Consisting of twenty monasteries and home to approximately 2,000 monks, Mount Athos is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, the monastic center of the Greek Orthodox Church, a state-within-a-state, a veritable living museum of religion and the spiritual vortex of Greece. Located towards the top of the “third finger” of the Halkidiki prefecture, Mount Athos (or Agio Oros as it is also known) is home to the oldest surviving monastic community on Earth. The monks’ way of life is practically unchanged since they arrived in the 9th century. Most of them live within the walls of their chosen monastery, but others choose to live in complete isolation, away from any distractions. Women are not allowed within 500 metres of the shoreline, and even female animals are prohibited from walking on Mount Athos. This is because the Virgin Mary is said to have visited the peninsula and prayed to have it as her own. It is believed that the presence of women might distract the monks, tempting them away from true celibacy and leading them to sin.
In the shadow of the UNESCO World Heritage Mount and located at the top of Athos Peninsula in Halkidiki, Avaton Luxury Villas Resort (to give the property its full name) is one of the Greek mainland’s hidden hospitality gems, opened in 2015 and family owned and run.
Positioned directly on beautifully unspoilt Komitsa Beach, this boutique hotel offers a range of uber-modern townhouse-like villas which are more than amply equipped. Discerning travellers, holidaying couples and adventurous families alike are accommodated in two-bedroom units, stylishly decorated and laden with every modern-day convenience, including full kitchens for those who wish to self-cater. Many boast their own private plunge pools. A cluster of half a dozen premium split-level units offer direct access – via delightful little private back gardens – to a grassed path which leads across lush Mediterranean lawns towards Avaton’s beachfront champagne bar, perched on a petite hill. Boasting incredible sweeping views of Komitsa Bay, Avaton’s bar is the perfect place for an afternoon cocktail, fresh sushi lunch or evening sundowners, before heading out to the ancient city of Ouranoupoli just 15 mins away by car and filled with bustling tavernas and lively bars.
The beauty of Avaton is really in its unique, undisturbed location. Komitsa is virtually a private beach and Avaton’s team works tirelessly to ensure that it is kept in pristine condition for the resort’s guests to enjoy its full beauty, and bathe in the tranquil crystal-clear waters in peace and quiet every day of their stay.
Guests are waited on hand and foot whether at the beach, the bar or in the privacy of their lodgings, where meals selected from a vast and varied international menu can be served in-room or al fresco for a private dinner party-like experience. In-room spa treatments, private transfers via helicopter or limousine from Thessaloniki (Greece’s second city) and memorable cruises around nearby picturesque islands and breathtaking coastlines complete the ultimate deluxe Greek summer seaside experience.