With uninterrupted sea views, a spa fit for royalty and Michelin-star cuisine, the new Nana Princess hotel in Crete makes for the perfect escape
Greece’s biggest island, Crete is blessed with a variety of terrains and attractions to please lounge lizards and intrepid explorers equally. From mountainous terrains hiding plateaus, deep gorges and caves shrouded in Greek mythology, to fine, sandy beaches and tranquil harbours (party towns that never sleep are also available).
Crete is also home to a crumbling island fortress, once home to Europe’s last active leper colony (there can’t be many tourist attractions that are as equally beautiful and macabre as Spinalonga, which inspired Victoria Hislop’s fascinating novel, The Island – your perfect Cretan holiday read).
But let’s return to those sandy beaches, because it’s the first thing many of us picture when we think of summer holidays, and Crete’s newest luxury hotel resort, the Nana Princess in the Bay of Malia, is blessed with a beautiful beach complete with immaculate infinity pools, sun loungers galore and white linen-draped daybeds.
Located on the north side of Crete, a nippy 20-30 minute drive from Heraklion Airport, the glamorous new resort has been carefully crafted by the Karatzis Group of Companies, a family run enterprise that also owns the neighbouring Nana Beach hotel.
The Nana Princess has 112 luxurious rooms, suites and villas – each with an unspoilt sea view and nearly all with their own heated private pool or whirlpool, which is a first for the island – plus a state-of-the-art spa and gym, the Royal Wellness Club. The top suites even have their own gym, SoulSteam room or SoulSauna, so that those seeking total relaxation can hole up, away from the world, and enjoy their own private bliss.
The Nana Princess has 112 luxurious rooms, suites and villas, each with an unspoilt sea view and nearly all with their own heated private pool or whirlpool, which is a first for the island
The hotel certainly has hints of a passion project about it. The Karatzis Group even went so far as to buy up a hillside in Elounda to guarantee a plentiful supply of a particularly beautiful black stone for the hotel. The rock blends seamlessly into the mountainous backdrop, meaning the low-rise property barely intrudes on the landscape. A lovely touch.
The rooms are smart and contemporary. Richly appointed yet relaxed, with elegant furnishings and a palette of royal blue, pale grey and dark woods. There’s plenty of tech, too, from an integrated Bluetooth sound system to a colour therapy shower and TV built into the huge bathroom mirror.
Drinks by the beach is just what the doctor ordered for frazzled Londoners
Spinalonga, once a leper colony, and is a hauntingly beautiful site
The single storey, stone-finished blocks of rooms are built on a gradient, similar to cinema seating, so that each block is granted that glorious sea view. On entering your room, your eye is naturally drawn to the far end, where bi-fold doors open to reveal your private decking area, plunge pool and the sea beyond. The pool is not entirely private, which surprised me, but it transpired the owners had a difficult design choice to be made – higher walls for complete privacy, or lower walls for more sunlight. I’d say they made the right choice.
The food, as you might expect from a luxury hotel in the Med, is outstanding. There are three restaurants to choose from: Eternal Blue, by the seafront, which serves up the most marvellous seafood soup and other oceanic wonders; Meat-In Joint which, despite the somewhat misguided name, serves up fantastic cuts of locally sourced meat, including a fantastic beef tartare with avocado, caviar and edible flowers; and Carpe Diem restaurant, which serves up international and Cretan specialities, including deliciously delicate pasta dishes. The menus have been devised by award-winning Michelin-star chef Lefteris Lazarou, and are complemented by sommelier Nikos Giannopoulos.
On entering your room, your eye is naturally drawn to the bi-fold doors, which open to reveal your private decking area, plunge pool and the sea beyond
And then there’s the spa, a cool, calming 1,400m² of high-tech, low-speed bliss. The Royal Wellness Club embraces the latest in hydrotherapy tech with the Spa System by Starpool. The only one of its kind in Greece, it combines steam, colour therapy, aromatherapy baths, tropical storm showers, cool mists and an ice room in an hour-long experience created in collaboration with doctors.
Your therapist will recommend one of the four different pathways through the Spa System, which have been designed to relax, purify, tone or revitalise, depending on your needs. The spa also offers luxury treatments using the gorgeously pure Germaine de Capuccini products, such as a Minoan carob body scrub, Sea Gold body wrap and hammam-style treatments that take place on a heated water-effect bed. You can also embrace programmed activities, such as a pre-breakfast yoga class.
All in all, relaxation, combined with the finer things in life, are the order of the day here, and whatever you’re looking for – from lounging on the beach with cocktails to horseback adventures or scuba diving, the team at Nana Princess will endeavour to take care of it.
Rates at the Nana Princess start from €155 /£137pp per night in a Superior room category