Less than a half-hour drive from the airport at Heraklion, Nana Princess is a serious new player on the island of Crete. Newly opened, polished, and glamourous yet relaxed, it's everything you would look for in a in a luxury resort and I recently had the opportunity to stay! After the short journey in our private transfer, we were welcomed with a choice of three refreshing and hydrating wellness drinks, whilst the details and minutia of our stay were dealt with by the friendly and competent staff.
Upon walking through the door of my Deluxe Junior Suite, I entered a world where every detail had been thoughtfully considered. From the monogrammed stationery and locally sourced refreshments to the designer Hermes toiletries and the rainbow of changeable bathroom lighting, the room felt luxurious yet personalised. The next day, after waking up, I simply pressed a button from the comfort of my bed to reveal a spectacular sea view as the curtains drew back on the floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun was already shining brightly, and the turquoise of the private pool tempted me to take a refreshing morning dip. Bluetooth integration and WIFI connection ensured I could stay connected with the outside world, and the LCD Mirror TV in the bathroom added a real wow factor. Thanks to the privacy and clever design of the property, it's possible to take a shower with an unhindered view of the azure Cretan sea - what a way to start the day!
As well as luxurious suites, Nana Princess boats a range of villas and interconnected rooms, the crowning glory of which is the Grand Royal Villa. Set over three levels, this stunning residence features an in-villa elevator, state-of-the-art gym, sauna, private pool & deck, and "man cave" complete with pool table, duke box, home cinema and private butler service (on request).
Compared to other resorts, Nana Princess felt spacious, yet each room and villa are always within easy reach. Club cars are on offer, however, if you visit the beach and leave your sun cream in your room, it only takes a few minutes to walk back and collect it! In addition to the private suites and villa pools, the resort features three stunning shared pools. The largest is an infinity pool which sits right beside the beach, whilst the slightly smaller pool at Meat-In Point allows guests the opportunity to enjoy a drink either inside or outside the pool. At the private sandy beach, drinks and snacks can be ordered at the touch of a button, and I would highly recommend requesting a luxurious cabana so you can truly relax and soak up the sun.
One of my stand-out memories from my stay at Nana Princess was the incredible dining experiences at the three Nana Princess restaurants, which serve an exciting selection of local, Mediterranean and International dishes. We got our day off to the best of starts with a buffet-style breakfast at The Carpe Diem restaurant, which sits at the highest point of the resort, offering more majestic sea-views. At the seafood restaurant, Eternal Blue, which is nestled on the beachfront, we were spoiled with fresh fish, seafood and a sumptuous selection of sushi. My favourite choice of restaurant, however, was Meat-In point, where we dined for lunch, enjoying the most delicious greek salads and meze, as well as in the evening, experiencing the delights of the a la carte menu of mouth-watering meat cuts, salads and fresh pasta. The staff at each and every one of the restaurants were impeccable, delivering the highest level of service with a friendly smile. As well as the food, we must not forget the drinks, which we enjoyed on the rooftop bar named Artemis Lounge - the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail whilst watching a spectacular sunset!
On the surface Nana Princess may appear too glamourous to be a family hotel, but that's not the case at all. Families staying here have full access to the sister hotel, Nana Beach, which is just next door. Whats more, access is via a private gateway, which adds to that VIP feel. There is plenty on offer at Nana Beach including the incredible Children's World kids' club, complete with a huge play area, dedicated children's pool and a programme of supervised activities such as T-shirt making, beach games and movie nights. There is also an exciting waterpark, with thrilling flumes for older children and gentler slides for the little ones. For me though, the jewel in the crown were the sports facilities, which must be seen to be believed. With 18 tennis courts, 3 paddle courts, a 25m indoor sports pool and a fully equipped gym, guests with a sporty side can stay active however they choose. For those that feel they need a little more guidance, expert coaches are right on hand to motivate and give support. And if all of that gets too much, parents can return back to Nana Princess for some well-earned relaxation time.
For those that want to explore a little further afield, Nana Princess is in the ideal location. During my stay I was lucky enough to immerse myself in the culture and history of Crete. Just 8 minutes from the hotel, high on the slopes of Mount Charakas lies Old Hersonissos. This small but friendly village has a beautiful square filled with restaurants, bars and tavernas. It's the ideal place for sampling some of the local cuisine, without journeying too far away from the hotel.
For those with an interest in history, the Palace of Knossos is an absolute must - it's just 25 minutes by car from Nana Princess. Steeped in myths, legends and history, the palace, which dates back to 1900 BC, was the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization. These labyrinthine ruins are also said to have been home to the monstrous Minotaur, a key figure in greek mythology. Today's ruins are truly impressive, incorporating an immense palace, courtyards, private apartments, baths, lively frescoes and the throne room of King Minos. As one of the most archaeologically significant sites in Crete, the Palace of Knossos is not to be missed, and I would thoroughly recommend hiring a private tour guide to get the most out of your visit.
Another popular area to explore is Elounda, Plaka and the island of Spinalonga. Although a little further away, at 45 minutes by car, it's a journey worth making. From Elounda I would thoroughly recommend taking a boat trip to the evocative island of Spinalonga. A former leper colony, the eroding and atmospheric ruins contrast strongly with the natural magnificence of the island. Added to that, the island has a unique, ghostly ambience, like nowhere I have visited before. It really must be visited to be believed.
The ultra-lux but relaxed feel is a difficult one to pull off, yet the Nana Princess delivers. Whether you want to unwind at the beach, enjoy family time together, sample a la carte cuisine, wonder at the natural blues of the ocean or find a base from which to explore the wonders of Crete, I couldn't recommend Nana Princess enough. Added to that, the staff are incredible - attentive but friendly, and no request is too much. Nana Princess now has a special place in my heart, and I can't wait to one day go back!