Even as you arrive at Euphoria Retreat, your journey of transformation begins. The densely forested mountainside of Mt Taygetus provides a majestic backdrop, rising to such a height that its peaks are still snow-capped in spring, just as the warming sunshine brings the lush valley of citrus groves and olive trees to full bloom and teases the intoxicating scents from the mountain herbs.
Presiding over the scenery, as it did during the region’s Byzantine heyday, is the medieval Castle of Mystras, with the entire mountainside on which it is perched designated an archaeological site. And somewhere within the valley flows the Eurotas River, as it did for the ancient Spartans who trained in its waters and were famed for their healthy and balanced lifestyle as long ago as the 5th century BC.
You are only 2.5hrs from Athens and less than an hour from the airport of Kalamata, on the west coast of the Peloponnese, and yet there is an other-worldly calm about Euphoria Retreat.
So unique is the natural and cultural landscape that the area of Mystras has been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once a famous political, cultural, religious and artistic centre with impressive churches, palaces, fortresses, and convents. It was here that Byzantium’s last despot, Constantine XI Palaiologos (1405-1453) was crowned emperor, and where the great neo-Platonic scholar Gemistus Pletho founded his school of philosophy before going on to revive Greek learning in Western Europe where he planted the seeds of the Renaissance.
And while seven centuries have passed since the height of Byzantium, the same aura that undoubtedly inspired the intellectual, artistic and architectural blossoming of the time continues undimmed to this day. It is this same energy that has inspired Euphoria Retreat’s architecture, with ecclesiastical arches and domes and a seamless blend of Byzantine art and Zen design giving each room a distinct character.
Embraced by nature
A private orange grove stretches out to the front, containing a garden dedicated to the five elements and their different energies. And to the rear is an extensive private forest of conifers, holly bushes and other vegetation, rising seamlessly up the slopes of Mt Taygetus which, at its full height, reaches 2,400m above sea level.
Around Euphoria Retreat, the mountain is easily accessible for biking, trekking and outdoor classes. Spring and autumn are filled with Mediterranean sunshine, the winters are mild and summer evenings are made all the more magical by a cooling, herb-infused breeze.
The relationship with nature and culture is truly symbiotic.
Further afield, the beautiful coastal town of Gytheion is just 40 minutes away by car and a day at the beach awaits you on the unspoiled island of Elafonissos during the summer, from where a 72ft yacht is available for hire. Other excursions include tours of historical landmarks of Ancient Messene, Arcadia, Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Monemvasia, always within a couple of hours’ drive
A truly immersive experience.