I am so behind on my blog posts that this is going to have to be a summary of all that we did at the wonderful Costa Navarino destination in the Southwest Peloponnese where I went on business – yes really, although I am finding it increasingly hard to persuade even myself that this is the case.
We were there on a press trip and to attend a convention both at the same time. With some very good friends of mine, which is why it is sometimes so hard to differentiate between work and play – but hey, if you can get that balance right in life then there is very little to complain about.
So, we stayed in the Navarino Dunes area of Greece, having flown into Athens and then driven for three hours (although you can now fly into Kalamata which is much closer). Here there are two luxury 5 star hotels – The Romanos and The Westin Resort. Extending over 130 hectares of beautiful hillside, the Navarino Dunes is fabulously located and overlooks wonderful sandy beaches that stretch for over a kilometre. In the taxi, on the way there we heard the story of how the whole area moved from a dream to the reality of one man they call “The Capitan”. He earned his money in the Greek shipping industry and wanted to develop an area in his homeland that was not only sustainable, but that supported the local community in every way. He sadly died recently, but his children are very involved. Every person we talked to had a story to tell about him and it was wonderful to see and feel the love – most of the staff lived locally and were passionate about the location. He has basically saved an entire community from having to up sticks and move to Athens to find work. Development of many other areas continues and it really is a labour of love. The area of Messinia remains largely undiscovered, but harbours a long and important history with palaces and vaulted tombs as well as temples, Byzantine churches and medieval castles – loads to see! Even the famous Ancient Olympia, the cradle of the Olympic Games, first held in 776 BC is not far away.
I was there with a haute couture fashion designer (and friend) to look at ways to work together and naturally she found inspiration all around. More about that another day. In the meantime, here is a photo journal of what we got up to:-
The view from the reception of The Romanos resort:-
View from my bedroom with a view of the world renowned golf course, the Dunes course, designed by former US Masters Champion and Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer in association with European Golf Design and managed by Troon Golf. It is Greece’s first signature designed 18 hole golf course and a very popular attraction:-
Our breakfast area, the next morning:-
We did a visit around the local area and in particular to the picturesque town of Pylos with its medieval castle “Nickastra”, built in 1573 by the Ottoman’s:-
There is a museum on the grounds too where you can see lots of the underwater relics that have been found nearby:-
Pomegranates were growing everywhere we looked, not only around the hotel, but in the grounds of the fortress too and we simply couldn’t resist trying one:-
Exhausted by our day trip we relaxed at their wonderful Anazoe spa – a huge 4,000m offering a full range of specialist treatments based on ancient Greek practices. We tested one of their signature treatments – a healing massage by Hippocates (not literally by him you understand) whereby using a combination of advanced soft tissue techniques and Greek aromatherapy you relax into a bit of a puddle:-
Another day we drove through the olive groves and out and about:-
Checked out a local fruit and vegetable stall:-
Followed by lunch at the pool – all the food was exceptionally good, locally sourced using fresh ingredients from their gardens – best Greek salad ever!
The pool at night:-
Our final day was spent checking out the beach facilities and looking around the hotel – as well as joining the convention. They really do have some amazing facilities – including for children – they have a Cocoon care centre and a place called the SandCastle where there is a youth hub – you can also leave your children there overnight! There is also The Agora, which is like an authentic village centre featuring entertainment and exclusive shops – it even boasts an open air cinema. The Greek Taverna we ate at one night had some of the best food I had ever eaten.
I would most definitely recommend the destination and next time I will try and take my children too. So many activities for them – diving, water sports, cycling, eating and drinking…all that activity for them whilst I sit by the pool reading books. Heaven.
Costa Navarino: Rates at the two hotels at Navarino Dunes, start from: The Westin Resort Costa Navarino: from €220, and The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort from €390.
To book and for further information visit www.costanavarino.com
Aegean Airlines offers daily flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick to Athens. For more information please visit www.aegeanair.com