Elegance without emphasis. Function without flash. A symbiosis with nature.
These are a few of the hallmark qualities you’ll find at the one-of-a-kind Eagles Palace Hotel & Resort. This place exists in the only way it can, consistent with the history and culture of Athos, a mystic, awe-inspiring peninsula in Halkidiki.
Visitors will sense a wisp in the winds that run through this place. It prompts one to ponder a storied past and embrace an inviting future.
The Past Spurs Inspiration and Creation
Platonic ideas and Byzantine history struck the Tournivoukas family of hoteliers in Thessaloniki, to create this 5-star wonder near Ouranoupolis, Greece back in 1973. All we have to do is look to the past to grasp their notions.
If you take Plato’s theory of cosmology circa 360 B.C. and his belief all living things manifest a soul distinct from their physical body, you’ll have ideas others could adapt as a philosophical basis for a religion. Fast-forward 675-years.
Emperor Constantine I of the Eastern Holy Roman or Byzantine Empire embraces Christianity and supports Patriarchs who adapt Plato’s ideas as the philosophical basis for Orthodox Christianity. He sets up the ecclesiastical and civil functions in the empire to operate in harmony with one another. This triggers a precedent for Orthodoxy leading to the 1,800-year monastic presence on nearby Mount Athos.
Fast-forward to 1973. You now have the philosophical and historical backdrop for the inspiration behind Eagles Palace. But what about the name? You won’t spot Eagles flying around here.
It seems the founders drew inspiration from what they saw regularly—Orthodox Greek symbology— itself a descendant of the Byzantine era. The double-headed Eagle, a symbol from Byzantine times, represents the unity between the church and state in Greece today. It is the inspiration for the name of Eagles Palace. You’ll see a modern art likeness of this symbol at the hotel entrance.
Location Spurs Exclusivity
The Athos peninsula of Halkidiki is a place for those who endeavor, ponder and relax. We may assume Aristotle did some pondering here. He was born in the village of Stagira. It’s 49 km north of Eagles Palace or about a 10-hour walk away. But others ponder here too.
About 2,000 Orthodox Christian monks observe an ascetic life on Mount Athos not far from Eagles Palace. Mount Athos is the 1,800-year old center of Eastern Orthodox monasticism, an autonomous civil entity within Greece under the direction of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (Istanbul). It’s home to 20 monasteries.
Eagles Palace shares this rarified atmosphere with Ouranoupolis, a small village that borders an entrance to the holy mountain and is only a 5-minute drive from the hotel. The resort is built from the stuff of this land. It has a family, a genus, a species to which it belongs. Athos. Even the staff at this hotel pace the grounds with an informal but distinct reverence to the surroundings. It is as if they sense either an ancient pagan or a monotheistic God looms over them throughout each day.
Eagles Palace: A Seaside Entrance
A cheerful and helpful security staff welcomes guests to Eagles Palace. The main entrance is beachside in an access-controlled compound that spans 24.5 acres on the Aegean Sea.
Bungalows on bluffs share precious beach access with variants of high and low-rise quarters. There are 157 rooms near the beach area. Complimentary WIFI is available throughout the hotel complex. Those who stay on this side of the resort find swimming, boating, skiing, SCUBA diving, sailing, sunbathing and five, 5-Star restaurants only minutes from their rooms.
Eagles Palace is an eco-conscious operation. It isn’t enough that history and culture inspire this place. Every action taken by workers reflects a vision to contribute to a green, eco-friendly presence on the Athos peninsula.
The pride and joy of the hotel’s environmental footprint is their Blue Flag beach. Eagles Palace is the proud recipient of this award from the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature. The Blue Flag is the gold standard worldwide for environmentally safe, clean water beaches.
At the beach, you can dine at the 5-Star Armyra Fish Taverna. This is an a la carte culinary experience right on the water.
A dining jetty juts out into the Aegean Sea away from the chef’s grill. Ten 4-person beachside tables embrace guests who enjoy the rhythms of the sea while they eat. It’s a culinary experience that melds the guest to nature with foods that stem from the immediate environs.
But nature governs all that happens here. Dining at Armyra depends on the weather.
Once you wander around for a while, you can’t help but notice this place isn’t just a resort: it’s a small luxury hotel replete with services and diverse offerings. Across the street and up the hill, Eagles Palace takes on a different look from above.
Eagles Aerie: The Hilltop Villas
In the hills above the beachside complex, the new Eagles Villas stand on 54.6 acres. It is an Eagles Aerie for guests from which you can oversee the entire area. Forty-two hilltop Villas provide quarters for 130 guests. A serpentine walkway provides access to the Villas from the beachside complex. Staff is available with golf carts to aid guests.
Over the years, generations of families and friends are return customers. Some stay 30-days or more every time they visit. The Villas provide an at homelike atmosphere for those who desire extra living space.
A clubhouse the size of a small convention center is at the crown of the upper complex. Here you’ll find an indoor pool, fitness center, and a shop. You can see Ouranoupolis off to your left as you look over the Aegean from the hilltop landing. The islands of Drenia and Ammounliani demand your attention to the right of your view.
Eagles Villa’s is home to 5-star dining at the Lofos restaurant. Lofos means “hill” in modern Greek. You’ll find a breakfast buffet in this restaurant every morning.
