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“Beautiful, but the family made it perfect”
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Excellent
9 reviews
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Villa Athina
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Villa Athina
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Overview
Villa -
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom, Sleeps 6
Sfakaki, Rethymnon Prefecture, Crete

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Excellent - based on 9 reviews
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TasMissy
Hobart, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
106 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“Beautiful, but the family made it perfect”
Reviewed October 15, 2013 for a stay in September 2013
1
person found this review helpful

After an extensive internet search we had decided on Villa Athina at Elia Villas in Pagalochori on the central Northern coast of Crete for our weeks stay after a week in Turkey and an 11-day cruise, followed by three days in Athens.
We decided on Elia Villas as it was small and away from the tourist areas, but still accessible to all the areas you may want to visit. Our initial contacts with Elia by email were very simple and encouraging. They didn’t want a deposit and arranged to meet us outside Rethymnon and direct us to the villas.
We had hired a car which was to be picked up from the airport. We also got a GPS but found we didn’t need it. We navigated everywhere with the map provided by Elia, and it was in Greek. A car is recommended, and there are literally hundreds of hire car companies, for getting around. There is a lot to see and it is worth the investment.

It is only a short flight from Athens to Heraklion. We could have gone into Chania but the timetable suited us better for Heraklion. Rethymnon is midway between the two, approximately an hours drive, and Pagalochori is ten minutes from the highway in the foothills.

We were met at the airport by the rental car guy and taken to the vehicle, a new automatic VW Polo. Pay the money upfront and after a quick guided tour of the car we are on our way. Remembering we are Australian and not used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Only one blast of a horn as we crossed the wrong way and we are out onto the new road. The new road covers most of the Northern part of the island and is for the most part a good 2-3 lane highway. It is divided by double lines for most of the way. However, they are only there to provide guidance when overtaking as most drivers do, and normally on blind corners. Strangely it is accepted and other drivers will pull over to allow you to pass straddling the double lines. It is not uncommon to see three cars wide coming at you. It is certainly different. And if you want to do anything out of the ordinary, like turning or stopping, or parking you just put on your hazard lights and do it. Doesn’t matter!

We were duly met by Elia and her father Nick as arranged and guided up the hill to the villas. Elia speaks good English and is a university graduate but can’t get a job in her chosen profession due to the Greek financial crisis. She is lovely as is her mother Maria who is waiting to welcome us at the villas. Neither Maria or Nick speak much English but can make themselves understood through their generosity and kindness.

We are shown to Villa Athina, bright pink and in a lovely setting in the olive grove. There are two other villas, Estia and Afroditi, and a swimming pool and BBQ, and that’s it.
The villa is beautiful and the pictures on the internet do not do it justice. They are accurate but don’t reflect the charm of the rooms. There are four balconies, one wrapping around the living room to the kitchen door and another off the living room and another off each of the bedrooms.
The whole villa is tiled, cool and shuttered from the heat. It is immaculately clean. All the windows and the doors are three way and double glazed and there are shutters on all the windows.

Villa Athina sleeps five. There is a double bed in the main bedroom and two singles in the second. I have to say the beds are hard but strangely we slept well on them. There is a huge amount of storage in the bedrooms and quality fittings throughout. The lounge has a couch and chair and a dining table and four chairs. There is satellite TV with over five hundred channels, only five of which are English speaking, and they are mainly news channels. If you are from anywhere else in the world I would nearly guarantee you could find a channel.

The kitchen is well equipped with a full size stove, fridge, dishwasher and washing machine and all the pots and pans and cutlery you could want. Toaster, kettle, glassware and so the list goes on. The hot water gets dangerously hot and has huge pressure. We did have a problem the first night when the water stopped completely. Nick fixed it in minutes the next morning. It was due to an electrical fault kicking out the filter and pump. We were gently berated for not ringing Elia as soon as it happened. The bathroom is fully fitted and has a full size spa bath.

There is a small, immaculately clean shared pool with sun lounges and umbrellas. For the most part there is shade from the olive and orange trees anywhere on the property. There are grape vines around the perimeter and a pomegranate tree in full fruit.

There is a mini mart and local tavern locally, but we found it easier to go into Rethymnon for shopping and dining. The tourist strip starts as you join the old road and there are restaurants and supermarkets all along the road within ten minutes’ drive from the villas. As you get closer to Rethymnon the hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops get more plentiful. It was quite busy, even though this is technically the end of the “touristic” season. I would not like to think what it would be like in high season. Once you get to the seafront it is solid hotels and restaurants all touting for your business. Unlike Istanbul and Athens there is quite a variety of food on offer. They definitely cater for the tourist here. Everything is relatively cheap and generally the quality is good.

