Glancing through my site, you see that 95% of my blogs are about places we have visited, not accommodation we have stayed in. The exceptions are usually when we’ve stayed in hotels that are so superb that I feel I have to say more. Elounda Gulf Villas is an example of this. If you are considering going to this part of Crete, I think you should give them serious consideration. So, why is it so excellent?
Firstly, as ever, the most important ingredient in a splendid hotel is the staff. It doesn’t matter what facilities are available; it is the people* (see end of blog) that create the atmosphere and provide the service that makes your stay special. The challenge is to strike the right balance between friendliness and professionalism. If hotels get this wrong, staff are either too chummy and matey, or too aloof and snobbish. It’s about making the guest feel genuinely welcomed. At Elounda Gulf Villas, whether in reception, by the pool, at the bar, at the private beach, in the restaurant, or anywhere else, they got the balance just right.
As for the facilities, well it’s a 5* hotel so, you know these are going to be first class. I’m going to ‘walk’ through a typical day to describe how things were for us. We awoke to a panoramic view over our balcony (see pic) to a sea view of the Mirabello Gulf. We were given an upgraded room as it was early in the season and there weren’t many guests. Inevitably, all the fixtures and fittings in the room were top drawer.
The hotel is set on a hillside. We were at the top, and the restaurant was some way down below. We always walked down in an attempt to ‘justify’ how much we planned to eat. There are a wide range of choices for breakfast, hot and cold. We ate like royalty, think King Henry VIII, and consequently we never needed lunch. The return journey was on an electric buggy driven by a member of staff. I never stopped thinking this was fun!
There’s plenty to do in the local area during the daytime. Trips to the ruins of the leper colony at Spinalonga run from Elounda and Plaka, which is nearby. There are several beaches in the vicinity, Agios Nikoaos is a famous example, but it helps to have a car to reach them. Likewise, one could visit Lake Voulismeni, or the beautiful village of Kritsa. There are plenty of options. We rented from Athens cars, it was only about €25 a day. Having the car would also save your transfer costs. Elounda is about one hour’s drive from Heraklion.
We spent a couple of days on the hotel’s private beach. Dimitri took us down there. It’s a little bay with all you’d need, including food and drinks. I can recommend the frappe with ice cream. And my favourite beer, Etsa Pilsner, is very tasty. Every hour or so I’d take the same photograph and/or video sweep. I couldn’t resist it, see the video link at the bottom.
The hotel has an excellent restaurant. We ate there once. My lamb was tender and yummy. Prices are fine. Maybe a little more expensive than in Elounda town, but not much. Given it’s a first class establishment, you’d expect that. We got a few complimentary treats. Other guests did too; the occasional drink, mid-morning cake by the pool, a plate of cheese and biscuits one evening. It’s the little touches that make you feel like a special guest.
We stayed bed-and-breakfast as we always like to get a flavour of a place by wandering its bars and restaurants. Elounda centre is about a 25-minute walk from the hotel, mostly through olive groves with a view of the sea. It’s no chore! We found a place where you could cut through from the road. It’s about 50 yards after a café called ‘Thea’. From there, you can get onto the seafront near the sunken city of Olous and walk into the harbour centre.
We wandered into town most nights to mooch around, eat and drink, etc. For more about Elounda town and what it offers, click here to visit my blog on that (coming soon). It costs €10 for a taxi back to the hotel and we went to the bar for a nightcap every evening.
The days drifted by in an indolent manner. I’m good at indolence. I was sad to have to leave. Even after a great vacation there’s always a part of me that wants to go home, but I could have stayed here for a good while longer! This week was the 2nd half of a superb fortnight in Crete and it was a noble end to the holiday. I ended up feeling so relaxed.
I hope this gives a flavour of what we experienced at Elounda Gulf Villas. There’s more I could say, but I think I’ve made my point. It offers facilities we didn’t use, such as the gym and the spa. This article in the Daily Telegraph gives a good indication.
Should you go?
Obviously, I’m giving this the thumbs up. It’s why I wrote the blog. Elounda Gulf Villas is boutique in the sense that it is sophisticated and chic. It is small in the number of rooms and guests (33 villas/suites) but the site is quite extensive so you get a sense of privacy. It’s 5* so it’s not inexpensive, and the argument runs that you get what you pay for. For us, because as we went early in the season, we got rather more than we paid for.
And, frankly, a few things money can’t buy.
At the risk of missing worthy people out I would like to say a few personal thanks. To the Manager, Aris Morfopos who took personal care of us along with Sofia, the Captain of the restaurant. Nothing was too much trouble, so thank you both. In reception Louise, Maria and Angela were always welcoming, professional and full of advice. Mikalis in the bar was a star. Manos and all the waiters at breakfast were top notch and couldn’t do enough for you. I wish I knew more names…
I’ll learn a few more next time we go!