“The world before us is a postcard, and I imagine the story we are writing on it.” ― Mary E. Pearson,
Here in this Crete postcard we now live in, life is full of amazing faces and places. Just last week I was driving the family back to Heraklion from a visit to Melidoni Cave in Rethymno Prefecture when I realized that we live inside a picture postcard here on Crete. The word “fabulous” does not begin to describe the beauty of this place and its people. And for vacationers looking for that ideal “bucket list” destination… Well, the hotels, villas, and resorts of the island are just that memorable. Today, I thought to share a few of the best that we’ve had personal experiences with. Maybe these suggestions will help you visualize yourself inside your own living postcard.
Anemos Luxury Grand Resort
Situated in Georgioupolis, Crete, along one of the North Coast’s most impressive beaches, Anemos is a brand-new family resort I’ve reported on previously. This fantastic five-star vacation stay became a bit famous for having hosted recuperating Russian cosmonauts, but successive droves of excellent TripAdvisor reviews tell the resorts success story too. From my experience, Anemos is not just one of the top resorts in Crete, but in all of Europe.
Elegantly appointed, Anemos has many focal points to pamper even the most discerning guest. Visually, and comfort wise, the wonderful outdoor freshwater pool is surrounded by different themed relaxation areas equipped with daybeds and sun loungers. The resort’s spa and world-class therapists add still more pampering bliss. A stunning array of room types include; deluxe, family, maisonette, bungalows and roomy – suites begins the hospitable offering here. Six restaurants including the Ostria, Mediterranean seafood restaurant tantalized the guest with gastronomic perfection. But best of all, in our experience, the warm and professional staff at the resort outshine any luxurious accouterments.
Over 400 guest opinions from TripAdvisor bear up my recommendation. Here is one example from last August. Brian B. wrote:
“First-time visit but certainly not the Last. This is luxury at it`s best. Amazing hotel and surroundings. The rooms and especially the beds are very good. The owners should be very proud of the staff. Every one of them is doing all they can to please you and always with a smile. You get Half- board when you stay at Anemos. What an amazing varying range and high standard. We went on a 14 days vacation and never got tired of the food. This is the best hotel I have stayed in, ever.”
The surprise bonus: Anemos is situated in an idea location with regard to outward attractions. Georgioupolis is just minutes from Chania, and Souda Bay to the West, and a the resort is a stone’s throw from wonderful Rethymno and some of the most amazing villages and historic attractions on Crete.
Address: Kavros Apokoronou – Georgioupolis, 73 007 Chania, Crete, Greece.
Phone: +30 28250 62550
Ostria Resort & Spa
Most vacationers do not realize how temperate Crete’s climate is, let along the fact Christmas is one of the best times to visit the island paradise. We discovered this first hand last Christmas when we joined friends outside Ierapetra at Ostria Resort & Spa for a special Christmas village event the owners organize each year. Luxuriousness alongside practicality and downright fun, this is how I describe the place to friends.
Situated right on the Libyan Sea a few kilometers outside Europe’s most southernmost city of Ierapetra, Ostia gives you the impression it is a luxurious city all its own. A massive report I called “A Siga-siga Christmas in Paradise” in previous reviews, the place is the ultimate vacationer’s playground. Highlights include the Kallisti Wellness and Fitness Spa, the several restaurants including the Maestro and Thalasso, the Ostria Water Sports Centre, and many more memorable experiences.
As for reviews, Rob B. from Geneva, Switzerland writes:
“I would return back to this hotel in an instant (my wife and I spent the journey to the airport working out when we could return). I was a difficult guest – I arrived unwell with three cranky small children at 11pm and as a bunch of other people were arriving. Having asked for a cot (and phoned ahead), none was in the room. But that was the only disappointment of the trip. Staff responded gracefully, throwing in a lovely basket of fruit the next morning and a massage for my wife and I. And from there it was brilliant – the all inclusive meals are delicious – so much choice and such good food. The beach was volcanic stoney but very comfortable in how the beds and umbrellas were set up – a choice of multiple pools – a great ambience. At meal times there were a couple of ‘gala nights’ that were a bit noisy and it would have been good to have an option for just a regular family meal. Kids club was also only for French speaking children but for us this proved not to be an issue – children were happy anyway. These were tiny things in what we felt was a terrific value for money family holiday.”
The surprise bonus: Ostria is one of the best values on Crete. A four-and-a-half to five-star family resort in every respect, prices during May are as low as €129 euro per night. The bad news is, availability is very limited as the resort is almost always booked solid.
