The famed local cuisine, friendly locals and unspoiled wild beaches, with their pristine crystal clear waters, set the scene for a deliciously authentic vacation experience to visitors of the island Tinos, including a magnificent stay at one of Aegean Dream BnB’s serene holiday homes.
It was love at first sight when Greek American Nikos and Australian Emma first set foot on Tinos. After traipsing the globe to find their ‘forever home’ they knew they wanted to build a life together on this beautiful island. In 2019, they also brought to life an incredible business of vacation rentals, Aegean Dream BnB where they have consistently welcomed hundreds of guests from all around the world.
With a carefully curated portfolio of villas, apartments and rooms, visitors are spoiled for choice with a collection handpicked by Emma to suit an array of interests, including design-loving groups, romance-seeking couples, and solo travellers looking for an authentic connection, whether it be in a 300-year-old village or a vibrant beach community.
Building new memories of Greece is wonderfully enhanced by unforgettable places to stay. From a Cycladic gem overlooking the water, and proximity to tavernas, or a heavenly stone retreat lovingly designed for laidback living with a spacious entertainer’s terrace and flowing open-plan interiors, visitors will be impressed by what’s on offer.
Showcasing the renowned Greek hospitality, Emma and Nikos greet all guests on arrival before accompanying them to their property, ensuring they are comfortable and settled in, as well as giving regular updates of all the activities taking place on the island throughout their stay.
If that is not enough to entice you to Tinos, Aegean Dream BnB is also launching new experiences this year such as guided hikes to secret locations and gastronomic extravaganzas.
We recently chatted to Emma Moroney about her love of Tinos, why it’s a must-see island and her sumptuous range of vacation rentals.
What led to you setting up a vacation rental company on the beautiful island of Tinos?
I had worked in the television and film industry in Australia and South-East Asia, so organising and creating something from nothing is in my blood. I’m not sure which came first, my curiosity for figuring out how things work, or if over time I learned how to make things come to life out of necessity, but it seems I’ve been constantly challenging myself to learn new things from a young age and I can’t stop! Being Australian, I’ve been very privileged to live a life open to wonderment and possibility and that has propelled me to jump feet first into lots of endeavours over the years, without the fear of failure. I travelled to Japan in the nineties with one phone number in my pocket and the promise of some work and it only occurred to me when I landed in Osaka just how monumental a risk I had taken. It paid off and ultimately became one of the most defining adventures of my life and I have adopted that methodology ever since. I’ve travelled all over the world, lived in Japan, and Malaysia, volunteered in a monastery in the Himalayas, slept in 5-star hotels and on a horsehair mat in a shed – each time simply seeking the opportunity for wonder and pushing my understanding of the world a little further.
All of these experiences, including meeting my husband Nikos, ultimately led me to Greece. This ancient enigma of a place, full of complex layers and flavours, with people who are so very deep and fascinating, makes it addictive to live here. To paraphrase Epicurus, Greece is where you’ll do well to pause and enjoy the good life. Here, your appetite will be more than satisfied, it will be quenched. Inspired by that great philosopher’s wisdom, Nikos and I decided to quit city life and search for a place to build something in touch with nature and more intentional in Greece. Our vacation rental business is just the first step in our journey towards building something meaningful on the island of Tinos, but it has been a great learning experience and has given us lots of great insight into how and why people travel.
When did you first visit Tinos and what made you decide you wanted to make this your island home?
When Nikos and I arrived in 2018 for a five-day holiday, we knew within the first few days that we wanted to make a home and start the next phase of our lives here. We’d been to other places, Nikos’ family is from the Peloponnese, but Tinos just stole our hearts from the first moment. We stayed in an amazing little Airbnb with the loveliest host I’ve ever met and everyone we came across in those five days gave us such a feeling of warmth and welcome that we just took the plunge!
