Review: Santa Marina, Luxury Collection, Mykonos

Filed Under: Hotel Reviews, Marriott

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Review: Santa Marina, Luxury Collection, Mykonos
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We had a great time in Santorini last summer, so this summer we decided to visit Mykonos. We decided to book Santa Marina, which is a Marriott Luxury Collection property, using points.

Booking Santa Marina Mykonos

Hotel rates in Mykonos are crazy-high in summer. Not because the hotels are necessarily amazing, but rather because they have a short season, and everyone wants to go around the same time.

Santa Marina was retailing for over 1,000EUR per night when we were booking. However, we managed to redeem points. Santa Marina is a Category 8 property, though we booked earlier this year before Marriott introduced Category 8 award pricing.

We paid a total of 240,000 points for our five night stay — that’s a cost of 60,000 points per night, with the fifth night free. As a point of comparison:

At 240,000 points for five nights I’d say we got an excellent deal. That’s an average of 48,000 points per night. At a valuation of 0.7 cents per Marriott point (which is what I value them at), that’s like paying $336 per night including all taxes and fees. For one of Mykonos’ best hotels, I’d say that’s a steal.

See this post for the best credit cards for earning Marriott Bonvoy points.

Santa Marina transportation & arrival

Santa Marina offers complimentary transfers from Mykonos Airport as well as from the port, both on arrival and departure. This is a nice feature, given how much nickel-and-diming usually goes on at hotels in Greece this time of year.

The driver was waiting on me on arrival. While this is a shared transfer, there was only one other guest being picked up, so we left almost immediately.

Santa Marina airport transfer

Upon arrival at the hotel I was escorted up to the lobby.

Santa Marina Mykonos

The hotel is built into a hill, so expect to do a lot of walking to get around the property, and to walk up hundreds of steps. To get to the lobby I walked through this cute passage.

Santa Marina walk to reception


Santa Marina walk to reception

Then the lobby was up a set of stairs. The lobby was on the basic side, but then again this wasn’t a focal point of the hotel — the only time you’d come here is if you specifically needed something.

Santa Marina Mykonos lobby


Santa Marina Mykonos lobby

Our room was ready upon arrival. We were driven up to the room on a golf cart (this was a steep road), though otherwise we always walked up and down stairs to get to our room.

Santa Marina room

Santa Marina has 114 rooms, and they’re spread across many buildings. Due to the design of the hotel, just about every room is different, so there’s not a single standard room type.

Each building has just a few rooms. In our case we were assigned room 233. This was in one of the buildings near the top of the property. That has the benefit of having awesome views, though also means you have to walk a lot of stairs to get there. For example, it was 196 steps from our room to breakfast (I counted!).

Santa Marina stairs for days

Santa Marina walkway

Santa Marina Mykonos property


Santa Marina Mykonos


Santa Marina Mykonos room exterior

Santa Marina Mykonos floorplan

The room was small. However, I knew going in that the base rooms here were small, and I also wasn’t expecting any upgrade, since these hotels are at capacity in peak season. The room was about 200 square feet, and I don’t think there’s that much to say beyond the pictures.

The room featured a king size bed, a chair in the corner, and a desk with a TV above it.


Santa Marina Mykonos room


Santa Marina Mykonos room


Santa Marina Mykonos room


Santa Marina Mykonos room

The room had a minibar and Nespresso machine.


Santa Marina Mykonos coffee machine


Santa Marina Mykonos minibar

On the plus side, I was impressed by the welcome amenity. We were given a bottle of Taittinger and some chocolates and strawberries. For a hotel with such a captive audience, that was generous on their part (since many hotels like this just take their customers for granted).


Santa Marina Mykonos welcome amenity

Back towards the entrance was a small closet (we didn’t realize this was here until halfway through our stay).


Santa Marina Mykonos closet

The bathroom was by the entrance, and featured double sinks, a toilet, and a walk-in shower.


Santa Marina Mykonos bathroom

The water pressure was good, though the problem was that the bathroom flooded pretty easily, as there wasn’t anything preventing water from leaving the shower.


Santa Marina Mykonos shower

Toiletries were from Acqua Di Parma, which I love.


Santa Marina Mykonos toiletries

The highlight of our room was the incredible balcony, which was about the same size as the rest of the room. It featured two sun beds, and a table with two chairs. What a nice outdoor space!


Santa Marina Mykonos room balcony


Santa Marina Mykonos room balcony


Santa Marina Mykonos room balcony

The views were stunning.


