I have a little something for Greece – it could be the red mullets and blue water. But it could also be its gorgeous hotels. In my second time in its mainland with Sovereign (first time being in Halkidiki which was a very pleasant surprise), I made my way to the land of olives – yes, Kalamata, and for 5 days explored the stunning The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort in Costa Navarino, in the Peloponnese.
I know you must be wondering… where in Greece is that?
Getting there is now easier than ever, with seasonal direct flights from London Heathrow with British Airways. Athens is also under 3 hours away.
On this trip, I was joined by my sister Renata, who also needed a little bit of Greece in her life – she’s getting married at the end of Summer and we have been going on a few very civilised ‘hen long weekends’. Silva style. Our journey was ever so slightly different this time – why? Because despite travelling business class and having my full BA Executive Club benefits, I was also intrigued to try Sovereign’s own. As you may know from previous trips (to Halkidiki, Madeira and others), Sovereign has a partnership with No. 1 Lounges in most UK airports and all guests, despite the class of travel they choose, get to relax a bit and start their journey in style by having access to fast track security and lounges (where available). At Heathrow T5, No. 1 does not have a lounge – but they have an exclusive partnership with Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant (located just after the T5 South Security checkpoint) and we were surprised by a pre-booked table (necessary as it gets quite busy) and a custom menu.
The menu is simple – your choice of eggs and/or continental breakfast items, tea, coffee and juice and a glass of something bubbly. We chose to have a bucks fizz (or mimosa, depending where you come from), before we went round to my usual BA T5 First lounge to pick up some magazines and freshen up.
The flight to Kalamata took 3h30 minutes and on arrival we were met by the local Sovereign representative and our pre-booked private transfer (which comes as standard to all Sovereign guests. The transfer to the hotel takes less than 1 hour and the funniest thing was that everyone that was in the Club Europe cabin with us went to exactly the same hotel, the The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort in Costa Navarino. We arrived within minutes of each other and it did provide for some banter.
I had of course seen photos of the hotel – and I loved it even more when I could feel the sea breeze on arrival. I loved the decor – very slick and stylish but I did feel I was in Greece. Having a sense of place is important to me.
In Costa Navarino, there are actually 2 resorts – The Romanos, which is ultra luxury, and the Westin Costa Navarino, which is categorised as 5-star too, but with a different set up. The hotels are separate and obviously have different price points, but some of the amenities are shared, like the restaurants (more than 10), kids club, golf and shops.
It is a large resort and it did take a while for us to get our bearings. By day 3 we were feeling at home.
Check-in was slick and efficient and we were taken to our room by buggy.
I loved our room – which was a Premium Deluxe Twin (with 2 queen beds) with its private pool. It was very white, but also spotless. We all know how difficult it is to keep whites white, and despite the hotel approaching its 5th anniversary, it was excellent.
I can’t fault anything – housekeeping and turndown was great, the beds, bedlinen and towers also very good and the room was large enough for the both of us and also offered a working area, a separate seating area indoors and a nice day bed outside. And before you ask, yes – the window between the bathroom and bedroom did close, offering us complete privacy. But it was fun being able to chat from room to room.
At the end of each day, we did retreat to our private pool for some banter – you can see a fun instagram video here, where I added another word to my very limited Greek repertoire.
My only comment is that despite there being a table with two chairs, there was only 1 sun lounger, so to speak, which meant we used this area less, as we couldn’t sunbathe at the same time. So we made it work by using the pool as our last dip of the day.
I have a thing for bathrooms, as you may know by now. And ours was excellent. We also loved the toiletries custom made by Apivita for the hotel.
Food and Drink
At the hotel, you really were spoiled for choice. As I said earlier, the two hotels meet in the middle, in a Greek-style agora set up, where you can find common amenities. Personally, I wasn’t expecting this and thought it was a bit strange, as all of a sudden you did feel you were not at the hotel but in some village, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but let’s just say that both hotels’ dress codes were different.
For dinner we tried the Italian, which was excellent, but our absolute favourite was the Greek Taverna. How could it not be? We also really enjoyed the simple Souvlaki place for lunch on our last day – it really was excellent.
I loved that the cafe was being used by all Greek guests exactly like a cafe. Families chatting and drinking their coffee.
But the best thing about the hotel? Its beach restaurant. It was so good, we went every single day. It was possibly the best designed beach restaurant I have seen in my life (and I have been around) and I loved the food. The fresh fish was pricey at 100 Euros a kilo (the world average must be around 60!), but it was excellent. And it was called Barbouni, which is Greek for red mullet, my favourite fish.
