There’s something about the light in Greece, it seduces you from the moment you step off the plane. From the early morning dew drop blues, to the midday whites, and all the way into the never-ending infinity pool pinks of the sunsets; the love affair Greece wants to have with you is a compelling one. My recent return to Crete with an unforgettable stay at St Nicolas Bay Resort reminded me why it is one of my very favourite places to visit.
The first time I visited Heraklion it was by accident, or divine intervention rather. I was on my way home from Budapest and my flight stopped on Crete. I had an overnight layover and I took a bus from the airport and found myself in the middle of Mediterranean paradise for the first time, and I cried because it was such a beautiful surprise. I wandered the narrow streets soaking it all in, went into a beautiful Orthodox cathedral and sat forever, and I ate as much Greek food as I could eat until my departure. I vowed that I would return.
About one hour from the centre of Heraklion where I stood the first time I visited the island of Crete, is St. Nicolas Bay Resort where I wanted time to stand still for the days that I stayed there – and it did.
5 Star Luxury Stay at St. Nicolas Bay
The luxury property is grand with a boutique feel, and includes 25 Deluxe Suites with private pools, 6 Thalassa Villas with private pools, 42 other Suites and 40 rooms. The property is perfectly situated to offer guests a front row seat to the Mediterranean with its ever-changing hues of blue.
My 45 square metres of indoor private villa space and 60 square metres of outside terrace space, The Rock 1, was literally perched on the edge of the property, with an Instagram-worthy infinity pool that blended into the sea and it was pure paradise. Decorated with a borrowed palette, the décor of the entire property is classic Greek design with accents of blue and white to reflect the surrounding nature. A generous king-sized bed, seating area, Jacuzzi tub and indoor-outdoor shower give the space a feeling of indulgence. The floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors frame the masterpiece that unfolds minute-by-minute each day. I choose to leave the curtains open each night to fall asleep to the beautiful blue haze of light coming from the pool against the night, and wake up naturally to the most magnificent sunrises full of pinks and oranges that looked too good to be real.
The property has many meandering pathways that lead in various directions along with a grand entrance where you are greeted personally by Yiannis Zacharias, one of the managers on site and given a tour before you are escorted to your room. There is a private beach, boutique with locally made items, a small art gallery (Argonaftis) with rotating exhibits of local artists, a cultural centre called the “Cretan Museum,” business centre, a full-service luxury spa and fitness centre, five restaurants, and even an open air cinema on site. There is even a special place for children to go with daily activities planned.
Complimentary welcome champagne, mineral water, Greek cookies and fresh flowers, which were freshened every day of my stay, are included in each guest’s stay at St. Nicolas Bay. Along with a 30-minute Anti Stress and Relaxation treatment at the spa which I sorely needed after my arrival.
Modern International Dining
There are five restaurants including the daily breakfast terrace by the pool, and a few bars on property at St. Nicolas Bay Resort which give guests plenty of variety both in experience and scene. The Labyrinthos restaurant is the newest offering and has an international menu with a poolside dining experience, it was perfect for a quiet dinner of reflection. The Blue Bay offers all day dining perched on a terrace above the beach and just below the pool for a panoramic dining experience with a classic Mediterranean menu and Asian dishes as well, I enjoyed a lunch here one day and watched the sunset with a cocktail on my last night. There is also a lower terrace right on the edge of the water and it was the absolute perfect place to enjoy an after dinner tea under the stars. The Minotaure is a private dining spot available for a candlelight dinner under the stars, the space is intimate and romantic and the menu can be catered to the occasion.
The Greek Kafenion restaurant was my favourite. I made a date with myself reservation here on my last night and was given a beautiful candlelit table on the edge of the terrace overlooking the property, private beach and sea. The menu is a classic Greek one, with an open-air BBQ where the chef prepares the fish of the day caught fresh from the Mirabello Bay. I feasted on baked feta, pasta and decadent Greek dessert paired with local wines. The Astra Bar is situated on the terrace rooftop of the main lobby building and offers cozy seating area and quiet away from the rest of the property with live piano music nightly.
The Active Life at St. Nicolas Bay
I love that the way you can move and explore while staying at St. Nicolas Bay is described as “The Active Life,” “The Happy Life,” “The Cultural Life,” and “The Simple Life.” Everything from every water sport you can think of, to private boating adventures of the angler and leisure kind, and cultural trips to the nearby towns namely the iconic Aghios Nikolaos which is just 1.5km from the property. Every experience can be curated with the hotel’s concierge dependent on which you choose. I took a short 20 minute walk from the property into Aghios Nikolaos one afternoon to enjoy some local shopping and found a beautiful dress and leather sandals.
Plenty of exploration and moving can be done on property as well. Eleni is the Yoga and Pilates instructor on site and I enjoyed a private yoga session with her in the Blue Room of the spa one afternoon overlooking the property with the perfect sea breeze blowing all around us.
I wandered down to the private beach and overlooking stone terraces each day, both at sunrise when it was quiet and I had the perfect Greek soft rays all to myself and at sunset when the soft pinks reflected in the water and surrounded everything. Between the beach, property pool and my own private pool it was hard to choose which splurge to do and I did my best to give each my attention.
There is also a formal fitness centre adjacent to the spa on property if moving with weights and cardio machines is a whim of yours.
The Poseidon Spa
The Poseidon Spa at St. Nicolas Bay Resort was a welcome respite for me during my stay. I asked to have access to the indoor heated pool area one morning for my personal yoga practice and it was the perfect quiet place to flow and dip. The luxurious spa includes marble Turkish steam baths and saunas, and treatment rooms with Jacuzzi tubs and affusion showers.
The “Aphrodite’s Bath” treatment includes a cave for two with a seawater Thalassotherapy pool right next to the sea. The signature “Greek Massage” which I indulged in can take place in The Blue Room which has a private veranda that overlooks the sea.
There is a full service beauty salon onsite as well. All of the spa services and Yoga and Pilates can be enjoyed in your private room if you’d rather stay put.
St. Nicolas Bay Resort
Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece
Directions: Fly into Heraklion International Airport (HER) and book a personal shuttle to the property which is about an hour from the airport
The Fit Traveller was a guest of St. Nicolas Bay Resort for this stay. As always, the opinions, words and images are authentically our own.
Pat Bailey is a certified Bhakti Yoga Teacher, published poet, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for exploring the globe. Pat is also the founder of The Hell Yes Life, where she has created her own branding academy helping to elevate brands and students through authentic and intuitive coaching.