Santa Marina Mykonos room view

That was especially true at sunset.


Santa Marina Mykonos room view


Santa Marina Mykonos room view

Wifi in the room was fast and free. I spent a lot of time from our balcony working. However, Mykonos is extremely windy, to the point that many times I couldn’t work outside, since my computer screen would be knocked closed from the winds.

So yeah, our room was small but had a lovely balcony. I wouldn’t say the room was particularly luxurious, but it was well maintained.

Santa Marina beach

Santa Marina has a beach. Mykonos isn’t the Maldives in terms of beach quality, so don’t get too excited about the beach. However, it’s nice to have such easy access to a beach, because most hotels in Mykonos don’t have this.

As mentioned above, it was so windy for our first few days in Mykonos, to the point that there was basically a sandstorm on the beach, and that made it unpleasant to sit there. We didn’t actually spend much time at the beach.

Santa Marina beach


Santa Marina beach

Santa Marina beach


Santa Marina beach view

Santa Marina pools

The hotel has two pools. There’s one by the main restaurant. The pool is pretty nice, though it’s literally right in front of the restaurant, so you almost feel like you’re on “display.”

Santa Marina pool


Santa Marina pool

There was a second pool not far away, located right next to the gym and spa. This was the nicer of the two pools.


Santa Marina pool


Santa Marina pool


Santa Marina pool


Santa Marina pool

Santa Marina gym & spa

Santa Marina has the Ginkgo Spa, which is open daily from 10AM until 10PM.

Gingko Spa Santa Marina Mykonos

I didn’t get any spa treatments here, since the spa prices were rather outrageous (~245USD for a 50 minute massage). Here’s the price list:

Also located within the spa was the gym, which can be accessed 24/7 using your room key, thanks to a door at the side of the gym.

The gym was basic, which is fair enough for a vacation destination. However:

  • Holy cow, this gym was overused; at times when we used it there were a dozen other people in there, so it was almost not usable
  • The gym has a full time trainer on staff, who was kind of just taking up space and not doing anything useful

Santa Marina gym

Santa Marina breakfast

Breakfast is included for all guests at Santa Marina, and is served from 8AM until 11AM daily at Colonial Restaurant.

Santa Marina Colonial Restaurant

Most of the restaurant’s seating was outdoors, though there was also some indoor seating (though that was almost entirely unoccupied).


Santa Marina Colonial Restaurant seating


Santa Marina Colonial Restaurant seating


Santa Marina Colonial Restaurant seating

The restaurant has a great buffet. While not as extravagant as you’ll find in Southeast Asia, I thought the selection was excellent — there was lots of yogurt, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, cold cuts, fish, cheese, pastries, cake, cereal, and more.


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet


Santa Marina breakfast buffet

On top of that, there were custom made espresso drinks. Both their hot cappuccinos and freddo cappuccinos were excellent.


Santa Marina breakfast drinks

You could also have made-to-order eggs.


Santa Marina breakfast omelet

There was a menu on the table for further additions, though we stuck to the buffet, custom made coffee drinks, and eggs, and were never charged. For what it’s worth, the menu read as follows:

Note that Colonial Restaurant also has a bar area, which was a great place from which to work.

Colonial Restaurant & Bar Mykonos

On a couple of occasions I had a freddo espresso here.


Colonial Restaurant & Bar Mykonos

Santa Marina Buddha Bar Beach

Santa Marina has Budda Bar Beach. This is a popular restaurant not just with hotel guests, but also for those visiting from other hotels.

Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos entrance


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos entrance

The restaurant was entirely outdoors, and had great views of the water.


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos

The menu was pretty mixed, with Asian fusion dishes, sushi, and even some Greek food. Our lunch was excellent.


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos lunch


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos lunch


Buddha Bar Beach Mykonos lunch

Santa Marina in-room dining

The in-room dining menu read as follows:

We ended up ordering in-room dining once for dinner, since we may have had a bit too much to drink during the day, and didn’t make it out for dinner.

Santa Marina service

For the most part I thought service at Santa Marina was pretty good, given that destinations with seasonal labor often don’t have amazing service, and also Greece isn’t exactly known for attentive service.

For the most part everyone was friendly, though everything was definitely on “island time.” When we went to breakfast during peak times it often took 20 minutes to get a coffee, but then again when we arrived before the rush, service was much faster.

So overall I was pleased by the service, though this isn’t an Aman or Four Seasons in that regard.

