Our third trip to Vritomartis in 4 years and it won't be our last. We rarely visit the same place more than once, unless it's exceptional - and Vritomartis is most certainly that. It's a little bit of paradise when the Cretan sun shines, which it did for practically the whole of our week's visit. We've had variable weather earlier in the summer on our two previous visits but in early September 2011 the weather was perfect. The thermometer on the poolside bar topped 30C almost every day and the clean and beautiful pool was exactly the right temperature to cool off in when needed. Not having a clammy swimsuit to dry off after each swim enhances the experience!
Each time we've stayed, we've had one of the "bungalow rooms", rather than a room in the hotel itself, both for the peace & quiet and the freedom, as mentioned by other reviewers. Although you may hear next door's shower and the people above you (if staying in one of the ground floor rooms with a room above), we've never had noisy neighbours so that hasn't been a problem for us. Our room was kept spotlessly clean by the maid service every day. The single beds (check if you want a double when booking as several of the bungalow rooms have singles and they can't be pushed together) were firm but comfortable. The aircon is very efficient although not very quiet, but we switched it off at night and left the patio door open and slept well.
We've never had any insect bites at Vritomartis (and my wife is a magnet for mosquitoes). There are wasps around but they weren't a problem and we didn't see anyone stung. The standing water at the poolside showers seems to attract them but as long as you're careful and watch where you step when having a shower, they won't bother you. Water from the overnight sprinklers also attracted honey bees early to the lawns early in the morning but again they weren't a problem. The insects around the pool often attract swallows and swifts and it's an amazing experience watching their aerobatics whilst swimming.
We spent most of our time, from immediately after breakfast to early evening, on sunbeds on the lawns under the palm trees by the pool. Just writing that sentence makes me want to book another visit. One afternoon, we took the frequent shuttle bus down to the "old beach", which is pebbles rather than sandy. You can walk, it's less than a kilometre, but it's a hot walk uphill back. It's clear that there is a charge for the beach sunbeds and umbrellas so I can't see why anyone would have a problem with that. They are free by the pool but at busy times can all be taken by mid-morning. The hotel requests that people do not reserve the pool sunbeds by the old trick of leaving towels on them but some people ignored this rule. Even if there are no sunbeds left, the springy grass of the lawns is very comfortable to lie on. The hotel is considering replacing the sunbeds by the pool next year so hopefully availability will improve.
The "new" beach, which is closer to the hotel and easier to walk to, is not ready and it's not clear when it will be. The bar building has now been constructed so it might be open "next year". In some ways, it's a nicer beach, being more sheltered, with smaller stones and easier to get into the sea as it shelves less steeply, not that any of those things causes a problem at the current beach. It's not as wide but is deeper so should still hold a similar number of people. It's not an official naturist beach yet but some people use it (and walk there and back) as nature intended. Apparently the hotel will stop using the old beach when the new ones is opened.
On all three of our visits we've enjoyed the food at Vritomartis. The buffet breakfast is plentiful with a good variety to choose from. The Greek yoghurt is, as you might expect, beautiful and usually has walnuts, raisins, or other fruit in it. There are always fried eggs, the omelette is nice and the cooked tomatoes very tasty, but do not expect to find British style bacon and sausages. Yes, there's a queue for dinner when the restaurant opens at 7:30 but it's pretty civilised and when all the tables are full, the bar is on hand and you won't have a long wait. We've always found the buffet dinners of excellent quality. It's not haute cuisine but the ingredients are fresh and of very good quality (some grown in the hotel's own gardens), the variety on offer is excellent, and the food is freshly cooked. There is a nice mix of Greek food and international style dishes and enough choice to satisfy (almost) everyone. Many desserts include nuts and honey but that's fine by me! This year's wines seemed better than some we've had in the past, which was a bonus. My nearest and dearest also enjoyed sampling the extensive cocktail list before dinner!
Food at the poolside bar is also very good and is now served by a smiling young man - previous visitors may remember the now retired "character" who used to run the bar. A word for all the staff who, almost without exception, are pleasant, friendly and helpful, not only the serving staff but also the ladies who clean and always have a cheerful "Kalimera!" for guests every morning, although they must sometimes wonder where to look. The young Spanish lady, Irini, who ran the excursions and activities this year, is a delight and very well organised. She gently and miraculously chided 8-10 lazy people around the pool each afternoon into playing water polo, even though she couldn't move some of the lazier guests like me. There is entertainment most evenings but it's all very laid back and you can take it or leave it as you please.
One of the great things about Vritomartis is that you don't need a car to get out and about to see the beautiful south west of Crete. There are a variety of walking tours to the nearby gorges, a wine tour (new this year) and other sightseeing trips. Prices vary depending on the trip and, in my view, not expensive for what you get. There are usually two boat trips on offer, one along the coast, the other across to the island of Gavdos (this was the most expensive trip, this year at 89 Euro per person), which is reputed to be the most southerly point in Europe. The Gavdos trip is very dependent on the weather and won't set out if it's windy offshore or there's much of a swell. It sailed the day we arrived and again the day before we left. The day we booked for, it was cancelled because of the after effects of storms the night before so we decided to go on the other trip instead. On our first visit, the trip went east as far as the beautiful (but not naturist) Preveli Beach but that trip was apparently not so popular as some of the places it visited can be reached easily by car. The coastal trips are less likely to be cancelled because of sea conditions.
We left the hotel at 9:30, boarded our boat at Chora Sfakion, a few minutes away by shuttle bus and well worth a separate visit, west along the coast to just past the end of the Samaria Gorge. Apart from lunchtime in Loutro, where we had an excellent lunch, the whole trip of our trip was naturist. We swam off the boat and on to three beautiful beaches, the first of which had no-one else on it, the second had a taverna and an interesting old church (both non-naturist, obviously), and the last was the well known Sweetwater beach. It was a perfect day out with a nice bunch of people from a variety of nations. There was a good mix of guests at the hotel this year, with perhaps more people from the Netherlands and the UK than other countries, surprisingly few Germans (perhaps they feel they have already contributed enough to the Greek economy!), a few Scandinavians, French, Russians and other Europeans, and a handful of Americans. One couple on our boat were from Saudi, which must have been interesting for them culturally.
Take enough cash to pay for drinks, the beach bar, ice creams, drinks and souvenirs, etc bought from the shop and for the excursions - all other costs for drinks etc can be paid by card or cash at the end of your stay.
If you've already discovered the joys of swimming and sunbathing as nature intended, or have ever wondered why some strange person invented clothes to swim in, try Vritomartis. Most people who do, seem to try it more than once...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Vritomartis Hotel & Bungalows is a naturist hotel located in the region of Sfakia on the south coast of Crete, near the village of Hora Sfakion. The hotel features a private naturist beach in a spectacular domain overlooking the sea. Vritomartis hotel has 180 beds in 85 beautifully appointed rooms, of which 42 are located on two floors in the main building and 43 in 9 separate bungalows. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Vritomartis Hotel And Bungalows
- Vritomartis Hotel Chania