I DO love a quiz – living an always-on, hyper-alert life means I cannot wait to show off the things I’ve seen and heard. But on this occasion, I’m failing, badly . . . as I’m being tested on something I’ve taken for granted for too long — my sense of smell.
I’ve come to TUI Sensatori’s latest boutique retreat, the Atlantica Dreams Resort & Spa on the Greek island of Rhodes, to learn how its range of hand-picked hotels has been using scent to create happy holiday memories for a decade.
So under the guidance of scent-creator to the stars Dawn Goldworm, I’m rediscovering my sense of smell and facing up to my inability to detect carefully planted aromas I unknowingly sniff every day (my box-fresh Nike trainers, for one).
It’s fascinating to learn that companies subtly tease our nostrils to stir feelings without us even realising, and TUI has become a dab hand at it. It even got Dawn to create a commemorative new fragrance, Balance, to mark Sensatori’s birthday.
The name Sensatori splices together the Japanese term “satori”, meaning a wow moment, with the word sense — and my faculties are immediately impressed on arrival by the three multi-sensory pods in the hotel’s lobby. Based on the Greek gods, they are a feast for the eyes, ears and nose, and the heavenly experience of sitting inside one is only improved by adding a perfectly paired cocktail from the piano bar opposite.
Unsurprisingly, this being as much about five-star luxury as it is the five senses, the new-for-2018 Atlantica Dreams — just like Sensatori’s ten other sumptuous resorts across Europe and the Caribbean — provides everything you’d expect from a top-of-the range resort.
Overlooking the perfect blue Aegean Sea, this beachside hotel features 330 suites, most offering a private swim-up experience or spacious sea-view balcony.
Inspired by nature with a contemporary twist, the elegant, designer rooms offer high-class comfort and hi-tech flourishes such as easy-to-control mood lighting and a “pillow menu” to please even the most pernickety of sleepers. And naturally, there’s that delicate Balance scent on the pillows, helping you to unwind.
There are family suites too, as Sensatori resorts provide five-star fun for kids, with play areas as well as great live entertainment in the evenings. The resort is cleverly zoned, though, with adult-exclusive areas as well as spaces just for children.
Case in point are the many pools that blend seamlessly into the grounds, snaking under little bridges and surrounded by cosy bars and inviting sun loungers. As well as a kids’ water playground, there’s an adult-only pool, an indoor one and an activity pool — which I put to good use with an abs-torturing aqua-aerobic session on a surfboard.
I like to give my body as much of a workout as my senses, so I enjoyed a complimentary personal training session in the fully equipped gym, and rose before breakfast for studio classes such as high-energy interval training and tranquil candle-lit yoga.
Worried your sense of touch won’t get a look-in? Relax, as the spa offers an array of scented, sensual treatments. I felt thoroughly refreshed after an invigorating deep-tissue massage specially designed to target the pleasure receptors in my skin, before hitting the steam room. And what holiday would be complete without tickling the taste buds?
GETTING/STAYING THERE: TUI offers seven- night holidays to Rhodes staying at the 5* TUI Sensatori Atlantica Dreams Resort & Spa on an all-inclusive basis from £830pp.
The price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights departing from London Gatwick airport on April 24, 2019, and transfers.
To find out more about this holiday or to book, go to tui.co.uk, visit your local TUI holiday store or download the TUI app.
The all-inclusive Atlantica Dreams offers seven gourmet restaurants, including Italian, American and healthy contemporary Greek cuisine — and I was impressed by the selection at buffet bar Mesogios, where I could load a plate with local nosh and good-old British grub (moussaka with Brussels sprouts, anyone?). I also got a taste of Table 10, TUI Sensatori’s latest immersive sensory experience.
Sitting at a table that’s actually a 4K TV, I watch in awe as the chef slaps down sweet treats in front of me, creating an amazing foodie pattern, with the screen reacting with changing, vivid colours.
The performance over, I dig into this disruptive dessert with my bare hands — sight, scent, taste and touch all stimulated in one delicious dining experience.
TUI’s sensory expert Professor Charles Spence, who’s behind Table 10, explains that the brain lights up when several senses are worked at once, and you can expect further multiple-sensory innovations as TUI Sensatori’s newly announced range of beach-club resorts, the first of which opens next year.
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But I was also able to step back in time, as during the construction of the resort, an ancient Greek village dating to 5AD was uncovered.
After some nifty last-minute changes, the hotel now skirts around this archaeological marvel, creating a striking and entirely unique centrepiece. Being able to breathe in the history, as well as the resort’s carefully selected scents, is just part of TUI Sensatori’s clever way of stimulating all five senses at once, which is proven to make memories of a perfect holiday such as this last even longer.
Meaning that being quizzed on this unforgettable, sensory experience is one test I’ll always be able to ace.