Santorini

Santorini

I'm stretched out on a giant sunbed at a cliff-top infinity pool, perched 300 feet above the shimmering Aegean Sea, munching a honeydrenched baklava that a young Adonis clad in white has just brought me, along with iced drinks. I can't think of one good reason to move from this spot at the Kirini Hotel, particularly now that the late afternoon light has lost its silver haze and the colors are taking on a deeper hue. Let's face it: The island of Santorini is all about sea gazing, mesmerizing panoramic views and sunset rituals (allegedly some of the world's best sunset views are taken in with a glass of wine from the cliffs on this island).

Before me is a dreamy vista encompassing a half-immersed crater and volcanic islands.

To the right is the authentic, white-and-blue-domed village of Oia, a treasure trove of craft shops where you can pick up anything from wooden worry beads and handwoven rugs to lovely coral and vintage amber necklaces.

When I wake up early the next day, I'm met by a soothing medley of sea green, soft blues and lavenders during breakfast on the terrace; honey and yogurt have never tasted so good. I feel suspended in air, as if on the prow of a ship, a feeling caused by the way Kirini is carved into the redbrown cliffs on the rim of the caldera. From my point of view, the hotel is a multilevel, dazzling, whitewashed labyrinth of terraces, alcoves and steep stone stairs -- I wisely left the stiletto mules at home.

That evening, I get an introduction to island vintages at the hotel's wine-tasting session held on the patio next to the wine cellar. I sip a delicious, fruity Asyrtiko white wine, Santorini's pride and joy. Later I walk under the moonlight to the fishing port of Aoundi, where the locals go. As soon as I sit down at one of the tavernas for some fried calamari, I am serenaded by crooning guitar players. After dinner, the show isn't over: I trudge up the hill, tumble into an outdoor Jacuzzi and watch Greek mythology come alive with the sweeping vista of brightly-burning constellations. Rates from $585. kirini.com -- Lanie Goodman Photo: Courtesy Relais & Chateau