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Mykonos island news and views

Mykonos sits In the central Cyclades islands and is considered the archetypal Greek island, with sugar cube houses and blue-domed churches bathed in sunlit blue skies. Holiday visitors are joined by cruise ships attracted by the glamorous setting, the hedonistic clubs and some of the most attractive beaches to be found in the Greek islands.

Mykonos island waterfront
Mykonos pays price for popularity

The Greek island of Mykonos is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean but there is a heavy price to pay for popularity. But popularity comes at a price. Not only has the Greek island has seen a staggering 20% rise in tourist numbers this year it has also seen an unprecedented rise in prices and a massive increase in new hotel and apartment building, much of it illegal. The average rental price of a luxury villa on Mykonos this season was €10,500 per week. In August this year, the cheapest single room in Mykonos main town cost, no bigger than a broom cupboard, costs €120 a night. This summer, some of the top island restaurants demand a minimum €10,000 a table. Admittedly tables come with private chefs and luxury cars to ferry guests to their yachts and helicopters but even so; It is harder to find higher prices on luxury Mediterranean resorts like Cannes and St Tropez. Tourist visitors to Mykonos report higher prices in the tavernas, bars and clubs, around 50% higher than other popular islands such as Crete and Rhodes with average room rental around double that on nearby Paros or Naxos. Mykonos gets very crowded from April to November. The island has its beaches but this is at heart a party island and a big draw for visitors from all over Europe There are relatively cheap places to stay on Mykonos but they are of lower quality and will not be in the best locations. Out of season visitors will pay less but many of the attractions shut down at the end of summer. Island council officials are increasingly concerned at the amount of illegal building going. Concrete lorries are often heard at night. There have been police crackdowns on the illegal building but there are too few officers to track down offenders. And illegal construction is not a new problem for Mykonos. The profits to be made for renting or sale heavily outweigh the fines that are imposed. A four-bed villa overlooking Agios Stefanos beach, for example, will cost more than €3 million and a one-bed townhouse in Mykonos Chora is on the market for €200,000. But locals have been complaining about indiscriminate building for years. As long ago as 1989 the island newspaper was warning of illegal construction in Platis Gialos and other beaches but it failed to stem the building boom. Around 40 residential building permits for new hotels have been issued on Mykonos so far this year with at least another 50 in the pipeline as entrepreneurs continue to cash in on the seemingly insatiable demand. But the rocketing demand and soaring prices have triggered social problems for the locals and for the seasonal workers in the bars and restaurants hoping to find somewhere cheap to live. With monthly average rents of Mykonos average at €4,800 euros and rising to €6,500 in high summer season workers are forced to share bunk beds in tiny windowless rooms. Mykonos remains one of the most tourism-driven islands in the Aegean Sea and is famous for its cubed whitewashed houses that climb the hillsides and for its splendid beaches, mostly lying along the south coast. The organised summer beach parties are famous throughout the world and its a favourite haunt of cruise ships which can unload thousands of visitors every day. Mykonos may have its 24-hour party population but the island is still small compared to clubbing islands in the Mediterranean such as Ibiza. But it does attract the rich and famous with regular visits from movie stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Lindsay Lohan as well as social media performers like the Kardashians. Greece's economic problems appear to have escaped Mykonos which is covered in five-star resorts that host celebrity guests such as Mel Gibson and Sharon Stone although many stars choose to dock their mega-yachts in Mykonos harbour. The centre is crammed with outlets for luxury brands and international restaurants such as London's Hakkasan and the Buddha-Bar of Paris now have tables on Mykonos, so the celebrities can feel at home.