Address: Katharades – Ierapetra 722 00 Lassithi, Crete, Greece
Phone: +30 284 202 5711
The Marin Dream Hotel
For business travelers or those looking for economy with an ideal location, The Marin Dream Hotel is one of the best on the island. Situated overlooking the Goules Venetian Fortress in the heart of Heraklion, this hotel really lives up to its name. Newly renovated, the Marin Dream offers an unparalleled view over the harbor and proximity to everything of interest in Crete capital.
Highlights here include the Cretan cuisine and the spectacular view from the rooftop restaurant, the value and elegant simplicity of the rooms, and location, location, location. Here’s what guest Kevin S. had to say about the hotel on Tripadvisor:
“Excellent location (right next to the marina and close to the city center) and excellent food. Great breakfasts – full assortment of options and amazing dinners. Food was local recipes and all were excellent. Friendly staff as well. Would highly recommend to any visiting Crete.”
The surprise bonus: The Marin Dream is surprisingly inexpensive compared with many other similar accommodations. At €66 euro on TripAdvisor currently, it’s a bargain considering the level of service and location. The view from the rooftop is stunning.
Address: Epimenidou 46, Heraklion 712 02, Crete, Greece
Phone: +30 2810 300019
Sitia Beach City Resort & Spa
For those unfamiliar with the wild and beautiful East of Crete, the city of Sitia is a kind of hidden gem of paradise. Situated on the Cretan Sea, this small city lies east of Agios Nikolaos and northeast of Ierapetra. The economic center of the Lassithi prefecture, Sitia has a kind of natural mystique that is indescribable. As for the Sitia Beach City Resort & Spa, it is the only true five-star experience in this part of the island. The hotel sits right next to the city sandy beach, and it’s centrally located just steps from the city center.
Guest of this wonderful hotel always take note of the distinctive architecture, and of the sweeping sea views of rooms, suites, and bungalows. The year-round resort is noted for: its fine spa, its three fresh-water pools and kids paddling pool, and spacious family bungalows. Lea D. gave Sitia Beach five stars, not one, but three times:
“Excellent staff, very good food, beautiful room with sea view and balcony, beautiful hotel with all facilities close to the city of Sitia in 6 minutes by walking, very kind and friendly team from Maxi Club ! We did enjoy our stay in this cretan hotel!”
The surprise bonus: Again, a Crete hotel offers unbelievable value. Sitia Beach City Resort & Spa has rooms for as low as €74 euro on TripAdvisor. When you see the grounds and the stunning architecture of this hotel, you’ll understand the bargain.
Address: Karamanli Konstadinou, Sitia, Crete 723 00, Greece
Phone: +30 28430 28821
The Blue Bay Resort Hotel
Our son stayed at this wonderful Agia Pelagia resort last year. Built into a hillside overlooking the Cretan Sea, the Blue Bay Resort Hotel is a four-star family resort with shiny diamonds for staff. The picturesque location and all the usual suspects are really accentuated by the professional people who welcome guests. Looking at the reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com, we find one repeat customer after another raving about Blue Bay. Highlights of the resort include the wonderful restaurants and bars (a la carte restaurant Panorama is magnificent), the 4 Seasons Spa, 7 swimming pools, and stunning rooms.
Situated just a few minutes from Crete’s capital in Heraklion, Blue Bay is also close to some of the island’s most famous natural and historic landmarks. So, if relaxing on any one of several of the world’s best beaches ever gets boring, Blue Bay guests can partake of the Cretan lifestyle, or become amateur archaeologists etc. Here’s what Michael P. had to say about this great hotel.
“Don’t know why I haven’t submitted this review before…but anyway, here goes. We went as a family in the summer (August 2017) as we had a wedding nearby and I can honestly say that I would gladly return. As an all-inclusive resort the thing you are always worried about is the food – will my kids eat it, will I like it etc. No worries here as it was amazing…every day and all day. Special mention to the chef whose variety of dishes was fabulous. From traditional Greek dishes, to special event dishes but praise for the fish dishes on offer – utterly delicious. The staff at the hotel are another reason to return – from Giorgos at the pool bar to Demetrios at the TV bar and everyone else in between they were welcoming, polite and made you feel at home. Special mention to Demetrios as we spent many an evening talking sports and football – top man!”
The surprise bonus: About 1 kilometer from the hotel is Psaromoura Beach, which respites the addition of commercial is still one of the most beautiful and fun beaches on Crete. Also, very popular with locals, Ligaria beach is stunning with its coarse sand and calm turquoise water. Here small boats in the bay make for a magical and serene experience.
Address: Agia Pelagia P.O Box 65 – 71414 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Phone: +30 2810 811072