Villa Gaia Rock: perfect harmony in Corfu
Blend in with your surroundings at the new Villa Gaia Rock in Corfu.
Waking up at Villa Gaia Rock, a new luxury villa on the Greek island of Corfu, is a little like waking up between the pages of an interior design magazine. The objets d’art dotted around the master bedroom complement the overall “minimalism meets beach house” look. Outside the French doors, there are a couple of chairs and a little table turned towards the view. And behind those, there is an outdoor shower. But for the moment, the shutters are drawn and the room is dark. I slip on my sandals and wander out into the living room. There, framed by the floor-to-ceiling window and backlit by the blinding light of day, is the magnificent Ionian Sea. It is perfectly still. Even the boats are still, and the whole appears as in a painting.
I head into the galley kitchen, with its new induction hob and oven, grab a coffee from the bean-to-cup machine, and push through the doors onto the outside terrace – not forgetting my sunglasses along the way. There is a dining table, and beyond that a snug covered lounge area with stone-coloured cushions and minimalist rattan chairs arranged around a coffee table. In the corners hang speakers that you can connect to via your phone and listen to music in the warm evenings over coffee, and a chilled glass of the local kumquat liqueur. But for the moment, it is still morning, and the crickets are already up, serenading the arrival of the day and the heat it has brought with it. The cobalt sky heralds another hot day on the island.
Villa Gaia Rock is located close to the village of Nisaki, in the northeast of Corfu, carved out of the side of the hill that runs down to the water. The stone has been reclaimed for the walls of the villa, the sides of the terrace and infinity pool overlooking the olive trees in the Mediterranean garden. The effect is almost chameleon-like. When the sun sets, the sky softens and blends with the water in the pool and the motionless sea, so that only the thin sliver of land that runs passed old Corfu Town, and the hazy outline of the Albanian hills, define the horizon.
A cosy cottage
The property also comes with a cottage, its back wall shared with the outdoor lounge area. Katerina, a furniture and interior designer, who owns the villa with her husband, explains that the idea was to give the property the sense of there being a collection of buildings, as with a village and its cosy spirit of community. The private road outside the cottage winds down the hill towards the shoreline and Villa Gaia Rock’s bigger sister property, Villa Gaia Sea, along with the jetty from where boats can be rented. Small beaches lie a couple of minutes’ walk in either direction. One is popular with locals and families, with a restaurant and bar. The other is more secluded, lying close to Villa Gaia Rock. Larger parties can rent both properties together, and in the summer months they are catered for.
For my two companions and me that meant local chef Marios was on hand to prepare a selection of Greek and Corfiot mezze dishes one evening. There was nouboulo, a traditional cured pork from the island, served with melon, a feta mousse with kumquat jam, a mixed-leaf salad in a fermented-fig and ouzo dressing, smoked aubergine and tzatziki dips, followed by a rich red wine and tomato beef pastitsada, and a velvety wine and garlic veal sofrito. Both of these dishes are so representative of Corfu. For dessert, baklava and an orange pie in filo pastry with ice cream.
Here, at the round wooden table beside the pool, with Albania and the Corfiot coastline settling down for the night, we ate by candlelight, drinking glass after cold glass of Pontiglio white wine made from the local kakotrygis grape. Meanwhile, out in the bay, a pair of dolphins threaded their way through the water.
Chris was a guest of Villa Collective. A week at Villa Gaia Rock, sleeping eight, costs from €6,000 to €18,000. See villacollective.com/villa/Gaia Rock