When looking for a luxury Europe holiday in October, there are few options that offer guaranteed sunshine and blue skies, but one destination that I had never thought of before was Crete. However, as I learnt this while visiting this October, the island is in the south of Greece so enjoys temperatures close to those in Egypt and Turkey.
My holiday took place in Elounda Gulf Villas & Suites, which is a beautiful family owned hillside property overlooking the bay of Elounda, just 45 minutes transfer from Heraklion airport. It's all about the personal touch here; on arrival the warm welcome of the receptionist, Maria, instantly made me feel like we were long-time friends. In fact, looking through the guest comments book praise of the resort's helpful staff seems to be a common theme. After a smooth and speedy check-in, it was straight onto a buggy and up the hill to the Royal Villa where I was to spend my week gazing across the bay from my sublime infinity pool.
I spent my holiday with two close friends and would really recommend it for groups, but to be honest I think everyone will find something to love about this place! For couples I would suggest a stay in the romantic Massage Suite with Private Pool. This would be a great setting for a luxury honeymoon in Crete. Another lovely touch for a romantic getaway in this stellar suite is the amazing coloured lighting in the pool. Tell your ITC Travel Specialist what your partner's favourite colour is (or maybe the colour of your wedding decorations!) and when you arrive into your Suite the coloured lights in the pool will glow in your chosen hue. Super romantic!
Families will love it here too. The kids club is run by the UK-based Worldwide Kids Company, who have a great reputation and highly qualified staff. They also manage the kids' clubs in prestigious luxury resorts across the world, such as Sani Resort in Halkidiki and Jumby Bay in Antigua. Large villas here are great for big families and those on a multi-generational holiday. Some accommodation types also feature their own elevator, perfect for those who have difficulty with stairs.
The resort is also for fantastic if you're looking to keep fit during your holiday with healthier choices on the menu and the Spa Villas having their own gym, sauna and steam room.
But no fear, for those who, like me, love their food there's the weekly Crete night showcasing a huge variety of Crete and Greek cuisine, with guests entertained by local dancers and musicians. Otherwise, the main restaurant Argo has a very varied menu, and the Daphni Restaurant is well worth a visit at least once. It's a much more intimate setting with gourmet fare; our Concierge service will be happy to pre-book you a table so you don't miss out.
The whole resort is unique and quirky, with each suite and villa individually designed by one of the hotel's owners, Anna, so even if you book the same room category you could be in a differently coloured room with a totally different layout. Another unique element about the resort is its Beach Villa. It's very unusual for luxury resorts in Europe to have a villa just steps away from the sands and this one has spectacular views from its pool over the peninsular. Plus if you're staying in the Beach Villa the beach is totally yours before 10am and after 5pm! During the day other guests staying at the main resort can simply call the hotel's shuttle bus to take them along the 10 minute journey between the resort and the beach.
If you want to venture out, the town of Agios Nikolaos with its bars, shops and restaurants is just 25 minutes drive from the resort. Or just 15 minutes drive away is the quiet village of Plaka village complete with seaside tavernas, quaint shops and boat charters over to Spinalonga Island. One spot I'd recommend is Kanali Restaurant in Elounda; only 10 minutes drive away. The views are breath-taking with Spinalonga island in the distance, ancient windmills nearby and you are surrounded by the sea and a small river in which you can watch the fish below. Of course, there was also amazing food!
My time in Crete was enjoyed relaxing by my pool or at the beach, dancing during Crete night, wine tasting, touring the hotel, eating A LOT of amazingly fresh and tasty food, watching 3D movies in the villa and exploring the surrounding areas. I really could’ve stayed a lot longer and the staff made me and my friends feel completely at home.
Many members of our team at the Inspiring Travel Company have enjoyed spending time at Elounda Gulf Villa and Suites and all have returned singing its praises! Our advice is that early booking is the best option for your 2016 luxury holidays, as we can currently provide some fab offers with up to 15% discount and complimentary half board. What are you waiting for? You can call 01244 355 600 to speak to an experienced Travel Advisor about booking your own Cretan adventure right now. I couldn't recommend it highly enough!