We’ve always wanted to go to Greece but we’ve never found the time to make the trip. So when the topic came up while at dinner with friends we were all ears. Here’s a guest post from a Consultant’s Wife on their long weekend trip to Crete and their stay at the Blue Palace Resort & Spa.
My husband and I have always had the Greek islands on our Trip Wish List. So when he landed an extended business project in London we figured we would take advantage of it and booked a long weekend in Crete.
My husband had some afternoon meetings, so we took an early evening nonstop flight from London to Heraklion on EasyJet (the British version of Southwest.) The flight was just over 3.5 hours and we arrived in Crete around 11pm. After exiting customs and border control, we were met by our driver in a Mercedes E-class which we had booked in advance through the Blue Palace for 90 Euros. I highly recommend this option as the Blue Palace is about an hour drive from the airport. If arriving by boat from another island, the main port in Heraklion is roughly the same distance.
We opted to use cash and points for 4 night stay at 10,000 SPG points and 100 Euros per night. My husband is SPG Platinum and we also used 4 upgrade certificates for our stay. Before checking in we were able to view online that we had been to a two-level Mediterranean Masionette Suite. Check-in went smoothly and as a Platinum member, we were offered complimentary buffet breakfast at the main dining room or continental breakfast delivered to our room for a small service charge. In addition, we would receive 20% off dinning at The Blue Door Greek restaurant at the resort.
The hotel is situated on a cliff so after check-in we were driven to our suite via golf cart. The suite was a town house style accommodation, with living room and half bath downstairs and master bedroom/bathroom upstairs. We were pleasantly surprised to learn our room had its own “private” pool off the downstairs living room and a second balcony off the master bedroom. A large fruit basket and bottle of Greek Aperitif were also waiting for us upon arrival.
Since it was dark when we arrived the night before, we thrilled to wake up and finally see our view the next morning!
The hotel is situated directly across from Spinaloga Island, a former leper colony, which you can easily take a boat out to visit.
The Mediterranean Masionette Suites are located in rows of 4 – 6 villas all with their own not-so-private-private pool. We were fairly high up in the resort so the pool was private from the respect that no one from the beach or pool could see you. However since all the suites are in a row and the pools are adjoining, your balcony/pool becomes not so private when your neighbors are in their pool. My husband and I accidently saw several of our neighbors sunbathing only partially clothed on their balconies. They seemed rather startled…and so were we! After a couple of these instances we decided to spend our days down at the beach. Booking tip – try to reserve an end unit as you will have slightly more privacy on your balcony. The water was also a too little cold to enjoy since it was only May.
To get to the beach or reception there is a quick and easy funicular to drop you off so you can avoid walking the steep incline. This is a great option for those traveling with small children or travelers who have a hard time getting around on foot.
There are 2 main pools one located down by the beach and one further up the cliff at reception. The pool located up by reception seemed to be mostly a kids hang out so we avoided this one.
We also visited the pool located by beach quite a bit to cool off as the Mediterranean Sea was still too cold for us this time of year.
We took full advantage of the free breakfast and chose the buffet two days and had breakfast delivered to our room the other two days of our trip. The buffet was great and had an extensive selection of choices. However, we much preferred to have a private breakfast on our balcony…the view is unbeatable!
We also decided to try out the The Blue Door to use our 20% discount. The restaurant is located on the beach so we made sure to book an early reservation so we could enjoy the sunset and traditional Greek food. The ambiance was incredible and so was the food, this was one of our favorite dinners in Crete.
Afterwards, we had drinks outside at the main bar near reception.
The hotel has several other restaurants to choose from, however we decided to venture into the neighboring towns of Elounda and Plaka for our other nights out.
We visited several of the local towns and villages while at Blue Palace. First Elounda, the largest town by far, is about a 10 minute taxi ride. You can easily arrange a transfer (in a Mercedes of course!) with the concierge. Although Elounda had the most nightlife and action, the town did not impress us. Most of the shops and restaurants are very touristy and I wouldn’t recommend visiting here for more than one night.
However, we did really enjoy the small fishing village of Plaka which is only a 5 minute walk from the Blue Palace. The shopping was much better and there were several lovely restaurants overlooking the water. The local market here also is a good place to stock up on wine, water, and snacks for your room at the Blue Palace.
We caught a quick 15 minute boat ride out to Spinaloga Island from Plaka, I would highly recommend carving out an hour or two to visit this interesting landmark. You can also get a great view of the whole resort form the island.
We decided to rent and drive our selves back to the airport for about the same price as the hotel transfer. This way we could take our time and stop along away. About 25 minutes from the resort is the picturesque hillside village of Kritsa. This was by far our favorite stop, and we wish we had known about it sooner! They had wonderful shopping and are famous for their lace making. After picking up a few souvenirs we unfortunately had get to get back on the road to the airport.
Last on our agenda, was to also stop at the Palace of Knossess located near Heraklion and the airport. However, the opening times we looked up online were inaccurate and when we arrived at 4:30pm we had already missed the last entrance time of the day. Lesson learned – we should have double check with the hotel concierge before leaving!
Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to The Blue Palace. The resort itself was definitely the highlight of the vacation, as the island itself didn’t wow us. However, I think Crete would be a great stopover for a few days if visiting other islands in the area. Next time we’re in Greece we definitely plan to check out The Mystique on Santorini!