Cretan Malia Park: a family run, family orientated hotel with impressive eco-credentials. Immersed in nature, get ready to slip into life at a slower pace.
Malia may not be the first location that springs to mind when planning a trip to Crete – no thanks to its reputation for inebriated school leavers – however, this small enclave overlooking the Mediterranean Sea feels worlds away from the infamous strip, and is almost impossible to leave.
The Packing Edit
Having recently undergone an extensive renovation, Cretan Malia Park is a design-led hotel which marries authentic Cretan design with modernist touches. Effortlessly cool, it’s the very definition of laidback luxury. There are, of course, nods to traditional Greek design – note a palette of blue and white – but most notably, the verdant landscape – Mediterranean gardens, with an impressive array of cacti and hibiscus for good measure – is reflected in the interiors. The lobby positively blooms with foliage, whilst those with a keen eye for design will notice mid-century furniture and House of Hackney lamps and cushions dotted around.
Accommodation ranges from cosy and secluded guest rooms, to sprawling family suites. Peppered around the gardens you’ll find light-filled suites and bungalows with a boho, Cali-inspired vibe that doesn’t feel in the slightest contrived. Neutral tones are complemented by natural wood, rattan, and plants, and heightened by geometric tiles and decorative cushions. Marbled bathrooms with spacious walk-in showers are generously flanked by Olivera products, keeping with the hotel’s celebration of locally sourced produce.
The Little Extras
Rooms contain a welcome bottle of raki – the local digestif of choice. Whilst punchy, it’s the perfect tipple to prepare your stomach for the gourmet extravaganza to follow. Other thoughtful touches: the bottle of environmentally conscious SPF, raffia beach hats, and a woven beach bag provided for guests. Essentially, all you need for a day at the private beach.
The Food + Drink
The gourmet offering is where the resort truly shines. With three impressive restaurants, three bars (including a beach shack), and an ice-cream parlour to sate even the sweetest tooth, there is little chance of going home hungry here – or thirsty for that matter.
Mouries – which serves authentic Cretan fare – is the true jewel in the hotel’s crown. The courtyard restaurant is a sensory feast; everywhere you look there are baskets of fresh vegetables, vials of oils, and the smell of freshly baked bread billows from the open kitchen. The deliciously unpretentious food is sourced from the organic kitchen garden and local suppliers. Whilst dinner serves up an array of hearty, traditional dishes, an experiential breakfast at Mouries incites a childlike wonder as more and more plates of local cheeses, fruit, meats, and olives are brought to your table to sample; it’s a true education in local cuisine. By night, strings of fairy lights make for an effortlessly romantic setting.
Almyra is a wildly chic and modern Italian restaurant, overlooking the sea. The décor is beautiful; the space is adorned with blue and white pottery and piazza-style chairs. The menu spans truffle-laden pasta and crisp pizzas straight out of the stone oven, as well as fresh fish carpaccio and melt-in-the-mouth steak. The jovial waiters are ready to recommend a local Cretan wine to suit your dish perfectly, dispensing pearls of wisdom about the local wineries as they do so.
The Lobby Bar and Pool Bar are perfectly positioned to keep you well hydrated as you bask on one of the sun-loungers. However, we favoured the smart new Beach Shack, complete with rattan umbrellas and sprawling daybeds for a buzzy beach club feel from day-to-night. The informal Asian-inspired menu is perfect for lighter fare such as a healthy poké bowl for lunch, or some spicy edamame to nibble on as a snack. After something a little stronger? The hotel’s expert mixologist is on hand to whip up a couple of creative sundowner cocktails.
The To-Do List
The hotel is incredibly inviting to families, and with utterly brilliant kids clubs tired parents can get plenty of R&R, safe in the knowledge their little ones are being very well looked after. The Little Explorers Kids Club for ages three to 10-years old has plenty on offer to let their imaginations run free. There are cooking activities, a performance area for dance and theatre, and plenty of space for play. Separately, The Place caters to teens aged 13 to 17. This offers a curated program of teen-friendly activities, and by night turns into an al-fresco cinema.
With the children taken care of – and not one but THREE pools snaking through the resort – no one could blame you for wanting to sit poolside with a book and a carousel of cocktails arriving from the bar; however, there is plenty more to enjoy. Down at the private beach, you can hire pedalos and kayaks to further explore the coastline. You can also try a yoga class at The Pavilion – accompanied by the sound of the cicadas and breeze through the palm trees, it’s particularly soothing at sunrise and sunset.
A trip to The Cute Spa – a charming space sequestered behind a wall of banana trees – should be almost mandatory for a particularly zenful stay. Here, locally sourced olive oil, alongside Cretan grapes, and aloe vera form the base of their traditional massage treatments. As you leave, you will be handed a small pouch of hand-blended Cretan tea, to continue the blissful experience on home soil.