – what sort of person am I..?) but there’s something about being in this resort that makes you want to embrace as many opportunities as possible to ‘be well’. The hotel has a well kitted out gym which becomes No 1 in my morning routine, followed by breakfast where I can grab a smoothie, a continental breakfast or go for the standard cooked breakfast buffet fare, pancakes, waffles and pastries – my 16-year old son is in breakfast nirvana. I draw on every bit of my willpower to steer clear of breakfast heaven and stick with my smoothies, detox juice and lemon tea.
My pool side days are sun filled and chilled, drifting off for sunny snoozes under the swaying palm trees, taking wake up dips in the pool and late afternoon meanders along to my yoga and Pilates classes.
I continue my wellness theme with a morning at the spa which offers a range of Greek inspired signature rituals, facials and body treatments that focus on releasing tension and promoting inner balance. I float back to my sunbed after my 70-minute exfoliating massage and spend the rest of the day totally blissed out while my son takes himself off for his daily afternoon menu of of beach volleyball, water darts and water polo.
There are 12 bars and restaurants where we can spend our evenings. Dinner at Filoxenia, the main restaurant is a mix of Greek specialities and international fare. Provenance is an important part of the dining ethos at the resort, with much of the produce coming from local and independent suppliers, offering a quality, authentic dining experience which can be missing in many large resorts. Greek meze snacks are served at Ouzo which becomes STK in the evening, serving grilled premium cuts with a deliciously mouth-watering selection of side dishes, sauces and salads. This was the culinary highlight of the holiday and a perfect last night.
Sustainability within travel is no longer a ‘nice to do’, it’s top of the travel trends and what an entire new generation of travellers is looking for. The Gennadi Grand Resort delivers this impactfully, subtly and very stylishly, offering a totally immersive and holistic experience, so much so, we didn’t venture out of the resort until it was time to leave.
My stay here gave me everything that I needed at a time when I needed it most. When I arrived, my head felt like a toxic junkyard. As we drove away from the resort, I felt completely restored, all junk processed and filed away, my mind, body and soul nourished by every part of the Gennadi Grand experience. The reset button on life firmly pressed.