Sometimes luck happens.
I research a lot for our travel. I mean A LOT. I have a semi-allegiance to specific hotel chains, but they certainly don’t dictate how I do things. And sometimes, even with all the research, we end up with resort envy. Thanks to friends, we knew Oia was THE place to be on the island of Santorini. After hours of research on the endless boutique hotels in and around Oia, I stumbled upon The Canaves Oia Suites. I thank my lucky stars we ended up here.
From the moment I discussed our travel with the staff at Canaves, I knew it was something special and different– like staying with family. Mariana, Markos, and Thanassis were delightful in our first communications; answering all my questions for experiences, room recommendations, restaurants and car service with expert details. Seeing the time change between Houston and Santorini is 8 hours, I never once felt in the dark in regards to communicating our every need with the staff.
Arrival and Check-in
We arranged for a private pick-up and transfer from JTR, the Santorini airport. Our driver was friendly and incredibly helpful, a trait we later realized was indicative of all the staff of Canaves. After our bags were loaded, we were offered cold water and were off to our destination. We did not see our luggage again until it was delivered to our suite at Canaves.
The reception area is quaint and small– a feeling mixed between entering someone’s home and a true SLH destination. At night, this area is illuminated by candlelit lanterns hanging from the bougainvillea trees. Mariana checked us in and suggested we try the 9-course Greek cuisine dinner served every Sunday night at the hotel’s only restaurant. Is there any way to start a foreign trip better than experiencing almost all their best dished while watching the sunset? I think not.
We arrived to Room 40 and were elated. In Europe– and other areas– you never know what you’re going to get. Our two bedroom, 2 bathroom, multi-story, hot tub-over-the-cliffs view was everything the pictures showed and more. Relief filled my body. I don’t often put us in a situation where I’m not certain of the outcome, but sometimes you just don’t know. After almost a full day of travel, I was in vacation heaven. The hotel provided a bottle of their very own wine for us to enjoy while we unpacked. It was bliss. And not to mention the charming key to the room; no credit card style keys on this property.
And check out the sunrise from our bedroom!
Once we were situated, Mariana gave us a tour of the facilities and a complementary cocktail to kick-off our vacation.
No gym, no flashy business centers or unnecessary pomp and circumstance. You’re on “holiday” after all. Canaves Oia Suites has a sparkling pool and hot tub, sharing a deck with their restaurant and lounge area. And can I just say, the pool is the most pristine, perfect, not-a-leaf-floating-anywhere-to-be-seen pool. Literal perfection– perfection does exist in the form of the Canaves pool.
The restaurant by the pool has approximately 6 tables and serves breakfast lunch and dinner, with our favorite being an afternoon snack of tzatziki and french fries or a Greek Salad (Greek salads in Greece don’t have lettuce!!). If you are visiting on a Sunday, do not miss their Greek dinner and definitely book early enough to see at least the remnants of an Oia sunset. We frequently enjoyed Dorota as our server for breakfast and dinner and were very thankful for her offers of pictures any time we wanted them.
Every morning Canaves provides full Champagne breakfast to their patrons from the cave next to the kitchen.
You can expect made-to-order omelettes or eggs, various forms of breakfast potatoes (D’s favorite being the diced potatoes with ham), and my favorite, fresh tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and feta. There were also selections of breads, fresh fruit and other delicious options, all readily available and plentiful.
Side note– we’re boozers (in case you weren’t aware)
Now, we love champagne. Actually, adore would probably be the realistic word. When I read about the champagne being inclusive of our room rate, I emailed Canaves just to make sure
If it were me and some person was confirming Champagne was indeed included, I would probably judge that they were going to drink a lot. Hey, I’m judgmental and I admit it. Canaves probably should have made that judgment about us…
We had a few glasses every morning without fail. D and I would take turns carrying glasses for each other. Now, before you deem us functional alcoholics, let me explain. We don’t stay up late. We’re old (well, Dan is). So instead of going out at night, we like to have boozy brunches and cocktails poolside while reading and sunning. It’s perfect for us. A little Rose, some Crazy Donkey, a great book, a little afternoon nap= success.
Toward the end of our trip, we made friends with some of the staff that said we were indeed known as the boozy brunchers. They even went as far as to reenact D carrying multiple glasses.
Gah. They’ve clearly never been to Vegas…
As you’re sitting poolside enjoying one of the most spectacular views in the world, Vasili and Mariusz deliver perfect fruit trays and concoctions of various drinks the chef made up– a great and much appreciated treat for the pool guests.
There were always loungers available, fresh towels and large umbrellas moved at the slightest whim by the attentive staff. Being such a water girl, I was completely content sitting by the perfectly landscaped pool and just overlooking the Aegean Sea. (Probably because the sea was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and freezing!!!)
As for getting around the property, we chose to walk the steps everywhere. There were times that was probably not our smartest option. Be prepared for lots of steps in Oia, Fira and all over Santorini. In fact, I’m still taking the long way to the printer at work because it involves a ramp instead of 3 stairs.
But the stairs in Oia aren’t just steps… they are composed of large rocks, sometimes uneven and holey at odd angles and often there are donkey landmines. Beware. The scenery is so stunning, you aren’t watching where you’re walking– this can be treacherous. The finest footwear cannot save you. You’ll be on the ground in no time. And hopefully not covered in donkey shit.
Canaves Oia Suites is the only property that boasts an elevator in Santorini. Although we didn’t use it, to those who have some mobility impairment or just need a break from the hike, the elevator is a wonderful option to the property.
About halfway through our trip, the manager Markos, let us know there was an upgrade available to their new, 3-bedroom and 3 bathroom villa– a property which has yet to be advertised on their website. Of course we jumped at the opportunity.
While the multi-story property hosting a kitchen and full living area is indeed incredible, it was difficult for us to leave our perfect room 40. The Villa will be fully renovated this winter season, and will certainly gain even more notoriety once Canaves adds a plunge pool and completes some additional updates to this new venture.
Every trip has those moments that just make it for you and your travel mates. The “I can’t believe I’m here and living this” times. One for us was the private dinner at the downstairs restaurant. The restaurant has only one table per night and the set menu was 85 euros pp, and offered a plethora of options to please any appetite. But above and beyond was the ambiance.
As you descend the stairway, your first view is a rock cave draped with white linen curtains, more candles and lanterns than you can believe and a perfectly set table. The privacy, beauty of the Oia townscape and sunset are breathtaking.
Expect to have one of the familiar faces from upstairs serve your dinner, complete with thoughtfully presented food with top notch ingredients. Foie Gras, veal filet, shrimp, amuse bouche, champagne (*gasp!*). It was worth EVERY. PENNY. We probably should have reserved it more than one night.
And sometimes the views are so gorgeous, a Windstar cruise ship joins you for dinner.
The other highlight, and this one isn’t one specific thing, is Canaves. The moment you arrive, you know it’s different. Everything from the people, the food, the view, the rooms, the pool, the flowers… I can go on. It’s perfect. I cannot complain. And trust me, I can easily find things to critique. I have never in my life been so content to just stop and enjoy the world in front of me. It was exactly what my fast paced, always-on-the-go life needed.
If you are looking for any combination of romance, fun, beauty, fabulous food, exceptional service, family time, or just existing in the moment, Canaves Oia Suites in Santorini is the only way to go.