A resort is defined by its staff, the service they provide, the ambience they generate and the
determination to ensure their guests return having created wonderful memories.
St Nicholas Bay tops the TripAdvisor charts for Aghios Nikolaos in Crete and is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, but when making recommendations for an unforgettable family holiday experience for my clients, it is essential to ensure that they will receive an equally high standard of service to that which I offer. I can personally vouch for an unquestionable tick in that box.
I hadn’t been to Greece for 30 years, but have always had Crete on my radar, and having had all my long-haul plans for a landmark birthday last year scuppered, I looked closer to home.
I’m so pleased that I did as I was also keen to provide a wonderful Greek island option for the many families also looking for a perfect solution for a short-haul holiday.
St Nicholas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas is an independent luxury boutique property situated on a small private cove close to the cosmopolitan picturesque harbour town of Aghios Nikolaos with sweeping views over Mirabello Bay.
A four-hour flight from London, the resort is a 40-minute drive from Heraklion Airport and a private transfer for your family is well worth it.
It provides authentic Greek hospitality with an array of modern and elegant accommodation, many with private pools, suitable for every type of family option, including multi-generational.
The entire resort faces Mirabello Bay, so all the individually designed rooms have a type of sea view, on which I can offer advice, whatever the size of your group and the unique needs of different generations.
All offer a high level of comfort and simple luxury, coupled with modern technology and state-of-the-art amenities, and have been individually designed to maximise panoramic sea views and create an ambience of comfort, spaciousness and privacy.
Options range from Classic Room & Classic Suites with Sea View and Club Suites with Seafront with jacuzzis or private pools.
For larger families, special celebrations, or just a touch more privacy, there is also a choice of eight luxurious villas, individually and elegantly designed in a contemporary style within a traditional Cretan setting.
The villa complex is located close to the St Nicolas Bay Resort and guests have access to all the hotel’s amenities.
Food & Drink
A great choice of dining experiences is available with a comprehensive buffet option, all-day refreshments, and three outstanding dinner venues serving delicious fresh local tasting fare.
A plethora of tasty breakfast options is served at the Club House with its shaded terrace area providing stunning views of the tranquil bay.
Select from fresh fruit, yoghurts, fish, cheeses, nuts, pastries, breads and crepes, the buffet or à la carte menu for something hot, or the dedicated corner featuring authentic Cretan specialties.
The all-day beach restaurant and bar, the Blue Bay is perfectly situated for lunch. A comprehensive à la carte menu includes club sandwiches, Greek specials, grilled lobster, salads and everyone’s favourite burger!
It’s also possible to get waiter service at the beach/ pool area, although with a more limited menu.
The Labyrinthos serves a deluxe dinner buffet with different choices each night, including a kids' buffet and an everchanging à la carte menu of main courses.
The half-board option includes an evening meal here plus a supplementary credit in the à la carte restaurants. Guests can upgrade to full-board with a supplement which includes lunch at Blue Bay and “Dine Around” - evening dinner in any of the à la carte restaurants.
The Greek Kafenion serves authentic Cretan dishes using fresh local organic produce, an abundance of seafood and an open BBQ. The breeze and aroma of the flowers and cooking food sets the tone beautifully for an outdoor evening meal overlooking the bay, and look out for the fabulous local dancers who perform here once a week, too.
The Minotaure is my personal favourite with tables facing the mountains and a very relaxed ambience. The sunsets are magnificent and watching the sky turn from day to night and dining under the stars is magical.
The menu features delectable Asian fused dishes cooked and presented beautifully, coupled with a rich international wine collection and live piano music with live jazz and orchestra performances twice a week.
A word on the tempting desserts here that include a Snickers Minotaure special (you will have to try them to find out what they are) and Crêpe Suzette flambéed with orange liqueur and Grand Marnier.
Both the Astra and Bonatsa Jetty bars offer a relaxed atmosphere, whether you're after quality family time, sundowner cocktails at the water’s edge or live entertainment.
Kids & Family
The hotel offers a complimentary managed mini club for ages 4-11 along with a new nature area with outdoor play facilities and huts set amongst the lemon and olive trees.
Game rooms with foosball, PlayStations, music bar, table tennis and a cinema should satisfy both the older children and the fully grown ones too, plus a separate children’s tv lounge is also available.
Baby and toddler accessories are available upon request and a seawater paddling pool for younger guests is adjacent to the large outdoor swimming pool.
A fully serviced private beach and protected sandy cove with spread-out beds, including several pleasantly shaded, is ideal for kids and parents.
The gorgeous infinity pool area with its spectacular views over the bay and across to the mountains is extremely relaxing with sunbeds under the palm trees and is kept spotlessly clean.
Facilities & Activities
The Poseidon Spa offers the ultimate relaxation and tranquillity, where guests can indulge in a range of face and body treatments administered by highly trained Elemis and Cinq Mondes therapists whilst the impressive Blue Room has its own private terrace overlooking the bay, including a treatment suite for two.
Morning and evening classes are provided in the Yoga Pavilion against the beautiful backdrop of the sea, the sun and clear blue skies, or a private class can be arranged in the comfort of your room or preferred outdoor location.
In addition to a fully-equipped fitness centre, there are jogging routes across the St Nicholas Bay coast, hiking tours available to explore the island and bicycle rentals available on site.
The water sports centre provides a wide variety of exciting activities for the whole family, including water skiing, windsurfing, canoes, banana and jet skis. Private sailing boats, motorboats and sunset cruises are all available for a Greek island sea experience.
Culture & Local Excursions
The hotel’s art gallery exhibits well-known Greek artists and sculptors and the island’s rich history can be soaked up at the Cretan Museum featuring traditional artefacts.
Speedboat is a fun way to go from the hotel to Aghios Nikolaos with the seven-minute trip charged by the journey (appx €35.00 one way), so the more passengers the better the value. After being dropped off at the harbour you are then free to explore.
The picture-postcard town is situated on a small round lake which has steep rocky cliffs to one side and tree-lined pedestrianised streets to the other. It is quite hilly but so pretty it’s worth the effort with boutique shops selling everything from high-end leather bags, designer clothing, cheesy gift stores and everything in between.
There is a Wednesday market with fruit and veg mixed with the obligatory fake designer goods and I also found fantastic local skincare products.
A taxi back to the hotel is set at €6.00 and takes about 12 minutes. You can walk - it’s about 30 - 40 minutes - but it’s hot and shops still close for siesta, so the best times to visit are in the morning and after 5 pm.
The hotel’s reservations team can assist with arranging visits to the island’s most popular attractions, which include archaeological museums, ancient palaces, monasteries and spectacular beaches, and I highly recommend the boat trip to Spinaloga Island.
A small traditional beach-side chapel on-site provides a dreamy wedding location with the blue waters of the Cretan Sea glinting in the background.
I can work with the resort team to organise the perfect wedding and meet all special requests.
I cannot emphasise enough how fantastic the staff throughout St Nicholas Bay are. Allow them to extend their wonderful hospitality on your next family holiday and enjoy the understated elegance and truly exceptional service and relaxing vibes at this stunning resort.