Skyros, Greece

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

At the cutting edge ...

Our guest speaker this week is Yannis Andricopoulos, Ph D. Yannis is co-founder of Skyros, the leading alternative holiday, and author of several books including his trilogy In Bed with Madness, The Greek Inheritance and The Future of the Past (Imprint Academic).

Here Yannis reflects on how Skyros is at the cutting edge of modern holidays...

It’s often the plainest of details that take over our lives, blinding us to the larger picture which simply fades from view.

I’m talking here from personal experience. I live by the sea, which has always been my dream, but absorbed in my everyday work, I don’t even notice it! Part of my world are the robins and red squirrels that play in the garden, yet often I don’t see them because I’m preoccupied with one issue or another! And for years I have been in a great relationship but often I fail to appreciate it because I’m consumed by the day’s ups and downs.
The reasons for my failures always seem to make good sense. You can’t really miss the day’s deadlines, can you? If you do, the roof comes down! But in the process and without even realising it, your life is determined by all these details, destined to be forgotten and the beauty of the larger picture is as hidden as the sun on a rainy day.

The same has been happening to my relationship with Skyros. I focus, for example, on the films David Babsky is making with some Skyros facilitators, the re-making of the Skyros facebook page, the Skyros video film Nick Cohen is finalising, the request of an Australian journalist for information on our salsa courses in Cuba, the BBC’s Nick Easen asking about the situation in Greece, the partial renovation of the Atsitsa building and so on.
What, as a result, do I miss? Not the beauty of the Skyros vision which is in my blood, but the importance of this vision in the contemporary world. The latter was thankfully brought home to me recently by a few journalists. It was a sudden occurrence so swift that I felt as stunned as Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, when he was hit on the head by a tile thrown at him from a rooftop by a woman!

One of these journalists was Kate Birch, editor of the UAE magazine Acquarius. She wrote: "The 'fly and flop' holiday is so passé… These days smart women are taking edu-vacations, where learning - not lounging - is the name of the game". The prime example she used to illustrate her story was the "world-renowned" Skyros Writers’ Lab.
Then it was the London Evening Standard’s Jasmine Gardner. She wrote: "Holidaymakers with money are shunning hotel ostentation in favour of more simple, unique experiences. They are moving from gold taps to simple pleasures, from more choices to curated ones, from money-no-object to value, from conspicuous to considered. In a world of über-choice people want what they can't buy so easily - experience".

But, of course, this is exactly what Skyros is and always has been!

And then The Guardian emphasised the importance of values-led businesses and the difficulties they face in the current economic climate. The issue was how those entities that generate social value can be supported without losing, as a result, sight of their values if, of course, and when they are taken over by multinationals with an eye to the right opportunity.

All the above are the criteria by which a contemporary cutting edge enterprise is judged. And all these criteria are easily met by Skyros. For Skyros is an educational holiday which, apart from various skill-development courses it offers, cultivates and stimulates the desire for something more substantial: to be rather than have, create rather than consume and grow rather than just exist. In the pursuit of this goal, it advocates a simple way of life away from conspicuous consumption and ostentatious living and upholds the virtues of the human spirit as opposed to those of our materialistic, consumer, technocratic culture.
Skyros has no gurus to preach the ‘truth’ and does not intend to provide answers. But by questioning and challenging our culture’s assumptions, it helps people to get in touch with their gut feelings and do what they need to do to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Is this all news to me? Of course not! But involved on a daily basis with the nitty-gritty of the enterprise, I had overlooked the fact that Skyros is once again at the cutting edge of the current thinking and, as it happens, the holiday world. It is in vogue again as it has been for years since the very beginning, back in 1979, the time it opened the path to what is now known as educational holidays which inspired hundreds of other holiday ventures and influenced the thinking of even multinational holiday operators.
Skyros, The Guardian wrote, is still the leader – ‘the first and still the best’. I can, somehow, see it better now that I can see the whole forest again, the sky, the ground, the sea on the side and the mix of all the details that create the very unique experience that is Skyros. Rather than bits, I can hear again the whole symphony. And the big picture isn’t just the endpoint, the arrival at the dream; it’s also the launchpad for future developments.

Wow, I never thought I would say one day "Do you want to be trendy? Then take a Skyros holiday"!
Skyros runs holidays in Greece this season from July. For a copy of your brochure call 01983 865566, or email the team at

Alternatively, for more information about Skyros, including how it all began, visit

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Yannis. Well said. Sounds like wonderful things keep happening in that magical place. Good wishes for a great season