I recently enjoyed a lovely holiday on the Greek island of Crete. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas (today)
- Review: Abaton Island Resort & Spa
- Review: Daios Cove Luxury Hotel & Villas
Today (October 7, 2020): Review of Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas (Crete, Greece)
As the first luxury resort on Crete’s northeast coast, Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is considered one of Greece’s finest. Welcoming couples, families and even celebrities with warm and attentive service, the beautiful property offers spacious suites and stunning villas which are still considered the pinnacle of luxury in Crete. Guests can enjoy the peace and quiet of two private beaches, a treatment at the acclaimed spa Espace Vitalité Chenot, or a delicious meal at one of nine world-class restaurants. Crete’s cultural offerings are nearby but many guests hardly leave the property after entering the oasis of this exclusive resort. Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Crete.
Have you ever stayed at Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is one of the primary luxury resorts on Crete. Anchored in the Mediterranean Sea, on the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – Crete seems to spread its length like a barrier across the southern Aegean. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and fifth in size among the islands of the Mediterranean, after Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Cyprus. Land of Daidalos and Ikaros, Crete was deservedly called “the island of the Makares” or “paradise” by the ancient Greeks. Today, it is one of Europe’s most popular holiday spots, with visitors from al over the world coming here to admire island’s secluded bays, harsh mountain ranges, fertile plains, lively harbor towns, unspoiled villages, and of course, magnificent beaches.
- Offering breathtaking views over Mirabello Bay, this exclusive five star resort is situated close to the picturesque fishing village of Elounda on the North-East Coast of Crete. In fact, Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas was the first fully-fledged five-star resort to open in Greece (in 1971) and it put Elounda on the travel map. Since then half a dozen pretenders have squeezed into Mirabello bay, jostling for a sea-view slot, but Elounda Beach will always have the prime position, occupying 1 km (0.5 mi) of seashore. Since the hotel arrived in the area more than 3 decades ago, Elounda has also become one of Greece’s most exclusive travel spots, although it still retains a charming down-to-earth feel.
- From the entrance gate, a driveway lined by cypress trees leads to the main hotel building, which houses a classically styled lobby (with bar and piano lounge), the breakfast restaurant, and the resort’s standard rooms & suites. Next to the main building is an impeccably manicured garden with a massive pool, where it’s always tranquil due to the fact that most guests prefer to lounge at their private pool or at the beach. From the main building, a maze of walkways leads to the more expensive accommodations, with a layout somewhat reminiscent of a small Greek village. The scale of the resort site is at once both vast and intimate, offering uninterrupted views across the Aegean Sea to the horizon, yet still benefiting from the sheltering nature of the embracing bay.
- Spread across 40 acres of lush gardens, the property comprises several “mini-resort-like” clusters that offer a wide variety of accommodations, ranging from the main hotel pavilion (which houses the classic rooms and suites) to sumptuous, stand-alone, multi-bedroom villas. Spread out along the rocky shoreline and offering dazzling sea views, the pinnacle of luxury is the resort’s “Waterfront Dream Line Collection”, which comprises a string of ultra-modern seafront suites and villas, most of them creating the illusion of floating over the tranquil waters of Mirabello Bay. The precise location of all the accommodations can be explored via this interactive map on the resort’s website (click on ‘accommodation – map’).
- During my holiday, I was upgraded to a phenomenal Yachting Villa, which offered breathtaking views of Mirabello Bay and direct access to the sea. Boasting electric sliding glass doors and retractable television screens, the state-of-the-art villa featured a spacious bedroom and living area, which could be separate or open plan (according to your preference). The opulent, ensuite bathroom was equipped with sunken tub, floor and steam bath. There were three deck levels, one at the villa level (with a large swimming pool & living area), a lower private one and one at sea level, giving guests a choice of privacy. The use of teak flooring, polished steel columns and glass balustrades created the illusion of being on a luxury yacht.
- The resort offers two secluded beaches – a larger one and a small one – both of them located close to one another in a lovely, protected bay. Both beaches are composed of clean and soft sand, and have a gentle slope into the tranquil waters, making them perfect and safe places for swimming. Dozens of comfortable sun beds with umbrellas are available to guests, and they are spaced not too close together, enhancing relaxation and privacy. In between both beaches is a wooden pier with a water sports center, offering sailing, water-skiing, windsurfing, fishing excursions, and jet skiing. Other sport & leisure facilities at the resort include five floodlit tennis courts, a basket & beach volley court, badminton, table tennis, and mini golf.
