Crete is the biggest island in Greece, has the largest number of inhabitants, and is the most diverse – which can make choosing where to stay tricky. Elounda Peninsula All Suites Hotel covers all the holiday bases.
The southernmost island in Europe, Crete shares cultural ties with Greece and Europe, but also with Northern Africa. Its shorelines stretch over 160 miles, and well over half a million people call the island home.
This means an abundance of choice of where to stay and what to do when visiting. But if spacious accommodation, spectacular sea views, world-class spas, high-end dining, endless activities and luxury yacht trips to explore locals sights and hidden beach coves are high on your holiday agenda (and let’s be honest, who’s ideal holiday check-list doesn’t look something like this) then Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel ticks all the boxes. And many more.
WHAT TO PACK
This is a large hotel. Resort, rather. Yet, thanks to a combination of clever architecture (it was founded and owned by well-known Greek architect, Spyros Kokotas, who has also worked across more than 40 other hotels in Greece) and the fact that it remains a family-run property, it feels boutique-like. Or like a very special home-from-home. Perhaps never more evident than when waking up on the top floor of your suite, padding downstairs to your kitchenette for freshly-cut fruit, and slipping through the patio doors, coffee in hand, to your private saltwater pool – every suite has one – to take in the panoramic sea views.
After extensive refurbishment to the tune of €15 million, the hotel’s 52 suites reopened in April 2023. It would be amiss to call any of this property’s accommodation rooms: as the hotel name proudly suggests, each and every space is much more than that. Here your choices are between suites ranging from the one-bedroom split-level junior suites, to the five, six or seven-bedroom waterfront suites. Opt for the latter and as well as a private pool, you’ll also benefit from private beaches and private dining. But, no matter which suite across the property you decide to book, two things remain the same: the expansive sea views and the private saltwater pool.
The Food + Drink
The most exciting dining experience at the hotel right now is newly-opened Japanese restaurant, Sumosan. This fine-dining restaurant has become a hotspot in places including Doha, Riyadh, Courchevel and beyond, and opened its doors in Greece for the first time in late May 2023. Not only is the food above and beyond, the location is too – it’s an intimate space on a secluded peninsula with views stretching across the nearby water to the Sitia Mountains. You could easily order the entire menu, but don’t miss the baby leaf salad with a sesame dressing, the 24-hour miso marinated black cod, or the varied maki, sashimi and nigiri.
For an elegant Italian dinner, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Elounda – sister to Il Borro in London and Dubai – is the spot to book. Tables are suspended above the Cretan Aegean and the menu comprises pizzas, pastas, antipasti, and plenty of fresh seafood. The truffle pizza and baby octopus with a red wine, tomato and onion sauce are firm favourites. By day, take an ocean-view seat at Yacht Club for Greek dishes or, as day turns into evening, relax with a cocktail-in-hand at Beach Bar & Lounge. The list of restaurants and bars doesn’t stop here and there seems to be an ideal choice for every occasion or mood, as well as an impressive wine cellar with bottles from across Greece and beyond. That includes a 2004 Pétrus Pomerol.
As you lounge in the indoor-outdoor Thalassotherapy pool – complete with water jets of varying pressure – at the Six Senses Spa, you might think nothing will top the views across the golf course towards the never-ending sea. But wait until you’ve had your treatment. This expansive space is home to 23 treatment rooms offering everything from massages and facials to aromatherapy, Ayurveda and Grecian-inspired scrubs and wraps.
If you want to go all out with a loved one, the five-hour Sense Of Love experience takes place in a private suite and will see you both scrubbed, massaged and wrapped before spending time together in the sauna, steam and jacuzzi, completed with a Champagne lunch. A shared hammam, sauna, steam room and ice-plunge pool are available to all guests, or use your spa-day to get a real health and wellness check with a high-tech, non-invasive wellness screening and skin analysis. Lastly, see if you can spot the three larger-than-life glass sculptures by Greek artist, Costas Varotsos.
The Little Extras
The benefit of staying at Elounda Peninsula is that it’s one part of a three-part hotel complex, with sister accommodation (Elounda Mare and Porto Elounda) located directly next door. Each of the three have a differing price point: Elounda Peninsula comes in highest but in return offers access to the facilities across each property, meaning additional beaches, swimming pools, fitness classes and more. Explore the expansive grounds of all three to discover a nine-hole golf course, three tennis courts, a gym, a games room with foosball, pinball, billiards, the kid’s club, and two shopping squares echoing the design of small Greek towns. There’s even a Greek-style chapel at one of them.
The To-Do List
In Crete? The list is extensive. If you’re passing through the island’s capital, Heraklion, it’s worth a few hours of exploration. Start at the 16th-century Venetian Port and Rocco a Mare Fortress, as well as being a cool spot to hide away in if the hot weather starts to wear you down, it’s home to a small museum offering an insight into Cretan history. Another museum worth paying attention to is the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, home to miniature models of great inventions across science, religion, technology, robotics, the arts, and more. Venetian architecture can be spotted across the city, but the Venetian Loggia – a space where Lords once gathered – is a particularly good example. Lastly, head to Peskesi for a traditional farm-to-table Cretan lunch or dinner, followed by a cooling cone from Davinci Gelato. You won’t regret either.
Closer to the hotel you’ll find Spinalonga, a small island-turned-sea-fortress-turned-leper-colony-turned-tourist-attraction. One of the best ways to see it is from the sea – the hotel offers cruises on its stunning sail-powered yacht to Spinalonga and beyond; use the excursion to discover small nearby coves and deserted beaches. Or, after a few games of golf at the nine-hole hotel course, you may want to double your game; the 18-hole Crete Golf Club has the only championship course on the island and is a short drive away.
If you’d prefer to spend time relaxing at the property (we wouldn’t blame you) and have swum in all the pools, explored all the beach coves, eaten at the many restaurants, perfected your swing on the tennis courts and spent time at the spa – plus money at the shops – then perhaps watersports are on the agenda. From wakeboarding to scuba-diving, windsurfing to canoeing, we would say there’s no time for sitting around here except, with so many idyllic spots to do so, there absolutely is. Top tip: seek out the small reading nook near the Yacht Club restaurant for a few hours of utter stillness as you soak in the beauty and diversity of not only the hotel, but also that of the unique Greek island it calls home.
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