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Suggestions for that unforgettable Crete vacation

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We hope the following accommodation suggestions categorized by type will help you discover the Crete vacation you’ll never forget.

Visitors to Crete in 2018 will be presented with an unheard-of array of vacation choices as compared to previous years. Voted one of world’s best destinations by TripAdvisor, the island of the ancient Minoans boasts of unmatched history on top of scores of Blue Flag beaches and more. Destination accolades aside, we hope the following accommodation suggestions categorized by type will help you discover the Crete vacation you’ll never forget. 

Horseback riding, just one of the Mythos Palace beach activities

 

The Top Family Resorts
Crete is the perfect destination for families aiming for that cornucopia of vacation bliss. The island is a natural paradise, a historic wonder, a laid-back seaside retreat, and an action packed kid pleasure rolled into one. From the gigantic waterslides of Acqua Plus Water Park in  Hersonissos to the endless strands of beaches in areas like Georgioupolis, Crete has it all. Minoan palaces and humongous museum collections, dinosaur parks and caves to explore, the list is endless. But you need a place to stay, right? So, here’s a few suggestions for all-inclusive stays.

Situated right on the beach at Georgioupolis, Mythos Palace is newly upgraded for 2018 making it an ideal choice for families wanting a new experience. This five-star oceanfront resort and spa has 24 hour dining options to fuel the most energetic family vacation. Guests will be amazed from the time they open their generous welcome packages to everyday sunbathing and games end in blissful sleep here. The resort is nothing short of amazing for 2018. 

For families on a budget the fabulous Creta Star is just up the coast from Georgioupolis outside picturesque Rethymno. Another all-inclusive gem, this oceanfront respite boasts of 324 rooms plush rooms, 3 restaurants and 3 bars, and a full complement of four-star amenities. This is a superb resort that offers tennis, Mini-golf, ping pong, archery, beach volley, aerobics, darts, and myriad watersports choices to guest. 

Other great choices in this category include; the fabulous Ostria Resort & Spa outside Ierapetra, Club Marine Palace with its own mega water park outside Rethymno at amazing Panormo, and the unbelievable Blue Bay Resort Hotel at Agia Pelagia just west of Heraklion. 

Infinity pool at Royal Marmin Bay overlooking Mirabello Bay

 

Adults Only
As fabulous as Crete is for family fun and adventure, the island is also a perfect romantic getaway unparalleled in its togetherness offerings. You’ve seen the romance of famous Balos Lagoon, and you’ve not doubt imagined sharing paradise under a waterfall or at a sexy dinner cruise. Crete has a “bucket list” of natural and manmade attractions to serve. Here’s a sampling of adults only digs to give you an idea. 

If convenience and value matters to you, the luxury studded Elysium Beach Hotel in Hersonissos may suit you best. Right on the beach, this luxurious boutique hotel is brand new, and possesses all the usual five-star suspects. Best of all, the sparking rooms here are a value at half the cost of similar digs up the beach. 

The Creta Royal is another exquisite 5-star hotel situated on its own 400 meter long beach, surrounded by magnificent gardens, just outside Rethymno. The hotel features 120 luxurious rooms, a choice of dining experiences and bars, the usual activity choices, and an incredible staff. 

If your searching for unprecedented grown up vacation bliss you’ll find most Crete hotels having a hard time outdoing the Royal Marmin Bay in Elounda. This adults only masterpeace literally melts into the Mirabello Bay environment as one of Greece’s only truly green hotels. The clear commitment to providing an unrivalled guest experience is clear as the Aegean waters here. The resort features 15 private pools and the main one all situated steps from an impeccable beach. VIP transfers, private planes, yacht excursions and more are also arranged though the hotel. Enjoy the Euphoria Spa, then dine at the gourmet Poseidon Grill overlooking the bay. There’s much more too. 

Other great adults only choices include; Daios Cove’s private bay and 165 private sea-water pools, the bungalows and suites of Ikaros Village in Malia, and the Monastery Estate Venetian Harbor in old town Chania, just to name a few.

The Grotto Homes indoor pool

 

The Villa Scene
With the growth of Aibnb in Greece, it was only a matter of time before villa and homeowners on Crete caught on to the craze. While resorts and specialty stays will always be in vogue on the Greek isles, the allure of country estates and seaside villas also represent vacation value for travelers. Family, couples, and friends can create economy and experiences like no other staying at Crete’s fabulous villas. Here’s a few to consider, but there are hundreds more. 

If traditional Cretan life is your quest, Grotto Homes is a page right out of a storybook. Owned and managed by on of Airbnb’s most popular hosts, VanGos Tsourlakis, this villa is perfect inside and out. The villa was an old olive mill in former times, but VanGos, who’s a famous local architect, has created a perfect synthesis of Cretan style and tradition overlooking the tiny mountain village of  Goulediana, in the heart of Rethymno Prefecture. The villa offers four plush bedrooms, two pools, and perfect elegance overlaying ideal Cretan lifestyle. 

