Media PDF Print E-mail

The luxuries of Greece are often hidden behind closed doors, and that includes the lavish island estates that owners rent out only discreetly, sometimes secretly. That's where Ileana von Hirsch comes in. The London-based daughter of a Greek ship owner, she spent her summers at the family estate on the island of Ithaca, with family friends such as Aristotle Onassis dropping by. From that group of contacts, a stellar address book was born.


She's using it as the foundation of Five Star Greece, a company she started five years ago to provide elite, seamless travel in a country not renowned for that experience, starting with superlative villas. Typical is the Bay Estate on Corfu, a compound of three patrician villas (two with five bedrooms, one with four) plus infinity pool and tennis court on a five-acre promontory overlooking the Bay of Kaminaki, with the mountains of Albania in the distance. It's private, exclusive--rented only through Five Star Greece--and at the top end of the company's $10,000-to-$100,000-a-week price scale. (Exact prices are available on request.)


Von Hirsch and her Greece-based partner, Evi Aidonopoulou, handle guest requests: filling each room with specific flowers, arranging a birthday cake or a boat to dinner on Mykonos, flying in food, finding the perfect guides, drivers, butlers--you get the idea. Travel arrangements are handled by an associate, Nasos Bampalis, who'll find the helicopter, the private jet, the table at the Athens restaurant of the moment. Or, as he did for one group of clients delayed in transit, send an employee to stand on a footbridge to keep a ferry in port until they could get there. "We promise we can do anything," says von Hirsch. "And if you want your clients to come back, you do."