A couple of weeks ago we arrived home from an incredible week of sun, fun and family times in Crete. We had the most amazing time, we actually went with my little sister and her boyfriend Jamie which is the first time we have been away on holiday with them, and it was a week full of happy memories. Before I tell you all about it though, I want to tell you a little story. A few weeks before I got an email that made me jump round the room in excitement. It was from Villa Plus, asking if we wanted to go away with them over the summer holidays. I think I was very lucky to get into travel blogging just at the right time, but I still have to pinch myself every single day for the opportunities we get- it won’t last forever but while it does I couldn’t be more grateful.
The next thing was to decide where to go. Villa Plus was voted the Best Villa Company 2017 at the British Travel Awards and they are always adding extra to make sure you love your holiday even more. They have over 1,500 exclusive villas, handpicked for their quality and location, with hundreds of villas within walking distance of the beach and more centrally located villas than any other tour operator, in places like Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Greek Islands and Croatia. It was going to be tricky to decide on which villa to actually go to.
As soon as I saw Villa Almyrida View in Crete, I just felt drawn to it. It looked beautiful, in a great area, and was big enough that we wouldn’t all get under each others feet. So that was that, it was booked and we started to count down the days. Our week in Crete couldn’t have been better, it was one of those holidays where everything was just right. Rather than write too much, I wanted to share our holiday in photos…
Like I mentioned above Villa Almyrida View was beautiful. My sister and I had been pretty much messaging each other every day with photos of the villa, but actually while the photos paint it in a beautiful light, they don’t actually even do it justice. Villa Almyrida View is a four bedroom villa located about 35 minutes from the beautiful town of Chania. It is located on a hill with the most stunning views just a few minutes walk from the little fishing village of Almyrida (which is so cute and has a few different restaurants, a lovely beach and a couple of bars, as well as your mini marts etc too). Its beautifully decorated with an almost nautical theme and is bright and airy with the most fantastic private pool, complete with table tennis table and pool table too.
Each Villa Plus villa comes with a welcome back to help you get the very most from your holiday.
Swimming all day long…
Our girls would spend all day every day in the pool if they could and were besides themselves with excitement when they heard we had a private pool. It didn’t disappoint, it was stunningly beautiful with the most gorgeous views and we pretty much spent our entire holiday splashing around in there. They would get up and put their swimming costumes on before they even had breakfast ready to jump in as soon as they could. I actually found this a lot more relaxing than being in a hotel, because it meant that we didn’t always have to be in the pool with them- we could sit down and relax in the villa’s ample seating area and watch them. This just made things a little bit easier, rather than in a hotel where we constantly have to be down at the pool with them. It just made the whole holiday more relaxing being able to just dip in and out as we please. Wren isn’t as much of a water baby as they are, so it was nice there was plenty of shade for him to sit in and play while they were in the pool.
Out and About in beautiful Crete
We got into a really lovely routine where we would either go out during the day or at night. I didn’t realise before we arrived that Crete is an absolutely stunning island. From the second we got our hire car and started making our way to the villa for the first time, I could see it was beautiful. We love to explore while on holiday but we also like to relax and chill out and I think we worked out the perfect balance. We wanted to spend time in the pool but at the same time we wanted to try and explore a little. It turns out there was so many things to do in Crete (so much so I am writing a separate post about a few nice things to do in Crete with children) and we loved exploring, whether that was going to the beach, watching the sunset or exploring the beautiful town of Chania or Lake Kournos (the only freshwater lake in Crete).
How blue is the sea? It honestly felt like we were in the Caribbean.
The main reason we all go on holiday is of course for family time. And we had that in abundance. It was amazing to have my sister and her boyfriend come along, we hadn’t been on holiday together before so to have that quality family time was really special. I think that is the beauty of staying in a villa- the fact that you can invite extended family along, whether that be grandparents, siblings or even friends. It also meant that in a funny sort of way the holiday felt more relaxing. It just meant another two pair of eyes to watch them round the pool, or another set of hands to hold as we walked to dinner. It took the pressure of us a bit which was really nice. We made so many happy memories I will treasure forever.
