Frazzled parents like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s characters in the movie Before Midnight – filmed, in part, in the Costa Navarino resort itself – aren’t the only ones who can seek solace in this luxurious spot in the southwest corner of the Peloponnese peninsula, with its two luxurious hotels, The Westin and the slightly posher Romanos. While I uncoiled with a Healing Massage Remedy by Hippocrates, fusing ancient therapeutic knowledge with Greek aromatherapy, my 9-year-old Ripley indulged in a spot of olive-oil-based pampering in Anazoe Spa – the Oleotherapy children's massage eased his little limbs left taut by a bike ride to the sand dunes of Voidokilia Beach, described as one of the world’s most beautiful by The New York Times.
The estate’s own olive oil, harvested from trees moved to make way for this resort, the eco-friendly, job-creating dream of a local shipping magnate, joins the rosemary, mint and other edible plants growing rampant from every corner, crack and crevice. Oil, herbs and produce from the kitchen garden are put to great use in the food served up in its several restaurants – our favourite was a classic Greek salad in Barbouni beach bar, festooned with wild samphire and caper leaves.
We also enjoyed a family cookery lesson led by two charming local ladies in their stone house overlooking historically turbulent Navarino Bay and the diddy island of Cheloanki (‘Sea Turtle’), culminating in a convivial multi-lingual meal around their bare wooden table: zymarika (Greek pasta) sprinkled with grated local cheese and cinnamon, kayanas (dried pork with eggs and tomatoes), fritters, pickled aubergines and a dessert of baked milk.
Everything from beach yoga and stand-up paddleboarding to wine-tasting make it hard to simply flake on the Costa Navarino’s mile-long stretch of golden sand. Whatever you choose, The Sandcastle – now run by British firm Worldwide Kids Company – keeps 4–12-year-olds occupied with ancient clay designing, olive-wreath making and other activities with a local and/or environmental angle. If you’re yearning for a lie-in, you can book the kids in for a sleepover with the new friends they’ve made, hosted in the club’s cool dorm with its bunk-bed pods. Younger kids (from 4 months) get their own space, the Cocoon.
Many of The Westin's rooms have private infinity pools, but there are more pools dotted around the resort than you can shake a waterwing at, indoor and outdoor, plus an aquapark – cunningly positioned so as to be invisible from most areas of the resort. When the sun drives you to seek shade, the interactive Natura Hall is the place to swot up on local wildlife, including sea turtles and the African chameleon, claimed by some to have been brought to the region by the Romans.
Find out more about family holidays and book at The Westin, Costa Navarino.