Where is this?
In the bay of Alonda, east of the island, overlooking the beautiful honeyed island of Spinalonga, made famous by Victoria Hyslop’s book The Island. A five-minute walk takes you to the charming fishing village of Plaka, where craft shops line the water’s edge. Fifteen minutes in the other direction is the port town of Elounda—a good place to pick up Cretan olive oil and some local wine. Further afield, Heraklion airport is only an hour away by car.
The 195 bungalows, 52 suites and 4 villas are crafted from local stone and tumble down a steep hillside to a pebbly beach by the Aegean Sea. The design is tasteful with clean lines and classic Greek elegance as found in the lobby complete with travertine floors and soaring arches. Yet the natural beauty of the surroundings is allowed to take center stage.
Eating and drinking
This year, a not-to-be-missed aperitif hour and outside Arsenale Lounge Bar have been launched in collaboration with Venice’s Gratti Palace (a fellow Luxury Collection hotel) and their renowned bar manager Cristiano Luciana. Try their seriously delicious Wild Fennel Martini. The food, at their five restaurants, ranges from Pan-Asian to traditional Greek.
At Blue Door, an old stone-built, fisherman’s house, indulge in authentic fare such as hummus and taramesalat with warm pita bread and simply grilled sea bass. All with nightfall views over the neighboring Plaka. Gastronomic options At Anthós, a main dish celebrates Cretan heritage, such as the goat stew commonly served at weddings, but mainly the menu draws on the surrounding garden to forge old farm favorites. Can be made up-to-date in style.
There’s also an olive oil tasting menu for those who want to get under the island’s culinary skin. Breakfast there only for their local sheep curd.
Isola, under the swimming pool, offers all the highlights of Italian cuisine. Those who want to explore the world of local firewater tsikoudia or raki should book an appointment with the sommelier, as here you have the possibility to make your own.
Everything you would expect in a 5* resort. There is a large spa with manicures and pedicures along with Anne Simonin treatments, body massages and facials. The well-equipped gym offers fitness classes from yoga to Pilates and strength training. Along with the private pools that come with many rooms, there are several large pools on the property. Above reception is the Arsenale Pool, which is heated, while near the beach there is a children’s pool and another large swimming pool.
There is a water sports kiosk on the beach where you can book banana boat rides, water skiing and more, while those who prefer land based activities can enjoy the table tennis available. Various experiences are available to book: strongly recommended is wine tasting on a typical wooden caique boat, where the hotel sommelier, Leonidas, guides you through some of the island’s 70 wineries, local Talks with cheese.
Board a boat on the beach and a few minutes later disembark on the island of Spinalonga, famous for being home to one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. Built as a fortress in the 1700s, the island was occupied by the Venetians and Ottomans long before it became a leper colony. An interesting mix of history in the exhibition and a good explanation of how life was when it was a leper colony makes the visit really interesting.
Of the 225 rooms, suites and villas, 52 suites and 4 villas come with private pools. Obviously, an added bonus, even if the pools are small, they are worth the extra money. Best of all are the duplex suites, which offer a pool and sundeck downstairs, and a shaded terrace upstairs from which to dine. All rooms come in muted colors with cool stone floors, ultra-comfortable beds and elegant Greek apivita amenities.
It is the ideal family holiday destination with something for everyone.
Doubles from €412; marriott.com