Seven families with a total of eighteen 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, last summer 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 and a two-hour ferry ride from Athens.
My overscheduled 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, where 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: An outdoor terrace, with a traditional reed shade and a hammock for lazy afternoon reading.
Above: Onar has nine traditional houses that stretch along the river Achla, blending seamlessly into the surrounding wetlands. The stone, wood, and reeds used to build the houses were sourced from the river itself.
Above: All nine houses have spacious, shaded terraces.
Above: The interiors of the houses feature regional construction methods and are furnished with natural materials in neutral tones.
Above: Rooms are furnished simply and neutrally, offering a cool respite on hot days.
Above: A spartan bedroom with simple shower.
Above: Afternoons were for resting and reading. Photographs by Christine Hanway.
Above: We ate our communal meals outside; the food is fresh and sourced locally, much of it grown at Onar. Photograph by Christine Hanway.
Above: Fast friends: a group of teens sharing a communal meal. Photograph by Christine Hanway.
Above: Most mornings were beach centric, a ten-minute walk through a forest of plane trees. Photograph by Christine Hanway.
Above: The calm water of Achla Beach is protected by the bay formation.
Above: On the way back from the beach, hunting for flat stones in the river bed was a prerequisite for afternoon painting sessions.
N.B.: Looking for more unique places to spend a holiday? See 850 images of Hotels in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.