I arrived at the Elounda Bay Palace fresh off of a few days in Athens, in July 2012. I would stay here for several days for my friend M’s wedding. Now THIS is a place for a wedding!! The location is beautiful, the service is good, and the facilities are nice. Four Chitalian points, right off the bat. The down-side? It’s definitely a bit pricey, though from what I have gathered, it is the less expensive and more casual sister hotel to the Elounda Beach Hotel, which is adjacent to it. Minus one point.
I was travelling with my friend A, and as single women at the beginning of a trip around Greece and Turkey, we chose a budget conscious room option: a Double Room with Garden View. We got a discounted rate because we were there for the wedding, so there was a block of rooms reserved. The room was clean, the furniture was in good condition, and the bathroom was nice. Plus two points. But the room was definitely basic, not the level of luxury that we would have expected for the price. Minus a point. Maybe that was because the hotel caters more to families or couples, but a slightly more elegant or spacious room wouldn’t have been unreasonable, given what we paid for the room. The room was nice, but simply put, it was basic. Much less fancy than any of the rooms that they advertise on their site, though similar to one I found on trip advisor. Not what I’d consider luxury, but it still did the trick. The one particularly nice touch, however, was the balcony. The view wasn’t really much to speak of, but it was nice to have a balcony where A & I could sit and drink a bottle of wine, and snack from the fruit plate that greeted us on arrival. Plus another point.
With regards to meal plans, we opted for the half board, as we would have some of our meals with at the wedding, which worked out well for us. There are a few restaurants, which require a booking, or in the alternative, there is the main dining room (buffet style) which is probably the most convenient when you are travelling with a large group and want to have the option of sitting with whomever from your group you might run into at meal times. We took most of our meals there. The buffet selection was good, offering a good selection of local foods (a lot of fish options, yogurt, local desserts and entrees) as well as more “western” options like a standard omelette bar, burgers and french fries, for the less culinarily adventurous guests. Plus one for the restaurant options and the ease of the buffet. They seem to do things on the honor system, which surprised me. At no point did anyone ask me for my room number or check which meal plan I had selected. I could easily have eaten more meals than I was entitled to under my 1/2 board plan, though with the wedding, there was really no need for me to do so. Plus another point for being relaxed and not uptight about the all-inclusive options (no wrist bands either – they should get another half point for that!)
In addition to the restaurants, there are several bars and snack bars. When we first arrived, we went to the Sailing Bar for a snack. This would also turn out to be the site of a White Party that night; a great spot to get drinks for the beach (the beach cocktail service proved slow); and the site of the cocktail hour before the wedding. Plus a point for the sailing bar’s versatility and its location. The food at the Sailing Bar was good (see the Dakos pictured to the left) and the daytime service was good. Plus another point. At night, the bar service was a little slow. Minus half a point. And the drinks are a little overpriced (20 Euro for a kir royale; 15 for a mojito, if I remember correctly), so minus another half point.
Because of the vibe that they are trying to establish at this hotel (a younger, more hip alternative to the Elounda Beach Resort, as I’ve understood it), the hotel has a few gimmicks that I think don’t necessarily add much. For one thing, when you’re sitting in the beach area, they have costumed entertainers walking around singing. I think they were supposed to be dressed as pirates, but due to the fact that they were singing “Let the Sunshine In” they seemed more like Hippies. Plus 1/2 a point for the
effort to entertain though, I suppose. But that 1/2 point will get taken right away because they would take requests (at one point I hear Stairway to Heaven requested), and just change the lyrics to “Let the Sunshine In”…. Imagine the words stairway to heaven set to the tune of Let the Sunshine In…. weird! Doesn’t work. And they had these weird gold painted people walking around handing out traditional Greek dessert (or I’m told this was a traditionally Greek dessert, though it was what I think of when someone refers to Turkish Delight….it seems that the Turks & Greeks argue over who was the first to create a lot of dishes!) No points either way on the gold people, because they just confused me.
Now, with regards to things to do at the Elounda bay, I will say this: you have many options!! There are several beaches, several pools (some private, some shared – you can get a room that shares a private pool with a few other rooms, or even a room with its own individual private pool), and a water sports equipment rental service that is really quite economical. A point for each, the beaches, the pools, and the equipment rental options. Another wedding guest and I opted to take out kayaks for an hour during the wedding rehearsal and it was only 10 Euro for an hour. They also have spa services (though I didn’t take advantage of those) and group fitness classes. Two more points. We didn’t actually take any of the group fitness classes, but some people did find a way into the group fitness room in order to do their own yoga practice…. I won’t name any names, since we didn’t have permission to do this!! The space was fantastic and peaceful, and an ideal place for a yoga practice, with a rubberized floor and an open-air view of the water. I loved this space so much I’ll give them two points for it! It would be nice if the resort made this space available to guests when it is not in use for group fitness classes. Minus a point for not allowing it to be used more freely. But it is clearly something that others do as well because before our group left, someone else was chucking shoes over the wall, and climbing into the space over a 1/2 wall as well!
I guess I’d say this with regards to the traditional rating system: if you’re willing to splurge on the high-end of everything, the 5 star rating is warranted. If you’re hoping that all guests are treated equally luxuriously no matter which room you book here, that isn’t the case. For our room, and my experience here, I’d give it a 4 star rating myself. I’d definitely recommend it, but I wouldn’t expect the full five star treatment unless you spend on the full high-end option for each choice. On a traditional rating system, that is. On the flexible, still being worked out Chitalian scale, Elounda Bay has earned 16 Chitalian points, making it my highest rated hotel so far! Overall, a very good experience!!
Til the next trip,