It used to work like this, 1) decide to go on holiday 2) pick a date and 3) Just go. And while the beginning part of that cycle is still the same, our holidaying requirements have somewhat changed since the arrival of the sprogs, we have a more stringent check-list for accommodation and the amenities we now view as essential and for us, anywhere that sells itself as being child-friendly shoots to the top of the hit list. Happy children = happy parents = making memories to last a lifetime.
And so this year, for our first holiday as a family of four, we chose Greece. It has everything we could all possibly want – views √, great food √, history √, culture √ and best of all, many hours of sun, sea and sand. √, √ and more √.
A short hour’s drive away from Kalamata lies the Messinia region of the Peloponnese and this is to be our home away from home for a few days. This region is still largely unknown to the usual Greek tourist and its recent prosperity owes much to local entrepreneur Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos whose vision it was to bring money and jobs into the local economy and transform it into a luxurious super resort.
The best part of all, it’s all done ethically and all the development is done with the greatest commitment to the local environment, area and traditions – a big win for Eco-luxury. This peninsula is Costa Navarino, home to a variety of real estate developments including golf courses, luxury holiday homes, spas, conference buildings and of course 5* hotels.
Westin Costa Navarino and the Romanos are two huge sprawling luxury hotels in Navarino Dunes, a huge 130 hectares of gently rolling hills and a vast sandy beach. The Westin Costa Navarino prides itself on catering to families and we are here with our own small people to test out this claim.
What would it look like if a child did review it? Baby is still young enough that she doesn’t do much more than coo adorably anywhere she goes and it is the toddler Sprog whose opinion we need to canvas.
The quick and efficient check-in would win the sprog’s affections as there is nothing toddlers find less interesting than standing around reception (or standing still anywhere in fact!) and so we’re all pleasantly surprised to find ourselves heading to our room in no time at all.
The room: Toddler is instantly delighted by the balcony and amuses himself for a solid 20 minutes by running in and out.. and in and out… and in and out.. thus giving us the chance to look around in a lot more detail.
We’re in a family suite and there’s oodles of room for the 4 of us. A huuuge bed for us adults in the bedroom which is part of a larger bathroom/ bedroom room, with a lovely free standing tub in it. You can have a privacy screen come down next to the tub, but the bathroom is quite open plan – with the toilet and shower tucked away behind 2 doors.
We have a spacious living room to really spread out and relax in, which makes such a difference considering that packing for a getaway en famille inevitably seems to involve taking your entire house with you and despite the fact that the better part of the kids’ wardrobes were in the room with us, we never felt cramped or claustrophobic. Quite an impressive feat!
And the view… you can see why the Sprog spent so much time running in and out.
All settled in, we decide to go for a walk. When we checked in, reception let us know that we could order a golf buggy to take us around and I scoffed. An hour later when we’d barely covered half the resort, I’m beginning to see their point.
It’s safe to say the sprog’s eyes lit up at the sight of that waterpark – there are slides, a large splash area, bright colours and cute details that has the toddler squealing with delight. A playground nearby is the icing on the cake for him and I’m just grateful that we found this at the end of our walk as I suspect we’ll never have been allowed to explore anywhere else.
When the tots are older and we return, there’s actually a high chance we may never clap eyes on either of them – there is so much to keep them entertained – a tennis court, basketball/ volleyball court, indoor climbing wall, bowling lanes and cinema in an American diner, an outdoor centre housing every piece of equipment you could need to go hiking, walking, swimming, surfing, yachting, snorkelling or diving.
And if that’s all a bit too energetic, serenity is to be found pool-side. There’s a family Lagoon pool in the main area of the Westin Resort and a larger deeper pool with a waterfall a short walk away. We’re already plotting dropping the children off at the kids club and indulging in some pool & spa time of our own!
We’ve been away a few times now as a family but we’ve never used a Kids club, but after seeing what the on-site kids club looked like, we felt comfortable dropping them off for a few hours! I did have a slight pang at the fact that the Sprog went off willingly without a backward glance, but when there is a huge big indoor running around space, noisy toys, ride-on cars and staff willing to sing his favourite nursery rhymes, how can his boring old parents really compete?
The only person having separation anxiety was me and I really had to nip that in the bud and so I tried to make the most of our child-free hours by going to the spa for a massage, able to relax in the knowledge that the kids were happy and looked after.
The massage was wonderfully soothing and all the tension in my back and shoulders was well and truly eradicated but the icing on the cake were the three salt-pools that made up for a refreshing dip afterwards. The first is the saltiest and you can only spend 10 minutes in here. This is probably the closest I’ll get to experiencing what the Dead Sea is like and I greatly enjoyed the sensation of floating in the salt water. The salt levels reduce with each pool with a corresponding increase in temperature to cleanse your skin and when I finally do emerge from the final pool with jacuzzi jets, it’s only because the hunger pangs are a-calling.
But to hear the full tale of all that we ate and drank, you’ll need to stay tuned for the next installment. Spoiler alert: there will be halloumi, fresh seafood and cocktails…
We were guests of Westin Costa Navarino