As you know at House of Coco we love to travel, but even more so when the winter blues are creeping in at home and the destination is 27 degrees plus, now get us on that plane! We sent our travel writer Melissa to the beautiful Blue Palace Resort in Crete to indulge in the Cretan lifestyle and top up that Vitamin D.
Let me start by setting the scene. Nestled magnificently on a hillside the Blue Palace Resort and Spa, member of the luxury collection of Starwood Hotels, boasts exceptional views looking out onto the turquoise waters of the Aegean. A haven of tranquillity, serenity and peace – the panoramic landscape is truly unforgettable and instantly takes your breath away. With a perfect balance of luxury and Greek culture, this little gem allows you to lose yourself like nowhere else.
After a four hour journey from Leeds to London with endless circles finding my allocated parking area I arrived on time (for once) and ready to hit the Mediterranean. A glass of bubbly before take-off and it wasn’t long before we put the world to rights, and then some. We flew with Aegean airlines and I was blown away by the beauty of their hostess crew, all remarkably identical and pristine. With a quick stop off in Athens where we were ushered by security and almost missed the connecting flight, we soon landed in Crete excited to get there and settled in.
Upon arrival, the hotel was highly accommodating, greeting me with a smile and a fresh fruit juice. I felt more than reassured that I was in for a good time and they provided me with everything and anything I needed.
Day 1 Woke up, still dreaming – well that’s what I thought. Arising in my Mediterranean Maisonette Suite, a continental breakfast fit for a king delivered to the room, overlooking my private infinity pool, I knew it was the sign of a great day ahead.
A hotel tour gave us a chance to explore the grounds and really get a feel for the calming ambiance and super stunning surroundings. The resort has 251 rooms, 52 suites and four villas, and although the occupancy was 90% full on our stay there was such a sense of space throughout the complex. The Royal Blue Villa was my favourite of them all, and I promise it’s not because it has occupied the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga although I was in awe of the fact they had graced the floor beneath me. Anyway enough of my crazy fan antics I’m sure you can probably imagine the standard of the room. Tucked away in the hillside the villas are private and luxurious sleeping between six and eight guests, with a number of extra benefits including a large heated private pool, home cinema room and the option to order room service from any of the restaurants, ideal for those lazy nights ensuring absolute privacy when you don’t want to be papped or pestered. The life of an A-lister!
Lunch by the beach, cocktail in hand and sun beaming on my skin I certainly had the ‘Friday Feeling’. The Isola beach club is a new feature and only opened in July 2016, set amongst the olive trees besides the private beach it oozes bohemian vibes. This was the first of many traditional Cretan feasts and one thing is for sure you are NEVER left hungry. Salad, bread, cheese, wine and olive oil until my heart’s content, I was in my element. After a taster of everything on the menu I still had room for another of their Instagram worthy lobster dish magnificently presented in a pineapple (see proof below.)
It would be rude to not indulge in some history so we took a rewind to the Roman times with a visit to the famous Spinalonga (you may know as “The Island” from the bestselling book of Victoria Hislop) which was established in 1903 as a Leper colony. Literally a stone’s throw away taking just five minutes on a boat to reach. I had mixed emotions throughout the tour, the fact some people had to watch their loved ones be banished forever knowing they would never return broke my heart, but on a positive note they had created a community which held marriages and births on this Island. We had the sassiest guide called Rena who carried a photo of her and Lady Gaga, her stories brought everything to life she was fab with a capital F.
That was enough brain work for one day, with the attention span of a goldfish I was ready for the Wine tasting. Hosted by George a serious wine connoisseur; he taught us a few tricks which I will definitely be pulling out at my next party. Sailing the crystal clear waters around the gulf of Elounda on a caique with Greeks finest wine and cheese was truly magical – the good life.
Day 2 Breakfast, my favourite meal of the day was served at the Olea in the VIP section. With a choice of a-la-carte’ or buffet, I obviously went for both. I lost all sense of portion control and ended up in a food coma – standard behaviour. Satisfied and ready to venture out to Knossos Palace and the Museum of Heraklion we arrived to meet yet another amazing tour guide Karen who was highly passionate and again heaps of sass, she was adamant that I should look into my ancestry to see if I had any Greek roots , apparently I look like a Minoan princess, which I will certainly take. Prepare to see me with a red rope around my hair wearing a bee and honey necklace. Lunch stop on the way back at a small authentic Cretan restaurant called Peskesi. Based within the centre of Heraklion town, in the restored historical mansion of captain Polyxigkis, this is a must if you are ever visiting Crete! Serving cuisine full of traditional tastes, aromas and ingredients to die for! Again everything is cooked with fresh produce and you can really tell the difference – the ultimate Cretan dining experience.
Back to the hotel I had a few spare hours to wind down in the room enjoying the beautiful surroundings (and of course catch up on some emails) before a fine dining experience at the Flame restaurant. Here I experienced the best pudding I have EVER had the pleasure of tasting ‘the chocolate sphere’, my mouth is watering at the thought of it and I know what you are thinking, could you fit in any more food?
Day 3 When your itinerary for the full day goes a little like this ‘visit the spa’, ‘relax at the beach’ and ‘lunch’. Well I can’t complain really can I? The award winning Elounda Spa and Thalassotherapy experience was the icing on the cake to a wonderful weekend. Featuring three thalassotherapy pools, 24 treatment rooms and a 24/7 fitness centre (which I did attempt to use but failed miserably). The spa offers endless treatment options, you are spoilt for choice. From body rituals, made to measure facials and everything in between. I opted for the scalp and back massage and couldn’t resist stocking up on their natural APIVITA products to take a little reminder back home.
Well, I think it’s probably clear how amazing I felt after the whole trip. Exploring, relaxing, eating and drinking. One of my favourite press trips to date. I would happily recommend the Blue Palace Resort to everyone whether it’s a romantic break, family holiday or relaxing time with friends. A wonderful hotel, friendly and welcoming staff, I already can’t wait to return.
Efcharistó (thank you).
The Blue Palace Resort & Spa is open in 2017 from the 21st April to 30th October
Rooms start from €293 (approx. £228) per room per night, including breakfast and taxes
Visit their site: http://www.bluepalace.gr/
Aegean Airlines offer return economy flights from the UK to Crete from £135 per person, including all airport and security taxes, but excluding checked baggage and any booking fees that may be charged. Flights operate via Athens, daily from London Heathrow, up to 4 times weekly from Manchester, and during the summer twice weekly from Birmingham and Edinburgh.