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Reviewed 11 June 2006

My husband took me here for the last day of my 30th birthday celebration in Crete last week, the fabulous husband he is!

Tan and relaxed, we rolled up to this Relais & Chateaux and Leading Hotels of the World property. It being on the cusp of high season, the front wasn't busy which is good, considering the driveway is small. (No, that is not a gripe, merely an observation.) Our rental car was relatively dirty from a week of driving around the mountains and hidden beaches of Crete. I immediatlely felt self-conscious because we both looked a bit, um, beach bummish and Elounda struck me as the kind of property that instructs its staff to turn away dirty people. (I assure you that my husband and I are your typical yuppies on non-vacationing days.) Anyway, fears aside, the bellman was very helpful with our bags.

We stepped inside this amazing property and went to the front desk where we were greeted by an instantly recognisable condescending man. After checking us in with the normal chit chat he handed us a glass of champagne and showed us to our bungalow. Our bungalow was very close to the main hotel which was good and bad. He spent some time showing us around our room and opening the patio doors that spilled into the private pool. (Provided, of course, the smaller bungalow next to ours is not booked, which it was not.) It was gorgeous. The pool, we believe, is pumped with filtered sea water and looked gorgeous against the unobstructed views of the Mediterranean. (Although we feel western Crete gets better sun...and sunsets.)

This is where the Above Average (4 dot; although I'd rather give it 3.5 dots) review comes in: from the moment we checked in throughout the 'tour' of our room (which was very large and had an amazing bathroom, even if the furniture seemed a bit dated) to the minute we pushed him out the door, he kept noting we were only staying one night, as if we weren't worthy or wealty enough to stay longer. I played good cop to my husband's growing annoyance by saying that maybe something was lost in the translation. It happens. Fine. He left (with no tip because being shown to my room is something that I can and would do on my own) making us feel like we were paupers...and like we should tip him. (I HATE when people do that.)

My husband had booked a dinner for us that night at The Old Mill weeks before but we were told during our room tour that the hotel had made a reservation for us at The Yacht Club. Confused why our booking would be changed, we were told there was a big party the night before and The Old Mill couldn't be ready in time for dinner 24 hours later. After taking a much needed dip in our private pool we went to The Old Mill for a light lunch. (I'm still confused why we could eat lunch there but not dinner. But as I am not a restaurateur, I am sure there is more that goes into dinner.) We had a lovely waitress, a great view and a refreshing breeze. The food was simple but good. Yeah, as some other reviewers have noted, it is pricier (I think my salad was 13 Euros) than the rest of Crete, but come on, it is a resort...it's to be expected.

We lounged around for a while until our dinner reservation. It is truly a wonder to eat outside. If I could do it every day, I would. The food was good, but not great. (I took a look at the menu of The Old Mill and it was way more appealing despite being told the food was the same.) I think our meal was around 150 Euros, which by NYC standards is normal, but for Greece...hmm. Again, it's a resort.

Yes, this property attracts an older crowd but the older crown generally has more money to spend on expensive holidays! It was a quiet evening which was fine by us. Our pool wasn't heated so it was a bit chilly to take a midnight swim which was okay since we entertained ourselves doing other things.

The next morning we went to the buffet breakfast on the terrace. Decent service, as I don't really care for servers fawning over me..especially at breakfast! Did I notice better attention being lavished on the Germans? (See earlier posts.) No. But do I care? No. My God, don't blame the Germans! I read the review about being stuck there on 9/11 and I was shocked. Behaviour like THAT is unacceptable, but being nice Germans and not Americans? I think there's too much being read into that.

Because we had to check out in the afternoon to catch our flight to Athens, we took advantage of the strong Greek sun and found ourselves a secluded stretch of rock by the sea. I'm being high-maintenance here, but when there are permanent umbrellas with a table at a 5 star resort, I sort of expected someone would come around asking if we wanted something to drink or eat. I apologise for being momentarily high-maintenance.

