Relax, recharge and reinvigorate yourself in just a few days at Nefeli Nine Retreat, located just an hour’s drive from Athens city centre.
The renowned retreat offers tailored experiences to meet all personal situations or goals — whether you’re in need of a fitness boost, peaceful sleep, nutrition advice, or relaxation and refocusing, Nefeli Nine is the ideal place to help you create a life changing journey specific to you and your goals.
And it’s not just the personalised programs that will help you unwind — many features of the retreat were created with Ancient Greek design principles in mind to help you to disconnect and detox.
Found in Dikastika, in the Attica region, the location will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments. Here you can indulge in pure R&R at a traditional villa with panoramic views of the sea.
We recently spoke with founder Stephanie Contomichalos, about her successful health and wellness retreat, which can quickly take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and treat your mind and body to much needed TLC.
When did Nefeli Nine Retreat open and what was the concept behind it?
I started Nefeli Nine in 2018. I grew up in the UK and would spend every summer and Easter in Greece with my grandparents. In 2016 I moved here and completely fell in love with Athens. It is a young, vibrant city, the weather is fantastic, and nature is very easy to access. It ticked every box. Nefeli Nine was really born from two things: My love for Greece, coupled with my love for nature and sports. Health and fitness have always been important to me, so it felt very natural to combine all the things I love and to share that with other people.
Why do you think Greece is a great destination for healing?
What is so special about Greece is its simplicity, the colours, the food, the traditions all play a huge role in what makes Greece so unique. Having grown up in London I really started to appreciate the simple things; the concept of eating seasonal food (which is totally alien in London where we eat mangoes and raspberries all year round), the pure joy of just being outside on a hiking trail, and the beauty of all the traditions.
Why did you chose Dikastika as the spot where you would open your retreat?
I had a few criteria, but the most important ones were that it was close to mountains and sea, easily accessed and yet gave you a feeling of being far away. Dikastika ticked every box. It is right on the sea, facing Evia island with beautiful views on the Aegean and is very close to the mountains. Despite its proximity to town the thing that I really love about this area is the feeling of being in a small seaside village.
Dikastika will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments to a glorious past. Located very close to Marathon (yes 26 miles from Athens!) the area is rich in history… from the famous battle of the Greeks versus Persians, the birthplace of the Marathon and you can even still visit the city of Rhamnous, a well preserved and ancient citadel dating from 400BC. During your time at Nefeli Nine we will explore these ancient wonders and get lost amid pieces of living history.
What benefits can guests expect after visiting Nefeli Nine?
My main goal for guests is for them to leave feeling completely relaxed and refreshed. We aim to not ask any questions of people during their stay with us (other than whether they want us to bring tea or coffee to their room in the morning!) and all activities are optional. We do not push people. We hope that a week of fresh air, good food and exercise leaves them feeling revitalized and ready to go when they leave.
Nefeli Nine was designed to give people a true break from the stresses of their everyday lives, to spend a week by the sea, hiking, eating well, moving well and enjoying the company of others. Clients have the opportunity to experience Greek traditions, to see some lesser known archaeological sites, to eat delicious seasonal food, and to take a few days off having any obligations. They leave feeling mentally relaxed and physically raring to go!
What is the busiest time of year for you and when do you recommend people visit?
We run retreats in Spring (April – June) and Autumn (September – November). These are my favourite times of year, the weather tends to be lovely, there are less tourists and you get to truly enjoy Greece and all that it has to offer.
Tell us about the healthy dishes you prepare for guests and the local produce you use?
Coming from a Greek and Middle Eastern background, the table has always been an especially important place for me. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother watching her cook and taking notes, and then the whole family would sit together and share the food. This is very much a concept that I encourage at Nefeli Nine.
Everything I prepare is locally sourced and using seasonal ingredients. We buy our honey from a local beekeeper (who I actually found on a hike), our fruits and vegetables all come from local farmers markets, and even our wine and olive oil are produced within the area.
The concept behind Nefeli Nine is based on the Blue Zones Lifestyle, and this also applies to all of the food that we prepare. We can cater for vegans and vegetarians, but we promote a predominantly plant-based diet, supplemented by organic lean meat and fresh fish. We avoid all processed sugars, chemicals and additives, but we do offer delicious home-made sweets.
What fitness classes can guests participate in?
We offer yoga, mobility, and bodyweight fitness classes. We tend to adjust these classes depending on our clients. For those who are looking for more we can organize watersports activities (windsurf, SUP, waterski and wakeboard) nearby.
Are the programmes designed for people of all fitness levels?
The Nefeli Nine programme has been carefully designed so that people of all levels can join. Our hikes have been chosen so that everyone can participate and there are always at least two guides allowing people to walk at different paces. All our yoga and mobility classes can be adjusted accordingly. We will never leave anybody behind, nor will we leave those looking for more of a harder workout feeling unchallenged!
Tell us more about the hikes.
All our hikes offer wonderful and surprisingly different experiences. Our hiking guides are very well versed on the flora and fauna of the surrounding mountains and we always try to bring home some fresh herbs, mushrooms, wild greens or asparagus from our hikes.
Do you offer a more personalised programme for guests?
We are deliberately small precisely so that we can be flexible and cater to everything from a couple who want to do something different and perhaps challenging, to a small group or family where we tailor different programs for people of different ages or fitness levels. If you are looking for the ‘one size fits all’ offering, then we may not be for you. If you want a bespoke product designed for your work team, family group or just the two of you, then we will rise to the challenge. We have a limit of 10 people.
Tell us more about the villas and the facilities available?
It’s a traditional stone villa, spotlessly clean and well-appointed so guests can truly relax. We have had to instill a program of daily rigorous cleansing and disinfecting so our guests can enjoy themselves without worry. Beds are firm, cushions and towels are fluffy, and you wake up with a view that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day. There is a pool, there is WiFi, there are books and a variety of games, but the reality is you may just want to use the house for your down time to recharge for the next day.