Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas in Crete is an ideal getaway for families, with its own sandy beach and spacious villas cut into a craggy cliff overlooking Daios bay. Splash around in one of the 129 private saltwater plunge pools; with four restaurants, a glittering spa and a choice of aquatic activities for Smith Junior (even your four-year-old can learn to waterski), water babies won’t want to leave…
Get this when you book through us:
Champagne on arrival; one free neck and back massage an adult, each stay; for stays of five nights, two hours' babysitting
A total of 300, including 41 suites and 38 villas.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £343.50 (€406), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include generous breakfast (buffet and American); the half-board rate includes buffet breakfast and dinner, or you can use your €20 meal allowance (€10 for children) in the a la carte restaurants.
If you’re staying in a suite or villa, you’ll automatically be a member of the hotel's Premium All Inclusive Club. The club includes daily breakfast service, daily lunches and dinners, unlimited drinks and signature cocktails from the bars, one bottle of wine from the specially selected list with every lunch and dinner, free 24-hour room service and minibar spirits. Little Smiths will get a welcome gift and unlimited ice-cream, soft drinks and healthy juices at the pool and beach bar.
At the hotel
Private beach, watersports, scuba diving centre, sailing and motor yacht rental, spa, yoga, swimming pools, tennis courts, gym, gardens, four restaurants, two bars, crèche, kids club, hairdressers, beauty studio, boutique, DVD library, guest computers, WiFi throughout. In rooms: Flatscreen TV, radio, iPod dock, WiFi, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, slippers, bathrobes, Apivita bath products. Villa residents get a host of extras: an allocation of sun loungers and a gift (water and fruit) at the beach, a bucket and spade for little ones, goggles for older ones, preferential bookings at the spa and restaurant, a pillow and aroma menu (with six choices), and a 100ml bottle of olive oil to take home.
Our favourite rooms
Fancy a private pool? Book a two- or three-bedroom Family Villa, which will also be kitted out with bottle sterilisers, children's crockery and cutlery, cots, baby monitors, a pushchair, a highchair, a changing mat, a potty, a toilet seat for tots, stair gates and pool gates. The Standard rooms are big enough to fit a cot and have a pretty, sunny terrace or balcony; active types will like the Wellness Villas, which have a Finnish sauna, Technogym treadmill and oversized round bath tub. It’s worth noting that the higher the floor, the windier the balconies are. Rooms in the 100s benefit from all-day sun (when it’s sunny, that is).
The glittering saltwater infinity pool surveys the bay and is heated to 25°C year-round: if you tire of notching up laps, you can slope off down to the sandy, child-friendly beach. Private pools can be fitted with pool fencing on request (pools in Family Villas are already gated); private pools can also be heated to 25°C (€79 a day in suites, free in villas) on request, if you want warmer waters.
The glamorous spa has bright blue ceilings, sleek wooden furniture and a tempting spa menu whose treatments feature salt crystals, essential oils, fruit extracts and ‘pearl essence’. There’s an indoor saltwater infinity pool with sea views, a second pool with hydro jets, a Finnish sauna, chromotherapy showers, a hairdresser’s and a beauty studio; both spa pools are adults-only. Book your treatments, hydrotherapy sessions and sauna time in advance.
Bring your binoculars for the ruins and your helicopter licence, so you can arrive in style at the hotel’s helipad. (The hotel also offers a private jet and helicopter service and has a fleet of limousines and chauffeurs.)
Any of the spa's treatments can also be enjoyed from the privacy of your room or villa.
Cots are free for under-2s; one extra bed (for under-12s) can be added to most rooms for free – a second bed is charged at 70 per cent of the room rate for each guest. Use of the kids club (4–11-year-olds) is free.
Kids of all ages.
The two- or three-bedroom Family Villas each have a private pool and come kitted out with all the parental paraphernalia you could possibly need.
Please note, due to Covid-19 precautions, the crèche is closed for the foreseeable future. The Daios Cove Crèche looks after little ones from four months to four years and is open for morning and afternoon sessions, six days a week (seven in July and August). It's run by a UK company, and all nursery staff are qualified and trained to UK regulatory standards. The crèche has an indoor area stocked with toys and games. There’s also a schedule of organised activities and games, including collage-making and toy races. A little outdoors area with a soft surface is set aside for alfresco games. Prices start at €32 a session. If there’s enough staff to look after children one-on-one, babies will be taken to the pool for a swimming session.
The Daios Kids Club is for children aged 4–11; it stays open during the same times as the crèche and kids can use it for free. Activities on offer include cookery classes, face painting, mini Greek lessons (a word of the day) or supervised beach trips. Teenagers get their own special area with billiards and air hockey. Staff organise treasure hunts and tennis lessons; one of the tennis courts is sometimes used for five-aside football.
A big draw for parents, the private sandy beach isn't huge but leads into calm, shallow waters of a dazzling hue. There are loungers, umbrellas and beach towels aplenty, and a little beach bar for drinks and snacks (or just wave an arm from your lounger, and a honey mango margarita will be in your hands faster than you can say 'Here's to a happy holiday').
The hotel’s water sports facilities are hard to rival: if you’re 8+, you can have diving lessons; water-skiing lessons can be arranged for four-year-olds and above; laser sailing is available for 10+; there’s wind-surfing for the over-16s. Little ones aged four-plus can board an inflatable banana boat that’s whooshed across the waves by a motorboat. Yogis can sign up to hatha yoga and pilates; there’s also a personal trainer to keep guests in shape: classes include Anti-Cellulite, Body Sculpt, Fitball training, Abs & Legs, Aquagym and Aerobic Hi-low.