We checked out with the same guy that checked us in. Sigh. What this really long review boils down to is being treated poorly by one or two individuals. Really, this resort is great. It is hands down the most beautiful view I've ever had in a hotel. While I can't claim that I ONLY stay in 5 star establishments like other reviewers, I have stayed in great places around the world. I would definitely go back for a day, a week, a month...all summer. And I'd probabaly end up buying some of the shiny jewellery that teased me in the window of the shop.

In short: This is a one-of-a-kind property for people that love resorts and aren't afraid to spend money. If anyone is rude, tell them! (Or just don't tip 'em.)

9  Thank TrailBlazer802722
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2005

The Elounda Mare is a lovely hotel with good rooms and beautiful grounds. It had immense potential but lack in quite a few ways. The rooms although a good size ( we had a standard bundalow with private pool) are dated and need refurnishing. They are OK but not when you consider that this is a five star hotel charging 5* prices. The towels provided were really small and not at all fluffy and the shower was tiny.

Restaurants - the buffet restarant is so-so - I thought the food was not great and overpriced. The Old Mill and Yacht club are both nice I would recommend them. The staff seemed nicer in these as well. I actually saw the maitre d' at the buffet restaurant telling off a couple who had inadvertently got their breakfast before being shown to a table!!! They had obviously just arrived and didn't know the drill. I think this is inexcusable!

Pool - lovely - but the deckchairs were awful rusty things which have been around years - supposedly there is a watersports centre, but you are lucky to ever find anyone there and during off-season the spa is only manned if the therapist is not treating anyone!!!

Its a shame that the management do not improve on these small things as the hotel has great potential, but I would say it is more 4* than 5*

  • Stayed: October 2005
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10  Thank kkk747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fotis_Kokotos, Member of the Board at Elounda Mare Relais & Chateaux hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 2 April 2009

We would like to thank our guest for their kind words and address the few remarks they have made about our facilities: this being 2009, more than 3 years after this guest’s stay, we have gone through another renovation of the few rooms and suites that had more than four years without a touch-up, and we can proudly say that there are now only private pools throughout the hotel; forty (!) of them, actually. We have, naturally, upgraded our linen, created a wine-cellar, invested even more in staff training, and added a host of new facilities: our spa services are consistently rated among the world’s best since 2006, when we opened our grand new Six Senses Spa, and we have also added numerous energy-saving technologies like geothermal cooling, extensive solar arrays, and heat recovery from air-conditioning. The Elounda Mare is a hotel with only 79 rooms and suites, and we make a point of doing our best for our guests and for the planet.

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Reviewed 13 October 2005

Gracing the northeast coast of Crete, in the bay of mirabello, The Elounda Mare Hotel and Bungalows, offers excellent services, first class cuisine, luxury accommodation and warm Mediterranean hospitality. The Resort Is designed after greek island architecture with a distinct touch of luxury.

My best friend and I spent a magical week there last July - a unique experience. Check in was fast and I was very glad to see that the receptionist filled in the forms for us. Upon arrival, and while waiting for the check-in procedures, we were offered a glass of French champagne at the right temperature. Soon afterwards we were shown to our luxurious suite overlooking Mirabello Bay.

Later in the evening, we enjoyed our dinner at the Old Mill Restaurant at the hotel. The restaurant is named after the centerpiece mill stone at the bar salvaged after a dilapidated medieval coindmill Ah well ... Dinner resembled a .... midsummer's night dream !! We had foie gras with caramelised cray fish for starters and then lobster cooked in a fine champagne sauce and a superb wine -Samaropetra tou Kyr Yianni. Our first evening at Elounda Mare Hotel ended with Grand Marnier and Amaretto at Karavia Bar named in respect of the four antique paintings of merchant ships KARAVIA adorning the back wall of the bar.

However , I would have loved a wider range in their wine list and maybe a pool bar by the beach ..although Manolis was only too happy to serve our drinks with complimentary fruit on a skrew, at our sunbeds.

The bottom line is .. I'll certainly go back to Elounda Mare Hotel ...with hubby next time !

