Originally opened in 1975, Creta Maris Resort is a family run, five-star, all-inclusive beach resort that is already looking tip top after phase one of a major facelift. If it was impressive before, it’s exceptional now – the perfect has-it-all honeymoon destination.
It is impossible to be bored on your honeymoon at a resort that offers as much as this one does against a winning backdrop of bright blue sky, smooth white, low level bungalows and punches of vivid fuchsia bougainvillea. It attracts a strong family following of loyal come-again fans who also love the adult-only restaurants, bars and pools for toddler-free couple time – with all the childcare muscle you need to make it happen.
Set the scene
Designed like a traditional Cretan village with plenty of pastel shades and warm neutral tones, you can meander its narrow, pathed alleyways that link the main reception building to the rooms and suites while you ponder the question where is everyone? Despite its 680 rooms, the resort never feels crowded with its sheer space and raft of activities – whether that’s heading to the 250m private Blue Flag beach (where you’ll also find the water sports centre), one of sixteen freshwater swimming pools (and the new luxury loungers), the on-site waterpark with its addictive slides, the spa, fitness centre, Europe’s largest open-air amphitheatre-style cinema or at one of the many fitness classes and workshops. These start at 9.30am each morning (scheduled almost hourly until 5pm) and includes everything from Pilates to Greek lessons and Latin and Salsa training.
Do your homework before you arrive so you stand some chance of fitting it all in because you could fill your diary every day for two weeks and never repeat the same activity. There’s the opportunity to curate your very own retreat, tailoring it to suit energy levels or daily whims as you go.
Pick your view: the gardens and the mountains or the pool and the sea – both exceedingly photogenic backdrops from their private terraces or balconies. Expect four poster draped iron beds with bright white bed linens and a touch of seaside stripes with farmhouse-style furniture and diaphanous curtain voiles to let all the sunshine stream in. Floors are tiled, toiletries are locally sourced, and balconies are beautifully furnished to prolong your sun worshipping hours. Upgrade to one of the Ambassador suites or the one Villa (it has direct access to the beach plus a private pool and garden) for sink-into sofas, standout art pieces and an in-bathroom sauna. For your own outdoor jacuzzi, and something a little extra for your honeymoon, opt for the Presidential suite.
Food and drink
Aside from the seven restaurants serving an impressive variety of Cretan and Greek classics, there is also a good smattering of international specials and Mediterranean favourites. This year sees the arrival of two new seaside restaurants. Mademi for a Cretan BBQ take on a classic steakhouse serving hand-cut selections of prime meat and the adults-only Alatsi for Aegean and Cretan seafood with heart-thumping views across the water. Two new adult-only cocktail bars, bring the total restaurants to ten, including a new (and already very popular) Aperol Spritz Bar. Do not miss Pithos, a 100% organic restaurant serving authentic Cretan plates using produce from its own kitchen garden or local farmers. Another favourite is Platia, designed like a traditional village square with its own chapel and a magical setting for supper come nightfall. In the highly unlikely event that you feel peckish between meals, there are five snack bars dotted around the resort serving ice-cream, waffles, crêpes and smoothies.
Back in 1975 when there were almost no hotels on Crete, Nikos, a civil engineer, and his wife Loula Metaxa, a talented gardener and textiles enthusiast, imagined a seaside village that would welcome guests from across the world. Today the resort they designed together remains a family-run business with a strong focus on Cretan culture through its ‘we do local’ program of traditional activities. Unlike most cookie-cutter Greek resorts, here you may find yourself sheep shearing, wheat threshing or harvesting olives and sun-drying grapes. There’s even the opportunity learn the art of Greek dancing and cooking using ingredients from Creta Maris’ organic kitchen gardens.
It’s hard to imagine how it could be any more family friendly. There’s a five-a-side football pitch, basketball court, tennis courts, water polo, mini-golf, and boccia plus five dedicated children’s pools and the on-site waterpark with splash pools and playgrounds and enough waterslides to keep them going for hours. Older children aren’t forgotten either, with teenager-friendly jet-skis, fly-boards, kayaks, SUPs and paddle boats plus a vast array of fitness classes also open to them. This is one of the very best things about Creta Maris – childcare and entertainment does not stop at the kid’s club. Baby bottle warmers, cots and strollers are also provided in family rooms if needed and there are some great kids-go-free offers for the under 12s. Crucially for honeymooners, the hotel has expertly preserved adult-only areas for a peaceful, splash-free experience if children are not in tow or are in the kid’s club for a few sacred hours.
If you’re lacking the time to make it to the spa, they will come to you. Therapists circulate the pool offering complimentary treatment tasters so you can ‘try before you buy’ – a clever and highly effective introduction to the spa menu for the uninitiated. Once inside, interiors are sultry and luxurious, with low level lighting, purple and grey marble and a welcome change of pace from the flickering sunshine outside. Check in for deep exfoliation in the Hammam, a detoxifying and cleansing sauna and hydrotherapy before you move onto the treatment menu and the popular ancient Greek massage and bronzing treatments.
As the first five-star sustainable resort on Crete, Creta Maris is now leveraging its eco-experience to educate other local businesses too. You can visit the resort’s organic gardens with their own herbs, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Today 63% of the resort’s ingredients are either produced in house or sourced from local producers. It also enjoys its own vineyard where Cretan wines are cultivated organically. The resort’s farm-to-fork approach is helping to build a supply chain to support the local market and economy and, ultimately, soften its environmental impact.
The resort is located next to the picturesque and bustling seaside town of Hersonissos, 25km from Crete’s capital, Heraklion. An ideal honeymoon location for couples who would wish to break up the beach-pool-lunch routine with a wander.
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