In the little village we were staying in Almyrida there was more than enough restaurants to keep you busy for a week- a mixture of lovely little Greek tavernas, Italian pizza joints and a few other choices. Nearly all of the restaurants are raised above the beach with beautiful views of the sea- it honestly was one of the nicest little resorts we have stayed in. But nearby around 35 minutes away there is also the gorgeous town of Chania which we visited a couple of times, it is lovely, with a little harbour full of restaurants and a really relaxed atmosphere.
Did I mention Crete had the most beautiful sunsets? The most stunning we have ever seen. Wherever we were on the island, the sunset was always stunning.
Villa v Hotel?
I’m the type of person who falls head over heels for whatever holiday I am on, declaring it is my favourite holiday ever. So ask me if I prefer a hotel after I have stayed in a hotel I am bound to say that, vice versa for villas. But there really are pro’s and con’s for both. However I honestly can’t actually think of that many con’s for a villa. I think they are great for families, I love the fact you can relax in a home from home environment, in a lot of cases you get a private pool (with Villa Plus you also get extras like pool and table tennis tables) and other great facilities.
I think in a lot of cases villas work out really well for families. We really like the fact with a villa that we can keep Wren in a nap routine similar to home. It means he can continue to nap, but the girls don’t miss out because we can sit outside with the doors open and they can play in the pool still. I also love the option that you don’t have to eat out all the time, in the case of Villa Plus our villa was so well equipped- it was better than our kitchen at home! We got into the groove of going out for dinner (or we actually got take out pizza one night) and having our breakfasts and lunches at the villa.
It was just generally so relaxing- it meant the kids could go in and out the pool and have a bit of down time in the shade or watching television in the villa if they needed to- we could also turn on some music and listen to that around the pool too (there was a Villa Plus speaker in the villa). We loved having the pool and table tennis table too and the fact that we didn’t have to be stuck in a hotel room speaking quietly once the children went to bed- we could relaxing in the living room or outside on the terrace. It definitely was one of the most relaxing and chilled holidays we have ever had.
Can we stay forever?
Overall we really had the most incredible holiday and time with Villa Plus. It was the perfect mix of fun, excitement but also some well needed relaxation as well. It was so great to have my sister and her boyfriend with us and we all had such a lovely time together, plus the children loved having their Auntie and Uncle there with them. Crete was stunningly beautiful and we would love to go back one day and explore. The villa was just utter perfection, the perfect place to spend a week and it makes me feel a bit emotional thinking back to those views and the fun we had there.
Villa Plus were great. The Crete rep popped by on our second day (you can choose whether you want your rep to come and see you or not) and I am so glad she did. She had lived in Crete for something like fifteen years and she was so knowledgable on the island- we got so many of our ideas of where to visit from her, including Lake Kournas and the sunset at Falassarna. It was also reassuring to know there was someone on hand to help if we needed it, something which sometimes you can be wary about when booking a villa. All the little extras (Villa Plus has the catchphrase ‘always adding extra’) were just what we needed to make our holiday extra special- things like fast wifi, the pool and table tennis tables and of course the private pool, plus other great things like the maids who visited once during our stay to change the towels and bed linen- something which again you often think you won’t find in villas.
All in all it truly was one of the best holidays we have ever had and we will almost certainly look to book with Villa Plus again. It was one of those holidays that give you goosebumps when you think back to it, and we all have come away with the most special memories.
I have also made a video of our time in Crete, here is the first part if you fancy watching…
NB We were invited to stay with Villa Plus this summer and as a result they paid for our accommodation and flights. We paid for all other things on our holiday and my sister and her boyfriend for themselves. We truly had the most wonderful stay with them and all opinions are entirely my own.