Between monasteries on Mount Athos lies one of Greece’s most refined, authentic destinations, an inspired atmosphere where nature reigns supreme and dining gives pride of place to the catch of the day.
Tucked away on the least-developed branch of the trident of the Halkidiki peninsula, Avaton Luxury Hotel & Villas gives a new meaning to authentic in the land of Greece. Avaton sits near the town of Nea Roda and Ouranoupolis, at a lush, peaceful beachfront lapped by the Aegean’s turquoise waters. The luxury rooms, suites and villas are built using handmade Byzantine bricks and abundant wood elements, expressing Athonian architecture in a mix of tradition and modern luxury.
The approach continues in the restaurant, offering simple tastes, refined techniques, and fresh, local ingredients. Chef Panos Papadopoulos, a native son from a small city in the north of the country, though globally trained, brings his own touch to the table. Panos infuses classic dishes with the local and seasonal flavors of Halkidiki that have emerged from the history of the place, the traditions of its community, and the gifts of all its special microclimates. The resort’s restaurant has its own olive grove, producing fruit and oil, and they source the fish as sustainably as possible. Every day, once the sun went down, we saw the fisherman in action, out in the open, but quite close to the shore.
The kitchen team uses organic, handpicked herbs, like Athonian black basil, and they source award-winning cheeses from Ierissos, just a few miles away. Everything is blended into a list of dishes in keeping with the concept’s Athonian roots. Special mention goes to the Athonian eggplant salad with pine nuts, basil, and tomato; the fried mussels from Olympiada with homemade mayonnaise, saffron, and lemon; cured local mackerel, smoked in-house, grilled, and served with tomato and spring onions; moussaka; tuna carpaccio with black truffle oil; or just any “catch of the day” cooked in a salt crust.
Some of these we tasted in the privacy of our own villa, others in Avaton Luxury Hotel & Villas’ seaside restaurant, with the amazing Mediterranean as a backdrop. Avaton brings together all the ingredients for a perfect, tranquil family getaway. From the open-plan kitchen to the generous terrace, private pool, and the freshest, most generous room-service menu we could wish for.
Everything after five years of running the restaurant while the resort continued to expand. Avaton Luxury Hotel & Villas opened in 2015 as the Chantzi’s family first hospitality project: They bought a holiday house in this region, back in the days when the entire place was merely an untrodden land. Step by step, they began building and inviting friends over. Now they have their own resort, a quiet hideaway, with handmade porcelain plates and fine silverware for pampering friends and guests.
We can’t say we really felt the need to leave the perfect postcard we were living in while at Avaton. But reasons to explore around: a day cruise to view the monasteries from the deck of a catamaran, a visit to the island of Ammouliani or Aristotle’s birthplace of ancient Stagira, or a trip to Aristotle Park, just to name a few. All in all, Avaton Luxuty Hotel & Villas offers a less-explored and less-commercial canvas on which to paint new relaxing memories with your loved ones.