We were lucky enough to experience the very best of Cretan hospitality right before the Greek island was added to the government’s Covid-19 quarantine list. Lizzy reports back on her stay at Nana Princess Hotel Crete – the perfect spot for some rest and relaxation.
Amidst Covid-19 uncertainty, ever-changing travel restrictions and daily Googling, I had pretty much given up hope of a summer holiday this year and had mentally registered myself as part of the staycation crew. But despite mounting travel advisories from the government, the beautiful Greek island of Crete stayed open to UK travellers throughout August, meaning a stay in the five star Nana Princess luxury suites actually became a reality.
I can’t quite believe it is happening as we board the short flight from London, mandatory Greek passenger locator forms at the ready, unsure quite what to expect once we land.
Getting to the resort – nestled on the Cretan Sea just twenty minutes from Heraklion airport – is a total breeze. With regular (Covid-safe) flights from London Gatwick, and a speedy private transfer, my partner and I pull up to the secure private gates to be hit by a sudden sense of complete calm. The smooth check-in process sees us greeted with a selection of flavourful local drinks, as well as a special UV scanner to demonstrate the complete cleanliness of the check in materials. We are instantly put at ease as the staff explain in detail the robust yet discreet Covid-19 precautions put in place all around the resort.
We’re given a tour of the luxury resort via private buggy, and it becomes clear that we’re in for a week of complete indulgence from sunrise through to sunset. Social distancing is going to be easy too, with beautiful private suites each with their own pools, decks and loungers meaning you can easily immerse yourself in your own personal Greek bubble.
The bed is one of the largest I’ve ever seen while touches like a TV projected into the bathroom mirror – a first for me – means every whim is catered to. Even MTV while you brush your teeth.
From the minute we arrive, we feel like we’ve been transported to not only another country, but another world altogether. Everything at Nana Princess is designed with tranquility and relaxation in mind, with plenty of local Greek touches. The staff are warm and welcoming, the design is clean and minimalist with an exceptionally high finish, and the position on a private beach means a non stop supply of peace and quiet.
The hotel has clearly been built to fit unobtrusively into its surroundings with lawns atop every building (manicured by solar-powered robots no less), and a layout which cleverly means every suite has an uninterrupted view of the sea.
The resort’s Royal Wellness Club is a tranquil, state of the art spa haven featuring every treatment imaginable for the mind and body. Our full body massages ease out any stresses or worries instantly, with the therapist providing a full consultation beforehand to get a preview of just how hard the knots on my left shoulder will be to crack.
Completing the wellness centre is a bright and fully-stocked gym with a private yoga and pilates room, treadmills, machines and free weights. The best bit is I am able to work out completely alone thanks to the Covid-safe reservation system.
Two modern, high end restaurants are found either end of the main pool area. At Eternal Blue – with a dual-aspect open terrace overlooking the sea – we feast on locally-caught fish, handmade sushi, fresh giant salads plus the most inventive-looking cheesecake we’ve ever seen.
Meanwhile at Meat-In Point we are treated to perfectly-cooked steaks, sumptuous vegan pasta dishes and warm bread with homemade mushroom butter. Yum.
As a hotel breakfast connoisseur, I can’t wait to see what the resort would offer up and I’m met with one of the best I’ve ever tried. Every single taste is catered for – whether you’re a juicy local fresh fruit and homemade yoghurt kind of person, or more into donuts and champagne…yes, at breakfast.
The carefully-managed buffet area with personal service means peak Covid-safe practices while the table menu includes the chef’s unique take on a croque monsieur, salmon and avocado on toast and even the British staple of creamy porridge.
During the day we’re spoiled for choice between the pool in our suite, the tranquil main infinity-style one or the expansive private beach – complete with beds and individual gazebos for shading from the midday sun. The attentive beach staff bring us drinks and snacks including giant smoothies, tasty aloe vera juices and a range of Instagram-worthy cocktails.
While lazing in the sun on the comfortable loungers becomes our main occupation for the week, we watch more thrill-seeking guests try the jet skiing, parasailing and wakeboarding on offer. Maybe next time…
We’d come for a quieter experience than you might find in nearby party town Malia, but nonetheless the resort’s rooftop Artemis Lounge bar provides perfect views of the sunset accompanied by bespoke cocktails from the resident mixologist. The tasters they offer us get more inventive every night – from grapefruit-infused gin to a cocktail “based on” Tzatziki. It shouldn’t work but somehow, it does.
IN THE AREA
Nana Princess provides absolutely everything you might need for the perfect stay, but we couldn’t come to Crete without experiencing some of the local scenery. The lively restaurants of Stalis are just a five minute walk away, while the Tulum-esque Koutouloufari offers winding fairy-light framed streets, and plenty of opportunity to sample Cretan food.
With our week done, we can’t quite believe the experience we’ve had – or that it was able to happen at all. The heavenly pocket of paradise on the Cretan coast, which is the Nana Princess, has exceeded all of our expectations. If it’s pure chill time in one of the most relaxing resorts you’ve ever been to that you’re after, then summer 2021 can’t come soon enough.
Please check the latest government guidelines before making any bookings
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