Holiday retreat in Greece, Saronic Islands

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Responsible tourism: Holiday retreat in Greece, Saronic Islands

Since we live on a very small island with 800 inhabitants and a community that just changed hands to a very open-minded mayor, the whole population including us raised money to buy a little boat that connects Agistri to Aegina [18000 inhabitants]. This boat is essential for all inhabitants of Agistri, serving as transport for the high-school, shopping and tourism. We encourage guests to travel with this boat. People staying here visit different restaurants and also buy goods from the island, like oregano (which grows wild in abundance), figs, oil, mushrooms, retsina wine, vinegar and fish.

Our rooms use energy efficient lightbulbs, and rainwater from the ceramic roof goes in a deposit which we use for watering. We inform our guests to be careful with water, because, although the island is covered 90% with pines, we do not have any water resources. We change towels every 3 days and bedsheets once a week. The local laundry service uses rainwater, wellwater and water delivered by watertank. We only use showers in our rooms, and toilets that can be adjusted to half flush.

The garden around the complex is natural. All the organic waste from the kitchen we compost, while food waste is consumed by local wildlife. We have dogs and cats and some donkeys in the village that get watermelon waste, and we make trips to a deserted island with peacocks and goats where we send the stale bread. Clothes, books etc are donated to the 'Animal Respect Shop' on Aegina island, who then sell in order to purchase medication, vaccinations and pay doctor's fees for the big shelter they have on the island.

We employ people that live on the island and train staff to work in the kitchen of the restaurant. Our kitchen products come mainly from the island, while our fishermen provide the restaurant specialities in smoked, grilled and cooked fish. We serve a variety of vegetarian dishes, and all our dishes are homemade (we use no frozen or prefabricated food). We started our own garden last year with tomatoes, paprika, aubergine, and spices...and people enjoy that immensely.

We also use the local butcher, who operates a small stable with cows, chicken and turkey. We use the market on Aegina island for things we cannot find here. For maintenance, electrical work, plumbing, and mechanics we employ a young talented guy from the island who left Athens to have a more tranquil life on Agistri, living just 1 km away.

Reviews of Holiday retreat in Greece, Saronic Islands

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 07 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Just relaxing on the sunbeds, looking out at the beautiful, serene view.
The boat trip from the hotel that took us to fabulous swimming spots.
A two and half hour yoga workshop - we were not booked on to the yoga holiday but were able to join in and pay by donation. Amazing yoga with Joy!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring mosquito repellent (preferably something natural so as not to toxify the environment!). Breakfast is a bit monotonous so it might be worth getting room only and having breakfast elsewhere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Locals working at the hotel. Minimal impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Gloriously relaxing, in a beautiful, calm environment. Exactly what I needed to recharge.

Reviewed on 01 Jun 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Nothing particularly exciting its just a lovely place to relax.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Book mid season like we did, its lovely and quiet.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It benefited local people in that it gave business to a small island.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A great holiday, very relaxing.

Reviewed on 20 Jul 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Swimming in our own bay daily with nothing but the sound of lapping waves and cicadas around us was fabulous.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take more money than you think you'll need. Greece is no longer a value-for-money destination with a 50cl beer costing €3 at the accommodation, it is expensive. I pay that for the same amount of beer in London.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, the important factor for us was that the accommodation is a family-run business and it works well.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Agistri is ideal for a week's stay and I would recommend it.

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part was being stranded for four days because of the volcanic ash. The most exciting part was taking a water taxi back to Pireaus because the transport and harbour workers were on strike. We weren't looking for excitement, so we could have done without this.

However, if we had to be stranded anywhere, this was the place to be. Rosy was so helpful and generous with her facilities - and good company too. What could have been a trying experience turned into a slightly longer holiday. Thank you Rosy and Nondas!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you want a quiet, restful holiday where you can read, walk, swim, eat good food, watch the ferries come to and fro and generally chill out, this is for you.

Yiorgos restaurant, directly above the jetty, is great - fresh fish off their boat nearly every day, but don't feed the cats if you don't want them to bother you. The bakery in Skala is excellent and we also made good use of the mini-market opposite.

Skliri (sp?) beach just beyond Rosy's is very pleasant and the swimming there felt safer to me than below Rosy's, because it was shallower.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - there seemed to be a lot of local people involved with Rosy in doing various bits of work on the Little Village and she certainly knew lots of useful people (eg doctor, water taxi pilot, hoteliers in Piraeus and Athens).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great - despite the volcano and the additional expense, we're very glad we went and hope to go there again.

