Category: Luxury travel (page 1 of 4)

New Royal Senses Resort & Spa opens on Crete this summer

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Screenshot of main web page for The Royal Senses Resort & Spa Crete

An artistic rendering of one of the four communal swimming pools at The Royal Senses Resort & Spa, a brand-new Troulis Royal Collection luxury hotel near Rethymno on Crete. 

 

Hotel profile by mygreecetravelblog.com

 

Our flight to Greece this month was cancelled by Covid-19 travel restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped us from daydreaming about taking a trip later this summer to enjoy some desperately-needed holiday downtime. One spot we find particularly appealing is a new luxury resort on Crete, where we fantasize of pampering ourselves with elegant accommodations and amenities, superb food and scenic surroundings — the perfect tonic to relieve pent-up stress and worry from the extended period of pandemic lockdowns this spring.

That place is The Royal Senses Resort & Spa near Rethymno, where we see ourselves social distancing in style in one of the spacious double rooms or a  junior suite equipped with a private swimming pool. Or perhaps we would splurge on a chic elite suite or a roomy grand villa with a stunning private infinity pool.  For a change of scenery we would lounge by one of the four communal pools, explore the resort’s farm and gardens, recharge with a massage or an herbal spa treatment, and then savor a delicious meal at one of the three restaurants or some of the pop-up food bars in the hotel’s Market Place. And of course we would take day trips to explore the island’s amazing sites and attractions.  How sweet it would be to revel in such comfort and luxury — and discover spectacular Crete — while putting the world’s tumultuous troubles temporarily out of mind!

 

It’s unlikely we will personally be able to visit Crete in the near future, since spring was the only time we could go to Greece in 2020, but other travellers will get to experience that dreamy holiday bliss when The Royal Senses welcomes its first guests this summer.

The resort is situated on the northern coast of Crete close to Panormos,  a traditional seaside fishing village with charming cobblestone streets, a medieval church and picturesque coves with sandy beaches. Also in convenient close proximity are Crete’s three biggest cities — Rethymno, just 20 minutes away, and Chania and Heraklion, each about an hour’s drive. All boast fascinating historic sites and a tremendous variety of beautiful attractions for visitors to discover.

The Royal Senses occupies a hillside location overlooking the 100-acre seafront property of its older sister hotel, The Royal Blue, which recently underwent a major renovation. The two are showpieces of the Troulis Royal Collection, a locally-owned and operated brand of destination lifestyle resorts which aim to make guests “feel like they are part of the unique life force of Cretan culture.” 

“We share a vision for heartfelt hospitality. We are agents of the Cretan culture and community. We create places that give value to guests, employees and the island. We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural says,” says a mission statement on the Collection’s website.

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more of The Royal Senses on page 2 of this post.

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New Kalesma Mykonos luxury hotel suites, villas & restaurant set to open in June

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Kalesma Mykonos hotel & villa complex sunset view

Kalesma Mykonos hotel & villa swimming pool

Kalesma Mykonos hotel suite terrace view of Ornos Bay

 Kalesma Mykonos, seen in renderings provided by the hotel, is comprised of 25 luxury suites, 2 villas and a signature restaurant showcasing Cycladic cuisine. A collection of whitewashed houses, the newly-built property occupies a hillside location overlooking Ornos Bay on Mykonos.  

 

Inviting newcomer: A unique collection of luxury suites and villas will make a distinctive mark on the Mykonos boutique hotel scene when it opens its doors this summer.

Kalesma Mykonos will bring chic designer digs, destination dining, “private experience concierges” and a traditional Mykonian village vibe to the Ornos area when it opens on June 1.

“Inspired by Cycladic architecture, combining tradition with contemporary elements, Kalesma is a design aficionado’s dream,” according to a property description brochure provided to me by the hotel.

Aerial image of a private terrace and pool at Kalesma Mykonos Hotel

An aerial view of the pool and patio at one of the Kalesma Mykonos suites. Each of the hotel’s accommodations has its own private heated pool.

 

With its Cycladic-style whitewashed houses that spill down a slope of the Aleomandra peninsula on the southwest side of Ornos Bay, Kalesma has been built to resemble a traditional island village.  Suites, villa and common area interiors will feature sleek minimalist design details, fashioned with locally-sourced materials. Each accommodation will boast its own private heated pool — a rarity on Mykonos.

The 25 suites are 680 square feet in size and can sleep either two adults and two children, or three adults. Each unit boasts a 970-square-foot terrace, furnished with poolside lounge chairs, and offers impressive, unobstructed sea views. “All accommodation features original artwork and expansive bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs and an outdoor shower on a private patio,” the hotel’s publicity brochure notes.

“Kalesma is also home to two spectacular, earth coloured private villas, one with two bedrooms and one with three. Ideal for entertaining or family holidays, both feature an open plan living room with cosy sofas, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen with pre-stocked food and wine fridges. A personal chef is available to villa guests if they wish to organise an intimate gathering or romantic meal on their terrace. Villas also come with their own fitness rooms complete with Technogym equipment. A stay in one of these private villas combines self-contained serviced residences, with access to exceptional hotel facilities and each will have a dedicated Villa Manager on call to coordinate guests stays,” the brochure adds.