There are miles of beautiful beaches within twenty minutes’ drive, with free sunbeds and umbrellas and free wifi, provided you buy a drink worth 1.50 Euros. With a beer costing 2.50 that is no hardship.

However, the thing that sets Elia Villas apart from the rest is the hospitality of the family. No deposit, meet and greet, and guide to the villas before you start. When you arrive there is Maria waiting with open arms. You immediately feel part of the family, they are beautiful people. They were genuinely interested in us and where we came from, Tasmanians are unusual I admit, but Nick had done his homework and regaled us with his new-found knowledge. This is hospitality!
When we arrived and had done the tour there was the watermelon, cooked vegetables and Greek salad and a bottle of olive oil from their own grove waiting for us.
Every day was another gift, apples on the second day, grapes were always offered. A bottle of their own organic wine and a bottle of raki one night and a plate of walnuts the next. Incredibly there was Halva cooked by Maria on our last night.
They don’t live on the property but are there every day tending to the pool, sweeping paths and generally making sure everything is OK. And then there are the two resident cats Ginger and Blackie, who hate each other, but add another sense of domesticity to the scene. That is in addition to the two scrawny chooks that are handy for disposing of the kitchen scraps.

Elia Villas is in a beautiful, quiet setting overlooking olive groves and fields with views of the surrounding rural countryside away from the madness of the tourist strip, but still close enough for beaches, shopping and dining.
What could make it perfect? Some subdued lighting, better TV programs and wifi access maybe, but it is however, what it is because of Nick, Maria and Elia and their friendship and hospitality. We were presented with a gift as we left and an email when we got home hoping we had a safe trip. I would have thought it was the other way around, with us giving them as gift for providing such a warm, welcoming stay at their beautiful villas.
Thank you Nick, Maria and Elia for a wonderful time on Crete. I cannot believe that Elia Villas has not been reviewed since 2012.

How easy was it to book the property? How helpful were the directions to the property?
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Liked best: Location, quietness and the family
Liked least: Nothing
Traveling group: Spouse/Partner
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
  • Was the property as advertised?
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Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Management Response
Oct 16, 2013
Thank you very much for your review!!! We are touched by your gentle and kind words!Our best wishes for a pleasant winter!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bergen, Norway
Reviewed July 8, 2012 for a stay in June 2012

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Liked best: Owners' attitude.
Liked least: Leaving.
Traveling group: Extended Family
Your age range 35-49
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
Families with young children Large groups
People with pets
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Management Response
Jul 18, 2012
Good morning Vladimir and Olga!
We received your review and we thank you for writing it. Thank you also for your kind words. Have a nice rest of summer!
Maria, Nick & Elia
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Seattle, WA
Reviewed June 8, 2012 for a stay in May 2012

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Liked best: Hospitality and natural surroundings
Traveling group: Extended Family
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
Families with young children
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
  • Did the property offer wi-fi/internet access?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
startrave...
england
Level 2 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Wonderful villa in a peaceful setting!”
Reviewed August 29, 2011 for a stay in August 2011
1
person found this review helpful

PERFECT! CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK! LOVELY CRETAN OWNERS!
Villa Athina is 1 of 3 family owned villas sharing a pool in a lovely setting shaded by olive trees. The provided photos do not do the property and surrounding areas justice. We stayed in Villa Athina, 2 bedrooms ( 1 with king size bed and one with twin beds). Both bedrooms included plenty of cupboard space, balconies and good air conditioning.
The living area had good air conditioning, a well equipped kitchen area (dishwasher, cooker, fridge freezer and washing machine), balcony, lots of space and plenty of lighting etc. Outside there is a table with comfortable chairs and lighting.
Most of the soft furnishings were handmade by the owners who have also paid a great deal of attention to creating a comfortable and spotlessly clean place to stay.
The family also visit the properties daily to maintain the outside areas which are full of plants, flowers, olive and fruit trees, they also grow their own tomatoes and have laying chickens; all of which were offered to and enjoyed by us!
Upon arrival at Heraklion airport we were asked to phone the family who arranged to meet us en route and show us the way; even though we arrived during the night! Delicious filled rolls, home made olive oil and other foods were also provided for us in the villa. On our first morning they showed us the local beaches, supermarkets and were always happy to help us.
The family are extremely welcoming and during our stay they prepared and joined us for a barbecue; we also joined them for an enjoyable evening of homemade wine, raki and dakos.
We chose this property because of it's location - away from the highly touristic areas but a short drive to the main road to visit other sites etc. This property is perfect for travellers that want to get away from it all, experience Cretan hospitality and relax in a beautiful setting, although you will need to hire a car.
Communication prior to our arrival via email was excellent. There is no internet access at the property but we all found we managed without and didn't miss it; especially our teenage son (he spent most of his time in the pool!). Free WiFi access is widely offered in bars, restaurants etc. throughout Crete.

