Our Managing Director, Helen, is out in Crete at the moment for a family holiday. We asked her to keep a daily diary of her trip to find out what she thought…
Day One: Domes of Fabulousness
Woke up in the early morning to an easy and Prosecco-filled start at the Number One lounge at Gatwick – an amazing perk that makes traveling effortless.
After a short flight, we arrived to the beautiful climate and surroundings of Heraklion. Although Crete is one of Greece’s largest islands, it still holds its own as a promoter of the idyllic Greek setting; Elounda town highlights the cuteness of authentic Cretan life, with little fishing boats and terrace restaurants lining the harbour.
However, nothing compares to the fabulousness of our hotel – Domes of Elounda is simply charming, easy-going however authentically stylish at the same time. I am staying in one of the private villas, allowing my family to enjoy a private pool and sunbathing terrace whilst simultaneously giving you that fantastic view.
The day ended with a spot of yoga overlooking the ocean, followed by dinner at one of the four restaurants in the hotel – the Asian food was fab, and the sushi was incredible.
So far so good, let’s hope the holiday continues being this incredible… I have no doubt it will!
Day two started with Rising Vinyasa yoga overlooking the sea (led by Evi, a visiting instructor who has inspired people from Greece to Dubai and beyond) while my husband tried the open-air gym.
Then there was a lovely breakfast, before my special treat – sunbathing on the private beach, reading The Island by Victoria Hislop. It’s a story about the island of Spinalonga, and it was made very real because as I lay on my sunbed I could see Spinalonga just a stone’s throw away across the bay.
A stroll into Plaka for lunch, at a table with a view of the jetty from which everyone departed on their final crossing to the island (no more about it or I’ll spoil the story).
The afternoon was spent sunbathing before a beach barbecue and even a brief flirtation with Greek dancing, followed by a short trip into Elounda for a nightcap.
Tomorrow I must book a trip to the island…
Thursday on Crete was bright but breezy, so after a leisurely breakfast we decided to sunbathe back at our villa, where we’d be sheltered from the occasional gusts. It still got hot though, so a lot of time was spent in our private pool, floating round on the lilos.
For a late lunch we went back to the beach bar and snacked looking out to sea. I got chatting to a mother and her young daughter, who had been to the spa for a ‘my mom & me massage’. What a lovely idea.
After all this activity, a quick snooze in the hammock on the jetty seemed in order, but getting in and out of hammocks has never been my strong point (much to my family’s amusement). Later in the afternoon, the beach bar transformed into Ibiza, with a DJ creating a Cafe Mambo style playlist – wouldn’t mind it being added to my Spotify!
After another fabulous Yin yoga session looking out to Spinalonga, we chilled back at the villa before a lovely dinner at the Italian restaurant. Burgers may not be genuine Italian, but my teenage son reckons the Black Angus beef burger is the best burger he’s ever had, and he knows his burgers! (The Greek red wine was also pretty fab.)
We returned from dinner to find certificates from the yoga instructor to verify that my daughter and I participated in the full body and soul session… what a thoughtful touch!
Looking forward to tomorrow, as via the concierge we have a special trip lined up to Spinalonga – can’t wait!
Today saw the long-awaited boat trip to Spinalonga.
We took a speedboat, and while the journey may be only 400 metres, and take roughly five minutes, waves and wind combined to ensure we arrived on the island looking like drowned rats!
Thankfully sun and breeze meant we dried out quickly while Lina, our guide, showed us round. I must say I found the story of the island’s time as a leper colony really humbling, especially when you think it all ended relatively recently.
We spent an hour learning about its history, including the time the bay was used as a refuelling base for Imperial Airways flying boats on their way to India. Grand travel indeed, but slow compared to today’s flights, especially compared to the guests who landed at the hotel’s helipad this morning. I know quite a few Sovereign guests opt to arrive in this way, but a helicopter transfer always sets the holiday off to a great start.
We ventured off-site for dinner, to Daios Cove, another hotel favoured by Sovereign clients. Dinner was a fusion of Nordic, Peruvian and French cuisine, and was a very high standard – really special, including the first time I’ve eaten Amberjack fish! It’s a shame our time on this part of the island is running out, as they have just introduced off road safaris in Range Rover Evoque convertibles, and we’d have loved to try it out. Maybe next time!
Day five kicked off with a beautiful breakfast. I have to admit I’ve never had sushi in the morning, but it was actually delicious! We decided to have a lazy day by the pool. Today was incredibly hot (with zero breeze), so it was nice to sit in the shade and admire the stunning scenery. We then decided to move ourselves to the beach bar for a much-needed drink.
My son and daughter wanted to try the water sports, so shortly after a relaxed Greek meze at the beach restaurant they were being pulled around the bay on a flying sofa (not sure this is great for the digestive system). I managed to go in the speed boat to be in prime position for pictures.
Back on the beach an ex-archaeologist was piling up glowing embers around terracotta pots, to prepare for a display of Minoan cooking. Anyone who knows me knows there’s no danger of me ever being invited to do a cookery demonstration!
Buggy ride back to the “Haute Living” lounge, which is available to guests staying in the villas. It has its own gym plus a lounge area, serving all-day drinks and snacks. You can wander in, grab today’s papers, and relax. The only problem is resisting a glass of bubbly or a home-made cake!
Speaking of cakes, in the early evening we visited a local women’s co-operative in the hills where we joined in as they made Cretan cheese pies, pastries, and traditional Cretan pasta. ( Oh no… more cooking!)
That same pasta was one of the courses in a lovely taverna on the waterfront back in Agios Nikolaos. Worried that some of the restaurants looked less authentic than others, we had asked our Sovereign concierge to book somewhere for us, and it was a great choice.
The day ended with a night cap in the open-air cocktail lounge, looking across the bay to a beautiful flood-lit Spinalonga.
Tomorrow we leave for Chania, but I must say we’ve loved our time in Elounda. The amazing villas and beautiful scenery create the sense of luxury living, however it would be nothing without the incredible service and charming staff who really have made our stay here fabulous.