The view from the white sands of Agia Paraskevi beach on Skiathos’ southwest coastline is a wash of tonal blues: that of the Aegean Sea – hydrangea-blue in the shallows before dropping to a deeper shade out of the bay – brushing up against mainland Greece, a cut out of navy mountains, as it in turn nuzzles into a cloudless sky. This striking watercolour, propped up alongside a scented pine and olive tree-clad hillside, forms the backdrop to Skiathos Princess Hotel’s Greek-chic and boho weddings. Sounds dreamy, right? We’re not the only ones who think so.
The islands of Skiathos, Skyros, Alonnisos and Skopelos form part of the Sporades archipelago, the ‘scattered lands’ with that little something-something cast in 2008’s feel-good blockbuster, ‘Mamma Mia!’. But if you need more than a Hollywood stamp of approval, Skiathos Princess, part of the Santikos Collection, will provide it. From your very own wedding coordinator – assisted by a creative director and floral team, no less – to the best in cuisine and, yes, there it is again: setting.
Over a buffet lunch of medium-rare beef sliders, taramasalata with warm bread, key-lime pie and pink lemonade in Skiathos Princess Hotel’s bistro restaurant, The Muse, which lounges poolside, Ultimate Wedding Magazine discusses destination weddings with Vicky Santikos, Santikos Collection’s supremely stylish vice president and wife to Nikos, founder and CEO. As she talks, her straight-off-the-SS16-runway Chanel sunglasses reflect images of Pinterest-worthy table settings and delicate flower arrangements off her open MacBook. There are simple protea and strelitzia displays coupled with cushions and a low table for a bohemian, feet-in-sand atmosphere, or baby’s breath and silvery green eucalyptus showcased in glass with white lace runners, fussed just so, for that Greek-chic it’s so good at. And then there’s the food…
The hotel’s five-star rating is most evident in its dining options. Whether at the beachside taverna-style PR Ammos, which serves signature Greek dishes of fresh seafood and colourful salads, or the indoor-outdoor Leto Concept, a restaurant venue open for breakfast and dinner and offering either freshly prepared dishes from southern Europe, local Greek recipes or an Italian fusion. Skiathos Princess is also one of the only places on the island where you can eat sushi (I’m sushi mad and this is some of the best I’ve ever tried) – although, as yet, this is unfortunately not on offer on the wedding menu.
A short stroll from each of the hotel’s three restaurants, two apartment blocks sit on a manicured lawn along the beachfront. Built in the 1980s, most of the rooms and suites feature the original wall-to-wall marble bathrooms and an impressive floor plan – the type coveted by newer hotels where space is at a premium. All rooms have a sea or garden view, while rooms on the ground floor show off with private gardens – some also have swimming pools sunk into spacious decks. A floor or two above is just as good as double doors yawn open onto balconies from where that watercolour of blues can also be viewed.
New in weddings
Marpunta Village, a former fishing village on the island of Alonnisos (Greece’s first national marine park), is another property in the Santikos Collection – and it’s just reopened after being completely refurbished. Decorated with pops of near-neon bougainvillea, it’s a warren of whitewashed cottages – making up 110 rooms and 15 family suites – pitched cliff side with spectacular ocean views. To get there, catch a ferry from Skiathos’ port. The boat travels via the island of Skopelos – if you have the chance to stop off, take a wander up the 202 steps to the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri, as Donna, played by Meryl Streep, did, her red scarf billowing behind her. For a wedding ceremony and reception here, think wild-flower bridal bouquets, platters of seasonal dishes and a private and secluded atmosphere.
It’s all for you (if you want it)
Another of the Santikos family’s properties is the adults-only Aegean Suites Hotel. You can even book out its 20 luxurious suites entirely for the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity. Both Skiathos Princess and Marpunta Village offer similar arrangements, but only out of the high season. Built into the hillside just down the road from Skiathos Princess, the Aegean Suites overlooks the bay from a lofty height giving it an altogether different feel from its sister hotels, and the vibe is that bit more polished.
Regardless of which Santikos Collection property you choose, Skiathos proves to be one of Greece’s most alluring fly-and-flop islands – even if you are in full-on wedding mode. Just add Alonnisos – along with a boat trip complete with an upbeat Abba soundtrack – to your list to be truly spoiled for choice. And relax…
Santikos Collection offers Marpunta Village from £92 per night, the Skiathos Princess Hotel from £200 per night and the Aegean Suites from £264 per night. Thomas Cook Airlines (thomascook.com, 01733 224808) offers direct flights from London Gatwick to Skiathos, from £43 per person.