Seven families with a total of 18 teenagers (many of whom had never met before) at an eco resort without shops, restaurants, nightlife, or WiFi on a remote Greek island for a week: Recipe for disaster or best holiday ever? Read on to discover the answer.
Thanks to the largesse of a friend who wanted to celebrate a momentous birthday with good friends, two summers ago I spent a week with my family at Onar, an eco resort in a rare protected wetland on the eastern coast of Andros, one of the Greek Cycladic islands, a two-hour ferry ride from Athens.
My over-scheduled urban teens (and their father, I might add) were apprehensive about what they were going to do all day (no WiFi?). It didn’t take long for them to settle into Onar’s quiet beauty and sleepy pace; time is so slow you forget to check your watch. We spent our days alternating between excursions to the nearby beach with trips to the vathres, small lakes formed by waterfalls, all punctuated by convivial meals in the open-air communal dining room. Paradise found.
Images via Onar, unless otherwise noted.
Above: Onar has nine traditional houses that stretch along the river Achla, blending seamlessly into the surrounding wetlands.
Above: The stone, wood, and reeds used to build the houses were sourced from the river itself. Most mornings are beach-centric; from the resort it's a 10-minute walk through a forest of plane trees.
Above: The interiors of the houses feature regional construction methods.
Above: Furnished with natural materials in neutral tones, the rooms offer a cool respite on hot days.
Above: The cottages are furnished with a mix of traditional and modern furniture.
Above: Wildflowers from the surrounding landscape.
Above: Stone floors and ceiling fans help keep the interiors cool.
Above: A spartan bedroom with simple bath.
Above: An outdoor terrace, with a traditional reed shade.
Above: An outdoor tire swing.
Above: The communal outdoor dining area; the food is fresh and sourced locally, much of it grown at Onar. Photograph by Christine Hanway.
Go to Onar for more details about the resort. Looking for other places to take a memorable vacation? Browse 1,000+ images of Hotels in our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces. For another retreat in the Cyclades, see A Mykonos House Inspired by Cycladic Design. On Gardenista, don't miss Landscape Architect Visit: Thomas Doxiadis on Antiparos.
This post is an update; the original story ran on July 16, 2012 as part of our A La Plage issue.