mykonos club
Mykonos clubs close in protest

Owners angry at imposition of 3am curfew. Nightclub owners on the popular Greek holiday island of Mykonos have locked the doors to their clubs in protest at new regulations. Club owners are angry at new laws which now force them to close their doors at 3am and ask customers to leaves. Now theyt have imposed their own 10-day strike to try and force island authorities to change their minds and let clients dance until dawn. It means that holidaymakers hoping to dance the night away at popular Mykonos resorts will find club doors closed and notices explaining why club owners have taken such drastic strike action. New regulations on late night entertainment venues across Greece include a ban on opening after 3am without special permission. Greek authorities have been vigilant in imposing 3am curfews on nightclubs and bars across the island, prompting a backlash from owners who claim they are only meeting public demand. Club owners argue that the new regulations will have a dramatic effect on their businesses, as well as hurting the whole of the island's economy. Some bars and restaurants have joined in the protest by closing their premises just as the main holiday season is getting under way. Mykonos, lies at the heart of the Cyclades islands, and is a popular destination for young people with scores of late night bars and nightclubs in the island capital. A famous playground for the rich and famous, Mykonos is also favoured by gays who make up a large proportion of the holiday population each year. Noted for its party atmosphere Mykonos also attracts young couples who want to marry and spend their honeymoon there with several Mykonos-based wedding agencies now offering luxury weddings in a dream Greek island setting. The island's newly elected mayor is backing the protest and has asked for talks with ministers in Athens to try and reach a solution. Meanwhile the doors of many clubs, bars and restaurants are staying firmly shut and owners threaten more action over the peak holiday season.

Naomi Campbell Mykonos
Catwalk star on Mykonos

Catwalk star on Mykonos holiday. Catwalk star Naomi Campbell is the latest celebrity to take a holiday break in the Greek Islands this summer. The 43-year-old supermodel is relaxing in the Mykonos beach resort of Ornos, a spot not particularly noted for its nightlife so presumably she's seeking a spot of relaxation. The model has had a turbulent year after she split with Russian billionaire Vladimir Doronin who is now dating 25-year-old Chinese model Luo Zilin. Naomi is on holidaying with fashion industry friends including Stefano Pilati, former head designer of Yves Saint Laurent and Giovanni Bianco, who has worked as a creative director with Dolce & Gabbana She is the latest in a long line of stars that favour the Greek Islands for a summer break holiday. Naomi Campbell is a regular visitor to Rhodes while Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are firm fans of the island of Skiathos. Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband Michael Douglas were recently in Kos and Symi on a cruise of the Greek Islands while director Steven Spielberg and actors Hugh Jackman and Harrison Ford can often be seen in the islands. Sharon Stone has moored her luxury yacht on Mykonos, and John Malkovich holidays of Patmos. Corfu is a favourite of Janet Jackson while the Kadashians recently chose Mykonos to film an episode of their TV show.

Greece rubbish bins
Holiday rubbish

Rubbish and mosquitoes hit tourists. Council cutbacks and repeated strikes are starting to take their toll on holiday visitors to the Greek islands. It's not just cancelled ferries and the lack of buses that's causing problems. Rubbish and mosquitoes are running rampant. Greece is not known for cleaning up rubbish quickly but strikes by binmen have left bins and skips overflowing with rubbish and stinking to high heaven. And government cutbacks in annual spraying programmes designed to curb mosquitoes has seen a sharp rise in populations this year. Experts warn that mosquito numbers have run wild in some parts of Greece over the past three breeding seasons. Last year there were outbreaks of the deadly West Nile virus in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Kavala, Evis, Pelia and Imathia. More worryingly there was first time evidence of the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, on the popular Greek holiday islands of Corfu, Lefkas and Samos. These islands are now in a state of red alert in a bid to reduce risk of the disease spreading. Most people are immune to the West Nile virus but when symptoms do occur they can be severe and range from fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting to, in a small number of cases, neurological disease. Old people, babies and those taking immunosupressive drugs are the most susceptible. It's not what holidaymakers want to hear when planning their annual holidays. The Greek holiday island of Mykonos has one of the hardest hit by striking binmen and piles of rubbish and overloaded bins. The mayor of Mykonos, Irini Grypari, says about 80 tons of rubbish needs to be collected but there are not enough trucks to dispose of the waste and there is a shortage of manpower. He said: "We will do everything to clear the island but the case has turned very difficult. " The island has advertised for around 40 seasonal workers to help clear the backlog but cannot find the staff. The authorities also plan to rent and extra six garbage trucks. The landfill site on Mykonos is rated among the worst on the Greek islands and doesn't yet meet minimum European standards.