Reviewed on 12 Apr 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Lying on a small, secluded beach with the sun shining down on me with only the lapping of waves to hear - no people at all out of season; discovering the hidden beach; enjoying the local food - especially the Pizzeria not far from the house for soups and pasta, and especially being able to walk along sandy beaches, pebbled beaches and also in the forest - Agistri has it all. Rosy and her husband are incredibly kind, fiercely intelligent and so great to chat to and relax with. I also had a sea view from my room and the sunrise was fantastic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It's easy to get to, even though Agistri is remote. From Athens, leave the airport by exit 5 to buy a ticket outside (3euro) for the X96 bus to Peirius port (validate your ticket in the orange machine on the bus). The bus takes just over an hour and you can't miss the ferry port, which is huge with a lot of gates. Go to gate E8 to buy a ticket for the ferry (5euro), but be aware there are only two a day to Agistri - one in the morning and one at 8pm. If you miss the ferry you can get a Flying Dolphin speedboat regularly (15euro). There are lots of companies selling tickets for different boats, so you can ask around. Rosy will then likely pick you up, although it's a pleasant walk to her place. Agistri is the second and last island stop from Peirius.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. Rosy runs retreats at her place as well as running a holiday home, so she brings responsible tourism to the island, which is what Agistri survives on. Her place is very homely and not at all showy, they have many friends there to help them keep the place maintained, so it's a natural environment and not excessive. Organic foods are used for cooking. It's also advised that drinking water is precious.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Agistri is a little piece of heaven and I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to truly unwind and relax in a remote place, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. You can only get to the island by boat and the island is very small, so you really do feel truly 'away from it all'. You can rent a vespa, walk or cycle (bikes are free at the house) around the island easily. There are plenty of places to eat traditional Greek food and small, inexpensive supermarkets for water and basics. I went in spring, so there were hardly any tourists and the land was green and blossoming with flowers; people were very friendly, the water was aqua and the heat was just perfect - I often had the beach to myself. I recommend Agistri for anyone, definitely.

Reviewed on 09 Jul 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


For us it was memorable for its lack of excitement! We wanted to chill. Just lie back and soak up the sunshine and we certainly did plenty of that. Rosy and her great family and staff really made us feel welcome.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do it. Go there. Great pace of life. It's a small island and great for just walking/strolling around or swimming in the clearest water that'll be hard to beat. Take beach shoes 'cos there are a number of sea urchins. If you want clubs and bars, go to Ibiza or Faleraki. The accommodation is as good as it gets in typical Greek fashion. And there's nothing wrong with that!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We did very little so the only people who may have benefited would be the people at Rosy's and deservedly so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I've tabbed 4* but it was actually better than that. The care and attention by Rosy, her family and staff will be hard to beat. And the food! We stayed and ate every night at Rosy's 'cos it was that fresh, that good. Rosy - I look forward to seeing you again!

Reviewed on 29 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Difficult to choose one particular moment or event! The arrival and wonderful welcome, the first climb down the ladder into the clear deep waters, feeling the stresses of life float off into the ocean, laid back and calm, very well looked after… help, support, guidance and idle [and not so idle!] chat with the family, an oasis separate from the noisy bustle of the tourist village of Skala. Making friends with other guests from all corners of the world. A night of evocative music... scooter rides exploring the island amidst the scent of the pines and wild sage, discovering tiny coves and eating in Limeraria and Metoxi, the only non-Greeks there.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Think about giving breakfast a miss and instead savour the delights of lunch and dinner. Good choice for veggies... loved the aubergine starter and mushroom pie.
If you have small children there's very little 'beach' area... but a lot of sand [and people!] at the nearby Skala beach. Beware if you are intending to do a lot of exploring and travelling to other islands and Athens... that it is very very
easy to get seduced by the sanctuary that is this accommodation and not want to move!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Seemed so. All local except one who worked there during the season. No need for your own car... collected and delivered to the harbour on arrival and departure. Attention paid to water situation... none on the island at all, it's brought in by tanker 3 times a day. Buildings low and unobtrusive with low energy consumption.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful... It was perfect for us... a respite from pressures at home... particularly as it was set apart from the frenzy of full-blown tourism... peaceful and restorative. And I would say 4 stars+.

Reviewed on 22 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The sun everyday, clear, clean water... the peace and quiet...superbly cooked fresh food...excellent hosts!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Plan a bit of island hopping into your holiday... and budget and add another £150!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes... Rosy's place was run by local people and they all took great care of the place.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolutely fantastic... The retreat is a gem of a place and the island of Agistri is great.

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


For me it was waking up every morning in such a beautiful place, and swimming in the warm, clear water. For my teenage sons it was seeing dolphins and other exotic-looking fish on the round-the-island boat trip - and seeing 9 shooting stars at the beach barbecue. For my husband it was the Greek music night at the retreat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you try out the beautiful beach at Skala Agistri and the one at Aronissos. If you are at all unsteady on your feet, you might find getting down to the cove at the retreat a bit of a challenge. Also, water shoes are absolutely essential.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I'm sure Agistri must need tourism to survive, but the more people choose tasteful, sympathetic developments like the retreat, the less ugly hotels and apartment complexes will be built.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


For our family it was perfect - enough variety so nobody got bored, no long treks to beaches, a beautiful environment to just sit around and do nothing, great food. This was probably one of our most relaxing family holidays ever, and we are already thinking about going back there.

Reviewed on 26 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The completely chilled-out relaxation that came from the glorious weather, the unspoilt nature of the island and the low key friendliness of the retreat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go if you need to relax.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, this is a small independently owned hotel with local employees. No pool, no daft energy-hungry extras. Lovely local produce. Low energy lighting, all small scale. (There was air con which we were guiltily appreciative of though)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great for a truly relaxing break.

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