A Cretan holiday with a family-friendly difference
Words by Jess Batten
I once read that parents don’t go on holiday, they just look after their kids in a different city. So true do I find this statement that I actually find holidaying a bit stressful now I have a fifteen-month-old daughter. I always forget half her things, which in itself can lead to tantrums. Worse still is when staying somewhere that calls itself family-friendly when in fact it’s not.
Needless to say, this is how I felt as we set off for Crete this summer. The 3 am alarm call for our flight did not help! Thankfully Baby Ana fell asleep on me for most of the flight, which is just three hours. I started to relax despite feeling shattered. Once we arrived and checked in, the friendly reception staff offered to show us to the 360° viewing deck. I could feel myself grumble internally as I dreamed of falling into a nice, soft bed. But as we walked out, drink in hand, it became clear why they showed guests this on arrival. My tiredness miraculously disappeared and I got that sudden buzz of excitement as I realised we were ‘on holiday’!
Daios Cove is a bit of a hidden gem. Not only for its beauty but because of how well it caters for families. As the friendly staff showed us to our room, I was touched at the attention to detail, with a cot, buggy, high chair, bath toys, cutlery, and even a bottle steriliser all on hand. They had catered to our daughter’s every need.
Our deluxe sea-view room was spacious, with a king-size bed, marble fitted bathroom, sofa area and even an audio system in the toilet. The hotel has 300 rooms, villas and suites. Most of them feature a private pool and large decking area. It’s perfect for privacy and for letting your little one take a few tentative strokes if, like ours, they’re still a bit nervous in the water.
Daios Cove is set in a secluded, private cove, overlooking the sparkling azure Mediterranean. The intimate layout provides an instant feeling of serenity. The show-stopping signature piece is the funicular railway. It smoothly slides up and down the clifftop, transporting guests around the resort while allowing them to admire the stunning views. Sounds horrible so far, right? It gets worse. At the bottom of the hill cove is a private beach that’s particularly popular with families. It isn’t huge, but the sea is warm and shallow. There are plenty of beds and a well-stocked beach bar for snacks and refreshments.
There’s plenty to keep mama entertained. There’s a spa that includes an indoor saltwater infinity pool with sea views, fitness studios, a second pool with hydro jets, a Finnish sauna, chromatherapy showers, a hairdressing salon, and a beauty studio. There are also sporting options ranging from water activities (water-skiing, pedalos, canoeing, scuba diving) to Pilates, yoga and fitness classes. You can be as active or as inactive as you like. We actually didn’t end up leaving the resort, but should you wish to, Crete has many more stunning beaches, unique heritage sites, and bustling towns. Plus, at Daios Cove you are only a short drive away from the local town, Agios Nicolas in Lasithi, home to the fortress of Spinalonga.
Back at the resort, we started to wonder about entertainment for the little ones. That’s where the kids club comes in. All young guests are invited to attend the resort’s Creche Club (serving littles from four months to four years) or Children’s Club (four to 12 years). Both of them are run by a team of childcare experts who are qualified to UK standards and regulations. The clubs offer a full activity programme including talent shows and evening pajama parties while parents enjoy an evening meal. So, after a little consideration, on day two we (rather guiltily) dropped Ana off at the creche for the morning session and headed off to the spa.
We didn’t hold back: I got the full body massage and spent an hour in the sauna, before relaxing by the pool. Three hours later, when we arrived (feeling very relaxed) to find a happy and rested baby, I was a convert, and immediately booked the creche again! Having the opportunity to get just one or two mornings to relax while on holiday is a game-changer for me, and a creche/kids club is something I will look out for with future holidays.
In terms of food, there is an impressive buffet breakfast served in the Pangea restaurant. It includes cooked staples and Cretan specialities, such as syrupy local jams, plus all your usual hot dishes, cereals, pancakes etc. There are even separate dining rooms for families which means your baby can happily drop all her food on the floor and no-one minds! They offer a kids buffet from 6-7pm. Other restaurants include Ocean, which offers sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine, and Taverna, which is a Greek restaurant with the most spectacular views over the cove. High chairs are available in all three and staff will happily heat milk or modify dishes should you need. Snacks and cocktails are also served in the Beach Bar, but should you use the babysitting facilities, the best place for an evening drink is the glass-walled Crystal Box bar.
As our time at Daios Cove drew to a close, I reflected on my initial anxieties. Although holidays have changed since we became parents, this unique resort really did allow us to feel like we were on holiday. It combines top facilities, extraordinary beauty, and luxury supported by complete family friendliness. You can’t hope for more than that.
Nightly rates in a Deluxe Sea View Room start from €250 (£221*) on a half-board basis. For further details and to book, visit daioscove.com or call +44 20 3036 0257. *Prices in pound sterling (£) according to today’s exchange rate.