Tinos has a special energy. It’s sort of indefinable but everyone you talk to, especially the foreigners who don’t have a familial history with the place, will tell you exactly the same story. They came here almost by accident and then just fell in love with the island. It’s a story that’s repeated so often you have to believe it!
For us, it’s the unique combination of the rustic and laidback wild spaces, the historic villages and a cosmopolitan vibe borne of artists and artisans who make up the local population, as well as the countless creative people who’ve made Tinos their home.
The food here really is something beyond the already great Greek cuisine you find on most islands, and the local people have an artistic approach to everything that just makes the gastronomy sing. For example, we have a chef friend here on the island who went to Italy to comb through the gastronomic archives in Venice, held from when Tinos was under Venetian rule from 1200 – 1700. Thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of the Venetians, our friend was able to seek inspiration for his recipes of today. This commitment to culinary perfection and reverence for history is what makes this island so special.
They also know how to party! The panagiri (festival) here is something truly special and in our first year we were lucky enough to be invited to quite a few in the winter – I think we met the whole island that first winter! Island life really relies on the panagiri to bring together people from all over the island and we of course fell in love with this beautiful custom in our first year and were pretty depressed they couldn’t happen over the two years of pandemic lockdowns… but this year they are back with gusto! Lately, it feels like there is one every night (literally right out my window now is an impromptu small panagiri at the taverna below our house!)
Tell us about Aegean Dream BnB. What makes it unique?
Aegean Dream BnB is a handpicked selection of vacation rentals we love for their relaxed vibes and unique style. Holiday homes where you just slip off your shoes and let the peaceful energy wash over you. All stylish, serene hidden gems that inspire creativity in a restful atmosphere, on the beautiful Greek island of Tinos.
Our personal touch, combined with a high level of professionalism makes it truly unique. Nikos and I came to Tinos as guests and we remember how it felt to discover the island for the first time so we really try and recreate that each time for our guests. The other thing is the houses reflect my personal style. If I wouldn’t choose to stay at a place, then it’s not in our collection. I’ve always been a bit of a nomad so my style is reflective of all the places I’ve lived and the memories I’ve collected along the way. It’s a Mediterranean Modern style that’s all about stylish spaces designed to promote serenity and reflection that are connected to the natural environment in some way.
What are some of your most popular properties?
Our most popular property is the Laidback Luxe apartment in Panormos Bay, which I love for its lovely open spaces and because I was able to work with the owner/builder on the interior design. So that one’s highly reflective of my style and thankfully, people seem to love it!
This year we have a few new properties which we absolutely love and are very popular on Instagram. The Architectural Oasis in Volax is a truly one-of-a-kind holiday home designed by local star architect Aristedes Dallas. It is the epitome of the Mediterranean Modern style and is built sensitively into the magnificent boulders that make Volax so unique. The owner is Swiss and a global nomad so the home is filled with lovely treasures and his photography from all around the world. The house has Joshua Tree vibes and is a real respite from the Cycladic winds in summer thanks to the cleverly designed internal garden and its very grounding concrete structure. Architecture enthusiasts just love this one.
There’s also a lot of Instagram and real-world love for this chic Cycladic home in our favourite mountain village Triandaros. Loaded with charm, the light-filled three-bedroom Cycladic stone house in one of Tinos’ oldest villages has been sensitively restored with original architectural details contributing to its lovely ambience. Its heavenly rooftop with panoramic sea views is just the place to end the day with a chilled rosè in hand while watching the sunset over the hills.
What type of traveller do you have in mind when searching for holiday homes to add to your portfolio?
I’m obsessed with interior design and the notion that we humans respond to our environment with our senses – so we think about these when we consider a new property. How will you feel when you touch, smell, taste, hear and see this new environment is important and we strive to create a sense of serenity and promote wellbeing from the moment you arrive. We tend to attract a lot of creative people, possibly a reflection of my previous career in film and television!
Photographers, designers, architects, chefs, poets and writers have all stayed in our homes and always enjoy the details we’ve thought hard to provide to enhance our guest’s experience.