Little Congestion, Lots Of Services
This is one resort where you won’t find yourself tripping over other guests. You’ll find ample room at the beach, the restaurants and elsewhere for a good reason.
The leadership team limits the guest complement to 360 people. A reservation system helps the staff focus and tailor services to each guest.
Correspondingly, management ensures guests will always find help nearby. A high guest to staff ratio assures, attentive service to each guest as a hotel standard.
Food services is a telling example of this small guest to staff ratio. Eagles Palace offers six 5-star restaurants spanning distinct culinary disciplines. Seventy-two chefs preside over these restaurants with a support staff of 72—a whopping ratio of .4 staff to each guest for just one service area. An executive chef presides over all operations.
- Six 5-star restaurants
- Extensive gardens with olive, palm and pine trees, beautiful flowers and herbs
- A fully-equipped water sports and scuba diving center that offers the PADI certification
- Outdoor freshwater heated pool
- Children’s swimming pool
- A Blue Flag, white sand beach
- A Kids Club (ages 4 months to 12 years) from 10:00 to 18:00 six days per week from Tuesday to Sunday
- Children’s playground
- A fitness center with Nautilus equipment
- A jewelry display and boutique shop
- A motor sailing boat (for trips around the area)
- Wireless Internet service
- Regular art exhibitions and wine tasting events
- Live music in the bar during the evening
- A chapel for weddings or christenings (orthodox as well as non-orthodox)
- A fully-equipped conference center
- A business center
Where To Go and What To Do
Eagles Palace is a destination in and of itself. But if you have an interest in exploring areas outside the complex, you’ll find the Athos peninsula offers much to embrace. Here are two candidates.
Up the road 49 km to the north, you’ll find the birthplace of Aristotle at Stagira. In 2016, a Greek researcher claimed discovery of Aristotle’s 2,400-year old burial tomb on the site. If you want to visit, you might ask the staff at the front desk for help to ensure the site is open for a visit.
Five minutes down the road in Ouranoupolis, you’ll find Athos Sea Cruises can take you on a 4-hour trip along the monastic structures that dot the holy Mount Athos. You can snap some telling photos of the monasteries from the water.
If you are an Orthodox Christian, you’ll be happy to learn this touring vessel will pause in the waters off Athos to allow an Orthodox priest to come aboard to offer blessings and a brief service. It’s common to find Russians aboard as the Russian Orthodox discipline stems from early Greek influences.
Some visitors to the Athos peninsula hike in the restricted monastic area or arrange a visit to a monastery. This requires a permit. Those who govern the holy mountain limit visitors to 100 Orthodox and ten non-Orthodox visitors per day.
In short, if you wish to visit the holy mountain, you’ll need permission from either the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens or the Ministry of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki. Only men are allowed on the holy mountain.
You can also apply to stay on the holy mountain as a pilgrim at the port office for Mount Athos in Ouranoupolis. They’ll ask you for an identity card or a passport if you are not Greek. You’ll need proof you are an Orthodox Christian to proceed.
If Plato were alive today, we might see him speaking to us via a video stream from the Villas. Did he foresee others might adapt his theory of cosmology as the philosophical basis for a monotheistic religion? After all, it was his vision of a great artisan craftsman who created all that exists.
We might find Plato would remind us of the lasting value memory imprints play on the soul. A visit to the Athos peninsula and Eagles Palace forms memory imprints for legions of guests who return year after year for decades. One just cannot visit this area and leave without the haunting desire for a return visit.
When To Go
Eagles Palace opens on March 27th and closes on November 5th every year. You’ll find most activities are available from late May through early September, depending on the weather. It is a destination in and of itself and a great choice for the traveler looking for this feature.
Destination wedding planners and those with conferencing duties will find Eagles Palace offers a unique context for events that will create a lifetime of memories.
How To Get There
International visitors can fly into Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG), rent-a-car and, drive to Eagles Palace. It’s about a two-hour drive from the airport to the hotel.
Consider Economy Car Rentals for your rental car vendor. If you plan to stay in the country more than 30-days, you’ll find rental through them useful as many brand name rental car agencies limit rentals to no more than 30-days. This recommendation stems from personal experience.
Tel: +30 23774 40060 & +30 23770 31070
Mount Athos Access Contacts
Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Directorate of Churches
#2, Zalokosta Street
Ministry of Northern Greece
Directorate of Civil Affairs
- Aegean Air
- Aegean Air Mobile App (Google-Android)
- Aegean Air Mobile App (Apple)
- Athens International Airport
- Athens International Airport App (Apple)
- Athens International Airport App (Google)
- Economy Car Rentals
- Greek Blue Flag Beaches
- Hellenic Ferry system
- Thessaloniki International Airport
The author is the source of all photos in this article unless cited otherwise. All rights as specified on publication. The images of Plato and the double-headed Eagle are in the public domain and stem from commons.wikimedia.org.
The author thanks Pass Partout-Tourism Marketing and the Halkidiki Tourism Organization, Thessaloniki, Greece for sponsoring his visit to the Eagles Palace. The assessments in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the Eagles Palace hotel, management or owners, or Pass Partout-Tourism Marketing or the Halkidiki Tourism Organization.