Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Ikarian Paradise? Not quite
by Nancy Snipper
I’m sitting on the stunning white terrace of Cavos Bay Hotel on the island of Ikaria, spellbound by the breathtaking view before me. Entrancing as Circe herself, the hypnotic turquoise Aegean waters lovingly lap against the rocks; they are beckoning me into the great beyond where sea and sky merge in a mesmerizing palate of endless beauty. It was my first evening at the hotel. The sunset was exquisite, as was the sunrise which I witnessed… for the wrong reason (more about that later).
This natural beauty continues on within Cavos Bay located in Armenistis village where restaurants seem to spill into the sea. A splendid array of fantastic sandy beaches - Livadi, Messakti and Nas stretch along the island’s northern side - all within the vicinity of Armenistis.
Various ascending hiking paths cut into Ikaria’s spectacular Atheras mountain chain (over 1,500 meters high) where pine forests, lunar landscapes of incredible formations and the island’s unique 17th-century, primitive slate houses appear, built into covert mountain sides to escape pirate attacks. From Cavos Bay, the port of entry for one such hike is only ten minutes away. The hotel’s front desk can direct you or you can buy a map at the village supermarket.
But many vacationers just to want stay put, relax on the balcony off their rooms or dive into the swimming pool which overlooks the sea. I was impressed by the gleaming white lobby spacious enough to sail a boat. The complex offers 65 rooms.
I had booked four days as a journalist – compliments of the hotel – the son of the owner did not ask to see my journalist credentials – though I offered; nor was I asked to show my passport. That often happens in Greece.
But all that changed the next morning. Although my room was functionally comfy and the balcony vista inspiring, I woke up at about 5:30 itching like crazy. Mosquito bites they were not. I spied a suspicious looking tiny black bug moving on my bed sheet and there were lots of tiny ants on the floor.
I saw that beautiful sunset that Despina, the owner, had mentioned, but it wasn’t that I wanted to talk to her about. I informed her that I needed to change my room, showing her my bites. She was very kind and supported my request to wash my clothes for which I would pay (I feared the critters may have retreated into them, as they were on the other twin bed, but bagged. Despina assured me she would wash them herself, but she declined entering my room to see what was going on.
I went out for three hours, but upon my return my bag of clothes were still sitting in the hotel office.
I was then asked by the front desk receptionist in charge of rooms to produce my passport and my journalist credentials. I was told by the daughter that they were not acceptable as there was no ‘agency‘ listed. The fact she was given four freelance journalist publication press credentials for which I write one upon which was clearly written “Media Canada” did nothing to change her mood or mind. Finally, I pulled out my contract from a rather important editor in Canada. They weren’t interested.
What really confounded me was the previous evening I had of my own volition volunteered to show much of my writing to Despina who had told me that the hotel was half full.
Now suddenly I was told my room was needed and that I could take another room. Oh Joy! But the room proved to be dismally hot and the view was non-existent.
I elected to stay in the buggy room; I would brave it for one more night. I saw Despina again, but she totally ignored me. She sat at the bar with two guests – her back turned to me.
I am writing this not to vet, but to express my deep disappointment - not so much over the room, but the turn-coat uncaring attitude of Cavos Bay’s owners , save for the son who was obviously trusting and witty. I never saw him again though.
As for the others, their appalling reaction did not match the hotel’s awesome setting nor the care and humanity I have always experienced - for which Greeks are renown - during the forty years I have been writing about this country.
Footnote: I am not saying this hotel has a bug issue; I can only speak about the room I stayed in.
But they certainly have an attitude problem.
Also posted on SMR Cultureplus.