Santorini’s Iconic Landmark of Hospitality
Atlantis is not an ordinary 4-star hotel. The traces of its long and glorious history are not lost in time, as one might think, misguided by its famous name. On the contrary, Atlantis’ history is deeply ingrained in its foundations and unfolds like a fairytale that has all the ingredients of a myth: ingenuity, grandeur, Kings and Queens, drama, downturns and recoveries, but above all, the love of two passionate visionaries, Evangelos P. Nomikos and his wife Loula, for Santorini.
Since 1956, Atlantis not only accommodates Santorini’s VIP visitors –from Kings and Heads of State to Hollywood stars and tycoons–, but it also incarnates the loyalty and love that this extraordinary island has inspired to its most prominent benefactors: the shipping magnate Evangelos P. Nomikos and his wife Loula, who back in the 1950s decided to make a considerable investment on their beloved home island. First, they asked the locals to choose among a hotel or a hospital. To this dilemma, the authorities of Santorini replied that they would prefer a hotel. The die had been cast and in the year 1952, Evangelos and Loula Nomikos commissioned to illustrious Santorinian architect Venetsanos the design and construction of the most glamorous and imposing hotel in the Cyclades.
The staggering height of the investment had been attributed to its construction according to the highest quality standards, guaranteeing that the building would sustain even the most powerful earthquake! Indeed, during the catastrophic earthquake of 1956, Atlantis was one of the island’s few buildings left unscathed, which resulted in its temporary use as a hospital and a public services building.
For a short period, during the reign of King Pavlos of Greece, the hotel had been granted to the National Royal Foundation, which in turn rented it to Santorinian entrepreneur Emmanouil Vazeos. In 1970, the hotel was returned to its founders, due to its unbearable cost of operation. In an effort to help the Foundation keep the hotel, Evangelos and Loula Nomikos offered an adjacent plot which could be used as a pool garden in order to attract more guests, but the idea was rejected and the plot was instead used for the construction of the Prehistoric Museum.
Once again, Evangelos and Loula Nomikos found themselves on the helm of Atlantis and once again they were adamant to keep it going. The hotel underwent its first massive restoration by famous American interior decorators Robjohn Gibbings and Carlton Pullin. Among the hotel’s highlights were the bespoke furniture inspired by the island’s traditions (such as the designer wicker chairs based on ancient originals that were discovered in the ruins of the archaeological site), opulent fabrics, hand painted wallpapers and exquisite art works from Goulandris' private collection of Flowers. During that renovation, the swallow, a famous find at the Akrotiri archaeological site, had been selected to become the new emblem of the hotel and skilled traditional craftsmen were commissioned to create the elaborate mosaic of the swallow, which still adorns the entrance of the hotel!
Boasting its renowned glittering façade of white marble with its typical Cycladic arches, the majestic Atlantis opened its doors again in 1971 and was immediately heralded as one of Greece’s finest hotels, reflecting refined aesthetics and opulent interiors, while offering regal treatments to its privileged guests.
The hotel revenues have never been claimed by Evangelos and Loula Nomikos, who donated them all to the community, financing the creation of playgrounds and the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the island’s hospital and the municipality. The couple’s generosity culminated with the establishment of the Loula and Evangelos Nomikos Foundation in 1979, which purchased and installed the island’s first and only Cable Car. This monumental project mediated the island’s main transportation problem, with a provision to pay a percentage of the ticket price to the mule drivers in order to help the traditions survive. The Foundation also maintains a small private jet used for the urgent transportation of patients from Santorini to hospitals in Athens or Crete, covering all the necessary expenses.
The legacy of Evangelos and Loula Nomikos remains strong, thanks to their heirs who conserve their parents’ and grandparents’ vision with equal dedication and love. Frequent renovations and dedicated management have kept Atlantis’ flame burning. To this date, the hotel remains a mesmerizing monument to authentic Cycladic style and an ode to haute hospitality. In 2000 its guestrooms have been redecorated by famous Greek decorator Kostas Staikos and through more than four years the management has fully equipped them with all the modern amenities, meticulously reviving the hotel’s glorious past. As a result of these efforts, Atlantis, more than half a century after its opening in 1956, continues to offer four-star services, luring and delighting the most discerning travellers who appreciate its signature hospitality and iconic style.