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Sun, sea and secluded escapes: Why Crete should be your top holiday pick

From centuries-old harbours and secluded beaches to luxury hotels and private pools – here’s why Greece’s largest island is the perfect setting for a dream getaway…

Wednesday 03 April 2024 12:33 BST
Enjoy sunny days and stunning sunsets with a luxury break in relaxing, restorative Crete
Enjoy sunny days and stunning sunsets with a luxury break in relaxing, restorative Crete (BA Grecotel)

A rich cultural heritage, glorious white-sand coasts and crystal clear seas – if there’s anywhere that ticks the boxes of a beautiful Grecian paradise, it’s the island of Crete.

Stonewashed waterfront cafes and wine bars line the historic 14th Century harbour, Chania, showcasing the early-day Venetian-influence that is now infused in Cretan life. Fringing the island are vast stretches of white-sand and pebble beaches, providing both lively and quiet pockets of paradise for everyone. History-enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to Knossos Palace – a myth-laden 1600 BC fortress where tales of the minotaur are shared by local guides. While for those aching for the great outdoors, Samariá Gorge’s dramatic limestone trails lead to secluded swimming pools fringed with pretty waterfalls.

Crete is abundant with luxury hotels, offering immersive kids’ clubs, pristine Blue Flag shorelines and world-class restaurants. Book with British Airways Holidays and you can secure your holiday with a low deposit from just £60 per person and pay the remaining balance off in as many instalments as you like.*

With the added assurance of full ATOL protection (5985), as well as 23kg luggage allowance per person and a 24-hour holiday helpline all you need to do is sit back and dream of Crete. What’s more, British Airways Executive Club members can use their Avios Points for part payment on holiday packages (see ba.com/holidays for more details). Here we pick three incredible stays for the perfect break…

Grecotel LUXME White Palace

The stylish surrounds of LUXME White Palace Resort encapsulate the Luxury-Made-Easy ethos (BA Grecotel)

Located within a 10 minute drive of the old town of Rethymnon, and set on a beautiful, 1000m long sand and pebble “Blue Flag” awarded beach, LUXME White Palace is just one example of the ‘Luxury-Made-Easy’ ethos for which Grecotel is famous.

Stylish Grecian white walls adorn the open-style communal spaces here, providing light-filled interiors that lead out to the main deep blue seawater pool, with additional activity pools for children who wish to enjoy their own space. Even better, guests staying in the LUXME White Palace bungalows can step off the private terrace and directly into the ‘swim-up’ shared pool, while those booked into the Yali Suites can indulge in complete privacy with their own pool.

A wonderful waterfront promenade hosting seven restaurants overlooks the beach. Don’t miss adults-only The White with its degustation-style menu, while a visit to Tavernaki, will introduce you to traditional Cretan cuisine and the delights of meze and ouzo. Relaxed afternoons can be spent at ‘Long’ Beach Bar, sipping on an Athenian spritz or a premium wine from the resort’s two on-site wine cellars, against the enchanting backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort

From quiet courtyards to relaxing spas, find your Zen in Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort (BA Grecotel)

Exuding elegance and glamour through traditional Grecian furniture and renaissance-era artwork, this beachfront hotel – situated just 5km from the old town of Rethymnon, set on a prime beachfront location in the heart of the Cretan Riviera – Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort offers quirky decor, eclectically chic accommodation and luxurious facilities.

The central riad-style courtyard, decorated with ferns and palms, is a peaceful place to retire with a book. While the resort’s 69 rooms, 54 suites and 15 villas, shaded with terracotta roofing, contain handcrafted Italian tiles to provide a cool, refreshing feel.

The resort’s centrepiece is, unsurprisingly, the large seawater swimming pool – its inviting hues glistening in the sunlight from dawn to dusk. Around the edges, lily pad-style designer sun lounges provide a heavenly sunbathing spot, while soft mattresses, day beds and even a hydro massage ensure pure relaxation at all times.

Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort offers two dining options: Caramel The Restaurant’s Mediterranean buffet and the Gourmet à la Carte Restaurant. Dishes are mostly created from fresh, seasonal and local produce, much of which is sourced from Agreco Farm, located just 7 minutes from the resort. Fresh salads, delicious hot and cold platters and herbal teas are available in the buffet-style selection – while the Gourmet menu features everything from fruits de mer to succulent lobster spaghetti.

Amirandes Grecotel Boutique Resort

Blending the old with the new, enjoy the tranquillity of Amirandes Grecotel Boutique Resort (BA Grecotel )

Just 15 minutes’ drive from Heraklion International Airport, and situated on a stunning sandy cove, Amirandes feels as though you’re stepping into an ancient Cretan village; one that encompasses 17 acres of pristine gardens filled with olive and pine trees.

Built to mirror the design of the ancient Minotaur Palace and infused with Minoan and Venetian influences to create an infinitely tranquil setting, Amirandes balances the old with the new. At the centre of the hotel sits an ancient saltwater lagoon – the first glimpse of the natural pools that make up this resort. An Olympic-sized infinity pool surrounded by traditional sandstone, 60 private pools – and, of course, the Mediterranean Sea complete the soothing ambience of the resort.

Book the kids into the complimentary Grecoland Children’s Club, for fun-filled days spent in paddling pools and building sandcastles or playing dress-up and discovering arts and crafts. Teens will be spoilt for choice with mini-golf, a basketball court, five-a-side mini-football pitch and tennis courts.

At the resort’s five restaurants, choose between seafood platters, Asian fusion and hot-off-the-grill steaks – while the central Minotaur restaurant is home to a 30-piece Picasso collection. For those wanting to sample local cuisine, book a table among the olive trees at nearby Logári Taverna – which brings Cretan flavours to life through humble family recipes.

All holidays with British Airways Holidays are ATOL protected and include 23kg baggage allowance per person and a 24-hour holiday helpline. Secure your Crete holiday now with a low deposit* at ba.com/whitepalaceba.com/amirandes and ba.com/caramel

*Based on two sharing. Full balance due four weeks before departure. Subject to availability. T&Cs apply.

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