By Annick Dournes and Frederic de Poligny
Made famous by Victoria Hislop’s novel ‘The Island”, Spinalonga Island now is an iconic site in Crete. The Royal Marmin Bay hotel is ideally located on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Mirabello Bay with stunning views over Kolokitha and Spinalonga islands. This adult only 5 star boutique hotel is the first eco-friendly and energy sufficient hotel in Crete and a successful mix of luxury and eco-awareness.
The hotel has recently been extended, embellished and renovated. Local stones have been used to build the low buildings of the hotel that seem to be inlaid into the rocky hill that dives into the sea down below. This modern architectural design perfectly integrates its natural environment thus avoiding spoiling the site beauty. Inside the hotel you’ll meet a relaxing atmosphere enhanced by a smart choice of soothing colours, black and white photos, space and sunshine.
The huge new infinity pool and big sundeck allow guests to have enough privacy for a lazy sunbathing day enjoying the spectacular view over Mirabello Bay. The hotel also has a private beach with sun-beds, beach umbrellas, a bar and restaurant and of-course proposes water activities. Every Sunday the hotel organises a Cretan night on the beach with live music, Cretan dances and a traditional Cretan dinner with local specialities to enjoy the undisputed benefits of the Cretan diet under the stars. Only one small drawback though is the fact that you have to cross the low traffic costal road to get to the beach from the hotel.
Thanks to the steep slope of the hill on which the Royal Marmin Bay has been built all of the 97 rooms have an unobstructed view over the bay and Kolokitha and Spinalonga islands. They all have a balcony with for most of them a private heated pool or Jacuzzi for an early morning swim or a romantic sunset drink for two. In all room types luxury meets simplicity with white walls, marble floors, sheets made of Egyptian fabric, marble bathroom and a good soundproofing. Surprising floor to ceiling photos showing classic architectural design elements give an unexpected sense of perspective to the rooms.
The breakfast buffet is served in the main restaurant next to the big swimming pool. There is plenty to choose from with Greek and international tastes and a very interesting selection of herbal teas. Every Tuesday evening in the same Athena main restaurant the hotel organises a presentation and food tasting of local products. You can thus discover different Cretan olive oils, honeys, wines or the iconic local raki made from distilled wine and anise seeds. This strong liqueur is not meant to be drunk bottoms up but it must be mixed with water and ice and slowly sipped. Best thing is to pair it with local mezze, take your time and enjoy the conversation!
The Royal Marmin Bay has an outstanding Japanese restaurant and it would be a pity to miss it when staying at the hotel. The “Samurai sushi bar & restaurant Elounda” is run by the great and world famous chef Dannie Tenio Mira. He’s been working in many renowned restaurants around the world and is one of the most talented sushi-chef of the world. Over the years he was awarded Golden Hat seven times.
You can expect a gastronomic Asian dinner made with fine quality products. The menu offers a short but beautifully made choice of dishes. From several sorts of tempura made with soft shell crab, vegetable or shrimps, yakitori, crispy duck breast, chicken or beef teriyaki with oyster sauce or tuna steak with ponzu sauce… to elegant desserts such as chocolate fondant with wasabi or sesame ice cream or Asian style fried banana everything looks beautiful and taste great.
The “Poseidon Italian” restaurant proposes a creative cuisine from the sea. Only fresh fish and seafood are being used to make gourmet Mediterranean dishes. On Thursday evening a special “Lobster Night” with live Cretan music is organized for seafood lovers. A set menu proposes lobster soup with ginger and lemongrass, lobster risotto with Sichuan pepper, lobster medallions with zucchini carpaccio and crème brulée. Not to forget a good selection of Cretan and international wines to perfectly pair this memorable dinner.
The Royal Marmin Bay can arrange private boat trips for the hotel’s guests. You can have a lovely day going to beaches only reachable by boat, swim in crystal clear waters and stop at places of historical interest such as Spinalonga Island. This small islet has been inhabited since Antiquity when a first fortress stood watch from 3,000 till 900 BC. The Venetians built a second fortress in the late 16th century to protect the nearby port and trade place of Elounda from Turkish raids. Today the island is renowned thanks to Victoria Hislop’s novel “The Island” relating the story of the island when it was turned into a leper colony from 1904 to 1957. In those years there was no cure for this awful disease and lepers had to be isolated from healthy people. Three to five hundreds people were deported there losing freedom and citizenship. Today the island is deserted but has been listed as archaeological and a major touristic site. You can also go to Spinalonga Island from the nearby Plaka fishermen port where small boats take you to the islet in a few minutes for a few Euros.
More information and direct booking with special offers at www.royalmarminbay.gr
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos: ©Frederic de Poligny or ©Annick Dournes