Stacked high on the cliffs, 380 metres above sea level sits Kapari Natural Resort – a luxurious boutique resort that looks like a Santorini postcard brought to life. Located in the picturesque village of Imerovigli, the resort is a cluster of 300-year-old cave dwellings that cascade down the cliff-side. Its distinctive Cycladic architecture is a vision of whitewashed minimalism that’s all smooth curves with pops of aqua revealing plunge pools and hot tubs in organic shapes. Then there are the views. The resort is perfectly positioned with expansive panoramas of the Aegean and the now-extinct (and super photogenic) volcano.
Kapari Natural Resort is family owned and operated. Founders Rena and Takis Adamidis restored one of the few old dwellings that survived the devastating earthquake in 1956, creating a sanctuary that went on to become their family holiday home. In 2010, they handed the reins over to their son, Philip Adamidis who developed Kapari into the luxury resort it is today. The transformation used the most technologically advanced restoration methods, and paid full respect to the aesthetics and distinctive characteristics of Cycladic architecture to create a modern building.
These achievements didn’t go unnoticed. In 2015 Kapari Natural Resort was named as a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World property. There are only 63 properties in the collection worldwide, with just seven including Kapari residing in Europe. Becoming part of this exclusive National Geographic collection has established Kapari as a leader in sustainable tourism:
These properties—each handpicked by National Geographic—share a strong commitment to sustainable practices and to protecting natural and cultural heritage. They embody the values that National Geographic holds close: authenticity, enrichment, and a dedication to preserving our planet’s diversity. The guest experience they offer is intimate and exceptional, inspiring guests to connect with their destination in a meaningful way—and to play a part in safeguarding it for the future. National Geographic.
Kapari Natural Resort is located on an island that’s the second most visited in Greece, but once you’re within Kapari’s cool carved walls, you’ll feel a million miles from the tourist crowds. We were there in early September, where in the town of Oia we were walking shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists. This was around lunchtime – apparently the crowds get even worse closer to sunset, but it was hard to imagine it could be any busier. We even got stuck trying to get to our car, when a tour group of over 100 sightseers from a cruise ship completely overwhelmed and bottle-necked one of the cobble stoned lanes we were walking down. After 30 minutes of being in the town, I was keen to get back to the sanctuary of Kapari.
Kapari Natural Resort is made up of 14 rock-carved luxury villas in seven different categories. There’s the Standard category (Vanilla), Premium, Spa Premium, two types of Suites, and two special options – Up & High and the Private Residence. Most come with indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and all have their own unique features like private terraces, direct access to the infinity pool or private kitchens.
The curvaceous villas come equipped with super soft beds, oversized showers, pillow menus, luxurious robes, fine linens, and state-of-the-art technology. The resort’s traditional Cycladic décor is minimalist in style, which works seamlessly alongside slick flat-screen TVs, and touch panels that control the environment and the entertainment system, along with user-defined lighting scenes
We were lucky enough to stay in the incredible Private Residence. The huge villa came with its own private courtyard, custom-built outdoor hot tub, long wooden dining table and traditional kitchen. We spent every evening at our villa, watching the famous Santorini sunset from our hot tub or courtyard where we feasted on fresh olives, breads and cheese, washed down with local Santorini wine.
The views from Kapari Natural Resort are some of the best on the island with the restaurant and villas offering unobstructed views of the spectacular caldera (the cauldron-like volcanic depression), which collapsed after a volcanic eruption. And the absolute highlight, is that famous Santorini sunset.
Every evening, thousands of tourists gather at cliffs on the western side of the island to watch the sun light up the sky as it melts into the Aegean Sea. Most vantage points are packed with tourists, including the insanely crowded town of Oia. So we felt incredibly lucky to have our own courtyard and hot tub where we could watch the romantic sunset from the privacy of our own villa.
I’d seen so many photos of Santorini at sunset, but nothing prepared me for just how beautiful it would be in real life. We’d planned to go out to dinner in the village each night we were staying at Kapari, but five minutes into our first sunset, all dinner reservations were moved to the latest times possible! We needed to make the most of our villa and its incredible location, so we decided not to go to dinner each night until it was completely dark.
We ended up spending a whole month island hopping around Greece and Italy, but those nights we spent in our private hot tub at Kapari watching the sunset while sipping on wine were some of my favourite moments from the entire trip.
THE RESTAURANT & BAR
I’m half Greek and my yiayia was an amazing cook, so when it comes to Greek cuisine, my standards are high! But Kapari know that gastronomic pleasures are all part of an unforgettable vacation, so their food standards are up there with the best of them (and the yiayai’s). The restaurant serves up an amazingly fresh array of Mediterranean dishes including squid stuffed with fennel, grilled peppers and smoked cheese, and lobster and salmon ravioli.
Breakfast is a delicious a la carte menu of savoury dishes like omelettes and sweet treats like pancakes. All accompanied by an incredible spread of bread and pastries that are baked on site, fresh fruit and traditional Greek yoghurt.
The hotel bar shares the same cave and the same spectacular views, so you can sip on delicious cocktails well after sun goes down.
HOW TO GET TO KAPARI NATURAL RESORT:
Boat – the resort is 10 kilometres from Santorini’s ferry port of Athinos also known as the ‘New Port” or “Thira Port”. Transfers from Athinos Port can be arranged by Kapari.
Plane – the island’s airport is eight kilometres from the resort. Flights depart from an array of international destinations including London and Rome. Several Greek airlines fly from Athens to Monolithos, Santorini’s airport, and connections are available to Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes several times a week.
Car – there is free parking at the hotel, but it’s first in, first served. The parking spots are extremely tight and very competitive – we encountered quite a bit of road rage up in that carpark and some of it from other five-star hotel employees! We picked our rental car up at the airport – it’s only eight kilometres to the hotel, but it can be quite slow due to the small, windy road. I took the luxurious van transfer provided by Kapari with our luggage. And Jason followed us in our tiny rental car, perfectly equipped for the narrow Santorini streets.