One of Santorini's traditional, value-priced apartment complexes, the STC delivers a big dose of culture along with the simple pleasures of Greece: sun, sand, and rustic charm.
Having written “Frommer’s Greece from $50 A Day” for 15 years, I’ve become so familiar with the country and its ways that visiting feels like a trip back home. When I returned with my husband and young son for the last book update, we fell in love with a little-known resort on the island of SantorÃni.
Whether it’s the extraordinary volcanic landscape featuring black and white pumice cliffs plummeting into the Aegean, the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri (thought by many scholars to be the legendary Atlantis), the striking black, red or gold sand and pebble beaches, or the Gen X crowd that frequents the pedestrian-only capital of Fira, Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also one of the most expensive, which is why you want to get the most cultural bang for your euro when visiting with kids.
How do I describe this charming, atypical Greek hotel? For a son who once recalled his educational tour of a Greek jail with “Mom, it looks just like a Greek hotel room!” this small traditional lodge is anything but — in fact, it looks more like a set from “Mamma Mia!” The SantorÃni Tennis Club Apartments is located in KartarÃ¡dos, a 15-minute walk from the “capital” village of Fira, center of nightlife and shopping.
Open only from May to October when the Aegean weather is at its best, the SantorÃni TC is a four-acre complex of nine restored 18th-century “cave” homes and stables which survived the devastating 1953 earthquake. Besides spacious and stylish white-washed quarters (many of the rooms are duplexes with lofts or second bedrooms), there’s a tranquil desert garden with, of course, tomatoes and olive trees, and a swimming pool, kiddie pool, and two all-weather tennis courts.
Our vaulted-roof stone dwelling was adorned with rustic wooden cupboards, blue-shuttered windows, local weavings, and a handy kitchenette. Each morning, the friendly Loucas Damigos would deliver a delicious breakfast of yoghurt, fresh-squeezed OJ, croissants, and Greek coffee to our balcony — and it’s a bargain to boot.
The staff’s help was invaluable: ordering a rental car, finding a laundromat or souvenir pumice stones (they float), even producing a small bottle of ouzo to ‘preserve’ the dead gecko our son found by the pool! Since then, “Loucas” the gecko has been to many school show n’ tells, always a reminder of Greece’s simple pleasures.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Santorini Tennis Club Traditional Apartments|
Santorini 847 00
|Seasonal Rates:||$ – $$|
|Choice of Activities:||C|
|Quality of Amenities:||B-|
|Bonus:||Far enough from town for tranquility, close enough to dine out and sightsee easily.|
|Note:||Rooms now boast hair dryers and TVs, but the essential Greek style hasn’t changed.|
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