Every now and then a hotel comes along that defies predictability and shakes a fist at standards. Nestled in a cove on a steep hill plunging down to the Bay of Mirabello in Elounda, Crete, The Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort is one of them.
A big stylized “E” in script in the logo and the signage at the gated entrance is a clue to the creative rendering of the property’s personality. Designed with respect to the architectural tradition of the land, this unique resort complex that incorporates three complete hotels, a golf course and a spa is nothing short of an oasis. The white stucco lobby of the Porto Elounda and the interior spaces of the hotel are a feast for the eyes and the senses. Decorative references (and there are tons of them) throughout the public areas are classified, we learned, as “Greek traditional.” Honestly, it’s as if a trip to Grandmom’s house has yielded a treasure trove of rustic antiques and collectibles, put in the car then brought back to be installed throughout the hotel. The sensitively curated displays are unlike any ever seen.
A giant ficus tree growing in the bi-level lobby’s lower level amidst the late 20th century period furnishings seems to be happily prospering and it’s an unlikely compositional element in the incredible view out to sea through a wall to wall glass expanse. I don’t know how many times I just wanted to sit there and ponder the universe. I was reminded each day that everywhere in Greece nature is never very far away and here on the Porto Elounda’s lushly landscaped grounds, a hotel of seemingly infinite proportions feels almost modest, even intimate, as a result of the care given to the surroundings.
A cozy wooden corner bar carved out of antique doors and decorated with framed kelims hung like tapestries beckoned me after a lazy day relaxing by my private plunge pool. I could wander with an ouzo among the Moroccan lanterns and tea tables and marvel at the unusual collection of prints, lithos and curios in the corridors. Grandmom’s china cabinet bursting with porcelain and silver behind the stairwell caught my eye one day along with a faux trunk that was actually a chest of drawers. These items and more stand out as personal treasures amid the amazing patterned grillwork that encases the soaring space. On another day while waiting for a taxi, I realized that I had missed the entire upper level behind reception which overlooks the bar and lounge. I found there a baronial fireplace worthy of Edmund Rochester’s home anchoring another sitting area with hipster 1980’s ceramic lamps and oversized furniture that included seating actually built-in to the cement stucco surround. What artistic vision had shaped this place where ornate coffered ceilings and a forest of wood breathed warmth into something that can often be run of the mill or forgettable? As I sipped my orange juice presented at check-in I decided to find out.
Enter Spyros Kokotos, the designer and builder of not only this hotel but of the entire destination of Elounda and credited with the design of more than 40 hotels in Greece. Together with his brother George in the late sixties, they set about creating a unique project in Elounda which later in the seventies evolved into the Elounda Mare Hotel, the first of the three jewels fronting the expanse leading down to the bay. Here he introduced a new concept: private pools for every bungalow, quite a luxury even by today’s standards. Influenced by the demands of his guests he invented Porto Elounda in 1990 and over a period of fifteen years, completed the first golf and spa resort in Crete. He then set about adding the cherry on the top, the Elounda Peninsula All-Suite Hotel (not yet open for the season when we visited). Here Brad and Angelina can relax in utter privacy with every amenity at their fingertips. Such is the level of luxury … and let’s not forget the spa.
The Six Senses Spa at Porto Elounda is undoubtedly the most breathtaking spa in Greece, with an indoor/outdoor infinity pool that overlooks the sparkling bay. A soothing environment with water being the main motivational force, it’s ready for you to spend a day or even two, as one will not be enough. For golfers, the Resort offers a private nine hole, par 3 course, which proves that golf is about sea and sun too since the course is practically touching the sea.
And let’s not forget the guest accommodations. Deluxe rooms with individual pools are the way to go here, the pools occupying a large private outdoor space that is perfect for cooling off or well, you know what I mean. Extra-large and gleaming polished marble bathrooms with towel warmers and both soaking tub and walk-in shower offer Naturella amenities (all formulated with olive oil, of course) so that you are always feeling a little bit Greek and exude that all important connection to the land.
The hotel is a mere 15 minute walk to the charming town of Elounda and is particularly kid friendly with a “Children’s Ark” program operated by professional childcare specialists and offered for both pre- schoolers and kids from 5 to 12 years.
After a few days on site and a couple meals at Restaurant “Elies”, located in an olive grove and serving authentic Cretan dishes , don’t think for a moment that you’ll be able to tear yourself away easily. A stay at Porto Elounda is definitely a repeat engagement.
Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort
30 28410 6800