My take on Mykonos

“Wow, gays going to Mykonos in August, how original.”

I know a lot of people roll their eyes at the people going to Mykonos in August, and probably picture a certain type of person.

So let me share my take, as someone who doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a Mykonos visitor. I’ll support that statement by saying that I actually didn’t even pack a bathing suit for Mykonos, while just about everyone else there seems to wear a speedo (or less) 24/7. And that wasn’t an accident.

First of all, this was my first time properly visiting Mykonos. I think I had been before when I was maybe 10 years old on a cruise for a day, but I don’t really remember it.

In general, Greece is such a beautiful place to go in summer — it’s relaxing, the food is amazing, and the landscape is beautiful. As someone who also works while traveling and tries to stay somewhat close to US business hours, I absolutely love the timezone. Last summer we had a lovely time in Santorini, and I was curious to see how Mykonos compared.

To sum it up, I think Santorini is physically more beautiful, though Mykonos has the advantage of having beaches (if you care — I don’t), and of also being a lot more fun.

Look, I’m generally an uptight person who goes to bed at 8PM and who gets up before sunrise. Mykonos turned my schedule around. 2AM was an early night, and we struggled to make it to breakfast every morning before it closed.

That’s not because we were partying until 6AM, but because you have dinner at 10-11PM, and then by the time you’re done, unwind, etc., it’s the middle of the night.

I really loved spending a few days in Mykonos, and I had an amazing time. Sometimes it’s fun just to day drink, and Mykonos has no shortage of incredible restaurants and beach clubs to go to during the day. And yes, even going to Jacky O’ is actually really, really fun.

Is Mykonos the vibe I’d always like in my life? No probably not. But damnit, it sure was a fun time, even for someone like me. That being said, I have no plans to get an eight pack, speedos, a spray tan, or tattoos, which otherwise seem to be part of the Mykonos starter pack. However, I will continue to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race…

Santa Marina bottom line

We had an awesome time in Mykonos, and Santa Marina was the ideal base from which to enjoy the island. Having redeemed an average of just 48,000 Marriott points per night was an exceptional value, given the rate of over 1,000EUR per night.

You don’t stay at Santa Marina because it’s the most luxurious hotel on earth, but rather because it’s one of the best hotels on a really fun island.

I’d stay at Santa Marina again in a heartbeat, and would recommend it.

If you’ve stayed at Santa Marina, what was your experience like? Is there another hotel in Mykonos worth checking out?

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Comments
  1. As a fellow Gay in his early 30’s, who does the annual Mykonos trip on the luxury side, i can never say Santa Marina was on my list – it looks a bit boring no? Did you check out Kensho, Katikes, Belvedere? At least you made it to Jackie O 😉

  2. I loved Mykonos. I was there in early June of last year, and the winds had not kicked up yet, so it was pretty warm during the day.

    I stayed at a local hotel called the Poseidon that was a ton of fun. It wasn’t stuffy, I had an amazing view, and the pool had a dj and a fun loving bar staff. Breakfast was very nice. I think my rate was below 200 Euros a night.

    The town had a fun vibe and the people I dealt with were wonderful. I would love to return. I would stay at the Poseidon again. Even without earning points. 🙂

  3. Ben, I absolutely loved reading this review. Not that it’s missing in others, but it was nice to see your personality and sense of humor really shine through. As a fellow gay, I could not stop laughing when you wrote “‘Wow, gays going to Mykonos in August, how original.'”

  4. Ditto @ Mitch. This article a little bit refreshing because you poured in a bit of personality of yours. It’s not that you need to flag your gay card every time you write an article but it’s nice to hear the other side perspective of yours once a while.

  5. Five days in Mykonos? Unless you’re clubbing this makes no sense. It’s a 1-2 day Max island to visit.

    This is the risk with chasing luxury Marriotts. One overstays a location and chooses the hotel without concerns for the vacation. That 4 nights at the Aman where they were surprised you were staying in Japan is similar.

    Heads up to fellow travelers; pick the destination and the itinerary length that makes sense for it. Worry about the hotel later.

    We did the 5 nights st Mystique and really it was fine: Santorini is good for about 4 days. Mykonos? (We don’t club) we stayed 1 night. It was plenty. Truly.

  6. For some reason this review feels empty in personality (aside from its very end). Like you were very tired when writing it. I hope you are doing well.