How easy was it to book the property? How helpful were the directions to the property?
How easy was key pickup/access to the property? Overall condition of the property
Bedding & mattresses Kitchen & utensils
Bathroom cleanliness Other facilities & amenities
Service
Liked best: Warm hospitality
Liked least: having to leave!
Traveling group: Family with Teenagers
Your age range 35-49
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
Families with young children
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paulhego
Houston, Texas
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Heavenly retreat, luxurious villa, friendly hospital welcome, want to go back”
Reviewed August 21, 2011 for a stay in August 2011
1
person found this review helpful

We have just returned from a 2 week stay at one of the three villas run by Nick Koutelidakis, his wife & daughter. It's a few minutes’ drive east of Rethymnon on the outskirts of a quiet hamlet. The setting is in a grove of olive trees with laid out paths for car access to each property. The olive trees afford privacy between each villa. We travelled with three young children. We were met by the owners off the main highway, and brought to the lovely villa. We were met by his wife who had prepared a feast of freshly prepared homemade stuffed vegetables, stuffed vine leafs and delicious fish. The fridge has also been stocked with essentials so we didn't need to go shopping immediately. The food was delicious, with some spare for the next day. The villa is well stocked with a modern kitchen, satellite & local TV, washing machine, dish washer. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi that worked well. The villas are newly built and finished to a high standard. There are balconies on all 4 sides. Nick placed a recliner from the pool across the top of the steps so we were able to corral the kids in safely from the pool. The pool was reasonable size, and well maintained. Nick & his family came every evening to manage the gardens/pool while respecting our space. They were genuinely friendly. There's plenty space to hang out your towels, swim things so that you can swim twice a day e.g. beach in AM, pool in PM. Despite being August there were very few mosquitos, perhaps being hunted by the larger bugs that are inevitable in an olive garden? There were beautiful dragon flies, butterflies as well as interesting other bugs, that stayed out of the villa. However we would advise keeping organic waste to the minimum in the villa to prevent ingress of tiny ants. We changed the electric mosquito repellents daily so there were very few bites, in stark contrast to our recent experience in Athens where we were eaten alive!
The beaches along the North coast were varied, all beautiful. On windy days the sea is a bit rough for toddlers. Also some of the beaches have stones just at the entry point, but that doesn't seem to deter the locals. We visited the beach at Bali twice, which was nice with an international & local crowd. There had been 3 drowning there that week which was hard to understand. The beach along the Marino in Rethymon itself was also nice. We drove to Frangocastello one day on the south of the island. The road was very twisty crossing various mountains, but enjoyable nonetheless. The beach there was lovely, with mostly Greek clientele.
The old town of Rethymon is lovely to walk around. The shops are good, as are the various restaurants & cafes. Parking is free, and may require a bit of touring to find a space. Beware of parking inside the pedestrian zone that gets locked at 7.30 PM. There's a farmers' market in the main square beside the national gardens every Thursday morning. All cash deals. Speaking of which if you buy any jewellery ask for cash discount which can be about 10%.
There's plenty to do to occupy 2 weeks. The excellent local produce makes this an ideal retreat for those who appreciate gourmet eating. I have no hesitation in recommending these villas given their high specifications and above all the hearty welcome we received.

How easy was it to book the property? How helpful were the directions to the property?
How easy was key pickup/access to the property? Overall condition of the property
Bedding & mattresses Kitchen & utensils
Bathroom cleanliness Other facilities & amenities
Service
Liked best: Peace and quiet, excellent local food
Liked least: Leaving
Traveling group: Family with Young Children
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
Families with young children Large groups
People with pets
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gilles750...
Paris, France
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed May 7, 2017 for a stay in May 2017
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Your age range 65+
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marithens...
Utrecht, The Netherlands
1 review
Reviewed October 18, 2016 for a stay in October 2016
Google Translation

Traveling group: Young Children
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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