I must confess to coming back from many family holidays in urgent need of a mini-break of some kind, so this year I was glad to round off a busy summer of adventures with my boys with a luxury getaway on the family-friendly island of Crete.
The Elounda Peninsula All-Suite is one of three swanky sister hotels clustered around the the Bay of Mirabello on the north-east coast of this popular Greek island. In the centre, the Porto Elounda Golf and Spa Resort is the largest of the three, with 123 rooms and suites in all sorts of family-friendly configurations; guests at the Peninsula on one side and the Elounda Mare on the other can use its extensive facilities for free, as well as having their own private beaches and other amenities.
We stayed in a vast Presidential Suite with a private pool and terrace overlooking the Elounda Peninsula’s beach (to which there’s direct access via your own gated stone stairway). They also had plum views of the resort’s private sailing ship – which my eight-year-old son Zac fantasised was a pirate vessel – and of the thrilling range of watersports going on in the bay, including the bonkers-looking flyboarding.
Zac had made friends around his own age on route – if you book the Elounda Peninsula with Sovereign, you get complimentary airport lounge access at Gatwick and a private transfer to the hotel. So he was happy to go with his new mates to check out Porto Elounda’s fabulous kids’ club, the Kids’ Ark, which has its own mini-waterpark and an Arsenal Soccer School.
While the heat of August stopped the kids from playing a huge amount of football during our stay, they all loved going to the kids’ club – especially the waterslides – and begged to go back even when they weren’t booked in for a sessions. Other activities that Zac especially enjoyed were a yoga class, an exfoliation lesson using olive oil and sea-salt, and baking bread with rosemary that he’d picked from the Kids’ Ark’s own herb garden. All of the latter are part of the Elounda’s unique new wellness program for children, teaching them the basics of nutrition, skincare and relaxation.
One night Zac also had a children’s tea at the Porto Elounda before settling down for a movie and popcorn at the Elounda Peninsula’s swish private cinema. Meanwhile, I checked out the Cretan fine dining at the Old Mill at the Elounda Mare, a hotel that is probably better for a parents’ break – kids are allowed but it’s much quieter and more suited to a babymoon or couple’s getaway. The views from here are dreamy, the food divine.
When Zac and I dined together, it was generally at the more relaxed, beachside Odysseas with its simple Greek favourites including spanakopita (cheese and spinach in filo pastry), squid, octopus, chicken skewers, dips and flatbread - perfect sharing food – as well as the usual suspects such as pizza for the less adventurous.
I also made a beeline for what is the jewel in the Elounda’s crown, at least from many a mum’s point of view – an extensive Six Senses spa with a delicious indoor-outdoor infinity bay with glorious bay views. Some treatments here are based on holistic Apivita toiletries based on Greek plant extracts, local bee products and organic essential oils – the same brand used for the kids’ wellness program and for the gorgeous in-suite toiletries.
In this lovely setting, I submitted to a vigorous deep-tissue massage using silicone cups – a new experience for me, and one said to improve blood flow and reawaken the senses. It proved to be just the ticket before we packed up and headed home for the start of a new school year. I think the Elounda Peninsula might just become a habit.
Read more about family holidays at the Elounda Peninsula All-Suite Hotel.