One&Only Kéa Island GM Jerome Colson on why the shiny new Greek resort is the definitive place to be this summer and beyond

He shares his favourite (and secret) discoveries that are unique to Kéa.

Colson previously opened Southeast Asia's first One&Only property at Desaru Coast, Johor (All photos: One&Only Kéa Island)

Options: Congratulations on opening one of the most eagerly anticipated resorts in Europe and just in time for the summer season, too. Tell us what the ultra-luxury hotel seeker can expect.
Jerome Colson: 
One&Only Kéa Island opened on June 1. A unique destination with many stories to tell, it remains an undiscovered destination, just a 30-minute speedboat ride from Athens. We are committed to showcasing this untouched gem’s authenticity, intriguing culture, history, beaches, villages and local atmosphere. The resort itself is located on a 65ha cliffside expanse, which promises discretion, seclusion and authentic Aegean living in its purest form.

Our guests can savour local, seasonal produce in the airy restaurants and bars, and explore Kéa’s natural and cultural wonders via curated experiences. The three-storey One&Only Spa is a holistic haven offering signature treatments inspired by Greek mythology, but which are also based on Ayurvedic principles and the healing benefits of natural active ingredients. The cliffside Club One has inspiring activities for all ages with tennis and padel courts, e-bikes, a Kids Club and One Tribe, a dedicated teens’ area complete with a half-size basketball court.

You probably know every inch of the island by now. Tell us about some of your favourite (and secret) discoveries that are unique to Kéa.
I would definitely start with a hike to Karthea, whose ancient ruins are only accessible on foot. It’s an amazing experience. One&Only Kéa Island also offers curated exclusive activities for our guests to explore the island, including hiking tours or e-bike rides to the Monastery of Kastriani and the town of Ioulida. Diving and discovering the historical Patris shipwreck is a breathtaking experience, while an evening walk at sunset to the lighthouse in Vourkari is the best way to end your day.


One&Only Kéa Island

What does Kéa mean and what is its place in Greece’s long and ancient history and geography?
Kéa, also known as Tzia, is the closest Cycladic island to Athens. Its rich culture is steeped in the remnants of ancient civilisations, evident in the archaeological sites that dot its landscape. During the Archaic period, Kéa was known as Tetrapolis (which means “four cities”) because on the island were founded four city states, Ioulida,Korissos, Karthaia and Piiessa, with separate administrative structures but usually a united presence in their foreign policy. From prehistoric settlements to majestic temples and ancient walls, Kéa’s archaeological treasures offer a glimpse into its storied past. Beyond its historical significance, Kéa enchants visitors with stunning beaches, clear waters and charming villages, making it a haven for travellers seeking relaxation and exploration. It boasts a unique blend of culture, history and natural beauty.

There is also another One&Only resort in Athens to complement Kéa Island?
Yes, One&Only Aesthesis, in the coastal neighbourhood of Glyfada, in southern Athens, that opened last November. Both ultra-luxury resorts perfectly complement each other — one on the Athenian Riviera, just 30 minutes from the city, offers guests the opportunity to discover the world-famous ancient history and culture of Athens from a glamorous and secluded beachfront base, while One&Only Kéa Island is an authentic and undiscovered island escape. Together, they present the quintessential twin-centre Greek experience.


The one-bedroom cliff villas flaunt cinematic sea views

You opened the first One&Only property in Southeast Asia at Desaru Coast, Johor. What are some of your favourite Malaysian memories?
Malaysia’s vibrant culture, warm hospitality and breathtaking landscapes left an indelible mark on me. Among my fondest memories are the tantalising flavours of nasi lemak, a beloved dish that embodies the country’s culinary diversity and richness; and the multicultural environment, where Malay, Indian and Chinese influences converge harmoniously. This enriched my understanding of diversity and inclusion. Beyond these, the friendships I formed with the local community and my colleagues were incredibly meaningful. Malaysia holds a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for it all.

What are you reading right now?
I am currently diving into The Serendipity Mindset by Dr Christian Busch, who was a speaker at our recent Kerzner International Leadership Conference in March. It is an insightful exploration of how embracing serendipity can lead to unexpected opportunities and personal growth.

What are you listening to right now?
I am enjoying the soothing vibes of Ethnic Deep House music, especially during the tranquil moments of sunset. It is a perfect soundtrack for unwinding and immersing myself in the beauty of the evening.


The hotel's private beach overlooks the Aegean Sea

Opening hotels usually mean no holidays but what are your upcoming travel plans looking like?
Yes, opening new hotels typically means limited holiday opportunities, but I’m eagerly anticipating a journey to the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest in Rwanda. I have long dreamt of hiking the mountains to meet the majestic animals. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with nature in its purest form and witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.

Describe your idea of a perfect weekend.
It would combine outdoor adventures with cherished moments of relaxation and quality time with loved ones. I would kick-start the weekend with an invigorating 100km-plus bicycle ride along the outskirts of Athens or a scenic 25km trail run through the surrounding mountains, immersing myself in the beauty of nature and pushing my physical limits. This would be followed by a leisurely afternoon beach nap, soaking in the sun and the soothing sounds of the waves. Spending precious time with my two daughters fills my heart with joy and laughter, creating unforgettable memories together. As the evening approaches, I would enjoy a classic Negroni as a prelude to dinner shared with Greek friends, enjoying the flavours of authentic local cuisine. Then the best way to wrap up the weekend is a Sunday evening sunset walk along the Vouliagmeni hills.  


This article first appeared on May 27, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.

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