Mykonos is a wild, natural beauty
Much like our neighbor Delos, which gets its name from the ancient Greek meaning “brought to light”, here the sun shines up to three hundred days a year, temperatures average 28°C (82°F) in season and fall to a moderate 15°C (59°F) in the winter.
Mykonos spans an area of just under eighty-six square kilometres and is also known as the “island of the winds” as it is visited both by the Sirocco – the warm Saharan wind – and the cooling Meltemi that passes through from the north in July and August.
February and March rains feed the sparse vegetation and bring to bloom flowers whose names bear traces of the region’s ancient history. In addition to the bougainvillea, our adopted alien found in exuberant bursts in the streets of Chora, and the exotic cactus which is Greek in etymology alone, endemic plants include the evocative “Christ’s thorn”, the “Roman orchid”, “cliff roses” used in incense and harvested by dragging cloth through the fields (in the old days, plucked off the hides of wild goats) and daffodils, which were a symbol of death in Greek antiquity, thought to cover the fields of Hades.
Traces of a place steeped in myths and ancient history lie in the fold of the land
The “Mykonos Vase” that bears the earliest dated representation of the Trojan Horse (Archaic period ca. 670 BC) was found here. In Greek mythology, it is the very site where Zeus did battle with the Titans, and its island mass is said to have been formed by the corpses of the giants killed by Hercules after he lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. In fact, the giant boulders strewn across the island are said to be the petrified testicles of those slain giants.
The neighboring island of Delos is one of the most significant mythological and archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis. Evidence of habitation on the island that dates back to 3000 BC and Delos rose to prominence during the Mycenaean period (1580-1200 BC), its reputation as a sacred island attracting large numbers of devotees. Trade flourished, transforming Delos into a robust commercial port for almost a thousand years after 800 BC. From 478 BC it hosted the treasury of the Delian League before it was removed to the Acropolis in Athens. A small museum amongst the ruins of the ancient city (which once housed over 25 000 people) contains many important artifacts unearthed during the ongoing excavations of the site.
Mykonos has been home or reluctant host to the Cares, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Minoans, Ionians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians and the Ottoman Empire. Its people adapted to their influences over the ages, becoming seafarers, fishermen, successful traders, pirates, and eventually islanders with a famously generous spirit.
Its legendary reputation as a preeminent holiday destination may be traced back to the thirties
Although famous artists, politicians and wealthy Europeans vacationed in private villas, a hiatus after WWII preserved the island as a well-guarded secret until the yachts of Sixties high society dropped anchor here. Its idyllic image of island simplicity drew the likes of Christian Dior, Onassis and Jackie O, followed by Princess Soraya, Grace Kelly, Brando and Liz Taylor, to name a few. Dior even famously crowned the town’s tailor Josef Salachas “le roi du pantalon” (“the king of trousers”), inspiring Givenchy to collaborate with Josef on a couture collection. The secret was out, and on its heels came the boho-chic of the Seventies. In the exuberance of the Nineties, many more luxury hotels opened on Mykonos, drawing new guests, notably from North America, then central Europe, and of course the party crowd, turning it into one of the most seductive playgrounds in the world.
Among the first to foresee the potential for luxury hospitality was the founder of the Myconian Collection, George Daktylides
“He built the first private hotel on the island, opening up new horizons outside of town and was equally first to be awarded five-star status in 1992 for the Ambassador. (more about Our Family Story). As his sons, we now lead the Myconian Collection and remain happily based here with our children in the local school. Our family business has grown from a pioneering one to become the benchmark of island hospitality, with roots that go back beyond living memory and a commitment to Mykonos that extends just as far into the future. Our respect for the land and its people is reflected in our actions, giving back through environmental conservation initiatives, local sourcing, waste recycling and consistent support to the Cycladic island communities.”
Our island of contrasts and extremes
People love the glamorous Mykonos summers, but its winters are just as beautiful. It’s when the beaches take on a stormy mantle and the small fishing boats reclaim the bays from the departed yachts. It’s when the old men in the towns drag their tables and chairs into the port to do battle at backgammon (“tavli“). It’s when the churches are decorated for their saint’s days and the fish market is given back to the locals and the early morning deliveries of bread from the old bakery become social visits. Although the Ambassador is closed during this period, if you should decide to experience the island in its hibernation, you would find that the old traditions of hospitality endure regardless.