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If the end of the world exists, then surely this is it - the Mani peninsula in the south of the Peloponnese region. Mythology did place the gateway to Hades at the southern end of Cape Tainaron after all! This lost, forgotten paradise waited a long time to be connected by roads. It is a mysterious, unknown, secret and wild region filled with breathtaking beauty. The area reveals a lesser known side of Greece where steep and craggy terrains are dotted with medieval villages and deserted tower houses that bask in the dry heat and overlook the infinitely blue horizon. One such house has not only resisted the threats of ruin, it has positively transformed itself from the inside to offer the very best to its guests: comfort without artifice, a restaurant bursting with flavours, aromas of thyme, wild fennel and sage, and the most beautiful view that one could imagine. What more could you hope for?
We first visited the tower on Clean Monday (the first day of Orthodox Lent) in 1994 whilst on a trip in Mani with friends. It was still in ruins at the time. The view and the silence were magical; our emotions, senses and thoughts were utterly overwhelmed by the spectacle. I remember seeing the words "Building for sale" that had been hand written by the previous owner on a cornerstone in blue paint. That is how my wife and I, both architects, started our adventure with heritage, tradition, culture and local architecture.
It took us eight years and a considerable amount of difficulties to restore and transform the 19th century tower into a modern hotel, all the while respecting the architecture and regional characteristics of the property. We were nonetheless able to keep the original structure of the building and the four 25m2 floors to create three bedrooms with bathrooms and reception/kitchen areas. Organised along a vertical axis, guests will enjoy a unique experience as they pass through narrow openings, climb wooden staircases and see rocks protruding from the walls and arches. The exterior and interior mortar was made with real "kourasani" or Roman mortar - a combination of ceramic powder, lime, river sand and cement - which improves the static balance of the masonry and ensures its durability. The tower was carefully designed with local materials and modern elements have been skilfully contrasted with traditional architecture, making it a unique and elegant property. A swimming pool has been adapted to the environment respecting the topography of the landscape, adding to the uniform and unified set of buildings and spaces.
There is an abundance of fortified towers in the Mani peninsula that were built between 1770 and 1880 by the Maniots, powerful ethnic groups who lived in small colonies (or "xemonia") that were often just formed of a few families. The watchtowers, known as "rizomies", were erected on solid ground and rocks. Their positions were always strategic with breathtaking views of the sea and the hinterland. They served to control the region, exclude or drive out opponents, defend the settlements and their property, and expand land ownership. The Maniots were never under Ottoman occupation and helped Greece gain independence in 1832. After the war, houses and towers were abandoned in large numbers when the inhabitants of the peninsula emigrated to Athens. These imposing, tall and narrow towers are a true architectural expression of the Mani peninsula. Tainaron Blue Retreat, now transformed into a discrete boutique hotel, is a representative sample.
Nestled in a 19th century stone tower, the Tainaron Blue Retreat is an authentic place offering an idyllic setting, spectacular sea views, and unspoiled surroundings located on the southernmost point of the Greek mainland. This intimate boutique hotel features three bedrooms with breathtaking panoramic views of the southern slope of the Taygetos mountain and the sea. I like to warmly and personally welcome my guests and tell them about the history of the building. Our restaurant offers an authentic, Maniot culinary experience and a magical gastronomic journey full of flavours, aromas and Greece. The refined menus are based on traditional recipes and are made with local products. A variety of Greek wines complement the local cuisine. The outdoor hydrotherapy pool is a great place to watch a magical sunset over the sea or take in the serene beauty of daybreak.
A visit to the old town of Areopolis and its seaport. A visit to the Diros Caves, or a walk to the Tainaron Lighthouse (the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula) preferably at sunset. The remote Mani villages such as Mountanistika or Pepos, a small mountain village of twelve inhabitants located 400m above sea level below Laifonios mountain. The Diporo Pepo Liontaki trail is very popular for walking. The village of Vathia featuring a row of towers is famous for its beauty and Mani architecture. A tour to the ancient Byzantine churches. The Mani is open as a Byzantine museum. The region's two sandy beaches are located in Marmari, the other beaches are pebbled. A driving tour of the peninsula is beautiful, captivating, and only takes about two hours. A boat ride is also an unforgettable experience!
200 € - 440 € per night
The hotel has three suites: one at the base of the tower, another at the top and a third in the adjoining tower house. The Master Suite occupies the two upper levels of the tower. Equipped with a double bed and a second double bed on the mezzanine, it offers a breathtaking view of the sea. The combination of stone and wood gives it a unique warmth and a comfortable atmosphere. The Junior Suite offers a spectacular view of the mountains and is equipped with a double bed and a separate single bed built into the wall. The Double Suite is located at the foot of the infinity pool and comes with a sea view. With a beautiful vaulted ceiling, this room combines comfort and functionality. The restaurant, exclusively reserved for hotel guests, offers an authentic, Maniot culinary experience. Breakfasts and meals are served on the patio by the pool or on the wooden veranda terrace with a view of the sea.