It’s often difficult to find a quick getaway that will work for you and your family. Even when looking for a mini break for two, the options are endless and the prices can sometimes go stratospheric.
So which lux getaway to choose? Where can you get top service, cloudless blue skies and fewer crowds? Enter Crete, with its growing number of high-end restaurants, spas and boutique hotels and guaranteed azure skies and sunshine.
Away from the Malias of this world, Crete is giving Mykonos and Santorini a big run for their money when it comes to exclusive villa hotels with private pools, fabulous views and warm, sunny temperatures from March to November.
Cosseted away on the idyllic north-eastern coast, St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas is a serene complex boasting heavenly suites adorned in billowing white drapes, turquoise plunge pools and captivating sea views. This is a Greek idyll personified. The 107-room hotel has a choice of 2 and 3 bedroom villas, captivating studio suites and one-bedroom chic pool bungalows, in addition to sea-view rooms and suites.
The hotel prides itself on its privacy and luxury touches and is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. Inevitably then, the service feels effortlessly personalised. Many holidaymakers come with families, enjoying the villa-hotel feel where you can have the privacy of your own apartment or villa with the services and dining of a hotel to boot – meaning everyone can have a rest and some fun.
The architecture of the bungalows, for instance, cascade seaward, and the lines and walls of each ensure that your every viewpoint floor-to-ceiling azure blue of sky, sea or private pool.
Wake up overlooking the pool, read a book in your swoon-worthy cream wingback next to your picture window, or sip the cool Veuve Clicquot that awaits every guest out on your luscious patio.
Dining and atmosphere
The dining is sublime – the Greek Kafenion next to the olive trees and picture-perfect chapel is sheer bliss, while the Labyrinthos restaurant has a stunning sushi offering and beautiful fresh produce.
We are usually clamouring to leave and explore nearby restaurants when on holiday but such is the bespoke nature of the on-site restaurants, we could have happily dined here for a week.
A perfect blend of a traditional and modern architecture with a strong emphasis on privacy, intimacy and casual elegance. Mediterranean in character and in design combines the special charm of Authentic Greece with world class service.
St Nicolas spa
St Nicolas’ Poseidon spa has an indoor heated pool with hydro Jet bubble seats, marble Turkish steam baths and saunas, and sublime body and face treatments utilising Elemis and Cinq Monde products.
The treatment venues are unique – choose from ‘Aphrodite’s Bath’, a treatment cave for two, with a seawater Thalassotherapy pool beside the sea, hydrojets and bubble loungers, or the Blue Room, which sits at the very top of the spa with panoramic views of Mirabello Bay from the treatment room and its private veranda.
Eleni, the brilliant spa manager, wisely recommends the heavenly My Greek Honey Massage with Charup Honey (45 minutes, € 94), though there are myriad therapies and treatments that will see you walking out on cloud nine.
The new weekender
This lesser known side of Crete is filled with surprises. This is both shoulder season heaven and a place where you can relax with the family. The level of service, dining and all-round ambience is five star, yet it has fewer crowds and better weather than the classic Spanish and Italian holiday hotspots, meaning an early or late season weekend getaway or family holiday is a no brainer.
Book a stay at St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotels with Small Luxury Hotels of the World from €270 per night (two sharing) on a B&B basis; 0800 0482 314)