Lesante Cape Resort & Villas invites mostly passive – nay, horizontal – participation. After all, it hardly requires a Sisyphean effort to receive a full-body massage in the spa, hang out in the hammam, dip your toes in the Ionian’s warm waters or admire heat-hazed views of Kefalonia from the infinity pool. Sunsets that set the sky on fire at Fiore may finally get you to sit up and pay attention, as smartly turned-out waiters deliver fine Mediterranean dishes to terrace tables that seem to levitate over the ocean.
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A bottle of wine, fruits and sweets; GoldSmiths also get 15% off spa treatments
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm. The resort always tries to be as flexible as possible on check-in. If not possible, guests are welcome to use all of the facilities while they wait (including the spa changing room). Check-out can normally be extended to 1pm.
Double rooms from £299.59 (€349), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include a buffet breakfast in Elea Restaurant, including fresh breads, cakes and pastries, fruit from the orchard and invigorating Greek coffee.
Learn how to knock up a traditional Zakynthian lunch with the chef at Taverna. You even get to pick your own organic ingredients from the garden and orchards. Don’t forget an apple for the teacher.
Closed October to April.
At the hotel
Three pools, spa, gym, private beach (bags and towels provided), four restaurants, two bars and a cafe, kids’ club, free WiFi. In rooms: 55” LCD TV, Nespresso coffee machine, minibar, bluetooth docking station, Zealots of Nature toiletries, bathrobes and slippers.
Our favourite rooms
If you’re going big, you may as well go absolutely huge. The three-bed Cape Villa is the resort behemoth: 400 square metres of space promising all the privacy of a family villa vacation with the added bells and whistles you’d expect from a luxury resort. Here, stately arches frame vistas of lush hillside flora and the deep turquoise of the Ionian, honey-coloured stone walls run the length of the garden and vine-festooned wooden awnings provide occasional shade from the Greek sun. Rustle up a quick squid-and-saffron risotto in the kitchen or kick back with a mimosa in your private pool while a chef arrive to do the hard work for you.
The resort’s three outdoor pools overlook the Ionian and are open 9am–6pm daily. There’s a separate pool for infants and toddlers and older kids are permitted in two of the three main pools, one of which has a swim-up bar.
Armonia Wellness & Spa is the place for a full-body pummelling or equally invigorating facial using luxury Ariadne Athens skincare products. There’s a traditional sauna, a hammam, a hot tub, and an additional indoor pool. The state-of-the-art gym is open 24/7.
The beach at Lesante Cape Resort & Villas is lovely, but a little rocky. Bring reef shoes for the kids to avoid cuts and bruises and (hopefully) give you half an hour’s respite to lose yourself in a copy of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the classic Louis de Bernières novel set on neighbouring Kefalonia.
Hit the beach early to nab a sunbed and dip your toes in the water. It’s accessible down a flight of around 40 steps and great for snorkelling. Back on dry land, there’s a small court for playing paddle tennis; equipment can be borrowed from reception.
Mini Smiths are well catered for here. There’s a free kids’ club for ages 4-11 that runs daily from 10am-6pm and a games room to keep teens out of trouble. The playground and dedicated pool (max depth: 30 centimetres) are manna for parents with toddlers.
Ages toddler to teen, thanks to playgrounds, playrooms, kids’ clubs and child-friendly pools.
Family suites are comprised of two Signature suites with connecting doors, and can comfortably sleep families of up to six. Patio doors out to the pool can be locked on the kids’ side for peace of mind.
The free-of-charge kids’ club runs daily from 10am-6pm, keeping children aged 4–11 occupied with indoor activities including crafting, board games and musical instruments. There’s a games room for teens and a playground with swings, slides, seesaws and more for toddlers.
There’s a dedicated pool for babies and toddlers and older kids are welcome in two out of the three main pools.
Available on request with advance notice of one week. Costs start at €30 hourly.
No need to pack
There are plentiful materials for drawing, crafting and colouring here, so no need to stuff your suitcase with crayons before you leave.
Kit for the paddle tennis court is available at reception.
Designed in traditional Zakynthian style and built using locally sourced natural materials, Lesante Cape Resort & Villas takes its sustainability responsibilities seriously – to the extent that over 400 native olive trees were gently uprooted during the build then painstakingly replanted afterwards. The fish in the resort’s restaurants is supplied by local fisherman who’ve been plying their trade on these shores for years, and fragrant herbs, vine-ripe tomatoes and fat, juicy olives come straight from the resort’s organic garden, groves and orchards. Further eco-friendly touches include solar panels that make the best of the Greek sunshine and the use of biodegradable materials in place of plastic wherever possible.
There are plenty of great sunset-viewing spots around the resort, but none that compare to the terrace at Fiore, which protrudes right out over the cliff edge. Bookings for these tables are advised.
Bright white swimwear for flaunting your tan by the pool; smart summery linens and floaty maxi dresses for dinner at Fiore; dancing shoes for lively evenings at the taverna on the square.
Main restaurant Elea is open for breakfast and dinner daily. Late risers rejoice: the breakfast buffet stays open until a leisurely 11am, serving up Greek yoghurt, local honey, fruit plucked from the orchards and stacks of freshly baked breads and pastries. The invigorating qualities of the strong Greek coffee here are second only to those epic views out across the Ionian to Kefalonia.
The grilled sea bass, sardines and octopus at Novita are served so fresh you can wave to the departing boat of the fisherman who caught it as you shovel in your first forkful. Meanwhile, romantic Fiore promises fine Mediterranean cuisine with a side order of stellar sunsets and a terrace that seems almost to float above the waves.
