There is more to Greece than white walls and a blue sea

Flick through any global, glossy travel magazine and Greece features prominently in white and blue. Well, it’s time to add a few more colors to the country of white-washed island walls and endless blue sea, and a brand-new book makes the point. Barnabe Publishers’ first-ever edition, «Escape in Greece» (written in Greek and English), offers an insightful take on the exciting developments in the Greek hotel industry. Lying behind the new publishing house are two young people, Vaya Pierrakou and Olivier Blettner. Educated in France and Belgium in French literature and the history of art, Pierrakou was previously public relations manager of Patakis Editions, while Blettner, who studied history, archaeology and the history of art, was a consultant at Kastaniotis Press. «The idea is to present Greek hotels regardless of star ratings, but rather as spaces offering a particular aesthetic,» Pierrakou told Kathimerini English Edition. «That is why the book is not about basic hotel standards, but rather about strong photographs which provide the dimension of style and reinforce the owners’ personal vision.» For this first edition, author Rolly Zaracoudi, decorator and stylist, writes about 34 hotels and resorts: Here’s the stunning Mykonos Blue resort, offering the quintessential Cycladic colors; the flamboyant, terracotta shades of the Marco Polo mansion in Rhodes; the historical 19th-century Zannos Melathron with its painted ceilings in Santorini; the mountainous, natural atmosphere of the Hellas Country Club in Karpenisi; and the new elegance of city hotels such as the Capsis Bristol in Thessaloniki. There is good attention to detail here, as during the making of the book the young publishers were present at every single shooting. All of the book’s photographs (except for a few which are mentioned in the credits) were taken by Greek photographer Katerina Marianou. The major strength of «Escape in Greece» lies in the diversity of establishments it includes, which though varying in character and services, ultimately demonstrate their forward-looking nature. «From five-star resorts such as the Elounda Bay Palace to the ecological Milia, also in Crete, these two establishments share a vision and special attention to design,» said Pierrakou. Meanwhile, though floating along the lines of international editions such as those of the Hip Hotels series, for instance, the book’s character remains Greek. «We were upset not to find Greek hotels in more international editions,» said Pierrakou. Indeed, in the Hip Hotels series, for instance, only one Greek establishment is included in the budget edition. Furthermore, said Pierrakou, the book does not aim to provide a straightforward catalogue of destinations when planning a vacation, but rather a coffee-table item to keep at home. Published in January 2002 and currently on sale at a select number of prominent bookstores, such as Eleftheroudakis and Papasotiriou, the book is doing well locally. The next step is to promote it abroad, making use of its bilingual character. «We are looking at promoting the book abroad,» said Pierrakou, citing publications such as Wallpaper, Conde Nast Traveler and House and Garden. «Our aim is to show that Greece is not just about cheap tourism, that we have gone beyond rooms to let.» A lot of hard work lies ahead for the partners as they gear up to tackle future projects, which include a fresh edition of «Escape in Greece» – this time featuring new hotels – as well as books dedicated to decoration, art, and industrial design. For all projects, researching the material is the basis. «This book developed from an idea, which was to locate various sources of design in this country,» said Pierrakou. «And there are many more out there.»