Crete, Part 1

I have recently returned from one of the most beautiful Greek Islands, Crete. There is so much to talk about that I’m going to split this out over a few different blogs so please do come back to read more about beautiful Greece.

The first thing I want to talk about is the hotel. We stayed at The Royal Marmin Bay Boutique & Art Hotel. This is a 5 star, adults only resort and is located on the main road between Elounda and Plaka. The hotel is built on a steep hill, like mega steep, but you don’t ever need to worry about this. They run a complimentary buggy 24hrs a day which will take you up and down where ever you need to go. The two drivers, Mario and Elvis are always a pleasure to see and will always have a smile for you.

We booked one of their private pool rooms which was beautiful, the views from the rooms have to be seen to be believed. They look across the bay, you can see from Elounda to the island which housed a former leper colony, Spinalonga.

Our flight over was EasyJet from Gatwick which I was dreading as it takes around 4 hours which is one of the longest economy flights I have done in a long time. I managed to sleep through most of this thankfully though. On arrival at the airport we had pre-booked a transfer through our hotel but no one was there to meet us, after calling them they scrambled someone to come meet us. Not a private transfer as promised, we had to share with 3 other people. This was still fairly quick as they all appeared to be staying in resorts in Elounda. I was initially worried if this was going to be a reflection of what the rest of our stay would be like. Thankfully it wasn’t.

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Bedroom

Once we checked in Mario took us for a quick tour in his buggy around the hotel pointing out all the key areas, this was a lovely touch. Due to the way the hotel is built onto a cliff it can be daunting at first to get around. He then took us into our room and showed us around pointing out certain functions before the big reveal of the beautiful pool and patio outside.

The room was beautiful, it was all decorated in whites, creams and gold accents. The bed was massive, easily one of the biggest beds I have slept in and super comfy. We had a separate closet area for hanging our clothes although the light in here was on a sensor and was quick to switch off which by the end of our holidays had started to really annoy us. The bathroom was large, the shower had a rainfall head and was powerful, however unless you point the shower slightly away from the edge it does have a habit of flooding the bathroom. Again this wasn’t too big an issue, just a few minor issues that maybe needed a bit more thought. None of this detracted from the holiday though.  The room also had about 5 different variations of lights for setting the mood including a twilight one where there’s a blue light around the top part of the room. This was lovely at night time when the white lights can feel a bit too bright.

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Private swimming pool

Our private pool was perfect, it was slightly bigger than a plunge pool but featured a little infinity edge and swimming up to this gave you the best views of the bay. The pool was cleaned each day. The only downside to the terrace is that after about 1.30pm the sun has vanished and you can no longer sunbathe. This wasn’t too bad though, the hotel has a large infinity pool and a “private” beach where you could get the sun till much later in the day. The buggy service was great for getting around at times like this.

I hesitate to use the word private when describing the beach, this is how the hotel refers to it but it’s actually a beach that anyone can use. It just appears that if you are not from the hotel there’s a small fee to use it but a lot of the nearby hotels have no beach so it can get a bit busy, particularly at the weekend. We had no real issue ever getting a set of sun loungers here though, and like the ones around the pool these came with charging points in-between each pair.

The service at both the pool and the beach are exceptional, more so the pool though I would say. As soon as the pool boy spots you he comes over and sets up your towel for you, repositions your loungers etc. He was very helpful and always there if you needed him, sometimes even before you realised you needed him. They had the same service at the beach but where this was long and thin it sometimes took a while for them to spot you trying to get there attention. Not a big issue though, you can just lay back and enjoy the stunning scenery. You don’t come to a hotel like this unless you are looking for a more relaxed pace of life.

We booked the hotel on breakfast only, I think all rooms at the hotel as a minimum include breakfast though as we were never checked for room number etc. There was a great variety to eat, it was buffet style with a chef who cooked omelettes if requested. There was a selection of warm foods including eggs, pancakes, sausage, baked beans etc. There was also a good selection of fruit, cheese and some local Greek foods to try. Not many things were labeled so it was a taste and see kinda situation! You ate breakfast down by the pool which was lovely, I don’t think there was a single bad view from this hotel.

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View from the room
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View of Spinalonga from room
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View of Elounda from room

We went out every night for food, it was so easy to walk to Elounda and the walk was beautiful as the path followed the seafront. 90% of the walk was paved, it was only the area outside the hotel where it was more gravelly. You often saw a lot of people doing the walk in both directions and the path was well lit so perfectly safe. When you came back at night you spoke to whoever was in the security booth and they would call the buggy driver down for you. By the second night Mario had remembered our room without us having to say, little details like this really made you feel special. One special mention about the walk to Elounda was that one night we saw a turtle! A real, actual Loggerhead sea turtle just casually eating away at something in the rocks. This was pretty spectacular to see.

In fact all the staff at the hotel were lovely, the service was perfect. Nothing was too much for them and they were always polite. If you read tripadvisor a lot of people complain about the cost of certain items like drinks but actually for what you get and the fact this is a 5 star resort I didn’t think these were too bad. For example the price you pay at the pool bar etc is the exact same price for room service with no extra delivery cost. We of course took advantage of this when we spent the day on our terrace by the private pool and ordered some of their yummy burgers for lunch. Anytime you order anything it’s presented brilliantly. For example on the beach when we ordered a can of coke this comes with a small ice bucket to put your can in to keep the drink cool. All drinks come with snacks which is usually a small bowl of crisps and a nut mix. We had some cocktails one night at the bar and although these were expensive I noticed that the barmen were using the best liquors etc and again the service was part of the cost for these.

We aren’t the type of people who do beach holidays but after visiting Thailand last year we really enjoyed just laying and doing nothing for a week. We only stayed at the Royal Marmin Bay for a week on this holiday and it was perfect. I did enjoy it but by the end of the week I was eager to get up and about and do a bit more, which is why we had a city break planned after. More on this soon.

I would highly recommend this hotel for a peaceful break, a perfect location to recharge your batteries. On our last day here we got early to watch the sunrise and I would highly recommend doing this. This whole part of Crete is stunning, I’ll talk more about this in later blogs.

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