Kids are welcome at the main pool (though it’s unsupervised); there’s also a special kids' pool for little ones. Private pools can be fitted with pool fencing on request (pools in Family Villas are already gated); private pools can also be heated to 25°C.
Highchairs are provided at all three restaurants, and staff will happily heat up milk, provide packed lunches, or ask the chefs to modify menu items according to little ones’ tastes. A kids’ buffet (six daily-changing dishes, with past choices including Margarita pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, soup, fish steak, steamed vegetables and Greek salad) is available at Pangaea between 6pm and 7pm (if you’ve left your ankle-biters at the kids club, staff will shepherd them across). The restaurant also has an à la carte menu, with simple options: mini caprese salad, tomato soup, grilled chicken with chips and salad, apple tart and ice cream.
Sitters can also watch your children at the kids club in the evening from 7pm until 9.30pm. For an extra €10 a child, they’ll also provide dinner.
Further afield, Crete is a great place for kids, thanks to its clean, sandy beaches and calm waters. There are plenty of places of cultural and archaeological interest – such as the Dikteon caves and Knossos – when you tire of days spent horizontal on the sand or ferrying shells around for sand castles.
Casual family meals are good at Pangaea, where the buffet spread is. As evening sets in, settle in by the fire pit at The Beach House.
Pangaea is the main restaurant, where buffets are served in a setting that’s perfumed with fresh flowers. There’s a pasta bar, salad bar and spread of meat, fish, vegetarian and sweet options. Taverna serves casual Greek and Mediterranean dishes, great salads and delicious seafood for lunch and dinner. For fine dining, there’s the smartly styled Ocean restaurant, which overlooks the pool and serves a creative Italian menu (dinner only) by a Michelin-starred chef. Try the catch of the day, fresh pasta or the delicious desserts. Rustic open-air restaurant the Beach House serves Mediterranean and Asian-fusion dishes from its beachfront cabanas. Signature dishes include soba noodles with salmon tartare and grilled tuna fillet with smoked aubergine purée; there's also a selection of refreshingly creative cocktails and freshly pressed juices.
Crystal Box overlooks the bay, and has a soundtrack of lounge music as a relaxed accompaniment to the champagne and cocktails served here. If guests get hungry, they can order from the bar menu, which includes piadas (thin Italian flatbreads), sandwiches and salads. Order refreshing cocktails straight to your sunlounger from the seafront Beach Bar, or snag a bar stool and snack on savoury nibbles while sipping your fruity drinks in the shade. Ocean Wet Bar, by the pool, is even more chilled, with drinks delivered directly to guests’ sun loungers. Athens-based cocktail crafters the Clumsies have dreamed up the Beach House's innovative cocktail menu, which includes the honey and basil-infused Cretan Smash and the gin-based Green Colada, with avocado, coconut and sage. A tropical soundtrack is provided by in-house DJ’s – chilled and breezy beats by day and house tunes after the sun sets. Children are allowed in all bar areas.
Breakfast is served between 7am and 10.30am in Pangaea; 8:30am–10:30am in Ocean restaurant. The Crystal Box serves drinks and food between 10am and 1am; the Taverna serves food from noon until midnight; the Ocean Bar and Beach Bar serve drinks and nibb
Order snacks and light mains – piadas, grilled vegetables, salami, rocket and parmesan salad, beef carpaccio, salmon with tarragon – around the clock. The children’s menu is also available as room service.
The hotel is perched by its own private cove in Vathi, near Agios Nikolaos, on Crete’s arid, rugged north-east coast.
The closest international airport is Heraklion, 75km away (a 50-minute drive) – Monarch and EasyJet run flights. Chania is 300km from the hotel (around a three-hour drive).
Driving in Crete is less stressful than driving on the Greek mainland, but be prepared for dirt roads and narrow bends on the south of the island. The hotel has plenty of free parking; a valet will take charge when you arrive at the top of the cliff. Agios Nikolaos, the nearest town, is a 12-minute drive from the hotel. If you’re driving from Heraklion airport, follow the signs to Agios Nikolaos for 70–75km. At the first traffic lights before Agios Nikolaos, turn right and follow signs to Ierapetra. Go straight on at the next set of traffic lights. After 10–12km, you’ll see a sign for the hotel on the left-hand side of the road; take the turning by the sign.
Alternatively, hop on the hotel’s posh minibus from the airport (€165 for up to five people, €200 for up to 19; book a week in advance). Or, fly into the hotel’s helipad.
Worth getting out of bed for
Aside from lazing on the sandy beach, splashing around in the 100-plus pools, and trying out the trio of restaurants, there's an indulgent spa, fitness suite and plenty of organised activities, including snorkelling and sailing. Outside the hotel, more of Crete's beautiful beaches beckon...
The Dikteon Andron caves at Psychro, Oropedio Lasithiou, are a stalactite-studded natural palace in the Lasithi Plateau consisting of upper and lower caverns, illuminated to flaunt their calcified wares. Said to be the birthplace of Zeus, over the years it has served as a site of worship, a burial chamber and a tourist attraction. (Little ones will need to be up to the steep 20-minute walk up to the cave.) Crete Golf Club(+30 28970 26000), the island’s only 18-hole course, is right on your doorstep, with a dramatic mountain backdrop and a PGA-approved layout. Practise at the driving range, or tee up a lesson to analyse your putting or swing. Mind-bogglingly old: that’s the chief reason to explore the temple ruins at Knossos, which date back up to 4,000 years. It’s where the minotaur was conceived (don’t ask) and it’s Crete’s biggest Minoan site, spanning 20,000sq m. And before you get too excited, those pillared temples and pretty mosaics are more recent additions, built to give a sense of the site’s former glory.