Just returned from a 7 night stay at the Olive Grove apartments - first time in Kefalonia and we were looking forward to a hearty Greek welcome from the much-fabled Vanna, only it didn't seem to work out like that.
Upon arrival we were shepherded towards reception, which is pretty much the pool bar area, to meet Vanna, who promptly spent 10 minutes fussing over some guests who had been there before and were clearly very friendly with her. By the time she got round to us, she simply told us that the keys were in the door to the apartment, and that she would join us in 5 minutes for a quick welcome chat.
We waited for nearly an hour and she didn't show, so decided to make our way to the bar area for some lunch and a drink before venturing out to check out the local area. Unfortunately, due to a lack of detail on the matter, I locked the door (apparently you aren't meant to do this, as the door will catch and lock itself and does not need to be locked additionally) and caused a small amount of consternation when it would not open again. This turned into somewhat of a 3 ringed circus involving Vanna, the cleaner and the owner.
She did apologise for not coming to see us and said she would give us information about the local area... so we ordered lunch and waited. And waited... she is clearly very busy, being a bit of a Jill of all trades, with serving drinks, preparing food, sorting out apartments, fixing doors and so on but on more than one occasion we waited the best part of an hour for a couple of toasted sandwiches. Vanna is a lovely woman, and clearly wants to be of service to everyone but ends up favouring the guests who have returned and whom she is clearly friendly with. There are clearly lots of people who do return again and again to the Olive Grove, and it did feel a bit like they were more valued as guests than us.
The evenings seemed to run a bit better as Darius arrived and the bar ran a lot more smoothly and was more in keeping with the impression that I had from previous reviews before we arrived. We missed the BBQ evening, but this was apparently very nice.
Given the previous reviewers comments about Thomas Cook no longer including the Olive Grove as the company is focusing on all-inclusive holidays, I do wonder whether the owners and Vanna are now just going through the motions and their hearts are perhaps not it in it, and whether this would explain the lack of "Super Vanna" as described by earlier reviewers?
The apartment was serviceable enough and clean and tidy, with the exception of the bathroom. Whether this was just our apartment, I'm not sure, but it was very small and the shower cubicle was laughably tiny. Neither of us would pretend to be skinny minnies, but I fail to see how even a person of average height and build would manage to fit in and shower adequately. There was also a large amount of hair left in the plughole - which was clearly belonged to neither of us - which meant that the water did not drain away very quickly. We both showered after a day at the beach and the sand didn't leave us for the rest of the holiday due to the drainage. It is a small thing but it did become annoying.
We also seemed to have a constant stream of ants - we didn't bring too much food in to the apartment and most of it was in the fridge but this didn't seem to stop them coming in their droves!
Watch out for Bobby the dog too - he's very sweet and docile and trots about with is poorly paw in the air. He does love barking at passing cars and motorbikes and occasionally chases after them, so keep an eye out! We had a ground floor apartment with a shady terrace and he came to sit with us on it to keep cool most days.
Svoronata as a resort is very small but very pretty - we didn't hire a car as I really couldn't be bothered to drive on holiday, but I would recommend it if you can. Avithos beach is lovely, clear water, golden sand and with a nice beach bar and loungers/parasols. It is a 20-25 minute walk (up and down hill) so if you have any mobility problems or small children it would be best to drive it or get a taxi. We were going to try the 2 tavernas near to the beach but never managed to get back there. Both were recommended to us.
There are some local bars and restaurants - the proper Greek welcome we had been expecting came at the Acropolis taverna, where they have Greek night every Friday. The food is very nice and the staff are very friendly. They also have a bar/lounge area where they show sports on TV.
Muses restaurant is also worth a visit - the food is lovely and the staff are a delight. Their baklava may be some of the best I've ever had. It's not on the menu but the waitresses will gladly assist and oblige you!
Crazy George's bar is worth popping into for a pre/post dinner drink - George is a typical gregarious Greek and Sylvia is his very able Girl Friday - greet her with a warm "dzien dobry" (Polish for hello) and you'll make a friend immediately!
There are a couple of other nearby tavernas - Dum Spero Spiros is a little further up the hill (near the petrol station), and served the nicest kleftiko we had whilst we were in Kefalonia. The Orange Grove is the nearest to the apartments - they specialise in grilled dishes (the mixed grill was lovely) but if you have room for dessert their chocolate brownie is very special and has pistachios in.
There is a small supermarket and a car hire place nearby too, so all bases are covered. There is a bus that goes to Argostoli - the island's capital - 3 times a day. We took the trip to see the loggerhead turtles in the marina - they are fed by the fishermen between 10.30-11.00 approx each morning and dutifully swim around the marina after nabbing all the leftover fish from the market!
Lassi is also nearby - Vanna will gladly call you a taxi if you want to head out for the evening and can't be bothered to drive - and there are lots of tavernas and bars there.
All in all, we did enjoy our holiday but the resort is probably a bit too quiet for us. We went on an excursion around the island, which included Fiskardo, the underground lake at Melissani and wine-tasting (amongst other highlights), which is well worth it if you have not been to Kefalonia before.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.