When they’re not admiring and relaxing in the beautifully-designed private and public spaces, Kalesma guests will enjoy fabulous scenic views including beautiful Ornos Bay, the Aegean Sea, and both the sunrise and sunset.

 

Kalesma is a Greek word for “inviting,” and the hotel complex and its services have been meticulously planned to foster an inviting, welcoming ambiance and provide outstanding hospitality. “The look and feel of a traditional village is deliberate, as Kalesma is all about making guests feel at home and encouraging a neighbourhood vibe, enhanced by weekly intimate dinners,” the hotel description says.

Kalesma Mykonos hotel PERE UBU restaurant

Kalesma Mykonos hotel sunset lounge fireplace

Top: The al fresco patio for PERE UBU restaurant (there’s an indoor dining room as well); bottom: the outdoor fireplace at the Aloni lounge.

 

Kalesma’s centerpiece will be its restaurant and “social hub,” PERE UBU, whose menu will spotlight Cycladic cuisine incorporating seasonal local products.  Created by the owners of the acclaimed Pere and Ubu and Sea Spice restaurants in the glam Glyfada district of Athens, Kalesma’s PERE UBU will offer “a laid-back atmosphere during the day with chilled summer music, delicious small plates and light lunches. By night, it transforms into a sophisticated eatery, serving simple, elegant dishes showcasing the local produce alongside innovative cocktails keeping guests fuelled into the early hours.”

Open to the public, PERE UBU has been conceived as a destination restaurant whose inspiring cuisine and comfortable atmosphere  will entice visitors from across the island. However, the restaurant also will host intimate weekly dinners exclusively for Kalesma’s own guests. 

 

With an open fireplace, the Aloni Sunset Lounge is another common space that is expected to become a popular gathering spot for sunset viewing over cocktails or late evening conversation and nightcaps.

Additional amenities include a private on-site chapel for wedding ceremonies, and a boutique shop offering luxury brands, accessories and local products.

Aerial view of Kalesma Mykonos hotel

Aerial view of the Kalesma Mykonos hotel property

These aerial images show how Kalesma’s hotel, villa and common-area buildings have been designed in the distinctive white architectural style of the Cyclades islands, and positioned to resemble a traditional Mykonian village 

 

As part of the Kalesma hospitality team, private experience concierges will be “on hand to help guests discover the islands hidden gems including local eateries, exclusive boutiques and picture-perfect tiny churches. They can also arrange trips to some the island’s 25 beaches – from the hottest beach clubs to wide stretches of golden sand and secluded swimming caves, known only to the hotel’s private tenders. Private yacht charters and helicopter transfers are also available upon request for those who wish to truly push the boat out and experience the island from a different perspective.”

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more images of Kalesma Mykonos on page 2.

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Crete clinches 4th place ranking on TripAdvisor list of the world’s top destinations for 2019

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Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port,, Chania harbour,

Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port, lighthouse, Chania lighthouse,

Views of the historic Venetian harbourfront and the iconic lighthouse at Chania, a perenially popular travel destination in northwestern Crete

 

Crete shines: Millions of travellers around the world have spoken, and their positive reviews, ratings and comments have landed Crete island in 4th place on the prestigious TripAdvisor listing of the Top 25 destinations in the world this year.

The 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards were announced this week (on March 26), lauding London as the #1 destination in the world, followed by Paris, Rome, Crete, and Bali in Indonesia. Last year Crete placed fifth, behind Bali. 

TripAdvisor is the globe’s largest travel website, containing listings for more than 156,000 destinations. Each year it presents its Travelers’ Choice awards to top international destinations, honouring the places that are most popular with people who post reviews on the website.

A press release announcing this year’s winners quoted TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Communications, Desiree Fish, as saying: “The Travelers’ Choice awards for Destinations recognize major cities and islands that continue to deliver an outstanding experience and are beloved by our global community of travelers.”

The news release explained that award winners “were determined using an algorithm based on reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and experiences in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period. The methodology takes into account quality and volume of reviews to surface destinations that consistently deliver the best overall experience for travelers.”

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, southwest Crete, Loutro, Loutro village, village, mountains, coast, seaside

Loutro village in southwestern Crete

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Crete island, Crete Greece, Paleochora, Paleochora Crete, coast, coastline, seaside, southwestern Crete, mountains, sea,

Looking along the spectacular southwestern coast of Crete from one of the many beaches near the town of Paleochora

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Chania, street, lane, courtyard, taverna, restaurant,

A taverna courtyard in the heart of the historic old town area of Chania

 

Greece, Greek islands,Crete, Crete Greece, Crete island, beach,Greek beach,Greek island beach, Sweet Water Beach,Sweet Water Beach Crete,

Sweet Water Beach in southwestern Crete, between the villages of Chora Sfakion and Loutro

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, southwest Crete, Agia Roumeli, village, coast, mountains, Samaria Gorge,

A view of Agia Roumeli village, situated at the foot of the world-famous Samaria Gorge. Extending for 16 kilometers, the gorge is the longest in Europe and is one of Crete’s top tourist attractions.

