As the largest of Greece’s islands, Crete is abundant in beautiful scenery, stunning beaches and remote villages. Our travel experts visited three of Crete’s most exclusive properties, discovering their charm, family friendly facilities and luxury accommodation. Luxury travel specialist, Anna Payne, confirms this Aegean gem as a perfect destination for the whole family to enjoy.
Arriving at Daios Cove late at night, we decided to head to the Crystal Box Terrace for a nightcap- a cosy lounge area in a very pretty setting with lights leading up the cove and all around the resort. A DJ was playing and the atmosphere was very chilled, what a way to start the vacation!
During the day, Daios Cove takes on a totally different look. As you gaze out to the sea, to the left you can see an archaeological site which brings a touch of natural beauty and to the right the resort spreads up the hillside blending into the landscape.
The rooms all have a sea view, are a good size and luxuriously decorated but for a special occasion book into the Mansion– the name speaks for itself! This is a huge property to say the least, the décor is modern and minimalist, mainly white with grey and tan tones throughout. The three spacious bedrooms all come with en-suites, walk-in wardrobes and private balconies. On the ground level, you have your very own spa which consists of an indoor pool, gym, steam room and sauna. The outdoor area has two pools, a dining table and sunbeds, cabanas and loungers from all of which you can take in the breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. From the Mansion, you can enjoy the resort’s restaurants and facilities, or make use of the fully equipped kitchen and enjoy the luxury of a private chef to feel completely cut off from the outside world. The only downside to the Mansion would inevitably be the day you check out! It’s a total retreat and a great escape from it all!
Daios Cove offers some exciting experiences! You can board a helicopter from their helipad and head to beautiful Santorini in just 25 minutes, ideal for a day of exploring! If you want to stay closer home, Daios can arrange a day out in a Land Rover exploring the area and stopping for lunch. However, my top-tip would be the Spinalonga Boat Trip. We were lucky enough to do this amazing day trip on a catamaran, stopping at Plaka for lunch. On the way up the coastline, we stopped at a well-known pirate cove and jumped off the boat for a bit of snorkeling to cool down. A fruit platter and drinks were on hand too, which was perfect as the weather was glorious.
Giorgo’s tavern in Plaka is a great spot for an authentic Greek lunch, and has the best location overlooking Spinalonga whilst you eat. Ask for the catch of the day and you will be led to a fridge where you can pick your own freshly caught fish. We were totally spoiled for choice and every dish was delicious. Of course, no meal in Greece is complete without a shot of Reki to cleanse the palate– the staff are incredibly enthusiastic and they tend to get a little carried away here; but don’t worry that’s what vacations are all about!
For days spent in the resort, there is a large heated infinity pool overlooking the bay, with a small children’s pool to the side and a lovely pool bar serving drinks. For lunch, head down to the beach, where you can enjoy beach service or the beach bar which is great for informal dining. The water is lovely and calm and there is a steady slope going into the water, which makes it great for babies and toddlers too. If you disturb the sand under the water, look out for the small fish swimming around your feet!
There are several eating options at Daios Cove, but the Greek Taverna was my personal favorite! We ordered an array of starters, as the locals do, then had a main course of seafood spaghetti which I can highly recommend! The restaurant has a traditional Greek style with climbing plants growing up the terrace and a beautiful view over the sea.
Ocean is the fine dining restaurant, it is offers a set menu so the only choice we had to make is which main we would like and which wine to drink! Ocean offers smaller portions but more courses, making this a culinary experience you won’t want to miss out on.
For the younger guests we have our Scott Dunn Explorers kids club, which is full of toys and games, with so much to take in, it made me want to be a kid again! The nannies take the older children out on excursions whilst the younger ones go on an adventure around the resort to experience the rocket ship, or funicular!
I would absolutely recommend Daios Cove to both young families and couples, there is a great range of accommodation to suit everyone, the staff are all very friendly and willing to help with anything, not forgetting it’s luxurious feel. I really did struggle to find any negatives.
Once our time at Daios Cove had come to an end, we ventured into Aghios Nikolaos which is only a ten minute car journey away. You could easily spend a couple of hours in the town, wandering around the shops or having a bit of lunch. From there, we hired a car and headed out to Amirandes, a really easy drive which only took around 45 minutes.
On walking through the main doors of Amirandes you are hit with the ‘wow factor’ thanks to its impressive location overlooking the ocean. It was pretty windy while we were there and the sea was quite choppy. This would be great fun for older children, but if it’s not your cup of tea don’t worry. The pool is amazing and the staff are on hand with fresh fruit and water to tide you over until lunch!
As we walked around the resort it felt really spacious and even though it was busy there was still plenty of room and enough sunbeds for everyone. The nearest town, Gouves, is a 15 minute walk away, which can be reached by strolling along the ocean path. Here you will find bars, tavernas and a few shops. Although, with a choice of nine restaurants on site there are plenty of options to choose from.
There are so many room categories at Amirandes making it easy to find the perfect set up for your vacation. For special occasions you can book a couple of villas – some of which inter-connect.
The kids club welcomes children from 3 to 12 years of age. You can drop and pick up the little ones as you please, and it is all complimentary and run by Amirandes staff. Children will love the mini disco in the amphitheater in the evenings!
I would recommend Amirandes for young and older families plus couples too, as there really is something for everyone and it is in a great location for exploring the island.
Our final stop was just five minutes down the road at Paradise Island Villas. Set away from the coast, you really feel like you are in rural Crete without actually been too far away from anything! We had the warmest welcome from Eleni and the team who are all so incredibly helpful and know the area inside out. The property consists of 12 villas, all with their own hydro pool, private lawn area and fully equipped kitchen.
If your vacation diary is already quite full but you’re feeling like an inexpensive getaway, do consider Paradise Island Villas, which is perfect for the whole family. Although there is no childcare as such, children are welcome and there is a little playground for them under the trees, right next to the tennis courts. This is really handy if you want to have a game whilst keeping an eye on the little ones. Your villa can be kitted out with cots, stair-gates and all the necessary baby equipment- even pool inflatables for the kids! According to the mums in our group, the children’s menu is fantastic too!
If you have teenagers, I would recommend having lots of activities planned otherwise you could be faced with the dreaded boredom! Luckily, there are many activities right on the doorstep including hiking, horse riding, boat trips, island hopping, golf or going to the water park, to name a few.
Ambrosia is the main restaurant on site which is located next to the main pool overlooking their own olive grove. Eleni uses the olive harvesting season to get the staff together for some team bonding, so make sure you take a bottle of homemade olive oil home with you- it is delicious! When it comes to dinner time- and I think my colleagues would agree- you have to try the lobster spaghetti. Be sure to order in advance to avoid disappointment, our little (big) guy was caught fresh that morning!
As our time on Crete came to an end in Paradise Villas, we reminisced on some great vacation memories, unanimously agreeing that Greece is definitely finding its feet again. We were all very impressed with the hospitality both in, and outside the resorts and would definitely recommend it to friends, families and Scott Dunn guests. One member of the group loved the island so much, she is convinced she is Greek- we are currently waiting on the DNA results!