The Insider’s Guide to Mykonos: Kalesma’s Aby Saltiel

Hotelier, restaurateur and former fashion executive Aby Saltiel is the co-owner and visionary behind Kalesma, a design-focused, soulful sanctuary set atop a hill overlooking Ornos Bay in Mykonos. Born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece, Aby grew up spending summers in Mykonos, and that familial warmth is what sets Kalesma apart (Aby can often be found welcoming guests and having dinner with new friends at the restaurant, and he's based on-property all season). Here, he shares his guide to the “real” side of the island, including the places to eat and explore off the beaten path.

Indagare Intel: Kalesma has just added a holistic spa for the summer season, featuring a sauna, hammam and cold plunge; a fitness studio with personal trainers; two treatment rooms; and an exclusive Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare menu. Plus, stay tuned for more news about an exciting expansion to the property (at a more approachable price point), coming next year. Kalesma has availability through the summer for last-minute Greece getaways—email to inquire!

There is an energy there. I get to work in a place that is magic.

Aby Saltiel

Your background is originally in fashion (as the name behind French label Equipment). What prompted you to break into hospitality?

AS: I traveled all year round, all over the world, for my work in fashion, and I was always critical of hotels (and obsessed with design and service), so I wanted to create an environment that would be up to my satisfaction. Aesthetics have always been a part of my life—in clothes, art and the environments I place myself in (showrooms, stores and homes)—so the idea was to create a hotel that felt like an extension of my home, but pulling ideas and notes from all of my experiences around the globe, together with the talent of local artisans and chefs, to create a truly authentic Greek experience with a level of service unparalleled in the Cyclades.

You first launched your restaurants Pere Ubu and Sea Spice in Athens. Why did you choose Mykonos for your first hotel?

AS: The vibe—It has been there since I can remember (the first time was in 1971!). People from all around the world come to Mykonos because it is a unique place that can satisfy all tastes.

You often say that Kalesma invites guests to discover the “real” Mykonos. Do you think the island is misunderstood?

AS: Yes, the island is misunderstood. Most people think of it as a party island, but it is so much more. I know so many families that spend every summer on this island, including mine. That is the reason there are so many homes on the island. (And, interestingly, the majority of the most valuable homes are owned by women today—since historically, the estates that were higher up, where the farmland is, were passed on to sons, and the "less productive" land on the water was given to daughters.) In Mykonos you can have anything you want, 24/7. You can go to the most chic beach with a Louis Vuitton boutique a few feet away or take your towel and some water and walk to a deserted beach. The whole island is about choice, which is something you cannot really find anywhere else.

If you could describe Kalesma with only three words, what would they be?

AS: Serenity in the middle of craziness.

What is your favorite spot on the property?

AS: Sitting at the bar with my coffee watching the sunrise.

What is something that you find guests are surprised by upon arrival?

AS: Not surprised but impressed—The view as you walk out of the lobby. From the same spot, you can watch the sun rise in the morning with a coffee, and then watch it set in the evening with a cocktail. We look upon the island of Delos—the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, in Greek mythology, and it's one of the most sunlit places in the world.

Aby's Guide to Mykonos

  • FOR BREAKFAST: Of course, Kalesma, as we have one of the best breakfasts on the island, with amazing sea views—or Liberty on top of the town of Mykonos.
  • FOR LUNCH: For a casual lunch with friends and family, Nicolas Tavern on the beach, or in town at Casarma at the old port.
  • FOR DINNER: We always go to Tsaf in Ano Mera for fish, or a small authentic Mykonian restaurant run by twin brothers in the middle of town called To Maereio. The most romantic place for dinner is Zuma at sunset—amazing views and great location. I also like Noema in town.
  • FOR DRINKS: Bar 180 because of the amazing sunset and great music.
  • FOR NIGHTLIFE: It depends on the day of the week, but Scorpios and Alemagou have the best DJs play there for the beach parties. You always have to know which day to go, but Saturday is amazing at Scorpios, because they have DJ Valeron, who plays Greek music accompanied by a band that plays Greek traditional instruments.
  • FOR SHOPPING: Minas is a jewelry shop that is synonymous with the island, with pieces of amazing, fluid design that are timeless, mostly in silver.
  • FOR CULTURE & HISTORY: For sure Delos, the island across from us, which is one of the most important locations of ancient Greece, and the birthplace of Apollo. There is lots of history and even an ancient synagogue there.
  • FAVORITE EVENT: On the 15th of August at the square in Ano Mera, the celebration of Saint Maria is one of the holiest days in Greece, with a big communal party that goes on until the morning hours.
  • WHERE TO WANDER: Going to town around 9:00 p.m. and walking around at the location of Matogianni Street is great for people watching and shopping.
  • FOR A DOSE OF NATURE/ADVENTURE: The Armenistis lighthouse has amazing views of the Cycladic Islands. Also, charter a boat and spend the day at Rinia, for Caribbean-looking waters, with deserted beaches—the island is uninhabited.
  • FAVORITE HOTELS (BESIDES KALESMA): The Four Seasons Astir Palace in Vouliagmeni Attica, about 20 miles from Athens, has an amazing location on the beach. Manna in the mainland up on the mountains near Vitina offers amazing nature and great food.
  • FAVORITE ISLANDS (BEYOND MYKONOS): Koufonisia is a small island not far from Mykonos that is very popular with Greeks. Spetses is another island popular with Greeks with a long history, no cars and a lot of activities for families. Corfu and Hydra have always been stylish.
  • WHAT TO READ/WATCH: My favorite writer is Nikos Kazantzakis, known for Zorba the Greek, but my favorite book of his is The Last Temptation Of Christ. You should also watch the 1982 romantic comedy called Summer Lovers.

Plus, Aby's Athens Tips:

  • For fun, try our restaurants-bars in Glyfada, Pere Ubu and Sea Spice. Both places have great vibes with DJs and Greek music that often turn into dance parties late into the night.
  • A new favorite is Dopios. Its elevated Greek food is always a hit with guests visiting Athens.
  • The Black Salami in the middle of Athens makes the best sandwiches I have ever had. They bake their own bread daily from scratch.
  • They serve very creative food at Ex Machina.
  • For fish, I go to Varoulko at Pireas.
  • Night spots (with great food) in the middle of Athens are Malconi’s and Zurbaran.
  • The Dolli is a charming boutique hotel looking right onto the Parthenon and Acropolis.


Kalesma Mykonos

Kalesma Mykonos Outdoor Restaurant

Just two miles from the heart of Mykonos, overlooking the peaceful Ornos Bay, Kalesma is a boutique resort that feels utterly cool and fresh—thanks to architecture by K-Studio and interiors by Greek designer Vangelis Bonios. It gives a taste of the Mykonos scene, without being in the center of it. With only 25 suites (each with their own personal pool and terrace) and two 2,600-square-foot villas, Kalesma invites the romantic, family or social traveler. The resort concept radiates the full warmth of Greek hospitality across its five acres of hillside grounds, through such traditions as family-style dinners and sunset dance parties at the panoramic restaurant Pere Ubu. Wake up every morning to the smell of lavender, honeysuckle and freshly baked horiatiko bread (there’s a brick oven on property, manned by a local breadmaker).



Explore the Indagare Guide to Mykonos, Greece—with expert advice on where to stay, eat, shop and more. For personalized, full-service assistance with custom itinerary planning, contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to get started.

Published onApril 11, 2024

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