‘We combined Greek mythology and beach-loving paradise in Crete’

Explore the island of Crete, a destination that literally has it all! With a fabled, ancient history dating back thousands of years – the island being the supposed birthplace of Zeus, patriarch of the Greek gods – and over 600 miles of illustrious coastline, Crete really does provide the perfect escape for beach-lovers and historians to unite in idyllic, sun-soaked harmony.

We travelled to the picturesque coastal town of Agios Nikolaos and spent four nights living a life of glorious serenity.

And whether it was the incredible wine, the imposing mountaintops, the 400 beaches, the ancient ruins or the buzzing cities, there was something about Crete that made OK! want to stay there forever…

Where to stay

If you’re looking for 5* hospitality, family-friendly entertainment, a rich array of local delicacies, and luxury honeymoon-worthy accommodation – while just a stone's throw away from the island’s mythical culture and enchanting history – there’s really nowhere better to stay than the Wyndham Grand Mirabello.

The elaborate 311-room complex – owned by the globally-renowned ZEUS International Hotels and Resort – is just 65 kilometres from Heraklion International Airport.

Though the hotel offers a wide variety of different accommodation types – each as A-list as the next – we spent our time in Crete in one of the resort’s jaw-dropping Deep Blu Bungalow Sea View suites, which provided us with unparalleled luxury and quickly became the most impressive accommodation we’ve had the honour of calling our temporary home.

Our deluxe suite offered us a haven of both thoughtful and opulent comforts, with a private balcony and infinity pool, flat-screen TV and jam-packed mini bar. We’ve never experienced anything as close to paradise as opening our curtains each morning to be greeted with the sight of the mist-covered, royal blue Aegean Sea.

Guests can choose from stunning hotel rooms, lavish bungalows or two-floor maisonettes, the latter two of which come with private pools and either sea or garden views.

The spectacular complex also boasts a tranquil, full-service spa – at which we were lucky enough to receive tender yet thorough back massages that left us feeling utter bliss – as well as a sauna and hammam, well equipped gym and an on-hand salon.

Greek hospitality is known worldwide, and nowhere will you find a more personable, in-the-know, happy-to-help team of staff than at the Wyndham Grand Mirabello.

What to do

The property boasts the largest privately owned marina on the entire island, providing guests with immediate access to the sapphire waters, making it the perfect spot for catamaran enthusiasts to take a well-deserved break. Daily sightseeing tours of Crete's tropical coastline also depart from the marina – just ask the friendly reception staff for a copy of the departure timetable.

The most curious of visitors are able to explore the underwater ocean life that inhabits the crystal clear bay, with guests given priority access to the likes of snorkelling and scuba diving – both under the watchful eye of hands-on instructors and activity-organisers.

And for those that prefer life above sea level, sailing and fishing excursions are also available.

By far the unparalleled highlight of our stay in Crete was our wine tasting experience, again arranged for us by the dedicated staff of the Wyndham Grand Mirabello. We were asked to meet with our private grape connoisseur at the resort’s private coastal cave, hidden away under the shade of the rocky cliff edge and surrounding palm trees.

Upon a rustic table, adored with six gleaming challaces and set in the mouth of the enchanting natural cave – renovated into a wine cellar – was a colossal and mouth-watering charcuterie platter, overflowing with tangy blue cheese, bitter manchego, succulent Greek cured meats, sweet berries and rich crumbly crackers. We received a full demonstration of how to ingest, swish and truly taste a varied range of local red, white and rose wines, each paired with a local delicacy to tantalise our taste buds, whilst listening to mystical tales of Cretan mythology.

Crete is one of the multitude of Greek isles that culminates in a harmonious combination of modern culture and classical history. If you’re partial to a trip back in time to an era run by groundbreaking philosophy, innovatory mosaics and intricate architecture, be sure to schedule a tour of the ancient Palace of Knossos, an incomparable monument of 3000 B.C. Minoan society.

With such a legendary history, it is inevitable that there are seminal museums – our favourite having been the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion – scattered throughout the island for guests to explore. Just approach the Wyndham Grand Mirabello hospitality team to arrange transport and a one-to-one tour.

For families or groups travelling with children, the resort offers an impressive array of both daily and nightly entertainment. The beach club boasts a range of sporting activities, including mini soccer, beach volleyball and tennis.

And an open-air cinema – located beside the private marina – curates an awe-inspiring ambiance for watching blockbuster movies, indulging in some sweet snacks and laughing with loved ones. We spent an evening (having admittedly nursed a partial hangover during the day…) watching John Wick Chapter 2 and slurping strawberry ice-cream as the sun set before us. Pure bliss!

Where to eat

Like us, you won’t be able to get enough of the colossal, all-you-can-eat, multicultural buffet at Amalthea. Choose from a juicy salad bar, a varied pasta station, a lavish dessert stand, a tender kebab and gyros quarter and an impressive bar to construct the breakfasts, lunches and dinners of your dreams.

But the rich buffet is just one of the unique gastronomy offerings that the Wyndam Grand Mirabello has to offer.

Throughout the day, you can grab an ice-cold beer or chilled glass of Sauvignon at one of the various on-site bars – Bliss Pool Bar being perfect for a Long Island Iced Tea to take a break from the baking hot sunshine, and Thea Bar being the best for sunset views.

One of our four evenings was spent overlooking the ocean below whilst feasting on a banquet of freshly caught, perfectly sweetened and salty seafood at Elia Italian restaurant. Whilst I opted for a pasta marinara that was full to the brim with delicious flaky fish fillets, my partner ordered the seabass, which was filleted table-side by our charming restaurant host, before being drenched in zesty lemon juice and sprinkled with a final layer of locally-picked herbs and spices.

We also spent a night at the resort’s quaint tavern-esque Cretian restaurant Kafenion, an exquisite spot within the cliff’s edge that offers a sublime 12-course tasting menu, consisting of attested delicacies, our favourites being the spinach and feta filo pie, chicken thigh and tomato rice, and creamy tzatziki. Make sure to arrive with a big appetite!

And definitely make sure to schedule a visit to the resort’s uber chic celebrity-ready Marina Yacht club, where we often grabbed a light post-dip bite, or in the evening, shared (one too many!) refreshingly fruity cocktails, shaken and stirred by the polite and knowledgeable bar staff.

This was also where you'd find your nightly entertainment. We were lucky enough to watch a performance of traditional Greek dancing, and were delighted by a jazz band the following night.

How to book

Visit Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay for more information, or discover more show-stopping properties that ZEUS International has to offer.

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