But most importantly we love hosting thoughtful, independent travellers who are conscious of themselves and the environment. This planet we call home is fragile, and our island even more so, with each summer taking its toll on our natural resources. We hope to attract mindful travellers who respond energetically to nature’s rhythm and find the beauty in the wilder elements of Mother Nature – like the wind – and instead of rejecting the uncontrollable aspect of it, respond joyfully to the freedom it represents.
You are introducing a new range of experiences for your guests this year. Can you divulge more details?
We are foodies, so from the first moment we arrived, we just wanted to soak up as much gastronomic information about the island as we could find. We’ve put together some wonderful experiences with our friends on the island, like Alex from Tinos Farm to Table, so guests can dive a little deeper into the Cycladic way of living. Cooking Workshops at Alex’s farmhouse outdoor kitchen are a delightful way to connect with the traditions handed down from previous generations, cook up a delicious feast of homegrown produce from Alex’s farm and finish the day around the table, family-style.
For guests of the Architectural Oasis in Volax, we offer an exclusive food and wine tasting in the villa with sommelier and Tinos Wine Tasting guru Panayiota Kalogeropoulou. Surrounded by the incredible volcanic granite boulders that make the wine of Tinos so unique, Panayiota will guide our guests through a tasting menu designed to educate and celebrate Tinian wine and food “From the Stones to the Sea”.
We also offer guided hikes in secret locations, boat trips around the island, massages and more. You can check out our link for more inspiration.
What can you tell us about some of the new properties that will become available soon?
We are super excited to launch our new property in Arnados for this summer, Meraki House. Beautifully designed by the owner and crafted perfectly by our favourite builder Marios Armaos (who also built the Laidback Luxe in Panormos) this property perfectly embodies our ethos. The senses are immediately engaged in the most serene way and the house nestles into a lovely terraced hillside with spectacular views of the Aegean. Lazy afternoons on the huge terrace, drinking wine with meze and staring out to that big blue… honestly, that’s what a holiday on the Greek islands is all about.
What is your favourite time of the year in Tinos?
May/June is hands down the best time to visit Tinos. The hills are green, with wildflowers EVERYWHERE! The restaurants, cafes and bars usually open for the season from Orthodox Easter onwards so there’s a real vibrancy in the Chora and the more populated villages like Triandaros. From about mid-May onwards, the weather starts to feel like summer with longer days, warm temperatures as high as 28 degrees and calm seas with no wind. For an island that has a reputation for strong winds, I really wish more people would come and visit during these months when the sea is so calm it takes on the feel of silky olive oil. Spring really is the best time to visit Greece!
Where are some of your favourite spots to eat, drink and swim in Tinos?
EAT: Maru Restaurant in Panormos Bay. Right by the water’s edge with peaceful views of the pretty bay and Planitis island, order the heavenly grilled octopus, the best taramosalata on the island and a half carafe of white wine and experience the truest embodiment of the good life.
DRINK: Three Donkeys in Chora. Come for the perfectly crafted cocktails, stay for the Tiki vibes, friendly staff and great tunes.
SWIM: Akri Beach Club at Apothikies Beach.
And for more, here is our online guide to Tinos.
What are a few things visitors to Tinos must do before leaving the island?
Exploring the villages and hiking the wild spaces! We love the mountain villages Triandaros and Dio Choria for the pretty marble streets, vibrant food scene, interesting hikes and panagiri. Pyrgos is also a great village for a wander and food, as is Agapi and of course the truly incredible Volax. After wandering around the lunar landscape of ancient boulders, start at the entrance of the Volax and take a leisurely stroll through whitewashed lanes with Greek poetry painted with great care onto the walls and doors. Visit the proud basket weaver Ludovico for the ultimate souvenir of your stay and end with a performance in the amphitheatre.
Images by Aegean Dream BnB & Ioanna Rouf ©