Sarah Reeve discovers the delights of Greece at one of Rhodes' newest luxury resorts.
Greece has been on my bucket list for years, so the chance to visit Rhodes was an opportunity not to be missed. I'd heard of the popular hotspot of Faliraki in the north east of the island, a mecca for funloving British tourists, but we were venturing further south to a lesser-known spot.
Nestled on the Aegean coast, about an hour's drive from Rhodes International Airport, the Gennadi Grand Resort is a fresh beacon of light for travellers looking for sun, sea, relaxation and a five-star experience. Set on a relatively undeveloped part of the coastline with expansive views of the ocean and mountain range in the background, it's an area of rugged natural beauty.
I arrived at night after a four-hour flight from Luton airport, to be greeted with welcome cocktails, my first taste of Greek hospitality, before being shown to my suite for a quick freshen up before dinner. Built not only with luxury in mind, but the environment too, the resort opened for its first season in May 2018. Spread over 67,000 square metres; it's a labyrinth of suites, pristine pools, inviting outdoor spaces, restaurants and bars. The simple, clean lines of the buildings combine with soothing soft neutral-toned interiors to create an instant feeling of calm and relaxation. My suite had its own private pool; a joy to wake up to as you throw open the curtains and pull back the sliding doors! Complete with your own deck and sun loungers, there's no early morning scramble to grab your place in the sun here! With an indoor sitting area, his and hers basins, walk-in shower, air-conditioning, room service and all mod-cons; it's a honeymoon haven for couples wanting to get away from it all and enjoy some alone time.
I visited in late October, leaving the grey and dismal British weather behind and feeling badly in need of some restorative R&R. Known from Greek mythology as the island of the sun, Rhodes is blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Temperatures can be blistering at the height of the season, but for me, the autumn weather was plenty hot enough. Set beside one of the longest beaches on the island, the turquoise blue Aegean sea beckons. Just a few minutes stroll away, the water is crystal-clear and wonderfully warm. There are beachside drinks and snacks available as well as water sports for active types. After a refreshing dip I was happy to just chill-out under a shady parasol and nod off to the gentle sound of lapping waves.
Wherever you wander in the resort, you're never more than a stone's throw away from a sun bed, glistening pool or enticing place to eat. On arrival we enjoyed a welcome dinner in the main restaurant, great for fuss-free dining, top-notch food and friendly service. After tucking into a melt-in-themouth T-bone steak, I was ready to retire to my super comfy bed to dream of breakfast.
Foodie heaven, inspired by centuries of Greek cooking the cuisine reflects all the tantalising colours and flavours of the Mediterranean. During my three-night stay, I sampled everything from an unforgettable gourmet experience in the fine-dining restaurant, ideal for a romantic evening for two, to a chilled, informal meal in the authentic-style tavern; big on atmosphere and great for traditional Greek specialities. You'll need at least a week though to work your way around the breakfast buffet, laden with a bewildering array of mouth-watering freshly prepared dishes, including hot and cold options, fresh fruit, local cheeses and pastries too tempting to resist. With other eateries and bars dotted around for al fresco dining and poolside snacks, all tastes are catered for.
Relaxation and rejuvenation are paramount at this honeymoon paradise, with something for everyone including guided hiking explorations, yoga, tennis, cycling, a gym with state-of-the-art equipment and my favourite; The Grand Spa, an oasis of calm and serenity. With four treatment rooms, including one for couples, there's an impressive range of Greek-inspired signature rituals, facials, massages and beauty services to choose from. I enjoyed a sublime aromatherapy massage – sheer bliss! With a steam room, sauna, Turkish bath, indoor pool and other facilities to enjoy, I left feeling like I was floating on air.
Not only a temple to relaxation, eco-credentials are embedded in the heart of the resort. The development is geared towards reducing the environmental impact with a raft of measures built in, including eco-friendly air-conditioning and heating systems, energy-saving solutions and recycling. It's still early days, with even greater vision for the future and with the island's south east coast on the radar as an up-and-coming destination for honeymooners and holidaymakers, it looks like exciting times ahead.
- The picture-postcard town of Lindos is only a 20-minute drive away. You can hire a car or hop on the local bus and enjoy the journey together along the coastal route, there's a bus stop at the entrance to the resort and they run pretty regularly. Set on a hill, surrounded by ancient walls, topped by the landmark acropolis, it's a magnet for tourists. Even out of peak season, the narrow streets were bustling with people. Lined with gift shops, bars and restaurants, there's plenty to discover.
- Take a leisurely stroll from the resort to visit the nearby village of Gennadi for an authentic flavour of Greek life. With traditional bars and tavernas you can while away a peaceful afternoon or evening, watching the world go by and soaking up the atmosphere. The bakery alone makes it a must-see – full of delicious fresh-baked bread and pastries to die for!
- A rooftop yoga session in the early morning sunshine with the sea and mountains as our backdrop before tucking into a delicious al fresco feast in the hotel's exclusive breakfast restaurant – the perfect way to start the day!
- A 10-kilometre hike in the surrounding countryside, discovering all about the natural flora, fauna and local history thanks to a very knowledgeable guide from local outdoor activities and tour company Rhodes Roads (rhodesroads. com). It was a pretty steep climb and we didn't quite make it to the top of the hill on foot, so drove up to view the remains of the 15th-century Castle of Asklipeio built by the Knights of Saint John; well worth it just for the view alone.
- Cocktail tasting in the first floor bar courtesy of masters of mixology barevolution (barevolution.gr). We were treated to an array of tempting tipples with a Greek twist incorporating local specialities such as Tsilili and Metaxa.
Rates at Gennadi Grand Resort start at around £223 per night, based on double occupancy with breakfast. Half board and ultra-all-inclusive options are also available. For more information or to book visit www.gennadigrandresort.com