Whether it be Memorial Day or a European Bank Holiday, late-May marks the beginning of summer for much of the northern hemisphere. Early season conditions are best in the Eastern Mediterranean with Blue Marlin expanding its party presence from Ibiza to Bodrum this year. The posh beach club brand will manage a beach club and restaurant along Paradise Bay inside Mandarin Oriental. Nearby in Muglu, Nikki Beach Bodrum debuts in early July with beach club, restaurant and full-service hotel with prices that rival Amanruya. Canyon Ranch Kaplankaya also arrives to the region with a 141-room resort complex by Spanish firm OAB that's the first non-US destination for the spa-lifestyle brand. And despite the Viceroy Hotel Bodrum finally near completion, Viceroy Princes' Islands remains a worthier getaway with its fashion forward urban resort just 20-minutes via boat ride from Istanbul, opening early July.
On the other side of the Aegean, Mykonos gets a speedy summer start with the debut of new Bill & Coo Coast Suites along Agios Ioannis beach by the owners of Bill & Coo Suites & Lounge. In Ornos Bay, Kenshō Boutique Hotel & Suites is another new hotel name with a more minimalist approach to Mykonos design. In terms of dining, new Phoenix will offer Lebanese cooking and sunset cocktails in a stylish townhouse setting operated by the owners of Semeli Bar. A bit further from town, Nesea does farm-to-table cuisine in a rural setting but not nearly as dramatic as last year's Scorpios that promises to be better than ever this year with its new Sunset Rituals. Last year's glossy pop-ups of Project, Buddha Beach and Toy Room faltered on Mykonos but that hasn't stopped rumors of Bagatelle, Maddox, and VIP Room from circulating for 2016. Sadly, foreign brands fare poorly in these parts of the Mediterranean. Hopefully the developers behind the rumored Four Seasons and W Hotels along Agia Anna beach near Kalafatison will get the memo.
In Santorini, look for few changes going into this year - or any year for that matter. Design hotels like Iconic Santorini in Imerovigli continue to keep up with Perivolas and Katikies while slightly less-new Mystique Hotel, operated by Starwood's Luxury Collection, entices in Oia. But for those looking for the biggest bling scene in the early summer Mediterranean, look no further than Greece's Porto Heli that’s become the country's South of France equivalent in the last few years. Even amid economic crises, Amanzoe commanded weekend room rates upwards of $1500 a night with all new Ed Tuttle designed Villa 20, comprised of nine bedrooms, seven pools, a series of living and dining areas, a state-of-the-art gym with outdoor yoga terrace and its own spa. There's also a private concierge and butler to arrange a cabana at nearby Nikki Beach should your own poolside crowd simply not suffice.