Charmed by Crete, Glass discovers the Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

CRETE is the largest of the Greek islands, dominating the Aegean, an embayment of the Mediterranean Sea. This glorious island boasts a dry and sunny climate during the months of April through to September, with high afternoon temperatures during the summer months conveniently cooled by a breeze from the Meltemi winds.

Aerial view of Elounda All Suite Hotel December 2017Aerial View of Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

With its majestic scenery from three mountain ranges creating a rugged backdrop to the golden sandy beaches, Crete is often claimed to the birthplace of the Gods. Its 6,000-year history, forged by its unique location at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia, waits to be explored at the impressive archaeological sites and museums across the island.

Elounda Peninsula Presidential Suite pool Crete December 2017Presidential Suite pool at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

We are staying at one of the most glamorous and luxurious resorts in Greece – which I’m sure is the reason that my husband and three adult children all decided to join me on this luxury break. The Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel is part of SA Hotels & Resorts, a family run group, located on a secluded rugged peninsular jutting into the Aegean Sea and accessed via a private winding road. The hotel offers its guests total privacy, with all suites boasting a sea-facing view, an outdoor area and a swimming pool.

Elounda Peninsula private slice of the sea Crete December 2017Our private slice of the sea at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

On entering our Presidential Suite villa, we’re immediately struck by the seascape view from our floor-to-ceiling French windows. I enthusiastically step outside into our private garden and dip my hand into the warm water of our pool. Narrow cobbled steps lead to a pathway down to our own little jetty, complete with sun loungers, a huge sunshade and direct access into the cobalt sea. Our very own magical slice of the Aegean.  We’re less excited about the interior of our villa. It’s contemporary and airy, with two double en-suite bedrooms, a large duplex living area complete with a compact kitchenette.

Calypso Restaurant Elounda Peninsula Crete December 2017Calypso Restaurant at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

Each morning we amble to breakfast in Calypso Restaurant, the smart dining room of the resort’s main building, which prides itself with picture-perfect far-reaching views across the glistening sea. There is a wide selection of healthy options from an impressive buffet display and an a la carte menu to choose from. Most of our time is spent relaxing within the privacy of our exclusive villa, either by our pool or on our jetty by the sea with only the sound of the occasional boats and water sports enthusiasts gliding by intermittently break our relaxing silence. Most days freshly prepared lunch is an intimate family affair in our villa’s garden, where we tuck into an array of crisp Greek salads and grilled fish, speedily delivered by an efficient room service team.

Calypso Restaurant Elounda Peninsula Crete December 2017Koh Restaurant at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

We don’t have to venture very far to enjoy the wide range of dining options available. Guests at Elounda Peninsula have access to the restaurants at the hotel’s sister properties, the Elounda Mare Hotel, a member of Relais & Chateaux, and Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort. The Pan-Asian Koh restaurant, positioned over the seawater on a raised glass floor, cleverly creates the illusion of being out at sea with waves breaking beneath our feet. Portions served are plentiful and artistically presented, with the succulent duck proving the biggest hit. In contrast, dinner al fresco by the sea is a more formal affair at the smart Elounda Mare with its Mediterranean-inspired menu, where we are presided over by an army of helpful staff. With gastronomy playing a major part in the life of the engaging locals, fresh produce and domestically pressed olive oils feature heavily on all the authentic Cretan menus.

Crete Six Senses SpaSix Senses Spa at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

We also have access to all the facilities at the other two hotels. The award-winning Six Senses Spa, overlooking the resort’s nine-hole golf course, is one of the most prestigious within the Six Senses Spa portfolio. Looking through the spa menu, I opt for the rejuvenating facial using the locally produced Apivita range of products, which leaves my skin visibly radiant. One of the highlights of the holiday for my family is taking advantage of the unique choice of water sports activities available within the resort. We hire a speedboat and cruise in the calm waters along the jagged coastline, while watching the silhouette of our resort and its villas disappear from view before circling back before dusk.

Elounda Peninsula Crete December 2017Outside at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel

There are plenty of places to explore within close proximity of the resort. Elounda, formally a quiet fishing village, has evolved into a picturesque harbour, lined with glamorous boutiques, buzzy restaurants and trendy bars. We reserve a waterside table at The Ferryman, one of the most famous restaurants in Crete, named after the 1977 film shot in Elounda, Who Pays the Ferryman. In contrast, Aghios Nikolaos, the largest town in eastern Crete, is filled with noisy tourists and a bustling harbour. The most visited local attraction is the islet of Spinalonga with its ancient ruins, which were featured in Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island – best time to visit is late afternoon to view the magnificent sunset slowly dipping into the salty sea.

On our final day I have the pleasure of meeting Mrs Kokotoy, wife of the founder of SA Hotels & Resorts, and I ask her what makes this place so unique. In her perfect, slightly accented English she replies, ‘my husband always puts himself in the shoes of his guests and thinks about what it is they want to ensure that their holiday is a memorable one’. Clearly, Mr Kokotoy has managed to do just that.

by Amanda Bernstein

Sovereign Luxury Travel (01293 832 459) has a seven-night holiday in the five star Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel in Crete, staying in a Peninsula Grand Three Bedroom Villa with Private Pool, on an B&B basis, from £1,938 per person (based on six adults sharing). The offer includes UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges, private resort transfers and return international flights from London Gatwick with easyJet. Based on selected 2018 departures.

Leave a Reply