5* Luxury Crete

Heidi Kemsley on 20 May 2011
This was my first trip to Crete and over 15 years since I had travelled to Greece. My partner and I needed a few days to re-charge our batteries and chill in some spring sunshine, so having recently talked to a colleague about the area of Elounda we decided to take the 3hr 45min Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Heraklion, located in the north of the island.

On arrival the warm sunshine and scent of local herbs made me wonder why I had left it so long to return to the Greek Islands. Our private transfer was approximately 1 hour into Elounda and our home for the next 5 nights – the 5* Deluxe Elounda Peninsula Suites. I have to say the view of the Bay of Mirabello from our 1 Bedroom Peninsula Collection Suite with Private Pool was stunning. Our suite was a duplex with bedroom and bathroom above and full balcony and a downstairs lounge leading out onto a terrace and private pool. We even had a well-stocked mini-bar and whirlpool bath. All in all an idyllic place to relax in the 27 degree heat for a few days. The hotels private beach with sun shades plus loungers was my favourite spot to head to after a hearty breakfast – with fresh fruit, ham and feta cheeses and scrummy pastries, we certainly were spoiled for choice. The hot breakfast choices were also very tasty my partner reliably informed me each morning!

The hotel looks out across the bay to the 2 sister hotels; the Porto Elounda, a more family oriented hotel, which also boasts an attractive but quite technical private 9 hole golf course and the Elounda Mare, an elegant hotel built in the style of a Cretan Village with rooms either in the main building or in stone bungalows and suites in the pretty, terraced gardens. This hotel had an exclusive atmosphere with superb cuisine, which I have to say we sampled on 2 evenings – The Old Mill and the equally good Yacht Club.

The owners of these three beautiful hotels also have 2 yachts – one 82ft and the other 58 ft. These can be chartered for the day and we were really spoiled with a fantastic afternoon cruise down to Spinalonga Island approximately 1 hour away just off the coast of Plaka. Spinalonga has a fascinating history, being under Venetian and Ottoman rule in its time then in 1907 it was the Leper Colony for Greece until 1954 when following a remarkable breakthrough in treatment for leprosy, a cure was discovered and the leper colony finally saw its last inhabitants leave the island. Today there are regular boat trips from both Elounda and Plaka to visit the old streets, tunnels, chapel and houses on the island, which still exist today. The well-known book entitled ‘The Island’ is a fictional story based on how a local families life was touched so dramatically by this island, definitely a must read whilst relaxing!

Another treat was the award winning Six Senses Spa, which is situated at the Porto Elounda Resort just a 10 minute walk through the olive trees and gardens from the Peninsula Suites. I indulged myself one morning in an Indian head and shoulder massage, which was simply delightful and so relaxing. The spa also has a Hammam, sauna, stunning indoor pool and a relaxation suite which guests can use free of charge.

Elounda main town is either a 20 minute walk or 5 minutes and 5 Euros by cab. We ate here one evening in a superb, waterside tavern called The Ferryman, which came well recommended by guests who return each year. On another evening out we took a cab a little further along the coast to Plaka and again had a superb meal of meze plates – deep fried squid, cheese pastries (spanakopita), octopus, excellent Greek salad and a local fish similar to Dorado.

I can’t remember the last time I swam in such crystal, clear waters or gazed at a view as blue as far as the eye can see. Just stunning!

To sum up our mini-break – it was just too short but all great things have to come to an end and we have vowed to return to Crete and the beautiful Bay of Mirabello and Elounda.