Calilo a work of art on the Greek island of Ios: Travel Weekly
There are very few times where I can truly say that a hotel is unlike anything I have ever seen. But Calilo, a 30-suite resort on the Greek island of Ios, is truly in a class of its own.
Stepping into the lobby is more akin to stepping into an upscale post-modern art gallery in midtown Manhattan than stepping into a Greek Island hotel. Each wall is a work of art, some covered in hand-painted boots, others in brightly colored tiles spelling out inspiring aphorisms. There’s art hanging from the ceilings, wooden flower-trellis swings, and even ornate Vespas in the common areas. When you walk in, you don’t know which way to turn your head, let alone where to point your camera.
The solution is to just slow down and enjoy the art, bit by bit.
Even Calilo’s main pool is a work of art. There are swings suspended above the water, dining rooms sculpted into the pool, and exuberant sculptures of bodies thrown into the air. And all this with a view to the resort’s pristine private beach.
The suites are built into the rocky hill overlooking the beach and incorporate a private outdoor space. Photo credit: Courtesy of Calilo
Opened in 2019, Calilo is a true destination in itself. Situated on 1,000 acres of protected land approximately 12 miles from the main island town of Chora, the property has miles of walking trails, golden beaches, a wellness spa, huge swimming pools and a variety of suites ranging from one to three bedrooms located in the rock, a landscape bordered by olive trees.
In the hotel room suite game, size matters, and Calilo offers plenty of room for sprawling luxury. My one bedroom suite had a huge marble bath, king size bed, and unique furnishings. But even larger than the room itself was the outdoor space, which included private outdoor lounging and dining areas, a pool-sized hot tub, infinity pool, and sundeck.
The beauty of Ios
Then, of course, there is the island itself. Ios is still an under-the-radar Greek island, but it offers a geographic advantage that many of Greece’s other lesser-known islands do not. Situated between Mykonos and Santorini, this island is an attractive and easily accessible retreat, away from the party crowds of its more popular neighbors.
And did I mention the beaches? Over the past month, I have been to four Greek Islands looking for post-vaccination solitude and some good stories. And after visiting Ios, I can say for sure that the island is home to some of the best beaches in the world. It’s not just the water – which is perfectly clear, cerulean on some beaches, pale turquoise on others – it’s the lack of crowds. Even in high season, crowds on beaches like Tripiti, Pikri and Manganari are rare, locals told me.
An aerial view of the station. Photo credit: Courtesy of Calilo
Spending time in Calilo and on the island itself was like being welcomed into a family – the Michalopoulos family, to be exact.
The Michalopoulos family not only owns Calilo, they own around 30% of Ios. But in an effort to preserve the beauty of the island, they have pledged to leave 99% of their land untapped.
Besides Calilo, the family business Luxurios has a second hotel, the Agalia Luxury Suites, and five bars, restaurants and beach clubs on the island. All are the classic definition of a labor of love. Every element of the design is made by Angelos Michalopoulos. His wife, Vassiliki “Vasso” Petridou, runs Calilo, and each of their five children is somehow involved in the family business.
In addition to hosting me in Calilo, Petridou and Michalopoulos welcomed me into their home, as they do for many guests. Home, however, can be understated for their exceptional, Getty Museum-worthy estate on a beautiful private island adjacent to Ios. The family’s private island is also where they test new designs for their properties.
Visiting their other properties is another part of the Ios experience, from the Erego Beach Club overlooking Koumbara Beach to the Pathos Lounge, which has the best sunset views on the island.
In theory, the heart of the island is the town of Chora, known for its cubic houses; narrow, cobbled streets; and the abundance of small hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. But, in reality, the Michalopoulos family feels like the beating heart of this island. They know everyone, they run the most vibrant places and their passion for Ios will make you fall in love with the island as much as they do.