Born in Thessaloniki, Aby Saltiel spent long summers in Mykonos. We asked him what's unique about the island, and how he created Kalesma — a luxury stay that prides itself on the modern expression of Mykonian traditions.
Tell us about your background. How did you end up in the hotel business?
I used to work in the fashion industry. Born in Thessaloniki, I moved to the US in 1981 and began working with two French fashion companies simultaneously. In 2017 I was hired by Vilebrequin as Creative Director of their ready to wear clothing line and I stayed in this role for a year and a half. I've always been passionate about hospitality and this led to co-owning acclaimed restaurants in Athens, Pere, Ubu and Sea Spice, before Kalesma was born.
What was your vision for Kalesma?
What’s unique about Mykonos as an island — how would you describe its identity?
Mykonos is the best of the Cycladic islands because it provides visitors with so many choices. For me, it has the best beaches, best restaurants and best entertainment. It also has an undiscovered mythological side — if you're interested in uncovering this, you should visit the Armenistis Lighthouse. There’s a cave just under the lighthouse and according to Greek mythology it belonged to god Aeolus (keeper of the winds), who was born in Mykonos. That's why Mykonos is the island of Winds.
Top tips for a first time visitor to Mykonos?
Locals love to go and eat on the square in Ano Mera. There are plenty of great small, classic restaurants there, that serve my favourite being Tsaf restaurant — every fish dish there is amazing!
My family have had a summer house on Mykonos for 25 years so it's a very special island to me. It boasts some of the most incredible beaches with something for every traveller. To see and be seen — it's Nammos beach. to be totally alone? Kapari, Tigani or Fokos. Ornos beach is just a three minute drive from Kalesma, and it's perfect for families. And for water sports, Platys, Gialos and Kalafatis are the best.
What does travel mean to you?
Travel is deeply important to me – I travel monthly and it's where I get my inspiration. I love learning from other hotels what works and what to improve on, so we can create the ultimate guest experience.
Shop new luggage for that long-awaited trip, with new colours for summer in suitcases, here.