Lagoon-toting Amirandes hotel in Crete is a palatial child-friendly paradise, with sea-facing suites, a tempting choice of restaurants and an ayurvedic spa. Classic Grecian decor, beaches on the doorstep and an adventurous activity list make it a hotspot for stylish, fun-seeking families.
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A total of 212, including 161 rooms, 19 bungalows, 14 suites and 18 villas.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm. If you arrive early, you can store your luggage and make use of the hotel’s facilities.
Double rooms from £154.12 (€178), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include a welcome drink and an American-style buffet breakfast, and the option of an in-room Continental breakfast for villa guests.
Unfortunately the resort's vast layout makes it unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
Annually from the end of October until the end of March.
At the hotel
24-hour concierge, beach, spa, salon, gym, sauna and three swimming pools (including an Olympic-size one), seven restaurants, two bars, kids’ club, gardens with tennis courts, playground, golf club, boutique shops, free WiFi throughout, private car park with valet parking, DVD library. In rooms: flatscreen TV with built-in DVD player, CD player, minibar, fridge, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and Eau de Grece bath products. Villas also have a pillow menu, beach bag and a wine cooler.
Our favourite rooms
Families of four should book a Family Bungalow, which has a bedroom and a living area separated by a sliding door. Parents hooked on working out will love the Deluxe Bungalow Suites that come kitted out with their own fitness room – perfect for sneaking in some exercise when the kids are having a nap. For separate bedrooms and more space, go for one of the Villas, most of which have private terraces with outdoor lounges, a pool and direct access to the dedicated beach (solely for guests booking this type of room). Superior Rooms are smaller and so perfect for couples with just one tot in tow.
The star of the swimming show is the Olympic-size saltwater pool, with columns around the edges, underneath which you can nab a spot of shade. Nearby, there’s a shallow, unheated kids’ pool for learners. There’s a heated freshwater pool inside in the spa, that's heated in April and October. Swimming aids and inflatable toys are on sale in the hotel’s shop. One-to-one swimming lessons are available (24 hours' notice is needed). Some room categories also have a private infinity plunge pool. Most of the suites and villas have private plunge pools too.
The peaceful, grown-ups-only Elixir Alchemy Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments in the six treatment rooms (five single rooms, one couples room) – if you'd rather go alfresco, there's a massage area set up beachside. There’s also a sauna, mani-pedi room and a gym decked out with Technogym equipment.
Forgotten something? The resort shop sells all the essentials, from nappies and sun creams to sandals and beach balls.
Babysitting requires at least 24 hours’ notice and it’s wise to request baby monitors and any other equipment you might need when booking. The spa is popular, so it’s best to secure your slot as early as possible.
Welcome; under-12s stay for free and extra beds can be added to all rooms. The Grecoland Kids Club will keep little Smiths entertained, and in the summer there are camp activities.
Amirandes sits on the shores of northern Crete, with three Blue Flag beaches and as many pools to keep you amused. There are more activities than you could ever hope (or want) to try on one holiday – from aerobics to watersports – as well as a spa and fantastic kids' club. Older children can check out their talent for golf, tennis, diving and horse-riding.
Kids of all ages.
The Grecoland Kids Club runs six times a week (10am to 6pm) for children aged four to 12; kids under four are welcome to join in the fun, but they must be supervised by a parent. If you'd rather a kid-free day, babysitting can be arranged for under-fours at an extra charge. From the middle of June until September, activities are also available for over-12s.
Grecoland is a brilliant mini fun-park and free kids' club for ages four to 12, with morning and afternoon sessions of supervised activities. Grecoteens (June to September) looks after the over-12s, and there's a soccer school for an extra fee during the summer months.
Free activities include various sporting tournaments such as football and basketball or aerobics classes. For an extra charge, kids can join the soccer school, have a birthday party thrown in their honour, try out some watersports (such as windsurfing, sailing or kayaking), have swimming or tennis lessons, borrow a bike or learn to scuba dive.
Amirandes' narrow-but-lovely sandy beaches are but a stagger away, with a bar to keep the grown-ups happy. There are three areas: one for watersports, one for sunbathing and one reserved for villa guests. The waters are generally calm. As well as staff to bring you cooling drinks, expect sunloungers, parasols, beach towels and changing cabins. Take the ‘life and soil’ excursion with your kids across the grounds to learn about a coastal ecosystem or the ‘sun, fun and jun(k)' one to see how a solar oven works.
It's not likely to rain much while you're here, but if you fancy unwinding indoors or need a few hours out of the sun, pick a DVD from the library and watch it in the screening room, or play table tennis or table football. The kids club has plenty of indoor play space, too, for time in the shade.
If there’s energy left to expend, kids can head to the amphitheatre to sing and dance with the entertainment team in the evening, or stargaze through the telescope and learn about Greek mythology at the same time.
There’s a shallow, unheated kids’ pool near the Olympic-size saltwater pool.
The splendid Tasty Corner provides free fruit, yoghurts, cake, ice-creams, drinks and more for kids aged 3–12 between 11am and 5pm; a nutritious lunch spread is also laid on for little ones, with plenty of fish, vegetables, pasta and other good stuff stacked among the pizza slices. Plus, kids menus are also available at all the à la carte restaurants. Over-12s dine as adults.
Available for under-fours at an extra charge.