  • Stayed: July 2005
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7  Thank Scenic1073
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2005

I did wonder if the previous reviewer stayed at the same hotel as our experience was very different. We are 41 and 47 and have travelled extensively. We always stay in 5 star accomodation and the Elounda Mare certainly meets that criteria. I also noted that other reviewers complained about the lack of things to do in the evening. I suspect that they have misunderstaood what a Relais and Chateaux hotel is all about: the food should be excellent; there should be a peaceful and calm ambience. That means they are not usually suitable for children and that there won't be a disco (hallelujah!) or evening entertainment.

My husband and I stayed in a bungalow with a private pool. The room was simply furnished in Cretan style but was spotlessly clean and comfortable. If you want sumptious silks and deep pile carpets this is not the hotel for you. The bathroom was excellent: shower, jacuzzi, twin sinks etc. Plenty of lovely Korres toiletries; generously sized bathrobes, slippers and plenty of towels changed twice a day.

NB:Not all the rooms and bungalows are furnished the same.

Our pool was very private and we were able to skinny dip! Do check with the hotel before you arrive as not all the private pools are quite that "private"! We had a super view and I think all the rooms enjoyed the same.

Hotel provided complimentary flowers; chocolates; wine; fruit and nuts. These arrived on different days and were a nice touch.

We found that our air conditioning switched itself off most nights. Not sure why, perhaps a power cut. It wasn't really a problem.

I noticed that an earlier reviewer complained about mosquitoes. This is southern Europe of course there are mosquitoes but we used the zapper and tablets provided by the hotel and even though we walked through the hotel grounds every night we didn't suffer any bites.

You will hear the cicadas. They're very relaxing!

Food: We stayed on half board which costs 40 euros p/p. Breakfast is a buffet with hot food cooked to order. The buffet isn't huge but the food is very good.
Table d'hote consists of 5 courses. Again there is not a huge choice: a choice of two items for the first and second course. A salad buffet. Choice of 5 or 6 items for main course and a choice of 4 or 5 desserts on the buffet. The food is good.
A la carte: the hotel gives a credit of 15 euros for half board diners who choose a la carte (this credit could be a little more generous!). This also applies at the two sister hotels Porto Elounda and The Peninsula so you can try their restaurants too.
Brochures do request jackets for the Old Mill restaurant but my husband didn't wear one and neither did many of the other diners.
The a la carte food is superb but pricey. Expect to pay approx 100 euros p/p
Friday night is fisherman's night at the Yacht Club restaurant (80 euros p/p) and worth it if you love sea food.
We also dined at the Peninsula; food superb and prices similar to the Old Mill.
There is NO children's menu.

The wine list is extensive, try the local wines they are very good and reasonably priced.

Room service was very efficient. (17 euros for a club sandwich but that fed two of us!)

Shops: In the hotel there is a boutique (expensive beach ware and the sort of swimwear that looks as if it is dry clean only!!); jewellery shop; souvenir shop (you can buy the same things much cheaper in town) and a little shop selling newspapers, sun lotion etc. The hairdresser has just closed down.
Outside the hotel approx 100 yards down the road there is a little supermarket and there is plenty of room in the mini bar fridge to keep your purchases cool! The next shops are in Elounda about 5 mins by taxi.

The hotel grounds are beautifully tended and very attractive. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas throughout the grounds and it is possible to find a secluded corner. The private beach is lovely and a pre breakfast swim in Mirabello Bay is a must. There are plenty of water sports on offer (fee payable) from sailing to jet skis and pedaloes. Most of these are not geared up for young children.

In my opinion this hotel is not suitable for children. I left mine at home with granny! There were children here and some were well behaved and sadly some were not. We paid several thousand pounds for our holiday and we didn't want to listen to toddlers having tantrums; watching them throw lobster spaghetti round the restaurant and still running around at midnight!! If you have children take them to Porto Elounda or the Elounda Beach, both are superb hotels and they are geared up for families. Please leave us old fogies with a bit of peace and quiet at the Elounda Mare!!
There is a Kid's Club at the Porto Elounda (free transport) approx 30 euros a day. There is also golf at this hotel.

Free transport was available between the sister hotels and this worked very well. Just ask at reception and a car will appear!!

We didn't use the spa but they had lots of lovely treatments on offer.

