5 Minutes with Christiana Papageorgiou of Santa Marina, Mykonos

Words by
Christiana Papageorgiou

31st May 2024

Christiana Papageorgiou, owner of Mykonos resort Santa Marina, delves into her first memories of the island's leading luxury hotel, as well as exciting things to come for guests and her top tips on how to best spend a visit to the classically charming Greek island destination.

In a few words, the concept behind Santa Marina is… tightly woven into the story of today’s Mykonos, pioneering five-star experiences on the island and setting the standard for over forty years. It’s also a family story that began in 1979, when my father purchased a then non-descript patch of the island featuring a simple house, chapel and windmill. Today, Santa Marina is the perfect blend of heritage and modern luxury. Our guests come to fully switch off at the hotel’s elegant accommodations with mesmerising sea views. They come to soak in the sun and refresh with a swim at our private beach, or enjoy one of our restaurants, Elais and Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos. Our guests’ stays are also enriched with experiences at our Gingko Spa, state of the art Technogym, with games of tennis or when simply unwinding with a drink in hand at the Oasis pool, enjoying the soft pink colours of sunset. Above all, the experience of Santa Marina is a personal matter with a sense of belonging.

Christiana Papageorgiou Santa Marina Mykonos - Elais Restaurant
Elais Restaurant at Santa Marina Mykonos

My earliest memory of Santa Marina is… when it first opened as 12 charming one- to two-bedroom bungalows near our original home, in 1986. I remember clients having breakfast in our pool and playing with the other children of the first wonderful families that came to stay.

A new addition to Santa Marina this summer is… our lovingly renovated traditional Mykonian Windmill. This unique suite is part of the special heritage of Santa Marina for guests to experience. It features three floors of curved walls and a rounded staircase, with a creamy porcelain feel, (inherited from the Cycladic architecture) and is dressed in pared down earthy fabrics, all softly lit in the evenings by lanterns and up lighting on its coned ceiling.  

Santa Marina Christiana Papageorgiou - windmill living room
Inside the renovated Mykonian Windmill suite, inspired by Cycladic architecture

I have learned that the secret ingredient to mastering five-star hospitality is… not about mastering numbers. I have been privileged enough to be able to build upon the foundations of a unique location and the heritage of Santa Marina, with our own beach on our private peninsula with inspiring sea views. But above all is the sense of experience, honouring the special time our guests dedicate when they visit us and the warmth of the people who are there to make this happen by attending to every single need and detail. I am very proud of our team.

One food I could never deprive myself of is… my favourite summer cocktail at the Buddha Bar – The Kyoto!

My favourite Mykonos restaurant would have to be… a tavern in Mykonos town. It embodies the old spirit of Mykonos for me and I love the simplicity.

My favourite area in Mykonos is… Mykonos town, late in the evenings, in the quieter months or a beach that has few people, no music and no sunchairs. Just to enjoy the nature and a long swim. The sea in Greece is a special part of our summers – it plays an important role in my life and for most Greek people.

Christiana Papageorgiou Santa Marina Mykonos - Christiana Portrait
Christiana Papageorgiou, Owner of Santa Marina

If someone visiting Mykonos is looking for a different experience, a secret tip that I would give them is… to take a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delos, which is just a 20-minute boat ride from Santa Marina, it is an unmissable experience. The island is known as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis according to Greek mythology. Once the greatest port in the ancient world, it features well-preserved houses with mosaics, an ancient theatre, and an old market, attracting visitors eager to explore its history and beauty. It is the island of light, rightly known for its special energy and the island that is the centre of the Cyclades (Cyclades means circling Delos).

I also recommend swimming around the uninhabited, sandy coves and turquoise waters of Rhenia Island which can be reached by speed boat or spending the day on one of our traditional Kaiki boats.

My favourite months of the year are... September and October. After the more intense summer crowds have left, but there is still warmth in the sea and the light is softer. I can still relish the special summer days and nights.