Carved into the volcanic cliffs of Greece’s most popular island destination, the Chaidemenos family saw something special in a set of 17th-century caves, once used to store wine. As one of the first families to introduce tourism to Santorini’s once sleepy fishing village of Oia, their vision of all-white, minimalistic suites not only shaped the Canaves Oia brand, but helped define the island’s now iconic luxury accommodation aesthetic.
Whitewashed buildings, blazing blue cupolas, pastel coloured bell towers and pretty cobbled streets are some of the quintessentially Greek charms which make this Cycladic clifftop village one of the world’s most sought-after holiday locations. On an island with as glowing a reputation as Santorini, it takes something special to stand out, and the Canaves Oia collection does just that. Boasting the best views of the caldera and the Aegean Sea, Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel, Canaves Oia Epitome, and Canaves Oia Suites are all situated within easy distance of quaint artisan bakeries, boutique stalls, and sandy beaches, and yet feel a world away from it all. Pristine white facades, private balconies, and glittering infinity pools characterise the Canaves concept, along with the homely hospitality of a second-generation Greek family-run hotel.
What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?
For us being independently minded means having the freedom to be able to add our personality to the guest experience. Canaves Oia Resorts is a family owned, family run business and my family is very involved in the day to day operations, meeting each and every one of our guests ourselves. Inevitably the Canaves experience is shaped by my family’s personality. We also hire our people based on their own auras and personalities, not always based on their skill set. We believe that this is the very unique selling point of a boutique hotel. For example, we do not need to have standard replies to certain guest questions and we can empower our staff to go above and beyond for our guests. We are able to showcase Santorini through our own experiences.
What was the inspiration behind the hotels, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?
The first Canaves Oia property was the Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel, established by my parents Yiannis and Anna in 1983. Back then my parents developed their vision of a boutique hotel by investing into two Canaves “caves” in Oia village, and have since kept expanding, investing, and learning. My brother Alexandros and I came into the business in 2010. We are very lucky because our parents were able to support us and we had our own business but most importantly we are extremely fortunate because we love what we do. Our inspiration comes from the guests themselves and our passion for travel. Through our interaction with our beloved guests we develop new ideas and we are there to enhance their experience even more – year after year we thrive by offering unique experiences. We both love to travel and explore new ideas to implement in our hotels.
How do you think your hotels stand apart from other boutique hotels?
It’s always the people that make the difference so we believe that our people are the driving force behind our success that can take a stay from unmentionable to memorable. Location is very important in Santorini because the island is very famous for its views and caldera natural beauty. Our four hotels and villas are very well situated within the village of Oia on the highest and most private points – we are very proud to have the best locations and views in the village.
If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?
Wake up and have your breakfast in the comfort of your suite while overlooking the caldera and the Aegean Sea. Then relax at our main pool and have a “spa with a view” treatment. A cruise with one of our catamarans is also a must in order to experience the island and discover its hidden gems. Finish your day with a candlelit dinner at our Panorama balcony – taste our new menu and sip one of our signature cocktails while the sun is setting down and admire the magnificent view.
How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?
Luxury is perceived very differently by different people. My own definition of luxury is time and privacy. Bespoke could also be a word that is part of luxury, the extra attention to detail. I hate the feeling of being just another guest, especially in smaller boutique hotels.
Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?
Travel always inspires us and as an optimist I believe that travelling is evolving even though now we are facing difficult times. Safety seems to be the number one priority for the next few years. The shift towards more personalised holidays and the increased emphasis on wellness and sustainability are the future of travelling. We work towards these trends focusing on what our clients need and how to provide them with a home-away-from-home.