“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.” – Nikos Kazantzakis
Crete is the land of fairytales come to life. Once again my little family got immersed in the magic when a dear friend, Stelios Kanakis beckoned us to join his family at Delina Mountain Resort, which sits high up on Mt. Psiloritis overlooking Anogia Village. We’d known about the resort and the village since arriving on Crete years ago, but somehow the fates had kept us away. I think the timing was just right, as it is so many times here in paradise.
Stelios’s friend and colleague Michalis Skoulas met me, my wife Mihaela, our son Paul, and our brand new Cretan Hound puppy Mojito on Friday afternoon, after having assured me over the phone that Delina is the dog-friendliest resort on Earth. It wasn’t until we arrived that I fully understood. When we stopped in front of reception to wait the ever-present donkey, whose name I did not get, the beauty of this remote 4-star mountain resort began to sink in.
Then when Athanasia escorted us to our puppy friendly suite looking out over the place Zeus was born… Well, our puppy spent hours on that balcony observing the sheep, bells jingling, march by each day. Delina is a working farm, botanical garden, music venue, and star gazing solitude escape rolled into one beautiful experience. It’s also one of those places so rich in its simplicity, as to be completely impossible to describe in words. Looking out of Anogia, one of Greece’s most famous traditional villages, Delina is all about resetting your frame of mind.
Every Friday night, Michalis is joined by Elena Tornesaki, and Angelo Arvanitis to perform a mix of traditional Cretan music and international ballads at the wonderful taverna overlooking the resort’s lake and Anogia in the distance. The trio is amazing for their authentic charm and talents, and the overall atmosphere is ethereal. The clip above from my Instagram is indicative of the deep feeling the place inspires. (Excuse my editing please)
On this first evening, we met before the show with renouned Cretan musician, and the creator of the resort, Vasilis Skoulas (Instagram below). I was actually surprised that his son Michalis (Mike) was a performer as well. But as it turns out almost every one of the performers comes from a long tradition of music. We sat at a table with my pal Stelios and other wonderful Cretans who are in some way a part of this magic place.
Saturday we spent the day in the famous village at the foot of Delina, and enjoyed the picture-perfect Cretan style of life at a legendary place of heroism. Anogia, the center of resistance against German aggression in World War 2, is a sacred built monument to the valor of those slaughtered there in reprisals by the Nazis. The feel of the place reflects the Cretans and their toughness blended in kindness. But it’s impossible to describe these things in words. I turn to the genius Kazantzakis again here.
“Happiness is a simple everyday miracle, like water, and we are not aware of it.”
I was taken by how the villagers focused on our Cretan Hound Mojito. The ancient breed that can only be found on Crete, snatched the attention of every child in Anogia, and that of all the old men with guns under their pickup-truck seats. Yes, Crete is all that, still the place where the spirit of legends like Capitan Satanas, who struck fear into the German Wehrmacht, lives on in the local villagers.
Saturday quickly turned soft and melancholy back at Delina for a second concert and amazing food. Nights here are spellbinding, to put it mildly. We stayed up late, and listened to the old men tell lies and play guitars and the ancient Lyra.
Saturday the day started with the first downpour, which signals Fall is coming to the mountains. I walked Mojito anyhow, and neither he nor I minded the clean taste of mountain rain. The chill did get us, however, and once back at our suite overlooking the lake, the sun still warming the beaches below called loudly. Plus, we figured (wrong) that our hosts Vasilis and Michalis would not perform in the Sunday event.
I felt pretty dumb when we bailed out of the mist over Delina, and then later remembered the large indoor venue, where one of Greece’s most respected singers and Lyra players always plays. Vassilis, besides being visionary and super talented, is absolutely one of the kindest people we’ve ever met. I so look forward to interviewing him later on, about how and why he created this amazing resort, which is dedicated to the Crete tradition Vassilis loves so much.
Make no mistake, even the mighty mountain the god Zeus hailed from, is only a close second to the wonderful music the Cretans created. The Instagram below from the resort shows the property in prime time, when the Cretan snows capitalize these wonderful mountains.
If ever there were a place of total seclusion that has everything, this 13 unit hotel/resort is it. Whether you’re looking for a venue for a wedding, lonely star gazing, or a serene evening enjoying traditional Cretan music, the resort has it. Swim in the indoor pool, enjoy the spa, hike the sacred mountains, talk of revolution with the goats or the sheep, or make a basecamp for visiting 100 Crete legends nearby.
Delina is magic. If you are one for short and sweet recommendations. But here’s more of my recently adopted rules, just in case.
If you fancy visiting Greece, then come to Crete. If you come to Crete, take to the villages in the mountains, and live with those who know life’s true meaning. And if you love mountains and music, stay at Delina. Live far from men, beneath a blanket of stars, and learn to love life again.
Editor’s note: Summer and early Fall are basically off-season for Delina, so prices and availability are best during this time of year. To inquire or to book, we suggest you visit the resort’s booking page here.