- The hotel’s excellent wellness center – called The Espace Vitalité Chenot Crete – occupies an entire building, located next to the main hotel wing. The facility is so much more than a regular spa since it also comprises medical, hydro-biontology, and aesthetic departments. The spa itself is located on the building’s top floor, and offers holistic rejuvenation and relaxation in a setting of complete tranquility. A wide range of treatments is offered, most of them inspired by the ancient tradition of Chinese medicine. Massages are provided by highly trained therapists, which use techniques to suit the unique needs of each individual guest. A rooftop pool is available to spa guests, which offers great views of the Aegean Sea and Mirabello Bay.
- At Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas there are five restaurants to tempt the tastebuds of guests:
- Named after the hedonistic God of Wine, Dionysos is the property’s fine dining restaurant. Located next to the hotel’s chapel (more on that below), the newly refurbished venue serves a blend of Mediterranean gastronomy with contemporary influences.
- Close to Dionysos is Kafenion, a traditional Greek Restaurant which serves simple homemade-style delights in the quaint and laid-back setting of a traditional Greek village square, refreshingly shaded by olive trees.
- Argonaut is a chic waterfront restaurant – located next to the main beach – which offers a menu with a variety of fragrant Italian dishes, designed by the resort’s Italian chefs.
- One floor below Argonaut is Blue Lagoon Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which serves delectable, authentic Japanese and Peruvian fusion cuisine in a chic and glittering decor.
- Located inside the main hotel building, next to the swimming pool, is Artemis, offering a lavish buffet breakfast (currently replaced by à la carte options, due to the pandemic).
- Amid the gardens of the Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas, the resort’s architects have created a reproduction of a traditional Greek island village in miniature, built around a picturesque and romantic square with a carob tree at its center. The village is home to a lovely shopping center, complete with boutique, jewelry shop, kiosk and newsstand, as well as a museum of traditional Cretan art and the hotel’s very own chapel.
- Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is counted among the portfolio of the Leading Hotels of the World. The latter is an exclusive collection of more than 400 luxury hotels and resorts in over 80 countries. HW does not own hotels; it rather offers a reservation service for independent hotels and supports sales and marketing, advertising and public relations, financial services, quality control, and hotel inspections for its member properties. LHW has many iconic properties in its portfolio, such as such as Maia Luxury Resort in the Seychelles, the 12 Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia, The Langham London, Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, Le Sirenuse in Positano (Italy), the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, Laucala Island in Fiji, the Setai Miami Beach, and The Ritz in Paris.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- It might be a strange thing to mention, but I feel that the hotel’s official website could use an overhaul. The current website is rather boring, unattractive (especially when compared to the hotel’s high-end competitors on the island), and above all, it does not reflect the grandeur and exclusivity of some of its accommodations and facilities.
- The hotel opened in 1971 and was the height of luxury & innovation at that time. The hotel has expanded since then (and is still expanding), mainly by adding villas around the site. The most recently added villas along the waterline are extremely luxurious, and often feature on the cover of flashy magazines. However, some of the older villas and the rooms in the main building may not meet this high standard and feel dated (the hotel is currently in the process of renovating these rooms though). So, your experience will largely depend on the room type you book.
- Some of the common areas (such as the lobby and the pool area) are build in the 70s style, and although excellently maintained and refurbished several times over the past decades, they feel a bit old-fashioned and vintage according to current design standards, and lack the wow factor of the property’s astonishing top accommodations (e.g. Yachting Villas).
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 10/10 (Yacht Villas)
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,6/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: The hotel has a numerous types of rooms and villas and one can choose a suitable depending on needs and price. For a true five star experience, I suggest to book one of the (newly built or newly refurbished) Waterfront Dream Line suites or villas. If you have money to burn, you should book one of the property’s fabulous Yachting Villas.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
With its typically temperate Mediterranean climate, Crete is lucky to enjoy year-round sunshine, mild weather and high temperatures. This – and its beautiful backdrop – makes it a popular holiday destination. The seasons can be roughly split into two: a dry and hot summer from May to October, which is perfect for sun-worshippers and mild heat-lovers; and a milder winter, from November to April, which can be rainy at times and cooler at night. Spring-time or early in the summer season is the best time to sightsee and enjoy the diversity of Crete’s fauna and flora.
HOW TO GET THERE
Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas is a 45 minute drive from Heraklion International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Heraklion.