  7. I haven’t been since the mid ‘70s. The Generals had just been kicked out; ABBA was all the rage. It was fun but I’ve always preferred Crete and the mainland.

  8. @ M — To each their own. I was there for five days and could have easily spent another five days there.

  9. @ Nun — The town gets super busy during the day from all the cruise ships, so I was happy to be a bit removed from that. Yes, we had to take a taxi most places, but I didn’t have any issues with the location, personally.

  10. I don’t understand this. From the pictures and review, this looks and sounds like an average four star hotel with cramped, pale rooms, perhaps even four minus. Something that should cost 90–100 EUR. Yet the price was ten times this. Why?

  11. It’s a shame about the windy conditions you had. The real highlight of this hotel is the private beach that they have. The water was very calm and crystal clear when we were there and spent almost the entire time on the beach even though I’m generally more of a pool person. Yes the rooms were very average, but we were only there to shower and sleep. I actually enjoyed the location, being a bit removed from Mykonos Town but not completely on the other side of the island. The nearby Ornos Beach also had some good restaurants that you could walk to.

    Having said that, there is no way I would pay 100k points/night or ~1000 euros per night. We stayed in Sept so paid rates were much more reasonable.

  12. @Daniel from Finland – I would say the hotel is actually much nicer than what the pictures show. Having said that, it is definitely not worth 1000 euros/night. But if you look at rates of luxury hotels in Mykonos during the peak summer, you’ll see that they are all grossly overpriced.

  13. @ Daniel from Finland — Because supply and demand. It’s Mykonos in summer — they have a short season, and two peak months. That’s why they can get away with charging a lot.

  14. Best thing to do in Mykonos is to go to Agio Sistine beach and have lunch at Kiki’s Tavern. Looks like you missed it. A highlight, and a beach that’s not as exposed to the wind

  15. @Vanya – actually the first half of your first comment was unnecessary. And that is why he replied the way he did.

    They’re just opinions but I actually quite enjoyed the review and think it showed quite a bit of personality.

  16. @Daniel from Finland
    I would be happier to pay 1000 EUR in MYK than 200 in a boring Scandic in HEL as i did 1 month ago. And It was a freezing weekend on the end of June!!!… Joke.

    Having said this, i agree this hotel doesnt look very exciting, room is really small and ordinary. Rate on these levels while totally standard in MYK could apply to a better location: City centre or better beach.
    Aqua de Parma toiletries are really enjoyable though.

    Last point: ‘Gym staff guy was taking todo much space ‘ … Thats not nice from you ;p. People enjoy advice when exercising …

  17. @M I couldn’t disagree more I thought Santorini was horribly boring and too family oriented, while I could’ve spent 2 weeks in Mykonos.

  18. Great review as always. Mykonos is not my cup of tea but, as you say, to each his own. One thing I can’t get over though is the food – tacos, sushi and a burger in Greece… I hope you did enjoy some proper Greek food too.

  19. I thought the Greek salad for €13 in Santorini was already way too expensive. A Greek salad for €22 is plain robbery.

  20. I’ve stayed at the hotel during trips to Greece this year and last. Overall we have been very happy and will return. IMHO the patio you had was great and more than made up for no real upgrade (which as you said can’t be expected during the high season). Lots of comments on the high prices but honestly this is everywhere in Greece at high-end resorts so the comments are off base IMHO….even some of the crappy places have similar pricing. You should have had dinner at Budda Bar and not lunch! Glad you enjoyed it and would return…we definitely will!

  21. I staid in September and paid less than 300 EUR per night which I thought was excellent. I staid in a great airbnb the previous night and the owner told me this is the best property on the island. One of the only ones if not the only with a private beach and amazing bar! Budha bar was truly incredible. The rooms are small but this is the standard in Greece.

  22. Thanks for this excellent review. The place looks incredible even if it is a bit pricey. I normally shy away from resorts, but this place would definitely be worth visiting, even with the taxi rides into town and the limited flights to the island.

  23. @Antonio, hotels in Finland are for the most part terrible. Very few international hotels, mostly local Sokos and Scandic chains. Two star rooms at four star prices because there’s so little competition. I’d never pay 200 EUR for a Scandic, though.

  24. Did something change with free breakfast for all guests? I stayed there on points in May/June this year and breakfast was not included. We ate there once and it was very pricey so walked to town for breakfast for remainder of our stay.
    Also, another nice thing about this hotel is that you can use their sauna and steam room complimentary- no spa purchases required!
    I also stayed 5 night for 240K points- great deal!

