Aressana Spa Hotel, Santorini: Tefsion Kallos Signature Massage

Joanna Reeves eases her post-run aches with the Tefsion Kallos Signature Massage

By Joanna Reeves
Published 16 Mar 2016, 10:00 GMT

Pounding along the narrow clifftop path ringing Santorini's west coast, I glance nervously at the alarmingly low, crumbling brick wall to my left. It's all that separates me from a vertiginous flank of the caldera that tumbles 1,000ft into a midnight-blue sea stretching to the horizon. Looking right, I squint into the glare of the early-morning sun bouncing off whitewashed buildings — blue domes bobbing in and out of view. On I run, weaving through early risers strolling between bars, restaurants, boutiques and galleries, my trainers slapping loudly on the cobbles. Turning a sharp bend, I find myself face-to-tail with the back end of a mule — a rather disgruntled-looking mule, I realise, as he peers around at me. He's bringing up the rear of a line of 10, tethered together behind a short, wiry farmer. As I follow at mule pace, they bicker among themselves — ears flattened, teeth bared — like bored siblings play fighting in a queue for ice cream. Suddenly, the man shouts something in Greek, and with a slap on their hindquarters, the mules leap forward, one by one disappearing off the cliff edge in a cloud of dust. I retreat to a cafe's empty terrace and glance over the edge. Hooves clip-clopping and tails swishing, the mules trot down a steep path of uneven stairs cut into the cliffside — a sprinkling of walkers hugging the wall in their wake — before disappearing from view.

Jogging slowly back to Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites — the boutique hotel I'm bedding down at in the heart of the capital — I retreat on aching legs to the Tefsion Kallos Spa. It's a treasure trove of shimmering, gold-flecked walls and floors, jars of aromatic lavender and glass water bowls filled with local volcanic stones and floating candles.

“Would you like hot stones?” Ada, my therapist, asks as I lay face down on the treatment couch. Exclusive to Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites, the Tefsion Kallos Signature Massage also includes Swedish techniques, Thai stretching and foot massage. But it's 24C outside and I'm unsure if my sun-scorched skin can cope with any more heat. But I needn't have worried. As Ada sweeps the stones around my shoulder blades, adeptly working out the knots in my neck, the muscle-melting warmth flows blissfully through my skin – a weirdly refreshing feeling, like drinking hot tea on a hot day. Sixty minutes later, the gentle tinkling of Tibetan cymbals awakens me from my blissful doze.

Blinking away my massage haze, I head outside to a cool, calming space where I find an aromatic steam room and smooth thermal beds. But I can't resist the indoor whirlpool bath shimmering temptingly under a twinkling canopy of tiny lights suspended from the ceiling. After a wallow in the bubbling water, I feel refreshed enough to brave a dip under the waterfall in the hotel's outdoor pool. A few petals float down from the cloud of fuschia bougainvillaea climbing seductively up the hotel's whitewashed walls, settling on the water as though scattered on a spa bath.

Colourful petals reappear later on the menu at Ifestioni restaurant, where I settle on the outdoor terrace. The tiny flowers decorate melt-in-the-mouth dishes that look as good as they taste: scallops flavoured with orange and chilli, followed by seabass with wild greens and cauliflower puree. A guitar player serenades us as we eat. After my meal, sipping on a lychee martini, a warm breeze dancing across my shoulders, I ask Viola, the friendly head of house, about the mules. “They carry those travellers who can't face walking the 600 steps from Fira down to the old port of Ormos,” she explains. From there, you can hop on a boat to visit the Nea Kameni volcano and the hot springs at Palia Kameni, she adds. But there's also a cable-car that whisks travellers up and down the cliffside in minutes. And, right now, with aching calves and full of food, that's exactly how I plan to tackle the cliff the next morning.


A double room, on a B&B basis, at Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites from £78 a night in summer (off-peak), rising to £269 (peak). The Tefsion Kallos Signature Massage costs from £71 for 60 minutes.


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