There is a very pretty chapel which can be used for weddings. Walk through the hotel grounds to the chapel at night, it is very prettily lit.

We felt that the reception/lounge area looked a little dated and we were frustrated that so many people insisted on taking their mobile phones to dinner and used them!!

During our 11 day stay we enjoyed 3 firework displays from the Elounda Beach Hotel next door. It is worth wandering round to the neighbouring hotels they are all superb but we felt that the Elounda Mare was definitely the prettiest.

We didn't tip the staff until the end of our stay but we found them all to be polite and helpful. I think the accusation of snobbishness is unfair as the staff are behaving exactly as Relais and Chateaux clientele expect. The restaurant staff were very good and they arranged a cake for our anniversary which was a nice surprise.

This really is a little gem of a hotel and we will definitely be returning. Our holiday was wonderful.

  • Stayed: August 2005
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20  Thank gill63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 August 2005

This is without doubt the snobbiest hotel we have ever stayed at. We have travelled the world and always try to stay at five star hotels whenever we can. But this was something else. Elounda Mare is not a five star luxury hotel - it is a posh hotel for retired ex-servicemen of high rank, elderly couples and rich younger socialites who want to be be part of an extremely prententious holiday experience.
Sadly my husband and I turned up with our enthusiastic and extremely well behaved three year old who's only fault was that she spoke too loudly in the restuarants. From the moment we arrived we knew we just didn't fit.
The Maitre D ignored us and just gestured to a table when we arrived to breakfast. When the Germans arrived he became effusive and animated - a complete personality transplant. We were advised by our Rep not to tip until the end of the holiday - and only if we were happy with the service. The German guests seemed to have a different approach. I wouldn't have minded so much if we were treated cordially but not preferentially - we simply felt 'snubbed'.
We only had one meal in the hotel when we arrived late in the evening. We each had a small starter and then a plate of salad from the buffet. (this was meant to be the most 'casual' of all the restuarants). My daughter hardly ate anything. The waiter was so 'formal' he gave her a full array of eight pieces of cutlery as she sat with us at the table. We were charged 80 Euros. From then on we ate in our room or took a taxi into tavernas in Elounda.
Our only refuge was the beach - which our little girl loved - but in the end we made a daily treck to the establishment's sister hotel next door which was much more friendly. The Noah's Ark Kid's club was very impressive to look at but they didn't do much with our little one. But she really liked the girls running the activity club at the hotel and was very happy.
The Elounda Mare is (location) lovely - and our room was spectacular with a fabulous view of the bay. We had been upgraded to a bungalow with a private swimming pool even though there was a mix up with the booking which neither the holiday company or the hotel would take responsibility for - so we didn't get our bungalow until the second day. Do NOT book bungalows with shared pools. We had one our first night and to be honest it wasn't even two star accommodation. Sockets were hanging out of the walls, the fridge buzzed away all night, it smelt of damp and the sun barely managed to shine on the cold swimming pool because of overhanging trees. It looked like the oldest part of the hotel and was badly in need of refurbishment.
All in all this hotel is fine if you want the pampered lifestyle. But it seems you must tip well in advance.

  • Stayed: May 2005
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29  Thank AlohaKaren
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fotis_Kokotos, Member of the Board at Elounda Mare Relais & Chateaux hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 2 May 2007

The ownership and management would like to thank our guests for pointing out some of the outstanding qualities of our hotel, like the “lovely location”, “fabulous rooms” and “spectacular views”, as well as the “very impressive” children’s facilities. We are very happy to inform them that the shared-pool bungalows no longer exist, as they have been demolished and replaced by brand new accommodation on a par with the best in the hotel. We are truly sorry if our guests felt the atmosphere was “snobby”, but we are in truth a very calm and atmospheric hotel with great emphasis given to fine dining in the French gastronomic and service traditions. Therefore, a noisy child can indeed be a cause for concern and would be much better suited to our Porto Elounda family resort next door, the one that our guests did indeed visit and reported to be “much more friendly”. Finally, there are no preferential treatments of guests and we certainly do not discriminate on grounds of nationality (or any other grounds), as was suggested in this review.

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