A special mention goes to the breakfast restaurant which was great and had exceptional service, bearing in mind the hotel was fully booked, having over 200 rooms and everyone turning up at 10.45 just before it closed. I was honestly surprised and impressed. And loved the coffee bar, with its Greek options which certainly added complexity to the operation.
On this trip, in which my main purpose was to impart words of wisdom to my sister about married life, we actually had not planned to leave the hotel, which I know is very unlike me, but we felt we did not need to. However, we were invited to join others in a pre-planned outing which turned out to be fantastic. You’d go to someone’s ‘house’ – I am using inverted commas as it wasn’t actually someone’s house, but a house set up for these events – and help cook dinner.
The evening costs 45 Euros and it is fun (and worry not, you do not have to cook a lot, just help a little bit, if you want to). I had a go at making the pasta (apparently really part of local cuisine) and the Greek salad. And stuffed my face with Kalamata olives in the process, which believe it or not, were not available everywhere.
We loved the Ajax Lounge, which was ‘our hotel bar’ and I did stir things up a bit when I asked for my gin to be served in a large wine glass (needs must!). Not only they didn’t bat an eyelid, they always served it that way throughout our stay. And I loved when other guests started asking for the same. Gins were about 15-18 Euros but only Schweppes tonic served. They did take note of my Fever Tree request.
The main pool
With a great beach and my own pool, I did not use the hotel’s main pool. But obviously went to check it out for research purposes and also was able to fly our drone as it was 10am and no one was there.
Technically, there are 2 separate beaches – one for Westin guests and one for The Romanos guests. There is some signage but no one really checking. In all honesty, I thought the service provided at the beach did let the hotel down. I did mention it to them whilst I was there and saw some improvements during my stay. We asked for water a few times and never got it. There were no menus. But on the last day, we actually saw every beach chair being wiped clean and with menus on all of them, and people actually asking if we wanted something else. It was a missed revenue opportunity for the hotel and I would really like some feedback if you visit. It was simple to sort – and in sharp contrast to the level of service at the hotel, which really was friendly and efficient.
I absolutely loved the beach restaurant (and its excellent service) and I looked forward to lunch every day. There were many fish options (and non-fish of course) and everyday we had something different. I cannot recommend it enough.
Need to know: there are some pebbles by the sea, so swim shoes would be ideal. No one had any, so we all witness some comedy moments during the day. The water was lovely and the beach was pristine. No other buildings around and very quiet.
The Anazoe spa was also a pleasant surprise. The hotel treated us to one of its signature treatments (a honey scrub and olive oil massage) and we kept going back for more. It really was excellent but super busy so I only managed to go another 2 times.
The spa itself was stunning and service was excellent. Massages were priced at 110 Euros approximately for 60 minutes.
The spa also offered vitality pools which we enjoyed on a few occasions.
Out and about
15 minutes away from Costa Navarino, you will find one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece – it is called Voidokilia. You can organise for the hotel to take you and collect you. It gets busy, but only after 1pm, so perfect for a morning dip.
Also nearby there is a village called Pylos which really was lovely. Before the hotel, it did barely exist, so expect very decent shops, cafes and restaurants. It also had one of the prettiest hairdressers I have seen.
Worth noting that the hotel had quite some lovely shops including a pharmacy, which I found most tempting!
My final thoughts
Besides the beach hiccup, I cannot fault the hotel. We loved the rooms, we thought service was excellent and the location unbeatable. It really is a beautiful part of the world and I will definitely come back with Mr. O one day.
The beach restaurant really was spectacular (I know, I do get excited about these things). It was perfect for a girls holiday as it would be for couples or families. As for my sister, she is now much better prepared for marriage. Of course she is.
Until the next time.
Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was a guest of Sovereign on this trip and undertook a live social media campaign which I was able to share with my readers across various social media channels.
Sovereign (Tel: +44 1293 765 003) is offering a seven-night holiday to the Peloponnese in Greece, staying at five star The Romanos, A Luxury Collection Resort, on a B&B basis and including airport security fast track and UK access to the private airport lounge (where available), private resort transfers, and return international flights from London Heathrow with British Airways. Based on departures 08 September 2016. Prices are as follows:
- Deluxe Room with Garden View, from £1,459 per person – a saving of up to £446 per couple with economy flights
- Deluxe Room with Garden View, from £1,699 per person – a saving of up to £467 per couple with business class flights
- Infinity Room Resort View with Private Pool, from £1,739 per person – a saving of up to £569 per couple with economy flights
- Infinity Room Resort View with Private Pool, from £1,989 per person – a saving of up to £590 per couple with business class flights