Cavo Tagoo Hotel on Mykonos
Guide to Mykonos

A brief tourist guide to Mykonos. The picturesque island of Mykonos, one of the larger of the Cyclades Islands, is visited by countless tourists every year. And it's not difficult to see why. It is heralded as being the typical Greek island with sun, sea and sand alongside a beautiful rolling landscape dotted with whitewashed houses and blue domed churches. It draws a range of people, from couples on idyllic honeymoons to young people enjoying the nightlife, and older people looking to relax. At one time it used to draw the rich and famous and was the place to be seen. While this reputation has diminished slightly over the years, it is still an amazing place to visit for a number of reasons. If you want to see a bit of everything, your best bet would be start looking at Mykonos Town hotels. The town, located on the west side of the island, has something for everyone and is within easy travelling distance of most places on the island. It's a very pedestrian friendly place to visit, with vehicles being banned from the waterfront, so take some time to explore its winding streets on foot. The town is well known for its Venetian influences with its stunning architecture shown off in buildings such as the Panagia Paraportiani church; 'Little Venice' is one of the most popular things to see in Mykonos. Make sure you don't miss the 16th century Venetian style windmills that perch on a hillside above the town. If you're looking for a bit of peace and quiet not too far away, head to Agios Stefanos beach. It's less than 2km away from the town but still has all the necessary amenities such as tavernas and cafes. It's very family friendly with plenty of activities such as water sports for the kids to take part in while the parents can relax. Mykonos is renowned for its stretches of gorgeous white sandy beaches, so wherever you are on the island you're bound to find one for you. Mykonos is also famed for its nightlife. In the evening and late into the night, everyone comes out onto the streets to party. Many people start the evening in a restaurant along the harbour or in Little Venice before heading out to the clubs and bars much later at night when the party really begins. There are a huge number of bars and clubs to suit everyone's tastes, but the most popular are Argo, where you'll hear a selection of rock music, Cavo Paradiso, with its famous DJs playing electronic and trance club music and Pierro's. Make sure to indulge in a little of the Greek shopping experience while you're on the island too. The most traditional shops are found down the small streets, selling handmade items such as jewellery and crafts. There are also a number of designer boutiques mainly concentrated around Matogianni Street. If you're getting a little bored of the island, there are ferry services between many of the Greek Islands as well as to Athens and the coast of Turkey. Head down to the harbour to find out what's available for you during your time there.

Kardashians in Mykonos
Celebrity family

Greek Islands bash for celebrities. The mega-rich celebrity Kardashian family has been touring the Greek Islands on a ten-day holiday spree. Sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe along with mother Kris and 20 more family members, as well as a TV camera crew of 50, flew to a Mykonos break this week. The family has rented several luxurious villas and hired a luxury yacht for their stay; the TV crew, obviously, were stuck in a cheap hotel. The media savvy family spend their time swimming, sunbathing, snapping pictures and shooting footage for their reality TV show 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'. They all made a decent stab at snubbing the locals and ignoring the paparazzi who quickly surrounded the socialite spenders. Celebrity magazines reported the three sisters walking to the port of Mykonos wearing white bathrobes – as the world held its breath. A bit of a bored diversion from the Mykonos fling has been a row with a Santorini hotel owner over party plate-smashing, Greek style. Local media reported the Kardashians demanding to smash plates at a party in the Santorini hotel but the Greek owner refused. Many holiday visitors to boats to hop between the Greek islands but these had leased a private plane to fly them from Mykonos to Santorini for the day. They shot more scenes to the TV show and tweeted lots of pictures from the island while hordes of photographers prayed for some bikini footage. The idea of a Greek Island holiday came from the Hellenic-American Chamber of Tourism as a good publicity stunt for the Greek Islands and – let's be honest – it's paying off so far.

