Cretan Malia Park, a beachfront resort that offers the most unforgettable experience of Cretan hospitality
Arriving at Cretan Malia Park, I realized the three main reasons this destination becomes instantly lovable and is not yet another beachfront Cretan resort (of the kind that you find in abundance on the island). Reasons number one and two: its undisputable respect for nature and its dedication to contemporary design, both at the core of the hotel’s philosophy. Third, is the high standards of the services. I really don’t know how they do it! You don’t usually expect this kind of boutique approach to hospitality from a 200-room hotel.
But let’s take things from the beginning…
Welcome at an interior design heaven
It’s my first moments in the lobby, waiting for the check-in with a cool refreshment in hand when my eye travels to the spacious place. I keep on spotting divinely designed pieces of furniture as well as recognizing iconic items. There is no doubt, Cretan Malia is design heaven.
Interiors by Vana Pernari is a unique mix of boho elements, designer furniture, mid-century coolness, Greek ceramics and a vibrant palette that evokes a Californian- chic mood. All of them blend harmoniously in the lobby and set the mood of a laid-back luxury destination. The rooms are also full of enviable furniture and details such as straw armchairs, tropical wallpapers and rustic touches.
The Cretan elements of the hotel make a strong presence, through details that are found everywhere from the welcome drink based on Cretan herbal tea to the books in the huge library and the ceramic vases that adorn the space, or the folk accessories available at the Anthologist hotel boutique. Let’s also note here that it is Cretan artisans that have been recruited in order to make the traditional tiles of the resort and several custom-made items.
There are objects which linger in your memory long after you have returned home. Having teamed up with MaisonFlaneur.com, Cretan Malia has the answer! A selection of Cretan Malia’s art & design items, furniture & lighting decorative pieces is expecting all who seek interesting interiors pieces, rooted in a destination at Maison Flaneur’s virtual marketplace.
The gardens at Cretan Malia are like no other
Right after the warm welcome, I take a stroll in the impeccably curated gardens. They are there from the time Cretan Malia was the biggest camping in the area. Now, after the thorough curation of Cretan Malia team, the place boasts impressive lush greenery with numerous kinds of plants. Picture well-manicured grass, swaying palm trees, herbs, and colorful flowers which add a vibrant Mediterranean vibe. Highlight: There are signs with the full botanical names of the plants and the trees and this makes your walk around the resort feel like an educational visit to a botanic garden!
The beach experience
Blue flagged for years now. The beach of Cretan Malia Park is a spacious sandy paradise with umbrellas. Tamarind trees and pine trees also offer their shadows to the guests. This is where one finds The Beach Shack, a wooden sandy-toes spot with a menu curated by famous Greek chef Athinagoras Kostakos (tuna bans and Cretan salad bowls are highly recommended).
The Cretan hospitality and Mouries Restaurant
The resort’s heart beats at Mouries Restaurant. Mouria is the Greek word for mulberry tree. This tree is also a typical of the Greek landscape, the one that is found at almost every village square. Under these trees, big gatherings and family feasts, celebrational events and significant discussions take place. It is the epicenter of the village social life.
Mouries at Cretan Malia stole my heart. It is decorated to look like a traditional village yard, outdoor oven and grill included. The restaurant has no electricity and everything is traditionally cooked. Original clay bowls, rustic kitchenware and old fashion utensils complete the experience. Mouries is also the kingdom of chef Lefteris Iliadis and Panagiota Kabbalou. When we got to know the chef and his assistant, it was like having a caring aunt and uncle trying to offer us treats nonstop! “Here I made a Sfakian pie or an omelet for you. Take it with you to have a bite before the beach” they kept saying to us…
Apart from the divine dinner, Mouries breakfast is an authentic Cretan experience. Forget pancakes and bacon. Here you will enjoy tiganites and syglino instead. You don’t need to order anything. Just sit at the table and expect a big tray with all the superfoods of Crete to appear in front of you. Then, eggs follow, prepared according to your preferences, while traditional pies keep on coming.
As Cretan Gastronomy as it gets!
The Cretan Earth & Meditation Workshop with charismatic Agapi Kefalogianni
My friend and I were very lucky to experience a unique retreat during the weekend we were there with Agapi Kefalogianni, a mindfulness and yoga expert -as our instructor.
The retreat was dedicated to her book “August Fifteenth- Childhood Summers in Crete” that she had just published. Multi-talented Agapi wrote and illustrated a series of short stories about her childhood memories in a small village in Crete, where all the residents were more or less members of the family, a place where traditions were kept alive by women like Agapi’s mother, aunts and grandmothers. The book was written in memory of her beloved mother who passed away a year ago.
She touched our hearts. Childhood summers are associated with a carefree mood of joy and freedom. That’s why we were all so willing to share our own stories when we sat in a circle after the book reading session. Precious moments I will not forget easily. In the book, there is a recipe for local pies, made with raki, named “agnopites”. Furthermore, the schedule also included a cooking class. The short cooking lesson was completed with an unforgettable 3-hour feast for the soul and the body.
After making the agnopites and eating them, lost in endless discussions about summer memories, we thought that it was time to leave. Oh no, not in Crete! They simply couldn’t let us go like this. So here comes a generous serving of slow-cooked lamb that had just come out of the oven. And then some generous servings of traditional sfouggato (a kind of omelet with zucchini and potatoes). Raki was omnipresent.
A yoga and meditation session by Agapi by the sea waves during a colorful sunset was a glorious way to end this amazing weekend at Cretan Malia.
Leaving this unique beachfront resort in Crete and on my way to catch My Aegean Airlines flight, I felt full of energy, gratitude and happiness. Cretan Malia’s hospitality has been #purebliss.
Till next time…
* Many thanks to Aegean Airlines for flying me to and from Cretan Malia