  25. I made my first visit to Mykonos in 1976 and have been going back just about every other year since then. Initially I stayed in downtown area for about $4.50 USD back then. Also I would dance the whole night at Pierro’s. Now hotels where I stay are pricier, about $85.00 USD a night, for a room with a balcony, and sometimes a small kitchen. I prefer the downtown area, to be closer to the real life of Mykonos, the waterfront, Little Venice, the shops, bars, clubs and a wonderful assortment of restaurants. To get to the beach, we used to take a boat from the downtown waterfront. That gave us a mini sea cruise around the island and a tour of all the beaches as they dropped off and picked up people. That no longer exists. Now we just take the city bus, or rent a car. We love Elia Beach and Agrari and enjoy the beach tavernas for lunch. We usually go in September when it’s a little quieter and stay for a week or sometimes two. You cannot go to Mykonos on a cruise or a 2 day trip and even get a feel for the island or its life. You really cant stay at one of the very “remote” resorts on the other side of the island and know what the island is really like. You have to spend several days there in order to settle into it and slow down. After a day at the beach, we are back into town, the day trippers and cruise passengers are back on their ships and we can have a quiet drink on the waterfront, enjoy the breeze, the sunset and decide where to go for dinner later. After a drink or 2 and talking with new friends from the beach, its back to the hotel for a nap and shower and then meet friends for dinner and then a drink or two afterward at one of the fun bars or clubs. Sleep and repeat. I met my partner there 33 years ago on Super Paradise Beach. He was from the Middle East and I was living in the USA. WE live in Dallas now. I love Mykonos. (and Santorini). We have made wonderful friends from Europe there… Italy, Greece, Holland, UK and still visit them and stay in touch

  26. I’ve traveled to Mykonos for the past three years and will probably go next year as well.
    The guy above who says Mykonos is not worth spending 5 days or a week there doesn’t have a clue about the island. It is actually quite big with tons of different beaches and places to go. If you don’t want to party, fine, there are calm places on the northern side and elsewhere on the island. Much better than Santorini which is too hilly, the town too small, and no beaches. Mykonos is perfect in every sense: The views, the beaches, the restaurants, the clubs, the people. I can easily spend a month or more there without getting bored. Ernest Smith is right, you have to spend several days and go around the island to get the real vibe of the place. A one or two day stroll around Cora (downtown) won’t do it.

  27. Mykonos is always very windy in July/August…has been since I began going in the 70’s when the only place to stay was the Hotel Leto or a tent on the beach……and nowhere is ever safe from the wind. That’s why they have windmills. Most recent trip stayed a week at the Royal Myconian Collection. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

  28. The statement ” Greece isn’t exactly known for attentive service.” is very wrong in my opinion, I’ve been to Greece many times to different parts of the country and I’ve received nothing but great friendly service. Most probably because you are always going to areas filled with tourists, the experience is totally different…on the other hand, reading your last few hotel reviews at these luxurious properties, it seems that service is never that great…so I do wonder….maybe it’s time you start going back to basics to start enjoying the services again….
    Back to the hotel review – seems like this property is just a big hyped up property and for me seems a big waste of money/points to spend [I would rather save it and spend it in places like the Maldives/Polynesia] I would rather than spend my time (outside of the peak summer season) at a local hotel or B&B.

    Cheers!

  29. Great review that brought back memories. I stayed at the Santa Marina in 2005 and it was great. I was on a cruise a few years later, contacted the hotel and they invited my family to come by and use all the facilities at no charge. After reading your review I need to plan a trip back.

  30. Mykonos is great for what it is, but when you’re done with the partying and you’d like some peach and quiet and an authentic Greek experience you’re better off hopping on a ferry to Naxos, just next door. Santorini is also a cool place but it’s best experienced in late April – early May when it’s not as hot and the tourist hordes haven’t really arrived yet.

  31. Greece does modern and stylish hotels and lounges and beach clubs etc. really well. Odd to see that such an upmarket place just looks a bit meh. Especially the room looked rather boring & they could have done so much more with the terrace. I have never had a perfect shower experience in Greece, almost always with copious amounts of water splashing everywhere despite me trying to be careful. But that this still happens at a EUR 1,000 a night price point??? Also, I never had a facial without steamer and extraction; here it’s EUR 70. LOL complete rip off imho.

    P.S. Santorini does have some good beaches just not on the caldera side, just a short EUR 1.80 bus ride away…

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