I last visited Greece 16 years ago, aged 20, and armed with my backpack, £700 spending money to keep me going for six weeks (food, drink and accommodation!) and my best friend, with whom I was embarking on our Shirley Valentine adventure around the Greek isles.
We explored five islands and moved around utilising the ferries, and when my budget was running out we even resorted to sleeping on deck during overnight sailing, wearing as many of our clothes as we could to keep warm! Well, my recent experience of Greece couldn’t be more different to back then and whilst I loved every bit of my trip all those years ago, I’m far more partial to a conventional bed to sleep on during my holidays now!
My recent trip was to Daios Cove nestled within, as the name suggests, its own private cove where the landscape is rugged and sunrises beautiful. You fly into Heraklion airport and the transfer is approximately 50 minutes (or you could fly to Athens and then over to Daios Cove’s helipad by helicopter if that’s your style!). We were very fortunate to stay in a Two Bed Villa with our own pool and huge veranda which gave us the privacy we were looking for and access to the Ocean Restaurant for breakfast overlooking the infinity pool and cove (which is exclusively for guests staying in the villas) as opposed to the main dining area, which I would also highly recommend.
The resort has 300 rooms which are sympathetically built in locally sourced stone which blend beautifully with the surrounding landscape and give the property a smaller, more boutique feeling than it actually is. The view from each room (the lead in rooms are a very good size with balcony), suite or villa offers a different perspective depending on their location; the higher up you go the more view you have of the nearest town Agios Nikolaos, coastline and mountains, and the huge square windows certainly make the most of framing some stunning scenes.
You could argue the beach is on the small side for the size of the property and lined with sun loungers, however the hotel only provides a certain number of beds on the off chance that the 70% of guests enjoying their own private pool decide to visit the beach all at once! During the week I was there I only saw, at any one time, half the sun loungers being utilised by guests while others were enjoying the private pools or the space around the infinity pool. The spa is enormous with two further indoor pools, sauna, steam room and plenty of treatment rooms, making a relaxing treatment a ‘must do’ whilst staying at Daios Cove.
We ate in all the restaurants and the service was very attentive in each yet adapted to suit the ambience; whether you were eating at the Ocean Restaurant enjoying the à la carte menu or the more relaxed (yet superb quality food) at the Taverna. The Crystal Box bar is an ideal spot to enjoy a pre and/or post dinner cocktail and take in the views before the sun sets.
The hotel is located 10 minutes from Agios Nikolaos, a harbour lined with restaurants and bars selling freshly caught seafood and other Cretan delicacies. The town is bigger than it looks with lots of side streets full of boutiques, local crafts and coffee shops, so something for everyone. The hotel Concierge can recommend local restaurants for when you want to travel out and explore and the taxis charge a flat fee of 13 Euros each way into town so no need for haggling or feeling you may be over charged.
My overall recommendation and ‘feel’ for this resort is that I instantly relaxed the moment I arrived which sometimes, when flying long-haul, can take a while once you’ve gotten over the flight and adjusted to the time difference. The service was consistently attentive but not pushy, the atmosphere laid back, perfect for families and couples with the benefit of having a local town to travel out to if you fancy trying different restaurants (and sampling some Raki). I’ll definitely be going back to Daios Cove, I’m not quite sure why I’ve left it so long to go back since visiting when I was 20, but I won’t be leaving it so long next time.