“Set in exquisite fruit gardens with a shared pool, this lavish 3-suite Cretan bolthole is stylish, secluded and easily accessible (sleeps 2-12)”
Set in separate parts of the building are 3 semi-independent suites, which can be booked individually or all together for a group of 6-10. Two of them are split over 2 levels to sleep up to 4, with and the third is on one level, opening straight onto the garden. We grabbed this one (Karydia) and slept like a dream on the Cocomat bed; every morning our young son rolled up the blind, sat at the chunky trestle table and sketched the walnut tree outside which gives the suite its name. There was plenty of space for the (very comfy) extra bed and for all our belongings; and we loved the open-plan wetroom (Korres toiletries, stacks of thick towels and robes).
Our travelling companions slept in the large Rodia suite (meaning Pomegranate): children downstairs in the twin beds - with a deep egg-shaped tub for bathtime - and parents upstairs in the mezzanine loft, which has its own equally chic shower room and access onto a sun-drenched roof terrace. This suite also comes with a giant abacus for little fingers to play with, and a futuristic wood-burning stove for cooler autumn evenings (all suites also have wall-mounted A/C units which can be switched to heat cycle). Bear in mind that the stairs are steep and ungated.
The third suite, Elia (meaning Olive), has a similar but more compact arrangement. Parents will have to sleep downstairs: the bed is a double mattress resting on a concrete base, and the 2 upstairs single sofabeds are better suited to children (plus there's less storage). There's only one bathroom - a polished cement wetroom whose square chrome shower head will hose off any remaining suncream before bedtime. But you do get a private terrace with the best views over olive groves to the sea.
All 3 share the same country-chic style: pale stonework with patches of lilac or terracotta, tastefully bleached ceiling beams, dove grey stable doors and some manicured design touches. A length of ship's rope skirting the floorboard, vintage suitcases and reclaimed dowry chests sit alongside brushed steel lamps and huge flatscreen TVs (no DVD player, though). There's even a motion-sensor night-light so you don't stub your toe on nocturnal loo trips. Daily maid service is a godsend, and sheets are changed every 2 days (or on request).
Breakfast (included), can be taken at a number of shaded spots in the garden. It's a simple affair of Greek yoghurt and honey, seasonal fruit, local breads and eggs, perhaps a savoury pie or some olives and tomatoes - but don't hesitate to ask if you want something different, as we gather staff are not always proactive in offering alternatives.
There's a shared kitchen and outdoor dining area which you can use for self-catering - though you'll have to fit around other guests, of course. The kitchen (located in the main farmhouse building between the 3 suites) had almost all we could need: 4 rings, chest-level oven and microwave, restaurant-sized chrome sink, Bosch dishwasher, a set of chef's pans, and all manner of gadgets, including a sandwich toaster and a juicer for the fresh oranges which we bought by the sackload from the farmers' vans by the road.
You eat outside on the pool-facing patio, its long table shaded by the biggest parasol we've ever seen, while the sky fades to purple behind the ears of a giant cactus. Plus there's a vast, quasi-industrial indoor living space (also shared) more suited for formal receptions than for cosy evenings in. The old pressing floor is encircled by 14 rainbow bar stools and a huge TV, while at the far end 2 sofas flank a huge stone hearth under a glittering chandelier. Banks of candles, clusters of mirrors, a pair of giant green apples - it's all eye-poppingly designed, but in the end we hardly came here except to fill our carafe from the barrel of delicious sherry-like wine which the owner kindly left for us.
Of course, you can eat out - well and cheaply: there are several delightful tavernas in Gavalohori (Petroptis comes recommended; and you can walk home in 10 mins), more in Almirida (try Aeraki for fresh fish), and a Belgian-run cafe in the hamlet of Douliana (1km). If you make it to Marathi, book a table at the excellent fish restaurant of Patrelantonis. There's a folder of recommendations in the villa, or ask the concierge for his suggestions when you arrive. He can also do a pre-arrival shop if you like - you just pay for the items at cost price. Or you can book a Cretan chef to come in and do the hard work!
The Olive Press would work well for an extended family holiday or for a couple of families holidaying together. Although children of all ages are welcome, we feel it is best suited to older children (6 and up). Apart from cots (on request), there are no high chairs, stair gates or other baby equipment yet. Two of the suites can sleep a family of 4 (parents downstairs, kids upstairs), while the third can sleep a couple plus one child (using a comfy rollaway bed) - and there would be space for a cot in addition. It's handy having a washing machine (shared between the suites) at your disposal.
Children (4-12 years)
Rodia is the best suite for a family of 4 as it has 2 double/twin bedrooms and space for an extra bed for a child. Elia can also sleep a couple with 2 children (on single sofabeds), but it is less spacious and has only 1 bathroom. Karydia is best for a couple plus 1 child (on a rollaway bed). All can fit a baby cot on request.
The stairs in Rodia and Elia are unprotected, as is the pool. The pool has no shallow section, but there are some plastic pool toys. Many of the furnishings are smart and shiny - not ideal for grubby little fingers - though when we stayed the maid dutifully cleaned off all the fingerprints from the glass doors with an indulgent smile (and a little gift for our son).