Luxury means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about unbridled excess; for others, it’s simply having time to relax. For some, it’s about how the meat you’re eating was raised, and for others, it’s a 16-mile hike alone up a snowy mountain. I am someone who has been obsessed with luxury for a long time—with pursuing it and attaining it—yet I’m unsure why. It‘s likely something about growing up poor, being told (rightly) no often, and being obsessed with reading Vogue. (Dreams really do come true girls!) Still, despite this life-long search for luxury, it was only on a recent trip to Mykonos that I realized I’d been imagining luxury as something you could attain, something you could grasp. But I’d been wrong.
In truth, I didn’t expect to have this realization on a Greek island I’d never really intended to visit. Not because Mykonos isn’t absolutely breathtaking, whether you’re swimming in the glittering waters of the Aegean Sea, or taking in the absurdly picturesque setting of Mykonos Town. In truth, Mykonos has, in my mind’s eye, always been a destination where I imagined muscular gay men and rich women going to party without consequence. Where people go to be seen. That’s fine: I am gay, and I idolize rich women in some (likely problematic) way, but I much prefer all-night dinners with friends on tables that begin with pristine tablecloths and end covered in cigarette ash and red wine stains. I prefer a sunrise swim at a nudist beach, or a rowdy boat trip where we all get too drunk and fall asleep and wake up to strange and unusual burn lines. If I’m on holiday I want to be on holiday.
At the end of last summer, I traveled to Mykonos for the first time with my husband, where we’d been invited to stay at the Santa Marina Resort with the London-based skincare brand 111Skin, which recently partnered with the hotel for a brand-new spa concept. We hadn’t been able to afford a honeymoon, so when we were asked, we thought it could be the perfect way to take some time out in what is known as one of the most luxurious and secluded hotels Mykonos has to offer. These activities we had lined up—dinner at the resort’s Buddha-Bar outpost; relaxing on its private beach; a private boat out to the island of Delos, the second most light-emitting place in the world according to a local tour guide—weren’t our typical holiday pursuits. But we leaned in, making an effort not to worry if we felt a little out of place; both on the island more generally, and staying at a hotel with such an incredible—and incredibly high-end—reputation.