A fantastic week at Porto Elounda
Have just returned from a weeks hoilday at Porto Elounda.
Service was impeccable, food in all restaurants was great and an incredible setting.
Spa is also brilliant with amazing treatments.
Can't wait to go back......
Excellent service and beautiful views made for a blissful break
Having been transferred to Porto Elounda from the disastrous Minos Imperial, my husband and I felt we had been rescued from the jaws of hell and taken straight to heaven. We were immediately impressed by the personal welcome from Alexander on reception and the attentive service continued throughout our stay. We found all the staff delightful, including the therapists at the (beautiful) Spa who made a real fuss of us and our baby Alexander. All the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful, even assisting us with carrying the buggy up stairs.
We thought the food was terrific (particularly the evening "buffet" which we usually avoid at all costs) and found ourselves eating at the hotel most evenings thanks to the quality and stylishness of the restaurants. We have to say we had no problems with the family area. In fact we felt more relaxed knowing we were not going to disturb fellow diners. The room is not "unpleasant" and in my opinion has even better views than the main restaurant.
We felt the sandy beach was actually a bonus compared to most beaches
on the north coast of Crete and the policy of keeping sun loungers off the sand stopped it feeling crowded.
We loved the simple elegant decor and design of the hotel and have already recommended it to friends and look forward to returning ourselves.
One suggestion...despite being very child friendly in most areas a few ramps down to the beach would make life so much easier for parents with buggies!
I stayed with my wife in a spacious and very comfortable room with a sharing pool in front of the golf court, facing the seaside. The whole environment of the hotels is excellent, the service is right exactly where you need them, if you need them. An additional asset is the brand new spa which is the best I ever visited. We will try to visit it again, the experience was unique.
Good family option
We stayed at Porto in late May with two children - aged 20 months and 3 years 4 months. Following earlier recommendations on this site, we booked a Deluxe Suite. We were unable to get one without a shared pool. I would recommend that families with young children try to get a suite without a pool if they can as small children will want to go to the main toddler pool/beach anyway and the suite pool means the children need constant monitoring if on the terrace (as does the lack of a barrier at the edge of the terrace, before a drop down to shrubbery). The suite was a good size and roomy enough for a family of 4 for a week. The finish of the rooms is not quite 5 star in my experience; certainly less so than Sani Resort in Thessalonika where we stayed two years ago. The breakfast is not 5 star either - cheap cereals and breads, plus poor quality fruit.
One aspect of the hotel that is genuinely 5 star is the Six Senses Spa. Its recent construction means that it's to a much higher spec than the main hotel and the service there is excellent.
The beach/pool area is well laid out and well serviced. However, it's quite a distance from the Deluxe Suites and the journey from the main building to it involves quite a few steps - not buggy-friendly. Our children both got diarrhoea which I would blame on the toddler pool. They're not prone to tummy upsets, so perhaps the hygiene could be better and the pool should be emptied each day; however, contamination is probably a hazard of a small kiddy pool, so it's not something I would hold against the hotel.
The food and beverages are very pricey, which visitors should factor into the holiday budget - e.g. €8 for a fruit smootie, €50+ for two adults courses, one child course and water/fruit juice at lunch. If you're spending the day by the main pools/on the beach, there's really only one restaurant option - Odysses. In our experience the food was quite good but the service was poor - we regularly had to ask for things more than once and the first bill delivered to us was incorrect on 4 of our 7 visits !
Elies or The Yacht Club at the sister hotel Elounda Mare nearby were very good dinner options - high quality food, nice surroundings, child-friendly, and much better service than in Odysses or the main hotel restaurant Naksika. I'd recommend avoiding the dinner buffet at Nafsika and so going on a B&B basis - it's cheap but bland. There are other restaurants options at Porto or the two nearby sister hotels, but they're adult only - even as soon as they open at 8pm, which is poor form in my experience for a 'family friendly' resort.
We went to the nearby town of Elounda one evening for dinner (the only time we eat out of the hotel). Although we choose a restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best in the town, we found the food to be quite poor - reheated meat, overcooked vegetables.
Other commentators have complained about the segregation of families in the main Nafsika restaurant. I tend to agree - I thought this was fair enough at dinner, but its enforcement at breakfast is not something I've witnessed at other family friendly resorts in Europe.
Our children tried out the Children's Ark club one day. It's a lovely purpose-built place, but they are not used to being left in a creche so they weren't keen to stay. We didn't avail of the baby-sitting service as we kept the children on UK time - the 2 hour time difference from the UK is perfect for this as it means they get up earlier in the morning and can stay out late for dinner at night.
Overall, this is a good option for a family with young children, but limit your expectations to 4 star and be prepared to over-pay for food and drinks. It wasn't so good that we'd be inclined to return given how much it cost. I think there are better options in the region (see the one mentioned above).
Total experience of the senses
We spent 4 beautiful nights at the Porto, in our own private bungalow just above the sandy cove, itself sensitively addressed in the shape of a private beach!
The architecture and the landscaping bring out the best of the cretan landscape, and the scale of the spaces and their relationships to the exterior provide infinite settings for unique moments to happen.
We have to say that the service and the food were of a very high standard, perhaps the housekeeping could have tried just a bit more, but the ladies compensated with their happy attitudes, smiling faces and eagerness to please.
The nightlife in the surrounding area is varied and one is better off with either a private car or other private means of transportation. Nearby Ayios Nicolaos bustles with life and it is 5-10 minutes away. Leaving the Porto was never a priority though for ourselves.