A dose of classic Greek hospitality at the family-friendly Princess Skiathos Resort
Words Beth Evans
Situated in the northwest Aegean, Skiathos is neither as chic and expensive as Santorini nor as quaint and picturesque as nearby Skopelos. But what it lacks in renown it makes up for in effortless charm.
We arrived in June, when the season is still to warm up. Not in terms of weather, you understand – Skiathos has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, which meant temperatures were happily settled in the top twenties with only the occasional high cloud drifting across a wide blue sky. No, the season hadn’t warmed up in terms of tourists: high summer’s annual influx of eager sun-seekers from Russia, Italy and Britain, who turn the island into what many refer to as the ‘straight Mykonos’. Delightful, I’m sure – but we were happy to see the quieter side of Skiathos: a beautiful, relaxing bubble with just enough going on to occupy us physically and mentally – and to let us feel that we really deserved that afternoon glass of rosé.
No corner of Skiathos is more than a short bus ride from Skiathos Old Town, a pedestrianised cobbled street lined with restaurants, bars and boutiques. But the real draw is the huge number of beaches: the island has more than sixty, some of which are only accessible by boat or dirt track. We stayed at the Princess Skiathos Resort, where we were lucky enough to find the spotless Paraskevi beach mere metres from our balcony.
Princess Skiathos is a sprawling yet beautifully polished modern resort with perfectly maintained gardens and friendly staff always ready with a smile – even when our seventeen month-old was careering through the dining room leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Though there are larger ‘family suites’ available, our double room, complete with wide balcony with sea view, felt grand enough for the three of us (initially at least). Though perhaps if we’d foreseen the midnight teething sessions our son had planned for midweek, we might have gone for a two-room option to allow for some tag-team parenting.
Back in those carefree Days Before Babies I never imagined I’d want anything more from a holiday than a blazing sun and an open bar, but times have changed: these days I like an activity. And that’s where Princess Skiathos really comes into it’s own, because the resort allows you to walk that delicate line between doing something and doing nothing with perfect ease.
Picture this: it’s mid-morning and the sun is shining. Your kids are pummelling the bejesus out of a giant inflatable dolphin at one end of the pool as your partner watches from a sun lounger. It’s your downtime. Do you (a) head to the sea for a peaceful, core-strengthening aqua yoga session? Or do you (b) pop to the spa, where an expert pair of hands will transport you to inner peace via a full body massage? Perhaps you (c) get yourself out of the sun and into the air-conditioned kitchens, where the hotel’s professional chefs will teach you how to create a local dish from scratch? Or maybe you (d) book the kids into the creche and have some quality time with your loved one, lounging under a gazebo as you tuck into a healthy brunch? The answer, of course, is (e) all of the above – because they’re all part of the Princess Skiathos three-day ‘Mummy Bootcamp’ programme, which offers a daily fitness activity, wellness brunch, cooking class and two spa treatments from £192 per person. You can even create your own schedule – concierge Alexis is a mine of information and of course, this programme is available to all interested parties, not just mums. For animal lovers and those wanting to get out of resort mode, there’s horse riding at the Riding Club of North Sporades with the lovely Oriana, a former professional show-jumper and the most patient of tutors. Suitable for all ages and abilities, this is perfect for those rare cloudy days.
Also just ten minutes from Princess Skiathos is the Skiathos Dog Shelter, funded by donations from visitors, where you can pick a pup that suits your dog-walking experience for an early morning stroll and a canine cuddle because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love that? Our son was giddy with excitement until we passed a large road-digger that stole his heart. There in a nutshell lies the fickle nature of children.
One thing kids won’t be fickle about, however, is the Princess Skiathos creche – a gift from heaven that took our holiday from an 8 to a 10/10. Organised, well run and packed to the brim with toys, activities and healthy snacks, the creche is suitable for little ones aged six months to four years (there’s a kids’ club for over fours, staffed by some of the friendliest childminders imaginable). When I arrived at the creche to pick up our toddler, he made his feelings about leaving abundantly clear with an almighty tantrum. The only downside of this upside, perhaps – but one very much worth our while.
For more information about Princess Skiathos Resort, contact skiathosprincess.com
For the Riding Club of North Sporades, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the dog shelter, visit skiathosdogshelter.com