I recently enjoyed a lovely holiday on the Greek island of Crete. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas
- Review: Abaton Island Resort & Spa (today)
- Review: Daios Cove Luxury Hotel & Villas
Today (, 2020): Review of Abaton Island Resort & Spa (Crete, Greece)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Abaton Island Resort & Spa
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks at this hotel with Virtuoso
Located on Crete’s northern coastline, near the lively town of Hersonissos, Abaton Island Resort & Spa offers elegant accommodation and panoramic sea views. The low-lying, all-white, ultra-modern hotel complex – one of the most stylish in Crete – offers world-class facilities, including a long rocky shoreline, a sandy beach, several large pools, an Elemis spa, and a collection of restaurants offering Greek and international cuisine. Its panoramic sea view is one of the best on the island, especially at sunset.
Abaton Island Resort & Spa features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Crete.
Have you ever stayed at Abaton Island Resort & Spa? 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
- Abaton Island Resort & Spa enjoys a prime seafront location on the Greek island of Crete. Greece’s largest island features a mountainous scenery, crammed with beautiful beaches and spectacular sights (ranging from desert island atolls to far-flung traditional villages). Measuring 260 km (160 mi) long and 56 km (35 mi) wide, it takes at least six hours to drive from one end of Crete to the other – and for most of the way you’ll have spectacular views of the sea. But if you really want to discover a more authentic side to this island known for its superb beaches and succulent food, you’ll need to head for the island’s eastern end (where Abaton is located), or follow winding roads inland to explore Crete’s rugged and mountainous interior.
- The property is located close to (and within walking distance of) the cosmopolitan town of Hersonissos in the peaceful eastern half of Crete. The harbor of Hersonissos is famous for its nonstop, lively and vibrant night life with many beachside bars, restaurants and taverns catering to a mostly younger clientele. The hotel’s secluded location offers the best of both worlds: it’s conveniently close to Hersonissos’ tourist attractions, bars and restaurants; yet far enough away to represent an exclusive and ultra-private haven of tranquility for guests that prefer a calm and quiet vacation away from the crowds (count me in). The resort is around a 20-minute drive from Heraklion’s international airport (the hotel can arrange limousine transfers).
- Abaton Island Resort & Spa features an ultra-modern architecture, which was designed by Konstantinos Kaloutsakis, father of the hotel’s current owner Georgios Kaloutsakis. The hotel’s Cycladic-style white pavilions tumble down a gentle hill to the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by a perfectly manicured garden with several reflective water ponds. On the inside, the hotel features a minimalist and trendy decor, which is especially impressive in the light-filled, hill-top lobby. With enormous windows offering gorgeous sea views, an impressive wooden & marble reception desk and a majestic staircase under a forest of bubble lights, entering the lobby is like stepping into a stylish cruiseship.
- The shimmering turquoise waters of the Aegean provide a dramatic backdrop for 152 exclusively-designed rooms, suites and villas with 71 pools. During my holiday, I was upgraded to a “Luxury Seafront Guestroom with Private Pool”. The room featured a plush kingsize bed (with an impreesive carved headboard from India) and an open-plan bathroom with freestanding bathtub (in addition to a shower cubicle). The decor was bright, white and simple, with large sliding doors leading to a private terrace with two sun loungers and a plunge pool overlooking the sea. Room amenities are top notch and include high qaulity bathrobes, Elemis toiletries, smart TV with international channels, and Nespresso machine.
- Abaton Island Resort & Spa features two beautiful swimming pools: an unheated infinity-edged pool outdoors and a heated pool in the spa (more on the latter below). Open from 7am until 7pm, the massive outdoor pool is filled with seawater and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and Hersonissos town. Dozens of loungers and beanbags are arranged around the pool, while there are also a couple of wet beds located inside the pool. The pool is flanked by a bar, restaurant and a smaller pool for young children on one side, while a trendy Buddha Bar is located on the pool’s other side, serving coctails and delicious snacks all day long (sometimes accompanied by the music of the hotel’s resident DJ).