Mykonos island waterfront
Tax fraud

Mykonos island mayor accused of tax fraud. It used to be something of a joke among holiday visitors that people in the tourist trade in the Greek Islands never paid taxes. And Greek tax officials admitted earlier this year that tax cheating rates on some Greek islands were at levels of 100% as no businesses ever paid any tax bills. Police even had to be called in to the island of Hydra when protesters threatened to release a restaurant owner being held in a police cell accused of tax evasion. But austerity measures have brought a new attitude to tax cheats on the Greek islands and a crackdown by tax officers on those accused of fiddling their taxes. In the latest incident the mayor of Mykonos, Thanasis Kousathanas-Mega, a former mayor Christos Veronis, two deputy mayors and six employees at the island's finance department face fraud charges over the alleged issue of fake documents to cover up a scheme to siphon off €6 million of tax revenues. A total of 11 hotel owners on Mykonos also face misdemeanour charges in the same case after allegedly setting up a scheme to pocket some of their own taxes themselves and to evade paying others. The mayor of Mykonos and the two deputy mayors are out on bail ranging from €50,000 to €150,000 and two finance department employees have been remanded in custody while two were released and two more are being questioned by police over alleged large-scale embezzlement of municipal funds. The allegations came to light nearly three years ago when a complaint was lodged by Mykonos hotel owner who claimed he was required to pay municipal taxes twice. Mykonos island magistrates are understood to be summoning managers at two banks to question them in connection with the same case. Mykonos is one of the most well-known and most visited Greek islands in the world and a popular spot for party-goers. The island has many nightclubs and tavernas that cater for visitors on Greek Island holidays.

Demi Moore chose a Greek Island holiday
Stars opt for Greek holidays

Celebrities on Greek Island holidays. A clutch of A-list celebrities is spending the summer on holiday in the Greek Islands this year. It appears that the stream of movie stars and rich-list celebrities choosing the Greek islands for a relaxing holiday grows longer each year. Top-name stars like John Travolta, Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have already graced the Greek island beaches and tavernas this year. Now Hollywood actress Demi Moore has been spotted on the Aegean island of Mykonos having dinner at a well-known Mykonos restaurant. Eye-witnesses were amazed to see has slipped international media attention to enjoy her Greek Island visit without harassment. One of the world's richest entrepreneurs, Russian business tycoon Roman Abramovic, spent several days on the island of Kefalonia. Islanders say there was little evidence of security as he enjoyed a bicycle ride. A Fiscardo taverna owner said she was amazed when Abramovic, billionaire owner of Chelsea football team, walked in saying he was very hungry and to cook whatever she liked. Only recently, Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli spent her summer holidays on the Greek island of Mykonos. She relayed her excitement on her Twitter post where she has nearly 300,000 followers. It was the second year running she chose Mykonos and she uploaded photos of her walking by the beach on a black bikini for her fans and followers. Refaeli came to Greece to take a professional photo shoot and has now made the islands a regular holiday port of call. Leonardo Di Caprio's former girlfriend appears to love Mykonos. Among the photos she uploaded were landscape and scenic shots of the Greek island. Mykonos has been the holiday choice for many celebs including Johnny Depp, Melanie Griffith, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, Shakira and George Michael, Within the past few years, a number of celebrities have snapped up homes in the Greek Islands. They are the latest in a long line of Hollywood stars known to have purchased land on the beautiful islands of Greece Actor Tom Hanks and his Greek wife Rita Wilson have a six-acre summer house on the tiny island of Antiparos and visit almost every year. Sean Connery is thought to have his own Greek home at Portocheli, near the Saronis island of Hydra Pop Queen Madonna has been looking for a new homes on the Ionian island of Kefalonia while Nicole Kidman has been house hunting in Spetses and Bruce Willis is rumoured to have bought land on the island of Corfu. Rowan Atkinson, famous as 'Mr Bean', owns a house on the island of Andros

