The Euphoria Retreat is the first destination spa in Greece. It is located besides the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras, an important Byzantine landmark. The spa is the centerpiece of the retreat. It is carved into the ground on four levels with a total area of  3,000 m2.


Location Mystras, Greece
Area 7.350 m²
Year 2015-2019
Team Leader
Alison Katri
Yiannis Kitanis, Chrysanthi Asproulopoulou, Maria Pappa, Tasos Govatsos, Archontia Kiroudi, Eleni Vagianou, Alison Katri
Permit Drawings
Iakovina Kodiza, Evdokia Tsouroula Zeza, Maro Tsaga
Construction Documents
Evdokia Tsouroula Zeza, Maria Pappa, Iakovina Kodiza, Maro Tsaga, Foteini Gouveli, Dionysis Dikefalos, Spiros Boukas, Vasia Ioannidou, Alison Katri, Aliki Samara, Christina Vassilopoulou
Construction Supervision
Alison Katri, Dionysis Dikefalos
Designed in Collaboration with:
Natalia Efremoglou & Partners
Project Management:
C&M Engineering
Structural Engineer:
PMA Engineering
Landscape Architect:
Interior Decoration:
Christina Dimopoulou
Lighting Design:
AS Light
Sound Design Consultant:
Spa Design Consultant:
Spatech Spa Consultancy
Spa Operator Consultant:
Tavelis Spa Concept
Pool Design Consultant:
Stathis Palaiodimopoulos
Mechanical Engineer:
Margarita Yoko Nikitaki


Seven consecutive retaining walls form a spine of amenities, carved into the base of the mountain between the town and a cypress forest. They are new interventions inserted among existing buildings. They hosts all the communal areas of the retreat, stepping up the landscape from the entrance to the reception, the restaurant and culminating with the spa.
The 45 rooms of the retreat are hosted within three existing buildings:
The Mancini Mansion, which is a listed building constructed in 1830, is carefully restored. Two less important buildings, constructed but never completed in the 1990’s, are refurbished not restored.

The Spherical Pool

What does it feel to experience a spherical space?

The experience of standing within a semi-sphere is not out of the ordinary. We encounter it while standing under the domes of religious buildings all over the world. The pool of the Euphoria Spa gave us the opportunity to explore what it feels like to float within an entire sphere, a hollow Platonic solid. The color striations in the sphere relate to the depiction of the cosmos in Byzantine domed murals, while the contrast between the cool colors and the warm background is also an essential part of the pictorial language of Byzantine iconography. The sound of moving water, the reflection, and refraction of artificial and natural light and the slow movement through water envelop the senses with perpetual motion.


The three concentric cylinders, which form the spine of the spa, work in tandem, allowing motion through four storeys but also marking time.
The inner cylinder is a void rendered white that allows light to penetrate 20 meters down. The sun traces the path on its surface.
The cylinder in the center, cast in grey exposed concrete, contains a spiral staircase which begins with a slow rhythm at its base. Each landing has an arched opening to look into the well. As one moves upward the landings become less frequent making the ascent faster.
Finally, the outer cylinder is cast in black exposed concrete. This concrete has been sanded down to its aggregate and sealed with wax giving it the quality of a fine terrazzo and inviting the sense of touch. Moving from the center of the well towards the interior of the spa, the concrete walls become darker, light travels less, preparing the guests to enter the serenity of the treatment rooms.


The visitor enters the spa at its base. This level is primarily underground and consists of carved spaces where elliptical geometries of
dif­ferent scale intertwine and guide the visi­tor through constantly changing catacomb-like passages containing the spa reception, consultation and treatment spaces, and changing rooms. Deep into the building a flood of natural light draws the visitor further in towards the vertical spine of the building. From there the visitors ascend towards the treatment areas of the spa.

Red Concrete Clapboard Walls

When we first visited the site, we found these grey concrete walls on the landscape, discretely placed to retain earth. They inspired the materiality and form of the spa facades.
As the building retreats towards the forest, the facades are articulated using pale-red exposed concrete. These facades, with the imprint of the wooden boards and the breakdown of their monolithic mass by using a clapboard formwork technique, blend into the scale and context of the forest.

Byzantine Iconography

The interiors of the rooms of the hotel are informed by Byzantine iconography. The color schemes and the textiles of the rooms are referenced on four pieces of Byzantine iconography created between 1164 and 1546 AD.

Fresco, Christ’s Ascension, 1428 A.D., Mystras Pantanassa Monastery, Katholikon.
Fresco, The Entombment, 1164 A.D., Nerezi, Agios Panteleimonas.
Portable icon, Epiphany, 1546 A.D., Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos, Theofanis Kris.
Fresco, The Resurrection, 1310-1320 A.D., Monastery in Chora, Istanbul.

Alexandros Vaitsos presents the Euphoria Spa

External References


DOMES Architectural Awards 2019

The ‘Euphoria Spa’, was commended in the Category ‘Best Built Work for the years 2014-2018’ in the 2019 Domés Awards. The annual institution of  Domés Awards, has completed 10 years of highlighting modern Greek architecture supported by jury architects from around the world.



Carlos Loperena gave a lecture about our recently completed hospitality project ‘Euphoria Retreat’, within the context of the 9th Biennale of Young Greek Architects. He focused on the Spa, the centerpiece of the project.