The Greek island of Ios has never had a great reputation. Eclipsed in the Cyclades chain by its more famous, more luxurious neighbors Mykonos and Santorini and still carrying the image of both the hippie hangout it was in the 1970’s and the young partying spot it still is in some spots, the island has mostly been ignored by upscale developers. But that has been an advantage, according to Angelos Michalopoulos, Athens-based international trader and owner with his wife Vassiliki Petridou of the hotel/restaurant group Luxurios which opened the first five star resort on the island, Calilo, in July.
“When we first came over in 2003 from a nearby island, we were looking for someplace to build a house,” he explains. “After 20 minutes, we saw six, seven beaches that were completely deserted which I’d never seen especially in islands between the two most popular. I went around a half an hour more and saw 32 beaches and only three of them were commercially exploited. I couldn’t believe it…most islands are victims of their own success. But this island was untouched. A paradise in the middle of one of the most exploited areas in the world. “
So the two started buying land, eventually cobbling together 6500 acres, roughly a quarter of the island, sometimes negotiating with hundreds of owners on a single parcel of land. But the purpose wasn’t to develop, it was to preserve and protect the natural splendor and prevent it from becoming overdeveloped like its neighbor Santorini. Only 1% is earmarked for development, with their popular party scene bars Pathos Lounge Bar and Restaurant, EREGO Beach Club and Restaurant, Free Beach Bar and Restaurant, restaurant Taste of Joy and hotels Agalia Luxury Suites and now Calilo providing revenue for their conservation projects including the transport of 60,000 trees and 550 ancient olive trees from the mainland that were destined to be firewood.