My girlfriend and I have just returned from a week at Pounda Paou and overall we had a pleasant holiday.
It took us just over an hour to get to Pounda Paou from Volos Airport, in a taxi supplied by the tour operator, although I understand that they use a bus when there are more guests to transport. If you hire a car for the whole week you have to drive yourself, but maps are supplied.
It's a lovely, if remote, location with spectacular views of the Pelion coastline. In fact, the serene views and romantic sunsets are possibly the highlight of what Pounda Paou has to offer. The 'infinity' pool is lovely, although it's colder than the sea, but perfect for relaxing around and having a dip to cool off. The site does have lovely gardens though which give it a nice feel, but it is on a steep hillside so prepare to 'feel the burn'.
OK, so you can't walk to any local villages, but with boats and cars available (and a bit of organisation) you don't need to. September is at the end of the season so mamy of the local villages are starting to wind down and close, includng the tavernas, but there were still enough open for plenty of choice (although all the mens were pretty similar).
Martha's taverna in Horto is worth a mention and seemed to be the favourite choice of tourists and locals alike, with OK food and a nice atmosphere. 'Agrentina' in Milina was also nice, with a lovely selection of cats to keep us entertained. The 'Moon' in Afisos is worth a vist too and we got to watch the owner catch an octopus off the sea front (not for the squeemish though)!
The room was a decent size (suite 3) but we agree with the other feedback on here that they need renovating. The bathrooms aren't great and are looking a bit tired and dated now, unless they're lucky enough for brown tiles to come back in to fashion. The shower was small and the head not attached to the wall, which was a bit awkward... especially when you drop it and have to explain to your girlfriend why the inside of the bathroom is soaked! ;-)
Our biggest gripe is that the bed was extremely hard and uncomfortable, causing us to not sleep very well and wake every morning with aches and pains (and I'm happy camping on a groundmat)! If they could sort that it would make it a lot more pleasurable.
Overall, it was OK and kept fairly clean (hard to tell with the decor) but nothing to write home about.
We were happy to eat on-site most nights and the home-cooked food was very good, as was the outdoor restaurant area that had a variety of tables sizes that allowed us to sit alone or share with other couples when we wanted to socialise. We only had dinner off-site once during the week, but went out every day for lunch.
Breakfast was simple but adequate, although the same selection got a bit boring, and there's no cooked option unless you count the hard boiled eggs.
For dinner there was a variety of traditional dishes, home cooked by Madam Lulla, from whole fresh grilled fish to meatballs, and a simple vegetarian option each night and plenty of salad and vegetables. OK, the dinner per person was more expensive than eating out at the ocal taverna, but after eating at a local taverna (where almost everyone complained about their dinner) you're assured of far better quality and service by staying at home. For me (and I can be a bit tight) I found the dinners to be good value, enhanced by the setting, the ambience and the sheer ease of it all.
BOAT and CAR
We hired a boat for 3 days and a car for the rest of the week, which was perfect because it gave us the time and flexibility to really explore these options. Nobody at the resort had any problems with the boats during the week we were there and Manolis (the boat man) really looked after everyone and made sure the boats were maintained.
The boat gave us many priceless experiences, such as seeing dolphins and being able to pull up to your own private beach on a remote part of the coast, drop the anchor and pretend to be in a James Bond film ;-)
Mooring takes a bit of practice, but the instruction is excellent and it's all part of the fun and experience. I can highly recommend getting a boat! It's E1,60 a litre which you pay at the end and we used about 25 litres over 3-days, which was more than enough sailing! If you hire a boat for half the week you get a 15HP version, instead of a 25HP one (don't ask me why) but it's the same size boat and it was fine (TBH we never sat at full throttle anyway - much more fun to pootle and watch the scenery go by).
The car was a little Fiat Panda, but it was great. We mainly wanted it to visit the monastaries at Meteora and it was perfect for that (even with a 3-hour trip each way). The car was also great for zipping round the narrow Greek roads and seeing the local area, or even crossing to the Aegean sea (on the other side of the peninsula) where there were more great beaches on offer (apparently - we got stuck by the pool ;-)
I would suggest that if you're going for a week you go 50/50 between boat and car because it's perfect.
Just a note (because I have a large dog)... The resort has a HUGE German Shepherd who, although friendly, might not be your cup of tea if you don't like dogs. There's also a female puppy who's very cute, but they can be a bit annoying with the barking if you want total peace and tranquility (and they need a BATH!)
It was a nice holiday but I don't think I'll be rushing back because I'm sure there are nicer places out there. Maybe one day if it gets the TLC it needs and actually deserves... but this is rural Greece so maybe I'm being picky...
It's worth seeing for yourself...
- Also Known As:
- Pounda Paou Hotel Paou