Street on Mykonos island
Mykonos not cheap

No cheap holidays on Mykonos. Holiday hotel owners may be slashing prices in a bid to fill empty beds this year but visitors to popular Greek holiday islands like Mykonos won't find many cheap Greek island holiday deals on offer. While hotel room prices across Greece are up just 15% on last year, for Mykonos holidays the average price of a double room is now €88 a night – a whopping 66% rise on last year's prices. In Athens, the price for a double room has actually fallen by 2% to €110, and in the nearby port of Piraeus it is just €74 – a huge 20% fall on 21010 prices. Room prices have been slashed as money-troubled Greeks have decided against taking holidays this year. The domestic holiday market has been cut by 40%, according to some experts. The fall has been cushioned by a rise in overseas visitors, with the numbers of foreign tourists taking Greek island holidays up nearly 10% so far in 2011 – but there are still plenty of empty rooms in hotels on Greek islands that are traditionally favoured by Greek families. On popular international holiday spots such as Mykonos, and where demand still outstrips supply, it's a very different story. On the holiday islands of Kos room prices are up 52% on last year at €88 a night and on the island of Rhodes you will pay 25% more than last year at €96 a night. Overall, Greece does well compared to hotel prices in other rival Mediterranean countries. A double room in Ibiza, for example, is 104% higher than last year at €267, average Mallorca room prices are up 57% at €170 and a night in Antalya, Turkey, will cost an average €1 – up 25% on 2010. Travel spending by Greek island holiday visitors has risen 5.6% compared with 2010 mainly as a result of the increase in VAT on food by 13% to 23% this year.

Beach on Mykonos Greece
Gay snub for Greeks

Gay snub for Greek island holidays. Gay tourists are giving Greek Island holidays the thumbs down, according to the latest research into the Greek beach holiday tourism market. Greek island holidays on Lesbos and Mykonos beaches have been popular destinations with the gay tourist market for years, attracting thousands annually. But latest research reveals a sharp fall in the numbers of gay tourists heading for Greek island beaches despite a 10% rise in in tourism in Greece in 2011. Gays are turning elsewhere for beach holidays according to gay research firm OutNow Consulting, based in Amsterdam. And finance company Bloomberg claims Greece has dropped out of its top ten holiday destinations of choice for gay tourists. Greek island beaches on islands such as Lesbos and Mykonos used to be the most popular destinations for gays who spend an estimated €150 billion each year on holidays abroad. But gays are turning to more sophisticated venues with the most popular holiday destinations now being Rio de Janiero, New York, France, Spain and even Australia. Athens does not even appear among the top 20 city destinations for gay visitors. Tourist experts say it doesn't help that Greece falls short in legal protection for gay rights and fails to promote gay tourism. While the Greek Orthodox church opposes gay marriage, a government ministry established last year is examining proposals to change existing family law to recognise same-sex civil partnerships. The Greek government says it intends to change the law so Greece follows France and the UK in recognising same-sex partnerships but it may be too little, too late. Tourism accounts for and provides one in five jobs. Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said tourist spending could be a main driver of Greece's return to prosperity following the recent financial meltdown. Spending by holiday visitors to Greece increased 12.6 percent in the first half of 2011 compared with the first six months of last year, according to the Bank of Greece. Two thirds of gay holidaymakers seek hotels that welcome same-sex couples, according to TUI – the umbrella company for the UK's biggest holiday tour companies such as Thomson and First Choice holiday brands. Last year Thomson began marketing holidays aimed at gay and lesbian tourists.

Mykonos villas target of burglars
Burglars target Mykonos villas

Burglars target Mykonos holiday villas. Holidaymakers on the Greek holiday island of Mykonos have been warned to make sure they lock up their apartments and villas following a spate of burglaries. Successive cases of burglaries and break-ins into holiday apartments and villas have been reported across the island of Mykonos in August. Police say more than 15 holiday homes have been raided in just two weeks with two notable burglaries at luxury villas in the popular Ornos beach area of Mykonos. In one raid, burglars broke into the house of a well-known Greek businessman and stole cash, jewellery and other valuables worth an estimated €70,000 and in another they ransacked the villa of a Greek-Belgian businessman and stole cash and valuables worth €20,000. Police say Mykonos holiday tourists are particularly vulnerable to thieves as they tend to leave doors unlocked and windows open during the day when they visit the beach or other tourist facilities. There is no full-time experienced police presence on Mykonos despite the thousands of holiday visitors that pour into the popular island resorts each year. Residents in the cosmopolitan resort have repeatedly called for an experienced and permanent police presence on the island, which gets packed with holiday visitors throughout the summer. Currently, only newly graduated police officers are assigned to police the island and locals say they may not have the necessary experience to deal with such incidents.