You may have spent days under the sun on every island going and probably have a rough idea of what a summer holiday to Greece involves. But if you haven’t traveled to the Peloponnese then your Greek journey has only just begun. Vanity Fair called Porto Heli the Southampton of Greece, one of the most famous and luxurious holiday destinations. The so-called “Greek Riviera” on the northeastern Peloponnese coast is a three-hour ferry ride from Athens, or 25 minutes by helicopter and comes chock-full of protected coves and bays on the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean. A discreet favorite of ‘old money’ shipping millionaires as well as Dutch and Greek royalty, who have lavish holiday houses and private harbors for their yachts, Porto Heli sits regally over seaside hilltops above the olive groves with Nikki Beach Resort making it hard for in-the-know discerning globetrotters to resist its charms.
There is no question about it. This is a part of the world that feels like a very languid version of the Amalfi Coast before all the American exchange students and global nouveau riche discovered Positano said our couple from Lebanon. This where our grand anniversary party has to take place.
True, when you enter this old 1960s hotel, brilliantly transformed into a gleaming white box of tricks with ground floor pool suites and a flat roof that make the perfect setting for a cool bar you begin to feel you’ve entered another world. A wall of books adds warmth to the all-white Soul Lobby, while double daybeds curve round the infinity pool, with more half-submerged in the water, and the beach stretches before your eyes to reveal the most romantic gold sunset you’ve witnessed, turning the waters into a burnished mirror.
As our couple and their guests set off to enjoy the pleasures of Peloponnese’s coves, we got to work, building decks from scratch for three consecutive days. Having teamed up with Caractere Events, Ug World, Stage creators Gala by Messinis, art director and landscape architect Dinos Ploubis and Events Music, the entire production began by creating the set for our celebration on the sandy beach around the hotel (If you need to see the entire transformation head to our IG highlights).
Massive light installations of giant blooms and fairy lights protracting from the sands were placed across the beach to create a private portico for the feast and party, with a central mirror framed stage for Guy Manoukian’s band performance. The tablescapes which included 8 round and three long rows of mirror topped tables were set in clear art de la table, giant peony arrangements and ghost seating, while seas of candles were placed in the sands across the mirror cubes topped with florals to frame the set.
As the event included aperitivo & amuse-bouche with a classic performance, a pool party, a live music dinner reception and a dessert-extravaganza, there had to be capsule spaces for the guests to move through. The pool was decked with spread salons of white sofas, candle and white floral decorated coffee-tables and a central bar. The guests who arrived by water taxi from Spetses and Poseidonion Grand Hotel were welcomed with early drinks on the portico. As Porto Heli is a foodie paradise and locavore’s dream, sea urchin, caviar, oyster, lobster and shellfish treats were served with champagne kept cold in frozen fruit ice bowls, signature cocktails, and bespoke aperitivo capers. As the pool party evolved, Camerata du Leman, the awarded 15 string-soloist chamber orchestra who flew in from Geneva enthused everyone with its variable geometry composition and a repertoire from the Baroque Period to XXI-century music. Following an epicurean feast created by the couple’s leading team of private chefs of Cat and Mouth Catering who arrived from Lebanon, it was time for dessert and if you think you’ve had your fair share of dessert stations wait till you see what Vogue honored pastry chef Maalouf Charbel and his crew created… say if a sea of caramel made life-size corals, a gargantuan coral caramel tiered gateau, 40 different cakes and sweets, a gelato bar, a live millefeuille bar and a spectacular display of treats don’t convince you, we don’t know what will.