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Zorbathes Villas & Retreat

Skiathos

Skiathos, Greek island, Greece, Islands, Villas,Zorbathes is a peaceful valley which is hidden close to the center of Skiathos Island. It is green & fertile & surrounded by pine forests. Through the bottom of the valley run stream beds whose banks are covered by an abundance of wild flowers & ferns, & are shaded by massive plane trees. Our end of the island, which is closest to the Pelion Peninsula, receives a goodly amount of winter rain & the lushness of the valley & the surrounding pine forests reflect this. It is an ideal place to grow organic vegetables & that is what we have been doing, commercially, for the last 12 years.

We (Lida & Geof Baldry) have lived here for over 20 years & have spent that time creating an environment which has all the creature comforts but still feels like the unspoiled Greece which we have come to love. We started with no road, no water & no house, but we dug our own well & carried the materials for our first (wooden) house by horse & donkey along the narrow track that eventually became our road. We now have 3 very solid houses built of stone & wood, bricks & mortar (see description of houses later), running water, electricity, telephone & even an internet connection, but we have a special appreciation of all these "normal" things by having had to struggle hard to achieve them. We have come to value the peace & quiet here, above everything else. One can find more than enough noise pollution & stress in this ever faster moving world of ours, but places where one can truly relax are becoming few & far between.

Although it has that "far from the madding crowd" feeling, Zorbathes is, in fact, only 5 minutes by car to the nearest shops, 10 minutes to the island's best beaches & 20 minutes to the town. To find Zorbathes, take the main road from Skiathos town in the direction of Koukounaries for approximately 10 kilometres & then take the right turn in the direction of Kounistra Monastery & Asselinos Beach. Here there are supermarkets & many tavernas. Following the Asselinos road for 2 kilometers the road forks right to the Monastery & left to Asselinos. 20 meters before this fork, on the right, is the road to Zorbathes which is clearly marked with a large blue sign. Follow this for 1 kilometre & you will arrive at our land.

This summer we have added a pool!

The HOUSES
Skiathos, Greek island, Greece, Islands, Villas,We have endeavored to build our houses from as much native material as possible, with rock from Skiathos & pine & chestnut wood from Pelion. We have learned as we have gone along with many mistakes & frustrations (but isn't that what learning as all about?) & we feel that we have now achieved a fairly close harmony between nature's beauty & man's necessities. All of our buildings, except The Apartment, have open log fires which we love to sit in front of, with a glass of wine from our own grapes, on a cold winter's day. They are all insulated, with double glazing, to keep them warm in winter & cool in summer. We have planted fruit trees & flowering shrubs around them to complement & enhance the existing pine & olive trees. We also use grape vines for shade as they produce a wonderfully deep, but dappled shade in the summer & then allow the winter sun through after their leaves have dropped. (They also provide us with the grapes from which we make our wine & we can understand how the ancient Greeks regarded the vine as a gift of the gods.)

The Farmhouse 
---For 6 to 8 people 

Skiathos, Greek island, Greece, Islands, Villas,We built The Farmhouse in traditional style in rock, wood & stucco, natural slate & tiles. Internally we have laid floors of wood & terra-cotta tiles. The cupboards & kitchen furniture are all hand made in pinewood. Outside is a large shady patio of Pelion slate, with a barbecue, & a lawn with shade from cypress, olive & fig trees. Creeping up the walls are bougainvillea, jasmine, honey-suckle & oleanders, & the patio is surrounded by pot-plants & flowering shrubs.  
 

The accommodation consists of a large, fully equipped kitchen, with steps leading down to "The Snug" where the fireplace is situated. There is a bathroom with bath & shower, & a smaller toilet with hand-basin upstairs. Downstairs there are 2 double bedrooms & upstairs is another double bedroom & a small, 1 person, sleeping "loft" (ideal for a child). There is ample room for 1 or 2 beds to be added should it be necessary for a large family or group. We built this house for when one of our daughters gets married & Lida has made it into a "home" rather than a "rental. All our clients have commented on it's cosy feeling.

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The Barn
For 4 to 5 people

The Barn at Zorbathes in SkaithosThe Barn is so called because it originally started it's life as a place to store hay & grain for our horse, donkey, goats & chickens. However, as we gradually switched our source of income from animals to the organic garden, we slowly converted The Barn into the modern house which it has now become. It is surrounded by fruit trees, oleanders, virginia creeper, vines & flowering shrubs. There is a shady patio & another sitting area under the shade of a large pine tree. Interior of the Barn at Zorbathes in SkiathosWe have incorporated as much wood, terra-cotta & native materials as was possible during the conversion & it has developed a distinctive character all of it's own. The accommodation consists of a fully equipped kitchen & open-plan living room with french doors leading out to the patio. There is a bathroom with shower & the possibility to have an outside shower. The main bedroom has a double bed & the other bedroom has 2 bunk beds. There is a couch in the living room which converts to an extra bed & a small sleeping "loft" which sleeps 1 comfortably or 2 "cosily". This is an ideal house for a family of 4 to 6 or a small group who know each other well. 

Skiathos, Greek island, Greece, Islands, Villas,"Geoff, our time on Skiathos fulfilled our every expectation and then some. This was in no small part due to your wonderful accomodation and your hospitality. It makes all the difference in the world if one feels welcome and you and Lida have that down to a fine art. What you have created in the Zorbathes Valley is very special: I'm quite sure many others have said the same thing. What is so patently obvious is that the stone house is not just that, its a home. For us it was the quantum difference between straightforward accomodation and a quality experience."

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ZORBATHES AS A RETREAT It has been suggested to us that we have, in Zorbathes, an ideal set up for a retreat for various sort of workshops or "mini therapy center" or simply a place for groups that need a quiet environment to achieve particular goals that need minimal distractions. The suggestion was made by friends who are therapists & with whom we worked together at "Amethyst", which was a center set up on Skiathos for the treatment of drug, alcohol & other life-disturbing problems. Unfortunately "Amethyst" did not make sufficient money to continue, but we, & several other people living here, derived a lot of information about ourselves, & our abilities to help people with problems, which was of immense value to us. This is not to say that we set ourselves up as therapists or counselors, but that we know how to create and work within an environment that would help people to grow in whatever way they had chosen.

With our 2 houses, we could house a group of up to 14, plus 2 leaders who could have their own accommodation in the apartment attached to our house. We would be willing to work in conjunction with the leaders, providing basic necessities for the smooth flow of work & perhaps providing an evening communal meal. We have 2 telephone lines, fax, e-mail & internet access, video playback facilities & a willingness to work within any reasonable schedule that could be set up.

Skiathos itself has much to offer, even out of the normal May to October tourist season. There is an excellent tennis club, many beautiful walks, places of historic interest & trips to neighboring islands, to mention but a few.

We would be grateful for any feedback on this idea that anyone has to offer.

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