Amirandes are well versed on sustainable practices and have a team dedicated to ensuring they're doing all they can; energy consumption is kept to a minimum, water conservation is prioritised with reduction filters and water-saving measures, a zero waste policy is operated (including a ban on single-use plastic), food cooked is produced locally and anything outsourced is thoroughly vetted to ensure the supply chain is as sustainable as possible, and the resort was built to work in tandem with it's surroundings. Beyond this, guests are invited (including little Smiths) to learn about the island's biodiversity with tours through the onsite herb gardens, and the staff are hired and trained locally to ensure the hotel's contributing effectively to the local economy.
Book in for the romantic dinner or family banquet on the beach, a candlelit sunset supper that you won’t forget in a hurry. The resident barbecue chef can also be sent to your villa to flame-grill a feast.
Light, flowy linens. You are in Greece, after all.
Amirandes has seven restuarants, offering everything from Med fine-dining to typical taverna fare. The choice will keep your palate piqued on longer stays, but we like Blue Monkey for its sublime sushi best. Head to Amirandes, set around a water feature, if you’re indecisive: extensive buffets, with healthy and vegetarian options, are on offer for breakfast and dinner. For a romantic dinner à deux, it has to be Lago di Candia, where floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the lagoon and international cuisine is served. Just be sure to reserve if you're planning on heading to the à la carte restaurants.
Children are welcome in each of the restaurants at any time, and Lago di Candia, Blue Monkey, Petrino and Xasteria will serve up special meals on request. Highchairs and emergency crayons are on hand everywhere, and baby food is available to buy. Fresh vegetables from the hotel’s Agreco farm make Xasteria a healthy choice for kids, and it also offers a chance for adventurous eaters to try out Cretan cuisine. It's not adults-only, but Lago di Candia is a grown-up gastronomic affair more suited to couples than crowds.
For apperitifs with a view, head to Labyrinth Lagoon Bar for a custom cocktail set in the sunken lounge. If you'd rather stay beachside, the Sunset Lounge has you covered with an extensive array of refreshing cocktails and a DJ to amp up the ambience.
Lago di Candia, Blue Monkey, Minotaur, Agreco Taverna and Xasteria open for dinner (7.30pm until 11pm); Petrino is lunch only (12.30pm to 4.30pm); and Amirandes opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner (7.30am till 11pm).
A selection of sandwiches, salads and snacks, as well as a children’s menu, specially designed to provide enough energy for their action-packed stays, can be ordered around the clock.
Amirandes hotel is on the coast of Crete, the largest of Greece’s many islands, in the eastern Med and southern Aegean Sea. It is close to both the international airport in Heraklion and Knossos, the archaeological site and seat of King Minos.
The island’s main air hub, Heraklion (www.heraklionairport.net), is 18 kilometres (20 minutes' drive) from the Amirandes. Olympic Air (www.olympicair.com) and Aegean Airlines (www.aegeanairlines.com) operate services from Athens and other Greek destinations, including Thessaloniki and Rhodes. In summer, charter and scheduled flights arrive from all over Europe.
Pick up a hire car at Heraklion if you want to spend your time exploring the island. Avis has a desk at the airport (www.avis.com). There’s free parking when you arrive. The resort has plenty to keep you entertained, however – so it may be best to request a transfer and then use the hotel's taxi service instead. If you do drive from the airport, follow the main exit, signposted ‘Nikolaos Kazatzakis’ towards the National Road. After the bridge, take the ramp onto Route 90/E75 for Agios Nikolaos Drive and pass through Kato Gouves to get to the hotel. To get into the centre of Heraklion, allow half an hour.
Superfast ferries set sail from Athens (Piraeus) to the port in Heraklion, 20 minutes away by car from the hotel (www.ferries.gr). Hellenic Seaways will transport you from Santorini and Mykonos (www.hellenicseaways.gr).
Worth getting out of bed for
Amirandes' location near Crete's capital Heraklion puts a world of wonders at your disposal: one look at Crete's landscape and it’s clear why it’s the stuff of family-holiday legend. Beyond the family-friendly waterparks, there are milk-white beaches, sun-drenched canyons, deep gorges, verdant olive groves, wild flowers, ancient towns and hilltop villages. Minoan palaces, Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries vie for attention, and the ruins at Knossos, Malia, Zakros and Phaistos will fire the imaginations of your young historians.
Nearby Heraklion has plenty to make it worth a day trip. Knossos, the famed Minoan palace, was inhabited as far back as 7BC; the most famous resident of its labyrinthine walls was the Minotaur. Be sure the whole family is in sensible shoes and has sun protection: the ruins can get a little rocky.
On Heraklion's High Street, authentic Greek eatery Taverna Filoxenia (+30 28970 42350) serves up souvlaki in a no-frills setting, but you will be charmed by the warmth of the staff, and impressed by the simple, homely food. There’s a play area for kids, as well as a special menu, mocktails and some life-size teddies as dining companions.
A 10-minute drive east from Amirandes in Anissaras, the hotel restaurant at Paradise Island Villas (+30 28970 2289) turns out specialities including freshly grilled fish (whatever catch comes in that day) and locally reared lamb; there are weekly poolside barbecues in season. There’s a children’s menu, highchairs, and staff will be more than happy to heat up baby milk or food.
The island’s biggest waterpark, Water City is a crazy land of lazy rivers, slides and games, including giant chess and water polo. Bouncy-castle fans will worship the entirely inflatable playground; tots under 90cm go free. It is busy.
The hotel’s farm is worth a trip to for its romantic setting: the traditional estate overlooks acres of vineyards and olive groves, with the sea in the distance. Tuck the kids up, then head over for a six-course organic feast.