The coronavirus pandemic has put most of us in recluse mode. The resultying effects for tourism and hospitality, are evident, logical, and not at all a bad thing if you liked unique experiences to begin with. And Crete is the capital of secluded places where privacy meets adventure. Another eco-tourism value we just came across, Mourtzanakis Residence in Achlada, is a perfect example.
Situated high up on a ridge overlooking Agia Pelagia, Crete’s most picturesque seaside village just five kilometers away, this eco-retreat features four villas, and three cottage apartments surrounded by five hundred year old olive groves. The property enjoys stunning panoramic views of the Cretan Sea, Heraklion, and even Fodele Bay to the west. If the stress of urban life and the coronavirus have you edged-out, this tranquil but invigorating Cretan place is another hidden gem of this paradise we live on.
We stumbled (literally) upon Mourtzanakis Residence one a photo op trip to Aklada some weeks ago. Driving the mountainsides of Crete is one of our favorite pastimes, and I remember commenting on the perfect location of this place. This morning I talked to the couple who run the resort, after I discovered their stellar five-star TripAdvisor ratings, perhaps the highest on Crete (I will investigate). The Instagram share below will give you an idea of the “place” I am describing.
The resort features traditional Cretan dining along with cooking classes for those interested in this famous cuisine. There are two swimming pools, one for adults and one for kids, along with all the customary amenities. As is customary with many of the Crete ecotourism and agritorism offerings, Mourtzanakis Residence also offers special tours and activities like yoga, bird watching, sailing, horseback riding, wine tasting, and so forth. But in all honesty the real value at any of these wonderful resorts is the energy of the places. And Elli and Giorgos, who manage this resort, are expert at helping guests feel that energy flow. Let me explain.
This part of Crete, the area surrounding the Achlada village has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Interestingly, a distinct blue-green metamorphic rock (slate) from ancient quarries in not far from the eco-hotel were once used to pave the streets of the Minoan Palace/Temple at Knossos. Later, the dominating position overlooking the Cretan Sea, made a perfect fortication against pirates, and invaders. Once you are in these hills, you’ll quickly realize why invaders always had so much trouble with the Cretans. The island is huge because of the topography. And gigantic because of the spirit of the places one visits.
The name “Achlada” comes from the wild pear tree called ahlada or agoutsakas that abounds in the area. And if you sit for a spell under one of the lovely bougainvilles that dot the Crete countryside you’ll feel it, the unique soul specific to this speck of the island. Like our journeys to Thronos overlooking the Amari Valley, or the sensory spell places like the lost Minoan Palace at Galatas cast, the nature surrounding Achlada and its neighbor Rogdia is mesmerizing, indescribable, ghosty in a way. You have to go there to understand, but if one word were all we had, that word would be “peace.” Another way of expressing places like this is, “there is something indescribably here.” More often than not, we end up telling people who come here this. Then, when they leave, we are always gratified when they express their understanding.
For booking and questions readers should visit the Ecotourism Hotel – Mourtzanakis Residence website, phone +30 281 081 2378 or email: email@example.com