Further Afield

Crete: The Crown of the Cyclades

Crete is one of Greece's most beautiful islands, and Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is the ultimate luxury escape

Crete, Greece’s largest island and arguably it’s most beautiful. Rugged, varied terrain from imposing mountains to fine-sand beaches, the birthplace of Zeus – according to Greek mythology – is nothing short of spectacular.

Crete has charm in abundance but it’s the pretty town of Elounda on the island’s north-eastern coast that will really steal your heart. With a mesmerizing crystal water bay, it’s no wonder that Greece’s most luxurious hotels are found perched around the shoreline here.  Bump shoulders with Hollywood royalty (Leonardo DiCaprio nonetheless) and the international jet set who flock to Elounda for the utmost privacy.

A world away from the busier, tourist towns that Crete was once best known for, Elounda is the perfect destination for a relaxing European getaway. With the aromatic smell of Moussaka in the air, to the genuine warmth of the Cretan hospitality, Elounda has that authentic Greek feel that many towns in Greece unfortunately lack. The friendliness of the locals and the mouthwatering local cuisine will make you feel as if you’re home away from home, at a time when comfort and consideration is exactly what we need from our travel plans.

Whilst there is no shortage of sights to see on Crete – the island of Spinalonga and the quaint town of Agios Nikolaos are two of the most notable, quite often the very best in Greek experience comes from your hotel itself. 

Five-star, luxury hotels in Crete have shot up in their droves over the last decade such is the draw of this cosmopolitan island, and if Crete is Greece’s crowning glory, Elounda is Crete’s. 

Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas was one of the very first hotels to be built in Elounda and still to this day maintains not only its traditional feel but also some of its original guests. They say the mark of a truly exceptional hotel is the volume of repeat guests, well Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas can honestly say that guests have been coming for 20-plus years and now bring their children and their children’s children and that’s what makes this hotel so special.

Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas was one of the very first hotels to be built in Elounda and still to this day maintains not only its traditional feel but also some of its original guests. They say the mark of a truly exceptional hotel is the volume of repeat guests, well Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas can honestly say that guests have been coming for 20-plus years and now bring their children and their children’s children and that’s what makes this hotel so special.

Exclusive but accessible is to best describe this resort – and it is a resort, sprawling over 40 acres of colourful gardens awash with the vibrant pinks of bougainvillea, and offering breathtaking views over the Mirabello Bay.  Here, you can be as secluded or as amongst it all as you like, with an extensive array of room and suite categories to choose from. Some older in their style to suit those guests that have been visiting for years and some, spectacularly flash in their views, facilities and size. The hotel doesn’t use the tagline “Heaven at Sea” lightly.

Accommodation is nestled throughout the grounds, with every type of guest catered for. Those with tighter budgets or less desire for “all the frills” are better suited to the main buildings where balconies offer beautiful sea views and elegantly decorated interiors.

Families have an abundance of choice from the two-bedroom family hotel suite to the incredible Family Villas with private heated pool which epitomise a safe and secure home away from home. A manicured lawn gives away to a temperature-controlled swimming pool and sizeable wooden terrace, perfect for dining together as a family in privacy. Not overlooked yet offering a distant yet spectacular view of the sea. An airy living space, separate kitchen and individual en-suites for each bedroom make longer stays all the more comfortable.

For GCC guests who are looking for something private yet palatial on their Greek odyssey, the Royal Villas are perfect. These magnificent villas, set back from the water’s edge, are everything a family could need from their vacation. A capaciously sized living room with separate dining area and fireplace for an added cosy feel; two bathrooms with special features such as a jacuzzi tub, sauna, steam bath and TV. There’s even a private gym and indoor heated swimming pool (in addition to the outdoor pool) for the utmost in privacy. In your private garden, enjoy both decked and lawned areas and another weather-resistant TV perfect for family evenings al-fresco. Some even come with private parking in case you have hired a car.

One of our favourite suites was the Premium Waterfront Junior Suite with Private Heated Pool.

For anyone that’s been to the Maldives, you’ll know the absolute wonder of an over-water villa. The sea gently lapping beneath you and those views! These suites are a little bit of the Maldives in Europe. Whilst not “over” the water the blue of a sizeable private pool seemingly spills over into the crystal-clear waters of the sea in front. Unobstructed views of the bay and beyond make for the most breathtaking (you’ll use that word a lot here) morning views. At a click of a button, curtains will draw back and reveal the true splendour of Elounda. The suites have been designed for the discerning traveller in mind and are perfect for couples, less so for those with children.