The traditional village square is where it’s at for classic taverna-style dining at the aptly-named… Taverna. Here on the cobbled piazza is also where you’ll find Kafeneio, a cute cafe where death by coffee and baklava seems a distinct (but by no means unpleasant) possibility.
Honey-toned stone walls, proud Zakynthian arches, a signature Euthymia cocktail that fuses tequila, lime, strawberry, cucumber, watermelon and mint: Noble Lounge Bar has it all. Prop up the polished marble bar, or grab a nearby table with – yes – more fine views overlooking the Ionian.
Lobby bar Noble is open for drinks and cocktails from 6pm until 2am.
The journey to Lesante Cape Resort & Villas, a remote beach retreat near Akrotiri village on the east coast of Zakynthos, is a Greek odyssey worth making. Your reward: balmy Ionian breezes, swoonsome sunsets and endless sea views.
You may well feel like you’ve left civilisation far behind out here in the Zakynthian countryside. In fact, Lesante Cape Resort & Villas is a mere six miles from Zakynthos Airport, around a 20-minute drive. The resort can arrange taxis on request.
While there’s plenty to keep you occupied in the resort, those who yearn to explore the cape’s magnificent beaches and indulge in long retsina-fuelled lunches in traditional hillside villages will need their own set of wheels (and a designated driver, natch). There’s free valet parking at the resort.
Island-hoppers rejoice… Zakynthos is well-connected to other Ionian islands via ferries to Kefalonia and the mainland ports of Igoumenitsa and Kyllini. The drive from Kyllini to Athens Airport is around three and a half hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
In the highly unlikely event you tire of rolling out of bed and straight into the spa or infinity pool, there’s plenty more entertainment to be squeezed from this apparently sleepy stretch of Zakynthos’ east coast.
Despite its distinctly laid back vibe, Lesante Cape Resort & Villas is no slouch when it comes to organising activities both on site and off. Day trips aboard one of the resort’s fleet of private yachts are a fine way to see the sights without wearing holes in your flip-flops. Shipwreck Beach is one of the island's most beautiful and secluded coves. Accessible only by boat (carefully: the clue’s in the name) and with fine, clear waters for snorkelling, it’s a postcard image of cerulean seas, bone-white sands and chalky cliffs topped with lush green vegetation. Bang in the middle of the beach sits one of Zakynthos’ most photographed attractions: the rusting hull of the MV Panagiotis cargo ship, scuttled here back in 1980. For something a little less touristy, Marathonisi island promises tiny deserted beaches and sunlit caves.
Landlubbers can borrow bicycles for exploring the nearby countryside and its remote villages, such as the nearby village of Akrotiri and, just a little further down the coast, the island’s capital: Zakynthos (or Zante) Town. It’s here you’ll find the highest concentration of historical attractions, despite much of the town being laid waste by the Great Ionian Earthquake back in 1953. Belt out the Greek national anthem on Dionysios Solomos Square at the foot of the statue of the man who wrote it and check out altar panels and frescoes salvaged from church ruins in the wake of the earthquake at the nearby Byzantine Museum.
Back at the resort, further activities including olive picking, wine tasting and cookery classes – using produce plucked from the garden by your own fair hands, no less – will inspire plenty of purple prose for your postcards home.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that days spent staring at broadly similar sea views might eventually leave you feeling jaded. Restaurateurs the length and breadth of the east coast of Zakynthos know otherwise though, and it’s a rum eatery indeed that doesn’t gleefully trade on those uninterrupted Ionian vistas. Bassia in nearby Akrotiri is a case in point. One of a mere handful of tavernas in this pocket-sized hillside village, it serves fine local dishes like shrimp and langoustine orzotto, swordfish souvlaki and rabbit with fries in a leafy courtyard overlooking the sea. Over in Bochali, hip Movida ups the ante further still, perched as it is atop a hill, looking down across the glittering lights of Zakynthos Town to the boat-filled harbour and… well, you get the general idea. Try grilled octopus, spaghetti alle vongole and a refreshing lychee cocktail for the win.
Tucked away in Zakynthos’ San Marco square, San Marco Cafe Kitchen Bar & Terrace welcomes all through its grand crittall-esque doors to spend the evening sipping a signature cocktail and soaking up views across that ubiquitous turquoise sea.
Brace yourself: there are – gasp! – no sea views at all to be had at 34 on Dionysios Solomos Square. But what it lacks in watery vistas, it more than makes up for in fine liquid refreshment and conviviality. Expect mezze, cocktails and ice-cold draught beers at this local favourite.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury cliff-top resort in Zakynthos, unpacked their gallon of extra-virgin olive oil and cracked out the ouzo, a full account of their break in the Ionians will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Lesante Cape Resort & Villas in Zakynthos…
The first thing that strikes you about this luxury village resort is just how authentic it feels, all honeyed stone, red pantile rooftops, whitewashed walls, and swoon-worthy archways like portals to paradise. Much of the action centres around a lively cobbled piazza where guests chat over Greek coffee as children chase each other around the 400-year-old olive tree. There’s a traditional taverna here, too, as well as a boutique and a small folklore museum.
The Ionian’s startling blues can be glimpsed from almost every part of the resort, including most of the guest accommodation. Plush suites and villas couple that signature Zakynthian authenticity – natural woods, exposed beams, tactile fabrics – with modern luxuries including supersize LCD TVs and organic Zealots of Nature toiletries. Plush sea-facing villas up the stakes with decadent outdoor hot tubs and family-sized private pools.