Venetia van Kuffeler and family experience traditional Greek hospitality at the Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel
Aside from its sandy coves, Crete’s combination of rugged mountains, flowery meadows, vineyards, orange groves and forgotten ruins have inspired visitors throughout history. But wherever you admire the island’s magnificent scenery, it’s always against a backdrop of gleaming blue sea, keeping Crete’s visitors returning time and time again.
Having met on Crete as a young couple in the 1960s, Spyros and Eliana Kokotos were quick to recognise Crete’s draw, purchasing some land on the north-east coast of the island. He was an architect and her family ran hotels, so they were well-placed to put their dream of developing Greece’s best holiday destination into reality. Elounda Mare opened in 1982, the first boutique hotel in Greece, and each room was built like a private Cretan villa with its own pool. The hotel joined Relais & Chateaux in 1987, and its demanding and cosmopolitan clientele meant Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort was soon born, home to Crete’s first golf course. The Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel opened in 2002, soon becoming the market leader in the entire Greek market, offering the largest private-pool seafront suites in the country.
The three properties overlook the beautiful bay of Mirabello, set in an expanse of Aegean Sea. My family and I had been allocated a one-bedroom Presidential Suite at Elounda Peninsula. Whitewashed and clad in bougainvillea, the suites are placed off cobbled streets like a Greek village. A pre-arrival questionnaire ensured our room had been equipped with the various cots and highchairs we required. Covering 80m2, the indoor space was spread between a bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a sitting room with guest bathroom. Comfortably housing our family of four (two adults plus two children), each morning we were left transfixed as the blinds revealed an overwhelming vision of electric blue. Set on a seafront location with steps down to the shore, the suite came with its own seawater pool and terrace. The bathroom could have done with modernising, but I must admit my sons were ecstatic about the vast Jacuzzi.
The two sister properties are just a short shuttle ride away, meaning that guests can dine in one of the eight restaurants, have a drink in one of several bars, or tee off on the nine-hole golf course. Our half-board dine-around scheme made life straight-forward, and gave us a few options for family dining. Breakfast was served at Calypso; we chose to feast on Italian cuisine under the shade of the olive trees at Aglio e Olio at lunch, and dinner meant indulging in endless choices at Nafsika’s buffet. One evening we hired a babysitter, and ventured to the romantic Old Mill restaurant for fine Cretan cuisine and Greek wine, while listening to waves lapping at the shore.
The Kids Ark provided an opportunity to relax and enjoy the resort with peace of mind, knowing our sons were being taken care of. For older children, there is football with Arsenal Soccer Camp, tennis lessons, table tennis, scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing and various other sea-worthy inflatable devices.
If sporting activities or sipping a cocktail lying on a sunbed overlooking the private sandy cove isn’t your thing, guests can visit the Greek Orthodox Chapel on the premises or the various boutiques selling items from buckets and spades to high-end fashion and jewellery. For spa junkies, there’s the world renowned Six Senses Spa, with an amazing range of treatments. Taking a high-tech and high-touch approach, the spa uses only pure, natural and environmentally friendly products.
Of course, there are opportunities to leave the property and go hiking or explore archaeological sites. Or you can also investigate the surrounding coastline by chartering the owner’s 82-foot navy blue hulled yacht. With two small children, the draw of the swimming pools and the sandy beach was enough.
Some guests have been so taken by the property that they have invested in an Elounda Peninsula Diamond Residence. Ranging from one to seven bedrooms, these are spectacular brand new private villas, with all the benefits and services of a world-class resort.
Set away from the other properties, Elounda Peninsula provides an extra level of privacy; it’s no wonder that it’s become a family favourite destination for celebrities. The staff were fantastically helpful, professional and efficient, taking the time to talk to and get to know our children. And the Kokotos family were very much still in evidence; Mr Kokotos toured the property each morning, trailed by a faithful dog. Behind Elounda Peninsula’s luxurious exterior lies a family-run hotel with traditional Greek hospitality.
Elounda Peninsula offers rooms from £310/ € 367per room per night based on two sharing.
T: +30 28410.68250