One of the glories of modern-day Greece is how the nation is held in such high esteem by the travel and tourism industry, thanks to its historic sites, Mediterranean climate, idyllic beaches, warm people and delicious cuisine. For many travelers, however, one of the best parts about coming here is discovering its numerous under-the-radar attractions. Naturally, Athens looms large. But with more than 6,000 islands -- more than 200 of which are inhabited -- Greece is literally swimming with hidden gems that most people have never heard of, let alone visited.
Take, for instance, the island of Corfu, which remains unfamiliar to many travelers despite its long history and rich tourism offerings. Located off the west coast of Greece, it’s known for its beautifully preserved Old Town -- a UNESCO World Heritage site -- as well as its clear turquoise waters, lush greenery and eclectic culture, which over centuries has been shaped by Turkish, Venetian, Italian, French and even British influences.
Along with incredible architecture, interesting museums and picturesque landscapes, Corfu is home to numerous plush hotels that are perfect for incentive groups, the newest of which is the Angsana Corfu, which is scheduled to open in July and will be the first European property for Asian hotelier Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.
Located on the edge of a cliff, which affords spectacular views of the Ionian Sea, the hotel will have 199 guest rooms, suites and private pool villas, the latter of which will range from one to four bedrooms. Also on offer will be five restaurants, one to be helmed by a Michelin-starred chef; six lounges, including a rooftop venue; a spa with 16 treatment rooms and five outdoor spa pavilions; a gym; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; and an outdoor yoga pavilion, not to mention three meeting spaces -- a larger hall for groups of up to 220 and two boardrooms for groups of up to 12 each.
Finally, guests will have access to an array of on- and off-site activities, including water sports, fitness and cooking classes, private speedboat outings, day tours and “destination dining” experiences, such as mountain picnics and private beach dinners.
Four More Greek Gems for Incentive Groups
The Angsana Corfu represents only a taste of what’s available to incentive groups that want to explore new destinations in Greece. Here are four more properties with which to whet your appetite:
• Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Crete. Located on the coast of Greece’s largest island is the Blue Palace. Part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, it overlooks the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Spinalonga, a circular fortress that occupies a nearby smaller island. Although Spinalonga makes an ideal excursion for those interested in history and architecture, getting incentive recipients to leave the resort might be challenging, as the property is home not only to 52 suites and four private villas, but also to 142 private pools between them. Also on offer are five restaurants, two bars, a spa with 24 treatment rooms, a fitness center, tennis courts, three swimming pools and 5,834 square feet of meeting space. Plus, there’s a private beach where the resort roasts lamb on bonfires in the traditional Cretan style, as well as a traditional wooden caïque -- a Cretan fishing boat aboard which guests can enjoy sea excursions.
• Canaves Oia Santorini. The Greek island of Santorini is best known for the whitewashed houses that hug the cliffsides of Fira and Oia, its two principal towns. In the latter, Canaves Oia Santorini fits in perfectly, with its own pale facade overlooking the Aegean Sea from the side of a volcanic cliff. Established in 1985 with just two accommodations, the property now encompasses 41 rooms and suites that were carved from wine caves and are divided among three adjacent buildings: the Canaves Oia Hotel, Canaves Oia Suites and Canaves Oia Sunday Suites. Along with private plunge pools and sea views in their rooms, guests enjoy access to four restaurants, a spa, a gym, two pools and two private boats -- a luxury motor yacht and a speedboat.
• Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort. On this storied island, the Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort is a Greek take on a luxury beach resort. Surrounded by white sand and Aegean Sea views, the property has 107 guest rooms and suites, each with canopy beds, marble floors and mosaic bathrooms. There also are two restaurants, two bars, a spa, a seawater pool, a fitness center, tennis and squash courts, meeting space for groups of up to 350 people and a stone-built amphitheater where the resort hosts yoga, pilates, concerts, dinners and receptions.
• Ikos Oceania. Located in Halkidiki, a region in northern Greece that’s best known for its three small peninsulas, the Ikos Oceania is an all-inclusive beach resort that’s flanked by blue water on one side and green fir-tree forests on the other. Along with 290 guest rooms and suites spread across 15 acres of groomed gardens, there are four a-la-carte restaurants, a private beach, a heated indoor pool, several outdoor pools, a spa, tennis courts, five bars, a nightclub and meeting space for groups of up to 350 people.