The Kensington Diary
Where Sustainability meets Luxury in Crete: Aldemar Knossos Royal Villas
Updated: Feb 22
Does anything beat Summer on a Greek Island, staying right at the edge of the crystal-clear ocean, waking up to the smell of the sea and being treated to delicious Greek cuisine? The glory of the island of Crete, one of Greek's largest islands, is that it is defined by momentous mountains from East to West with cyanic waters perfect for snorkelling and diving, and hosts the Palace of Knossos, now an archeological remains of Europe's oldest cities. This comes forth in the cuisine and culture, with the impact of Minoan, Mycenaean, Byzantine, Ottoman, Roman and Andalusian influences. There are a number of gorges, rivers and lakes, perfect for exploring with kids whilst environmentally protected island and islets stem close to the island of Crete, for further exploration. The island is a haven for sunshine and fresh produce, where during the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius, with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s.
Location is Everything
As first-timers in Crete our stay at the Aldemar Knossos Royal Villas set the bar for eco-friendly yet luxurious family friendly stays to come. Part of the Aldemar Group, the Knossos Royal Villas comprises 40 garden, pool or sea facing villas set amongst beautiful gardens yet right at the azure waters of the Cretan sea. There's a choice of private villas with shared pools OR the luxurious Phaedra and Evropi Villashi, two of the Royal villas with private pools guarding your complete privacy which explains why British celebrities have escaped here on occasion. The uniqueness of this concept allows a merge of privacy with the ability to embrace the facilities of a luxury resort, such as the restaurants, tennis, squash, wellness & exercise, watersport, kids club and restaurants on site, amongst others.
25 minutes away from Heraklion Airport, the convenience of the location is imminent with its proximity to key historic sites and good driving distance to also explore the East (Rethymnon) West (Elounda and Agios Nikolaus) and South (Preveli and surroundings) of the island, all within a 1.5-2 hour driving distance.
A luxurious Celebrity Choice Stay
With over 1400 square feet of residential space, we stayed at the celebrity choice, the Phaedra Royal Villa which was large, spacious and included impeccable facilities. Discreet and private, the entrance led us to a luxury villa complete with a private pool and multiple sun lounges both shaded and in the sun. A truly luxurious Mediterranean location, sprawling sea view and being situated literally at the edge of the sea was the highlight. Several balconies from the living area and bedroom facilitate the ability to enjoy this view. Serenity also awaits you in the villa, where you can opt for an in house massage.
The inclusion of a home office and fully stocked bar with tons of goodies - wine, crisps, juices, water, beer and sweets - added the extra special elements to this villa for a longer more private stay. The villa offers complete privacy far enough away from the resort and can host up to 4 guests. The additional exclusivity of our own private sauna, treadmill and exercise bike within the villa was a perk. Toiletries from Korres were provided daily and we were welcomed at noon everyday with the most delicious perfectly sun-ripened fruit platter and Cretan desserts.
From Farm to Table
A stay at the Phaedra Villa provides bed and breakfast at the resort restaurant Artemis or you can alternatively enjoy a more casual breakfast at Kafeneio. Options to upgrade to a half-board or full board stay, which we did on a few nights, is also on the cards. Room service is available throughout the day at the villa, we enjoyed the menu immensely, from the delectable fish, Greek souvlaki and amazing salads. The beauty of a private villa is the ability to also eat at the pool or balcony after a long swim. We were treated to a superb traditional Greek meal with Cretan delights at the Taverno, where the food was incredible. On our second last evening, we enjoyed a superb fine dining experience at Fontana Amoroso, with a breath taking view of the ocean and gorgeous palm tree surroundings.
The Royal Villas allows its guests a myriad of other inclusions, such as complimentary airport transfers and access to the facilities at the Aldemar Knossos Villas resort, including the multiple pools and exhilarating water slide! A must on the list is a visit to the kids club - where childcare services are also available, game of tennis or squash on the courts, and the Aldemar Thalassotherapy Centre. A plethora of activities await you on the private resort beach, where you can enjoy snorkelling in the crystal clear sea in the morning, amazing walks on the beach and plenty of watersport from jet skiing, water skiing to diving. The resort is also perfect for weddings where a huge caldera is available for guest seating - wouldn't it be wonderful to take your vows right at the edge of the sea.
Next on the list of musts at Aldemar Knossos Villas is the art and clothing. Even your least art-enthusiastic clients will marvel at the collection of traditional Greek art that can be found in the Knossos Villas Village. Pieces have been meticulously collected and curated to showcase the Greek culture and traditions.
Luxury is harmony
A true home away from home, the Royal Villas at the Aldemar Resort offer this, and so much more! More importantly you will be contributing to the sustainability cause the Aldermar Resorts sign up to in their Nostros Eco-Living Concept. The Nostos Eco Living is about balancing and reconnecting with nature, maintaining that respect with the environment. From energy efficiency measures to “from field to fork” practices, Nostos applies a strategy that accomplishes a fine symbiosis between nature and human. What was more impressive, is that villa owners enjoy all benefits -ecological and economic- that stem from sustainable development.
Importantly, what made us relax and feel at ease, especially given my background working in COVID-19, was the resort and staff's constant commitment to staying COVID-safe. Every table and corner of the resort, including our villas, housed hand sanitisers whilst sanitising before entering a restaurant was mandatory. Staff and guests had to be fully masked in all indoor areas and staff went as far as to wear masks even outside.
Yet, what made this stay fabulous was the staff, who made every inch of our stay amazing. From hosting us a in-house breakfast in the villa on an occasion when we couldn't make breakfast, to the amazing reservations & placements at dinner, tips for child-friendly activities in and around Crete, and many drives around the resort in the golf buggy, every inch of service was perfection.
For more information on this property, visit Aldemar Knossos Villas and Nostros Eco Living Concept.
The Kensington Diary
Disclaimer: This was a hosted stay by the Aldemar Group and the Greek Tourism Board