- One of the hotel’s highlights is that it offers a 364 m (1195 ft) stretch of semi-private shoreline, which serves as the perfect setting for a holiday focused on rest and relaxation. Most of the shoreline is rocky, with the exception of two tiny coves (which are great for swimming) and a small but picturesque beach (which features gently sloping shallows and soft sand). Plenty of sunbeds and parasols are arranged on the rocks, allowing a seafront spot for most guests (even when the hotel operates at full capacity). Staff are poised ready to swap towels and serve snacks and drinks. One of the advantages of the resort’s expansive shoreline is that is offers great views of Crete’s romantic sunrises and sunsets.
- The resort offers a wide variety of restaurants & bars, led by chef Zinonas Christofidi:
- F-zin Ivy League Restaurant is the main restaurant, featuring an indoor dining room (with open kitchen) and expansive terrace. In normal circumstances, it offers an international buffet for breakfast & dinner, although that has currently been replaced by a la carte dishes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Bony Fish Seafood Restaurant is a fish restaurant, open for lunch and dinner. Located next to the main pool, it serves Greek sea delicacies.
- On the other side of the pool, opposite Bony Fish Seafood Restaurant, is Buddha Bar, a worldwide reference in the fields of gastronomy, hospitality, wellness, music and mixology, offering a unique beachfront dining experience with Asian touch.
- Elemes Cretan Cuisine is open for breakfast and dinner. Combining local culture with Crete’s classic cuisine, all of the ingredients used in the preparation of Elemes’ dishes are sourced directly from local farmers to ensure a truly authentic taste.
- WOW Sushi & Steak is the hotel’ss premium restaurant. Open for dinner only, it serves a long list of steaks cooked into Josper ovens and a variety of different Sushi options.
- Next to Zin Ive LEage Restaurant, one floor below the main lobby space, is Ladies & Gentlemen, a fashionable lobby bar serving beverages from early hours of the morning until late at night.
- Abaton Island Resort & Spa offers both bed&breakfast and half board packages. Half board – which I highly recommend when you are considering a stay here – allows guests to enjoy an international buffet dinner at F-zin Ivy League Restaurant (or 5 course à la carte meal during the pandemic). The halfboard package also allows for flexibility: should guests prefer not to dine at F-zin Ivy League Restaurant one evening (or more evenings), it is possible to exchange their place at the dinner buffet for a 25 Euro (per person) food credit. This credit must be used on the same day. Credits are valid in the resort’s other four restaurants and for in-room dining.
- The property features a lovely spa (with 5 treatment rooms) one floor below the main lobby. Managed by Elemis, the range of spa treatments and packages feature revitalizing and purifying products that have been designed to respect the body’s complex physiology. Elemis spa-therapies work in natural synergy with the skin, body and mind. Every treatment is specifically designed to offer a unique experience, using powerful massage sequences and the most potent actives available in the world today. The spa also houses a well equipped gym.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- The main pool area is fabulous but too busy. It’s very hard to get a sunbed at the pool unless you arrive very early (right after sunrise). The pool also features some stylish wet beds, but these can only be reserved when you stay in one of the resort’s villas or when you consume more than 150 euros per day at the pool. On a positive note, there are plenty of sunbeds along the shoreline, so relaxation by the sea is guaranteed.
- While overall service at the resort is excellent, there is room for improvement at the pool and beach. During my visit, there were only three waiters for the entire beach area but they were just far too busy given the number of guests. For example, there’s no help from the staff to set up your sunbed or umbrella when you arrive at the pool or beach. Also, there are buttons on the tables by the sunbeds to call staff over but in most cases nobody shows up when you press them (at least, that was the case during my visit).
- Food at the property’s main restaurant is delicious but I would not describe it as fine dining. Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the property’s buffet is replaced by a 5-course a la carte meal (which is the right thing to do during the pandemic), and while all meals I had were great, the dishes were not sophisticated and presentation was sometimes a bit poorly executed. The resort’s other restaurants offer a more elegant dining experience, so make sure you try them out during your stay.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,2/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at this hotel with Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
- 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
Abaton Island Resort & Spa is a 20 minute drive from Heraklion International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Heraklion.