Well, lets start by introducing myself and the trip. My wife and I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We travel overseas about once a year with additional trips to a sun destination most winters. I also travel frequently for work. On average I do about 40 business trips a year that involve air travel. I consider us fairly well traveled having visited over 50 countries. Past trips to this area of Europe have included Turkey, Greece and Italy. While we have been to a number of the Greek islands, we had not previously been to Crete. The sole purpose of the trip was a vacation and time to relax. Our plan was to use the Blue Palace as a base. We spent 5 nights at the Blue Palace.
Flew Calgary to Frankfurt Executive First on Air Canada. Good flight, exactly what I would have expected for this product. Met our needs and expectations. Frankfurt to Athens business class Lufthansa. Product was fine; although I feel Air Canada offers better product on it’s short to medium range Business class service. All in all and uneventful trip.
Spent the night in Athens at the Holiday In by the airport. Shuttle was easy to locate and the property was good. Thought we would get a taxi into Athens for the evening. Hotel suggested we take the bus. Cheap and very easy both ways. A good evening.
Shuttle back to the airport for an Aegean flight to Crete. New aircraft. Very good quick flight. Would defiantly chose Aegean over Olympic Airways. Good equipment and service.
Planning for our care rental involved internet searches and reading reviews. To save on dollars we avoided the major traditional players and booked with Eurocars. Reviews had indicated they are good value but not efficient and we may have to wait for them on arrival; however we decided to give them a try.. We were met on time by a friendly person that was very helpful with our luggage. Walked a short distance to our car. A small Peugeot convertible. Per the reviews we had read, not the cleanest cars; however very adequate and in fine mechanical condition. Large Eurocar sticker on the side. We will use them again without concern; however if you want a spotless car and new model, then use a different firm such as AVIS.
Drove to the Elounda where our hotel was. (Actually, the hotel is a short distance past Elounda near Plaka.) Greeted very promptly on arrival by the bellman and was given all the help we needed with our luggage. Valet parking was efficient and when ever we requested our care it was promptly brought to us.
Walked to the from desk. Was immediately identified by the desk person as Starwood Platinum. The person checking us in excused herself and picked up the phone and called someone. The hotel director came out and personally welcomed us and wanted to ensure us that he and his staff were there to ensure our stay exceed expectations. Very efficient, warm and friendly check in process.
We booked the room on points for 5 nights. I never expect more than what I book. That way upgrades are a bonus. Being late June, I wasn’t expecting an upgrade (although privately hopeful for a room with a pool). We were walked to our room and had been upgraded to a suite on 1 level with a pool. Very lovely bedroom and living room. Separate shower and jacuzzi tub. appreciated. The room was spotless. There was a bottle of raki and a fruit plate to welcome us with a card form the hotel thanking us for choosing the property. The room was tastefully furnished and plain. (I mean this in a positive way.)
I have read mixed comments on the private pools. Ours was not heated and could be seen clearly from the adjacent room. This being said, we thought it was a great addition to our stay. Very refreshing way to start and end the day. For us being unheated was fine. If paying, I recommend the pool, but that is a personal choice. It certainly added to our stay.
Each day we had breakfast on our deck overlooking Spinalonga Island. We enjoyed picking up some fruit and yogurt and had this on our deck that was for us. Ordered coffee which was promptly delivered with a choice of hot milk, milk to cream. We like lots of coffee, so day 2 and for the balance of the stay a larger thermos was provided. We never had breakfast in the hotel; however did check out the buffet. Looked like a good buffet; however we always prefer al a carte and would never chose a buffet. Plus, the room was a great place for breakfast. Did get up early one day, my wife slept in, the coffee bar wasn’t open yet. Went to the restaurant and asked for a coffee to go. Was given one and told it was no charge. Nice gesture.
One day our toilet backed up. Called for assistance. Some one arrived promptly and fixed the problem. So no concern.
There is an internet station by the front desk. As platinum, they gave me a code so it was complimentary. However for most there was a charge. Note, there is complimentary internet a short walk away in a secondary lobby that has a reading and sort of business area. So not sure why one would be free and the other be charged for!
Front desk staff were excellent and welcoming when every we walked by. There to help without being over the top. Chatted a few times with the front desk manager. She was great help. Had the ability to combine a professional approach with being personable I took the time to drop off a note thanking her for the positive guest experience received before we left. She thanked us for taking the time to share our experience with a kind note and a local cook book. Seemed really interested in my thoughts on service etc.
The property never felt busy. I think this was by design. While upscale in service and quality, I would describe the experience as casual elegance rather than formal. Have stayed at a number of hotels that are fancier/more formal such as various Four Seasons, The Danali in Venice and The St Regis in Rome. If you are looking for that type of experience, this place may disappoint. However each has its place. This is relaxed and casual in a warm and caring way. We love the St Regis in Rome and the St Regis in Florence; however this is a different type of experience and one we certainly enjoyed and will repeat.
We saw some young families enjoying the large common pool by the beach. The pool was never crowded and was warm. Not sure if it was heated or not though. For families, have to know what to expect. Was not really a busy family place, although the families we spoke to enjoyed the quiet setting. Never saw many teenagers.
One disappointment at the hotel was our meal at the Blue Door an onsite Greek Taverna. Awesome location and setting on the beach front. This is an old stone fisherman's house with lots of lanterns, white and blue tablecloths, and bright blue chairs. The food was excellent; however the service was rushed and while technically fine, it was not warm. My perspective, this should be a slow pace to eat. So if I was there again, I would order each course after one was completed. While our experience may not be representative of the norm, we would bypass this for local tavernas such as Ferryman's. Worth walking by to see the setting though as this was very good and full of possibilities! Price was higher than in town but not unlike what I would expect at the hotel.
Some evenings we had a drink by the pool by the lobby. I think this is the Arsenali Bar, but not sure. Anyway, this was great relaxing setting that we enjoyed a couple of times before going out for dinner. Never saw anyone swimming in this pool in the evening. Was used a bit during the day. Had sun beds, but as a pool to relax by or sun bath, recommend the beach.
The hotel had a private pebble beach that was about 300 feet long. Lots of wooden walk ways to get around, so the pebbles weren’t a problem. We had planned to travel more of the island that we did; however time on the beach was relaxing and a great way to unwind for the beginning our our 3 week vacation. Great service on the beach. Ordered wine and snacks on a number of occasions serve was friendly and fast. Also well priced for a hotel. Would strongly recommend time on the beach. Ski boats offered trips to Spinalongia however cheaper to make the shot walk to Plaka for the trip. Also could take diving lessons or water ski etc from the beach. Swimming was good; however not the fish and marine life we often see in other parts of the Mediterranean, Caribbean or parts of Hawaii. There are sea urchins not far of shore, so watch for these and wear water shoes. Was a breeze most of the time on the beach. From our perspective, this was a plus. Could swim off a small floating dock that was not used by boats.
Overall, a wonderful experience. Would highly recommend this property for its ambience, setting, service and most of all for the people that work there. Casual, warm caring and focused on providing a positive experience that exceed expectations. Not a formal property. Know what you are going to and enjoy all it has to offer. I guess a good way to end our review is to say, just booked 7 nights there for July 2012.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Escape to the wild beauty and unrivalled island style of a bohemian luxe resort with emblematic sea views, crystal clear waters, sparkling infinity pools, world class cuisine and bespoke services. All this combined with the resort's beach experience create a unique setting , where time seems to stand still. Blue Palace, a setting of wild grandeur. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Blue Palace Hotel Elounda
- Blue Palace Resort And Spa
- Blue Palace Resort & Spa
- Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Crete Elounda