Spacious open-plan living neighbours an enormous bathroom complete with sunken jacuzzi bathtub (facing those all-important views), rain shower and a treadmill or exercise bike in case the urge to work off all that scrumptious Greek food comes over you.

The large decked terrace is a fantastic place to enjoy room-service, and there’s even an outside flat-screen TV although you won’t need it, not with these views. You even have your very own step access to the sea, complete with private sun terrace.

Such is the diversity of rooms, suites & villas at the hotel you’ll perhaps be surprised to stumble across some of the most unique (and luxurious) villas at Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas. The Yachting Villas, and in particular the Yachting Villa Waterfront with Private Heated Pool is nothing short of spectacular in its design. Spectacular is another word you will use a lot here.

These unique villas occupy a prime location right on the very edge of Mirabello Bay, with direct access to the sea.  With an avant-garde Yachting design, you’ll feel as if you’re staying on a high-tech, luxury boat. Each villa boasts state of the art technology – a common theme throughout the higher-spec suites and villas here – and have multiple decking areas, private pools, spacious sleeping and living areas and opulent bathrooms with that all-important sunken tub. Wrapped leather ceilings, polished teakwood flooring to a private movie theatre and hydro massage, every detail has been designed to create the ultimate vacation experience for the most discerning of guest.

Whilst on the island of Crete, we do encourage you to get out and explore the culinary delights on offer, for they are a plenty, but Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas also offers a range of delectable offerings if you’d rather not venture too far. Vacations should be afterall, whatever you want them to be. 

Whilst Covid has unfortunately caused a close and consolidation of some outlets (please check exact status directly with the hotel upon booking), you certainly won’t go hungry. 

For those looking for a casual bite, Argonaut Seaside restaurant offers light bites and an Italian restaurant for dinner. Healthy yet delicious Mediterranean fare lures you in, and those all-important views keep you there long after your meal has finished. Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas has its own app which you’ll need to download on your smartphone to view the menus, a welcome addition in the era of Covid.

For a traditional taste of Greece, Kafenion offers a memorable setting and hearty, Greek food. Sample irresistible delights of world-renowned Cretan cuisine where pure and simple, homemade dishes reign supreme in a rustic, laid-back setting of a traditional Greek village square, shaded by olive trees.

For something a little fancier, and our personal favourite, Dionysos, the hotel’s only fine dining Mediterranean restaurant is worth making a reservation for. Smart, casual – notably more so than other outlets, offers exquisite cuisine and a legendary wine cellar. Enjoy live music as you marvel in the beautifully presented dishes and the exclusive atmosphere.

Pre or post dinner, head to the Vegara bar, perched on the end of a jetty it’s a special spot for sundowners as you sip your crafted cocktails surrounded by the sound of the sea.

It’s not all dining and relaxing however, the resort offers leisure facilities galore to suit every age and preference. Swim laps in the outdoor seawater swimming pool or play a game of tennis on one of five outdoor, floodlit tennis courts.  There’s a watersports and diving center for those that wish to take to the water, where you can take one of many PADI certified courses.

For the less adventurous, there is a spa – although facilities were limited at the time of our visit due to Covid restrictions. The Espace Vitalite Chenot Crete is a renowned wellness centre in which hotel guests can choose from wellbeing and vitality programmes, beauty treatments, fitness and wellness facilities to relax, restore and rejuvenate during your stay.

Its unusual that a hotel which tries to be many things for many people is successful, but Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas manages to do exactly that, with an extra dollop of luxury for good measure. Part of Leading Hotels of the World, the hotel stays true to its traditions, is genuine in its guest-first approach and hasn’t fallen behind in evolving with the times. It’s a perfect contradiction of a resort. Traditional yet modern; luxurious yet accessible; Private yet popular. Rooms are high-tech yet décor in the main areas of the hotel are authentically Greek; it’s space vast yet the village feel is not lost. In short, staying at Elounda Hotel & Villas really does feel like you’re one of the family, part of its history and you know as you leave that it won’t quite be the last goodbye.

The hotel’s season runs April – October so book now for 2021. Opening April 20th 2021.

https://www.eloundabeach.gr

https://www.lhw.com/hotel/elounda-beach-hotel-villas-crete-greece

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