It’s All Greek…and Lebanese
Lebenese-born architect, Galal Mahmoud of GM Architects spent his formative Summers vacationing in Mykonos, Greece with family and friends. So, when one of those friends from the island asked the architect to return to renovate the luxury hotel the Myconian Ambassador; he jumped at the opportunity. “This island is part of the fabric of my life,” confesses Mahmoud who met the Myconian Ambassador’s owner, Vangelis Daktylides several years previous. “I used to rent a house with my family just beside the hotel. During the conflict in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Mr. Daktylides told me that I could stay for as long as I wanted and even set up my office there. This arrangement lasted five or six years in the end, and was the beginning of a very close friendship,” says Mahmoud.
The hotel, a selected member of the luxury network Relais & Châteaux, was originally constructed in 1979. In June 2015, GM Architects completed the refurbishment including all of the hotel’s suites, its 69 bedrooms and its communal areas. The design, which left the original architecture in tact, drew inspiration from the history of the Cyclades, and local Greek vernacular architecture and culture. The finished design in blues and whites is characterized by a look that is clean, simple, contemporary and totally unique. The use of premium materials such as Thassos marble and tropical hardwoods raised the quality of the spaces and kept the look warm and inviting.
“We initially focused on the bedrooms, which were very narrow. We sought to create a feeling of space in a relatively small area to which we couldn’t make wholesale alterations. Now, when you walk into a bedroom at the Myconian Ambassador, your first impressions are of a feeling of openness that draws the gaze out onto the expanse of the Aegean sea outside. We made great efforts to bring more natural light into every room, creating an almost seamless continuity between different areas. This approach enabled us to create spaces which were much more roomy, modern-looking and light.” says the architect.
The furnishings were changed out and the color scheme of the hotel was lightened and modernized to heighten the ‘airiness’, which is perhaps the best word to describe what drives the concept behind the new Myconian Ambassador. The multi-cultural Mahmoud, born of Egyptian parents with an English grandmother and Lebanese citizenship believes in what he refers to as ‘contextual immersion.’ “I steep myself in the geographical, historical and cultural environment of each project. I make these contextual components my own, reworking them in a way that is relevant to and easily comprehensible by contemporary society, but also respectful of the identity and culture of the location in question.