“Soak up a beauty break in sunny Crete”
by WENDY GOMERSALL, travel writer UK
Happiness, as far as I’m concerned, is a spa, and the bigger the better.
True spa aficionados simply won’t settle for a choice of just a few facials and massages nowadays, so if that’s you, head for a top-class resort with a beautiful spa in a quiet spot on Crete to sort you out, body and soul.
Aldemar Resorts’ heavenly five-star Aldemar Royal Mare resort and spa is a short drive from the airport, 25km from Heraklion on the Mediterranean island’s northern coast,tucked away from the busier, popular coastal areas.
With 385 rooms, over a third of the rooms with private pool big enough for a morning swim, the resort has a nice village atmosphere, totally secure and with friendly, helpful staff.
Of course there’s a range of activities on offer, including water sports, golf, tennis, fitness room. You can relax by one of the private pools or on the private beach. If you do want to get out and about, there’s great sightseeing nearby, too, including the ancient Minoan palace at Knossos and the Museum in Heraklion. The main town of Heraklion is a perfect place to bargain fashion shopping and to indulge in authentic Cretan cuisine, especially at Peskesi. Or, like me, you can spend most of your time in the marvellous Thalasso Spa Centre which has with 4,000 sqm and a whole raft of staff devoted to making you feel – and look – better. Choose a special programme or the friendly staff will help tailor-make one just for you. This is a serious spa, with a truly massive menu of incredibly varied pampering and specialist treatments in a variety of purpose-built rooms. So, I started with the glorious 90-minute Oriental Hammam, just what your body ordered after a winter out of sight and sun: after a steam, you’re scrubbed beyond clean, then smothered with flower-scented mud and left to relax. The result: silky-soft glowing skin you’ll be proud to show off. A 20-minute Aromatic Airjet, an aromatic bubbling bath with essential oils, is deeply relaxing and boosts circulation, thus attacking cellulite (though I’m going to need more than one session!). The 25-minute Affusion Watermass treatment, features warm seawater enriched with almond oil, again excellent for cellulite. The Douche S Marine Relax, an underwater massage using a water jet, does the same. Signature thalassotherapy treatment is Aquaroyal, a 35-minute, guided water-gym workout in assorted saltwater pools – rather fun, and it didn’t feel like exercise at all. I’d recommend the Algues 40-minute seaweed session for tense muscles and rheumatism, or go for an Abhyanga massage, a sublime, 55-minute massage with warm sesame oil – total bliss. Royal Mare regularly introduces new treatments. For example, there’s a 55-minute Balinese massage and – my favourite – the astonishing LPG Lift 6 therapy for face and body. I tried the facial – the ‘new’ high-tech machine is tricky to describe, but it was like being kissed by kittens! You need six sessions for maximum benefit, but my complexion looked better after just one, honestly. Lots of rest – the rooms are incredibly comfortable – and great food helped, too. Aldemar Royal Mare has six restaurants and four bars; I loved the seafood at beachside Albatross. And, of course, who doesn’t feel better after soaking up a bit of warming sunshine…