 

We spent more than two weeks on Crete in late fall of 2017, and could easily see why it has been ranked among the world’s Top 5 travel destinations two years in a row — it truly delivers outstanding travel experiences. Crete has something to suit every traveller’s taste, style and budget: fascinating cities, towns and villages; vibrant resorts; breathtaking landscapes, stunning scenery and gorgeous beaches;  superb food and wine; significant historical sites and attractions; a diverse range of outdoor activities for all ages and lifestyles; myriad hotel and lodging options, and much more. 

Crete also claimed two spots in the list of the world’s Top 25 Beaches: Balos ranked #15, while Elafonissi took 21st place. Though both are situated in western Crete, the region in which we focussed our 2017 holiday travels, we never made it to either beach, so they remain on our bucket list of places to see. The island is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches, however, so visitors still have countless strands to choose from if they can’t get to Balos or Elafonissi.  (We saw many impressive beaches along the island’s southwestern coast.)

Greece in general fared well on other top rankings, particularly for hotels, where it won top honours in two categories. It nabbed the number 1 and 2 spots in the Top 25 all-inclusive hotel ranking, and it claimed the number 1 and 3 position on the awards list for the world’s Top 25 Small Hotels. Greece also achieved Top 25 rankings for best hotels, luxury hotels, best service, romantic hotels, family hotels, and bargain hotels.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that Greece received TripAdvisor recognition for the world’s top two all-inclusive hotels because, in TripAdvisor’s own travel forums, regular visitors to Greece routinely advise travellers to avoid all-inclusive properties, urging them to stay at hotel or self-catering accommodations instead. In essence, the forum commentators claim Greece simply doesn’t do all-inclusives very well, and visitors don’t experience Greece if they stay at an AI resort. With this year’s awards, however, it’s quite clear that all-inclusive resort guests disagree! 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Crete island, beach, Greek beach, Elafonissi beach Crete, Elafonisi beach Crete,

Famous for its brilliant turquoise waters and pink-hued sand, Elafonissi beach is seen in an image from the Best Travel Tips to Crete page of the Tourist Maker website.  Elafonissi ranked #21 on the TripAdvisor list of the Top 25 beaches in the world.

 

Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Lagoons and sandy beach strips at Balos are seen in this photo shot by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography. Balos ranked #15 on this year’s list of the world’s top beaches.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where I have posted photos and rankings for the Greek hotels that placed in the world’s Top 25.

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Greece guides featured in June travel mags from UK & USA

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Sunday Times Travel magazine

A scenic view from Santorini appears on the cover of the June Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which includes a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece

 

Travel tips: Spring is the time when international lifestyle magazines and travel publications typically turn their attention to Greece, and that has been the case again this year. 

When I browsed newsstands while we were in Greece from late May until mid-June, and here at home after returning from our holidays, I noticed numerous magazines that featured cover stories or major articles focussed on travel to Greece.

The two periodicals that appeared the most interesting and informative were the June edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which I purchased at Athens International Airport prior to our return flight, and the June/July issue of National Geographic Traveler, which I bought at my favourite local bookstore a few days ago.

A photo from Santorini island appears on the eye-catching turquoise and white cover of the Sunday Times magazine, where the main cover line proclaims: “We’ve found the tiny, timeless idylls you’re dreaming of” — all revealed in a 24-page Total Guide inside.

The guide includes:

♦ tips on island hopping by ferry in the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Argo-Saronic archipelagos;

♦ short profiles of “heavenly” 5-star hotels on Naxos, Crete, Santorini, Sifnos, and Mykonos islands, as well as in Halikidi, the Peloponnese and the Athens Riviera;

♦ an article about the Arcadia region of the eastern Peloponnese;

 ♦ highlights of three places, away from the “holiday hotspots,” where visitors can “find solitude in a Greece untouched by time: lost in nature, rich in ancient, spiritual sites”;

 ♦ advice for low-cost weekend getaways to Athens, Thessaloniki and Kefalonia; and

♦  recommendations for exclusive rental villas and luxurious all-inclusive resorts.

 

 

National Geographic Traveler Magazine

In the feature article “New Greek Odyssey,” Christopher Vourlias relates what he learned about “home, heroes and Hellenic heritage” during a trip to his father’s ancestral village in Central Greece.

 

The theme of the National Geographic Traveler issue is “Trips to Change Your Life,” and includes two features on Greece:

♦ the intriguing article “New Greek Odyssey,” in which writer Christopher Vourlias describes the personally insightful trip he took with his father to the latter’s home village in Agrafa, a mountain region of Central Greece; and

 ♦ An “insider’s guide to the best of Greece” — short profiles of specific recommended places to visit for food & drink, history & artifacts, islands & beaches, and culture &  people.

And as you would expect, the articles in both magazines are illustrated with tantalizing photos of Greek destinations,  monuments,  and scenery that will make you feel wistful for a trip to Greece — even if, as was the case with me, you may have just had a holiday there.

 

 

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