Featuring villas with private pools, a kids’ club, spa, Greek taverna and golf course, Crete’s Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel is a vacation enclave you never need to leave. Lotte Jeffs reports

There should be a word, and it should probably be German, to describe the very specific feeling of opening the door to a hotel room, after that familiar kerchunk of the keycard on the lock, and being so surprised and overwhelmed with its beauty that you forget to breathe. Suitesgroßliebe?

That’s how we felt on entering what was more of a small private villa than the advertised “suite”, and discovering that there was not only a sizeable private pool overlooking the ocean but a private walkway and steps carved into the cliff face, down to a rocky platform with two sunbeds just for us and a ladder from which you can plunge straight into the sparkling Aegean.Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete © Jenny Southan Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete © Jenny Southan Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete © Jenny SouthanThe Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel, located on the eastern side of Crete, is one of the most luxurious properties on the island. It joins the Elounda Mare and Porto Elounda (separate hotels from the same owners, which share the restaurants, beach and spa) in occupying a huge swathe of real estate that stretches from the beach right up into the mountains above it. Once checked in, you have little reason to leave, especially when it’s very hot. Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete © Jenny SouthanHaving arrived after spending a few nights in a very different family resort elsewhere on the island, the privacy was welcome. We ordered room service (Greek salad, beer, tzatziki and pitta) and ate at the table on our terrace where we could be as unruly as we liked, jumping into the pool when it got too hot (although it was a bit salty for our five-year-old) and playing Romy’s new song The Sea as we admired the view, away from the gaze of any fellow guests.

We also appreciated the gifts left for our daughter: a T shirt, small robe and slippers, colouring book and pencils. Her bed was in the living room where housekeeping had made up a portion of the L-shaped sofa with sheets and pillow. The configuration worked well. As a LGBTQ+ family, I can also attest to feeling very welcome and comfortable the whole time.

Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete © Jenny SouthanThe hotel was opened in 2001 by Spyros Kokotos, an architect by trade. Now in true Succession style, his adult children all work for the property in different roles, from marketing to engineering. On site there’s a nine-hole golf course, private cinema, a large kids club with an attached water park (we needed to order a buggy to take us there from our villa), four restaurants which can be booked via a bespoke app, and best of all a Six Senses spa. There is also a wellness programme for children aged five to 12 that includes an “athletic hour” and botanical garden treasure hunt, among other activities. After enjoying the sauna, steam room and cold plunge facilities in this stunning spa, as well as the indoor/outdoor pool which has one of the best views within the resort on account of its position at the highest point, I opted for a full body massage.

This was a signature Six Senses treatment including elements of sound bath, cupping and aromatherapy as well as some good old fashioned deep tissue muscle manipulation. The spa doesn’t shy away from more innovative practices and also offers a “Wellness Screening” which involves a non-invasive analysis measuring key physiological biomarkers, including metabolism and oxygen distribution, leading to a personalised wellness plan.Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, CreteThe main part of the hotel, where you’ll find the reception, breakfast dining room (there is a pastry-basket buffet and plentiful a la carte options), gym and indoor pool as well as the wine cellar is a little more “traditional” in its decor than the more recently renovated suites which are neutrally tasteful letting the views do the talking. There was a mix of locally handcrafted furnishings, authentic Cretan artefacts, and an earthy colour palette that mirrors the stunning natural surroundings.Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, CreteIn May 2023, the Japanese restaurant Sumosan opened at the Elounda Peninsula. It is an A-list favourite with branches in London, Courchevel, Dubai, Berlin and Doha. Here it is located in a secluded spot within the resort, overlooking the sea. From our private jetty we could watch the chefs preparing freshly caught fish for the evening ahead.

Also appealing to the upmarket international crowd is the beach-side Il Borro Tuscan Bistro which is owned by Ferragamo, another powerful family, this time from the fashion world. (Our daughter enjoyed throwing bread to the fish that swam in the water beneath the terrace.) There’s a more casual Greek restaurant, Elies by the hotel’s shared pool and Calypso in the main part of the hotel where breakfast is also served. But honestly, with a “suite” like this, room service has never been more tempting (we tried to order on the iPad but in the end just picked up the phone).Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, Crete A complete renovation of the hotel was completed in April 2023, with over €15 million invested in it. All 52 suites and villas were freshened up, with the addition of a new 440 sqm seaside Diamond residence with pool and direct access to the sea, the construction of two brand new large swimming pools, and the the addition of the new internationally branded restaurants. Design partners included integrated luxury hospitality specialists WATG, known for its work on some of the world’s most stunning properties.Elounda Peninsula All-Suite hotel, CreteThe beach here is perfect for families with young children: it’s accessible, the water is shallow, the sand is perfectly golden and there is ample shade (plus nearby bar, restaurants and large outdoor lagoon pool to escape to). Moored just off the jetty by the beach is a beautiful old-fashioned private yacht which can be hired to cruise around the Mirabello Bay or venture further. It’s tempting, but frankly the opportunity to skinny dip in the confines of our private villa was more appealing. Suitesgroßliebe indeed.