For travelers with a nature penchant and intent on exploring the West of Crete, Metochi Villas are the perfect choice. Our travel team stayed in Villa Laina, which is the larger of three villas owned by Dionysius and Georgia Karalaki back in 2014. Of all the places we could have taken our team of to, the hamlet of Metohi outside Chania is where we all found the joy of philoxenia the island is so famous for. If you want fresh eggs and fruit set on your window sill each morning and the procession of the local farmer’s geese to wake up to, this stone villa half a click from the beach is ideal. 

The pool at Thalori Reserve overlooking the Libyan Sea

 

Alternative Tourism Stays
As I stated before, Crete is a natural wonderland that offers a touristic destination product like no other place on Earth. Ecotourism to wellness, adventure and cultural, the island has so much to offer it is impossible to list. The same holds true for specialty accommodations, but I’ll give the reader a short list of fabulous ones here. 

Perched 800 meters high up in the Asterousia Range of southern Crete, the Thalori Reserve is one of the island’s most amazing ecotourism resorts. That is, if you can call traditional Cretan lifestyle adventuring a “resort” experience. Markos and Popi Skordalakis have created a truly remarkable place to enjoy the best of the natural environment of Crete, while at the same time presenting the power of these mountains set against the serene and beautiful Libyan Sea. Guest can choose from any of twenty traditional stone houses fully restored and upgraded to be chic, modern, and efficient. Enjoy traditional Cretan cuisine at the restaurant, go canyoning with Markos, swim at the remote beach below the Monastery of Koudoumas, take a cooking course, or just relax and soak in the amazing views. Words simply do not serve to describe this place. 

Just a few kilometers from the capital of Heraklion at Axos, Enagron Ecotourism Village is another stellar example of traditional Cretan hospitality and lifestyle. This is authentic Crete at its best. This place is such a unique blend of history, myth, traditional Crete values and culture, and awe inspiring beauty, once again I am at a loss for words. Similar to Thalori where rooms/maisonettes are concerned, Enagron differs in the scope of the overall touristic product. Like Thalori and most other agritourism offers on Crete, Enagron is full throttle into nature and the exclusive use of local products. Unlike some other retreats, you’ll find olive trees, grapevine, all kinds of fruit trees, greens, vegetables and many herbs and aromatic plants grown at Enagron without the use of any chemicals or fertilizers. Furthermore, the farm at Enagron provides meat, eggs, milk, poultry and other fresh foods for guests. There’s also a vast array of activities to get involved in from outdoor history and adventure excursions to cooking classes and breadmaking. You can even get a massage or enjoy the relaxing benefits of the Tranquility Spa. Also check out local events and activities all season long near Axos. 

A little bit further afield in the Amari Valley of Rethymno Prefecture, history and nature lovers will be amazed by the offering at Aravanes Tavern & Rooms in Thronos. This traditional tavern looks out of the full panorama of Mt. Ida (Psiloritis) and the unbelievable valley where it is said the god Zeus played during his youth. Here Maria and Elefteria Papoutsakis and their family welcome travelers to one of Crete’s most amazing authentic Cretan experiences. Aravanes is similar to the other ecotourism offerings on the island but differentiates a bit in the “one-on-one” friendship and hospitality department. Chic and economical rooms are available, as are a multitude of nature and cultural excursions/classes. This is a great base camp to explore Rethymno gems like the famous Arkadi Monastery, Patsos Gorge, or for visiting picturesque Spili and dozens of other villages. As an added bonus, Aravanes is unrivalled in preparing traditional Cretan cuisine. You can even help, if you want. 

Other wonderful alternative experiences include the Dalabelos Estate located near the Angeliana Village southeast of Rethymno, the wonderful Milia Mountain Retreat outside Kissamos in the far West of the island, and the small but budding back to basics retreat Eco Retreat Crete at Agoii Pantes just South of Kalyves overlooking Souda Bay. 

Courtesy Abaton Island Resort & Spa

 

Coming Up: An Endless Luxury Summer 
I just visited the soon to be opened Seascape Luxury Residences in remarkable Agia Pelagia. What I can clue readers to, is a seaside experience unlike any other in this part of Cretge. Situated a few steps down a village alley from the perfect sandy beach, this places oozes contemporary elegance and subtle luxury. Each residence is uniquely situated to take advantage of two perfect swimming pools and a central pool bar. The property also takes advantage of its central location in the heart of the beautiful seaside village. Scheduled to open in a few days, this hideaway is cannot be classified as anything but a truly undiscovered Crete gem. Stay tuned for the grand opening here. 

For those seeking absolute luxury in paradise, the Abaton Island Resort & Spa is a brand new five-star at the center of fun filled Hersonissos. Beautifully designed top to bottom, the new hotel offers breathtaking views of the Cretan Sea, an amazing stable of fine restaurants, and some of the most amazing guest rooms and suites on Crete. There’s a world class ELEMIS spa, two amazing outdoor pools and one indoor spa pool, and a great strip of sandy beach too.

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