For a chilled out, baby friendly accommodation in Crete, St Nicolas Bay Resort is ideal. Just one mile from Aghios Nikolaos, a popular tourist location, the hotel is wrapped around the side of a tiny, secluded bay. Roughly thirty minutes from Heraklion airport, this little gem of a resort is perfect for relaxation and tranquility, and gave a great base for a multi-generational holiday, including a baby.
REVIEW: ST NICOLAS BAY, CRETE
As three generations travelling together, the list of requirements was extensive. Sun for the adults and shade for the baby. Good food with a relaxed atmosphere that wouldn’t be upset by the addition of a little one. A pool for cooling off in yet the sea for the adventurous amongst us. A spa for the grandparents and accommodation space to fit five of us in without issue. Not much to ask for!
THE AREA – AGHIOS NIKOLAOS
St Nicolas Bay is situated just one mile from Aghios Nikolaos making it accessible by taxi or foot for those wishing to visit. The town is described as ‘arty, leisurely, sleepy and yet also bustling’ and is full of character. Waterfront areas and plenty of places to eat and drink make it the perfect place to sit back and soak up the atmosphere – or take part in some people watching.
Flights from Gatwick and Bristol were both around five hours in the air. The resort is a short thirty minute transfer from Heraklion airport which we took as a private transfer. The short journey time makes it painless and ideal for those with young children, giving you distance from the noise of incoming planes without making it too far to travel.
The St Nicolas Bay resort is made up of a collection of rooms, suites and villas providing accommodation from double rooms all the way through to three bedroom villas with private pools. As two couples and a small child, we decided that we would be more comfortable in one of the villas; Siroko, a two bedroom suite with living area and private pool. Both bedrooms came with en-suites and both they, and the living area, led out via double doors onto the poolside patio.
This meant that during the day, we could put the baby down to nap and sit a couple of meters away in the sunshine without the fear of leaving him unattended. The villa was very secure with a single entry point which we kept locked with the key in for the entire trip; something that provided us with peace of mind for security.
The majority of our time was spent around our own pool. Our villa had a large patio area with a shaded section that allowed us to bring the baby outside as much as possible. The pools are all saltwater and are unheated, a fact which takes a little getting used to when you’re trying to get in! The outdoor space was secluded and gave us day-round sunshine which is always one of the main concerns when planning a trip abroad. We took advantage of in-villa dining a couple of times whereby our meals at lunch were brought to the room and laid out beautifully. There’s something very decadent about enjoying a meal in private around your own pool. Especially as we tied it in with the baby snoozing in the room next door!
St Nicolas Bay resort itself was made up of three main areas; the reception and evening dining building, the communal pool/breakfast dining area overlooking the sea, and a bar and restaurant area set into the cliff-side. Mornings were hosted on the edges of the main pool, in an outside seating area covered by a large wooden pergola. Breakfast consisted of a huge buffet with local foods, continental breakfast and cooked items as well as the ability to order additional items off the menu; pancakes, eggs and the such. The service is quick and friendly with an effort made by the manager to pop round and see you.
We dined in the main restaurant most evenings, a set menu with a few choices on it and a huge buffet again. In the evening you can eat inside or out, depending on your personal preference and love of mosquitos. The terrace area is quite crowded but again, very accommodating for small children and babies. After, we’d go for a drink on the top floor terrace, overlooking the other side of the bay and a more residential area. Large sofas and comfortable chairs are accompanied by a piano player and plenty of cocktails to choose from. Often the manager would offer to entertain our child for us, which was a little unnerving but quite common!
Other eating areas include; a poolside exclusive restaurant, a jetty bar in the evenings, an all day restaurant/drinks area overlooking the beach and a Greek restaurant on the cliff top. We went to the Greek restaurant one evening, armed with a sleeping baby and ended up taking part in greek dancing, plenty of singing and clapping and some wonderful authentic greek food. A worthwhile experience even if there was a small supplement to pay.
Finally, part of our package was a couples massage at the Poseidon Spa. The massage was a perfect way to get rid of any post-flight tensions, even if we did giggle our way through it! I was also treated to a solo massage in one of the private rooms; accessed by elevator and in a room that only overlooked the sea. It was a wonderfully peaceful end to a great first holiday as a family and a great way to have a break from baby duties. The spa was small but charming and offered a number of different options, something I’d recommend exploring if you’re child free!
WOULD WE RECOMMEND IT?
Overall we’d recommend St Nicolas Bay, Crete as a great destination for guaranteed sun and a laid-back, friendly atmosphere. The resort has the same issues as anywhere that’s based around a bay; accessibility due to steps. I’d probably recommend it for families who either have small babies (like we did) or slightly older children… it was a bit of a struggle with a pushchair and I’d hate to attack it with a toddler in tow.
THE BEST BITS:
- The accommodation (especially the pool area) couldn’t be faulted
- Wonderful understanding attitude toward children. Very genuine interest in his wellbeing
- The food! Plentiful with healthy options if you fancied them
- Ease of access. A short transfer from the airport.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR:
- Set on a cliff side, it’s 90% steps and uneven paths. Not the easiest with a toddler or unstable walker
- Mosquitos! We struggled with this and the baby, at one point I had over 25 bites on one leg!
- The cot provided was very old fashioned. Thankfully the baby slept in with us but I’d take my own cot if returning.
- No guarding around the pools so be aware for small children. There is a children’s play area but the set-up of the resort is really aimed at older families and couples.
You can find out more about St Nicolas Bay, Crete by visiting their website.