MANNA, A REJUVENATING GREEK MOUNTAIN RETREAT

by
Christian Stan, at 19 Jul. 23, in Boutique Hotels, Designer Hotels, Hotels, News, Where to go next

Surrounded by a landscape that has been considered an earthly paradise since antiquity and situated within a historically preserved building, Manna is a newly opened luxury mountain retreat in Arcadia, Greece.

Located in Arcadia, in the heart of Peloponnese, at an altitude of 1,200 meters and surrounded by virgin fir forest, Manna is a mountain retreat ripe for rejuvenation and reconnection. The recently opened year-round destination unfolds across a landmarked sanatorium constructed between 1927 and 1929.

Straying from the neoclassical architecture typical in Greece at the time, the building—which welcomed patients suffering from tuberculosis from its opening until 1938, when penicillin became widely accessible—has a design that reflects characteristics more closely related to Central Europe. After standing in a state of abandonment for over eight decades, a medley of old and new elements now come together to create a property where visitors feel the weight of history while enjoying contemporary luxuries and natural surroundings; while nourishing relationships with other humans, nature, and oneself. “Manna,” after all, means a sudden and unexpected source of gratification or pleasure—and here guests will find just that, nestled amongst an almost untouched landscape.

Inspired by the building’s history and its secluded location, the renowned architects and interior designers at K-Studio completed a historically accurate renovation. The result is an abundance of preserved grey limestone, wood, and mosaic flooring paired with newly added, locally sourced stone and terrazzo as well as widely used chestnut panels. Natural finishes are complemented by soft textiles found in the hotel’s range of entirely bespoke furnishings, designed and handmade specifically for Manna. A plethora of plush carpets and a fireplace in the lobby-lounge create a welcoming, living-room-like atmosphere.

Such features extend into the 32 guestrooms, which include six suites. Maintaining the original high ceilings, each individually designed room has an exceptionally light and airy quality, often complemented by balconies or terraces. Terrazzo and marble flooring with patterns reflective of brushed timber are augmented by original metal details, such as iron doors with ornate muntins, and works of art by Greek painter Nikos Kanoglou, British painter Joanna Burtenshaw, and French sculptor Diane Alexandre. Further establishing a natural ambiance is the lighting design by Eleftheria Deko, an acclaimed specialist who also created the new, multiply awarded lighting for the Acropolis. In bathrooms, rain showers are stocked with luxury sustainable bath amenities, with suites featuring stunning copper soaking tubs. Combined with windows that offer sweeping mountain views, the in-room sensation is one of living within the forest, with fresh fir scents wafting in the breeze and the purified air of the Arcadian earth an inherent part of every breath.

Also deeply connected to Mother Earth is the ground-floor Manna Restaurant, where award-winning Greek chef Athinagoras Kostakos creates seasonal menus inspired by Greece and the pure, authentic foods produced from the Arcadian land. Following this ethos, dishes based on traditional recipes are executed with high-quality produce, including dairy, cold cuts, handmade pasta, and meat, from the region. In a nod to the building’s history, Manna also boasts an apothecary-style bar that serves a wide selection of malt whiskies and spirits from international and artisanal Greek producers.

Retreating to the lower level, guests can relax and rejuvenate in the Manna Wellness Hub, replete with two treatment rooms, a sauna and hammam, a gym, and a pool designed to look like a cave, with skylights letting in rays of sunlight that dance on the water’s surface.

Destination

Since antiquity, the region of Arcadia has been considered an earthly paradise, leading to the creation of the “Arcadian ideal,” also known as the “Arcadian tradition,” during the Renaissance. Today, the phrase indicates a utopic philosophy of living in absolute harmony with nature and not imposing on it—and, in turn, gaining power, health, and knowledge. Manna follows this philosophy, encouraging guests to live in direct connection with the natural surroundings, including the virgin fir forest of the Mainalo mountain, breathtaking lakes, and the crystal-clear river of Lousios. Outdoor activities include rafting, canoeing, bee harvesting, cycling, horseback riding, skiing, and trekking along the country’s most extensive network of trails. Guests can also visit nearby award-winning wineries in the region of Nemea, olive mills, and dairies; the mountain villages of Magouliana, Vytina, and Dimitsana; and historic sites like the cliffside Byzantine monasteries Prodromos and Philosophos. Despite its remote location, Manna is easily accessible: it is less than a two-hour drive from both the city of Athens and the Athens International Airport as well as from Kalamata International Airport.

Sustainability

In tune with the Arcadian ideal,  Manna has a geothermal heat pump to source heating and cooling energy requirements via Mother Earth. There is a ban on single-use plastics throughout the property, and wood is used in place of plastic wherever possible, including for keycards and state-of-the-art gym equipment. A robust recycling program has also been implemented in the restaurant’s kitchen and across the premises.

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