Picture this: perched on a rocky headland, looking down into crystal clear azure waters, the smell of fresh herbs wafting around, warm sunshine beating down onto your skin. The sound of waves lapping against the rocks below and the calls of spring swallows as they fly past every few seconds. Imagine having your own secluded private pool right outside your bedroom, with views over the sea and your own sunbeds and chairs to sit back and relax on.
This is the sort of thing we all dream of during our dreary winter nights when we’re washing up, watching the rain beating against the window and listening to the wind howling around outside. We even say to ourselves that if those ever elusive lottery numbers were forthcoming we’d treat ourselves to that once-in-a-lifetime holiday we’ve always dreamed of.
Well, the numbers didn’t come up, but this year we found ourselves in a little corner of Crete that fulfilled almost all of the above. When we booked our holiday with Secret Escapes at the CHC Seaside Resort and Spa, we pushed the boat out and ordered a ‘Junior Suite with Sea View’. Mrs C loves a ‘sea view’. She says it’s one of the most important parts of her holiday; waking up and seeing the sea, reminding her that this is time off.
Arriving very late at night is never the best time in our opinion, as you don’t really get that ‘first impression’ that often makes or breaks your holiday. We arrived around midnight and were promptly informed that the room we had booked – our Junior Suite – had been overbooked and that they were going to have to put us in another room for 2 days until our original room was free. And bear this in mind… it was dark, wet and windy – never the best environment for arriving on a holiday. We weren’t overjoyed to say the least. There was some discussion; firstly in the form of all the assistance we needed in moving our stuff from one room to the other when the time came. Nods and tuts ensued. Then came the offer of little ‘favours’ in exchange for our inconvenience – such as a free back massage or another treatment of our choice in the spa. More nods and tuts. Then, because of our ever-apparent fatigue and their ever-apparent frustration, we called it a night and agreed to meet the customer relations manager the following morning after breakfast.
We woke early and threw open the curtains and… Wow! Now that’s what you call a view! Looking over the top of our own little private pool there was a really big dose of paragraph 1 above! Our resolve was strengthened. We liked ‘our room’.
Oh how pleased we were then, to find out that after some discussion with his managers, he was able to allow us to stay there for the whole of our stay. We were both beaming from ear to ear when we walked out out of reception and headed back to the room. This was fantastic news.
One thing we both really hate about sunny holidays is the ‘sunbed wars’, where you get to the pool or beach and there are rows and rows of sunbeds with no-one sitting on them, but some personal belongings strewn about each of them, I assume in an attempt to reserve the best spots. It’s really selfish and unfair, so we often risk confrontation by simply removing the items and placing them nearby and using the beds ourselves. This time though, we didn’t have to worry as we had not just 2, but 4 for our exclusive use, beside our exclusive little pool.
The whole resort seems to have it so ‘right’. The food is good, the views are fabulous, the room was great, the staff were all lovely without exception. The places on the resort are the main ‘Panorama’ bar, 1 level below reception, with its own outside terrace overlooking the bay, a daytime bar up at the Pelagos pool, where we ate our lunch each day, and there’s the delightful Thalassa Pool bar, which was the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail.
There are two ‘a-la-carte’ restaurants – the Jasmine Chinese Restaurant and the Kullinarium. We ate at both – and it was nice to have those couple of nights where you were waited on and the food was brought to you, instead of collecting from the buffet. Mind you, the buffet was really good, with a good selection on each night, and a good variety of foods throughout the week.
The lunch buffet at the Pelago was particularly good with a selection of prepared and freshly cooked choices available. With ample well-shaded seating and glass screens between the restaurant and the pool, it’s a really nice way of spending a lunchtime out of the sun.
There’s a little beach a short walk down from the hotel, with a few bars and restaurants, along with a car-hire dealer (significantly cheaper than that offered at the hotel) and a few little souvenir shops. The water is crystal clear and every day we saw people snorkelling around the little bay, exploring the rocky promontories each side of the beach. There’s a PADI diving school and it seems like a fantastic place to get to grips with it all.
Little ones are catered for at the Mini Club, just a short hop from Reception and there’s an outdoor arena there too, where evening activities are held when the weather’s good, which it was for just about all of our stay. Talking of activities and entertainment, we don’t normally feel the need to be entertained by others, but we thought we might take part in the ‘Music Quiz’ on one of the nights for a change. What a mistake. It bore no resemblance to a music quiz. It was a shouting, foot-stomping, screaming, frenzied “whoop-fest” orchestrated by the resident egotistical animation chief who, though never impolite to us at any point, still struck us as a bit weird and ‘inappropriate’. We looked at each other in sheer disbelief before looking around and seeing that everyone over the age of 30 was thinking exactly the same. One of the very few questions we stayed for was ‘What’s my name?’, the winning team was the one who could shout it out the fastest and loudest. No, not for us I’m afraid, so we promptly upped and left.
We often say how impressed we are with places we visit on holidays, but there are always good and not-so-good things to say and remember. Having seen the CHC Seaside Resort and Spa on the Secret Escapes site, it really did look good and seemed to offer very good value for money. On this occasion we can honestly say that it is one of the best and most relaxing holidays we’ve ever had and wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to go back there again. It not only lived up to its promises, but in our opinion, actually exceeded them. The booking and travel was organised by Fleetway Travel, who were a pleasure to deal with throughout and the resort staff were friendly and pleasant in every respect.
We flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick. To add that extra little something to the holiday we used Airparks ‘Meet and Greet’ parking and The No1 Lounge facilities, which we booked with HolidayExtras.co.uk