What would you say if I told you there’s a resort full of style, luxury, and tranquility just a short flight from Israel, and that it’s also family-friendly? Yes, you’d be surprised. A vacation with the kids doesn’t have to mean lame poolside activities 😋
Up until two years ago, before COVID-19, Daniel and I would regularly kick off our summer vacation season at our favorite destination that combines local trips and lazing on the beach – Greece. We always looked for the most special, best-designed hotels that sent out the finest vibes, or in other words, for adults only.
Since COVID, many of the hotels in Greece have been renovated and redesigned, becoming adults-only rather than family-friendly… however, we’ve had a little Jasmine join our family since COVID started – our Gugi. So, instead of admiring the great assortment of new adults-only hotels, we started looking for alternatives – hotels that feel adult-only but are in fact family-friendly. And what do you know? While there aren’t many, if you look closely you’ll find wonderful things.
A new resort opened at the start of summer 2021, on the north shore of Crete, by the Panormos fishing village a 20-minute drive from Rethymno, where the traditional Cretan atmosphere meets modern luxurious hospitality. The Royal Senses is the first resort in Crete owned by the Hilton Group, more precisely the Curio Collection Group which has over 90 luxurious hotels and resorts worldwide. What can I say? It certainly feels like a whole other standard of resort.
Thanks to its strategic location on top of a hill on the slope of a mountain, the Royal Senses overlooks the endless horizon of the island’s northern blue coast, which guarantees dreamy scenery in all the resort’s rooms, especially the amazing infinity pools. So you’re probably wondering what makes this resort kid-friendly as well…? Let’s just say they’ve made sure there is a range of activities for all ages, as well as a great solution for parents who want to spend some quiet and relaxed time alone – details later 😉.
Let’s Cut to the Chase – Everything You Need to Know About the Resort
Arriving at the resort
Crete, famous for being surrounded by blue lagoons, green landscapes, and rich cuisine, is a popular vacation destination for all travelers, especially Israelis due to the short flight. If you’re planning on going with your baby, don’t miss out on my tips for flying with a baby. After landing at Heraklion Airport, Crete’s main airport, everything was quick and we exited to the car lot right across from the airport, where most of the car rental dealerships are. We booked our car in advance along with a baby booster (notice that you get those separately, and have to install them in the car yourself for insurance reasons), and then everything was ready and quick. The drive to the Royal Senses resort took about 50 minutes, and the road is very lovely during the daytime.
Need a reason to rent a car on vacation? Here are some photos from a short trip we did in Rethymno
Design and atmosphere
When I looked at pictures of the resort before getting there, it seemed too good to be true, but it surprisingly exceeded my expectations (not just in terms of precise design down to the smallest details, but in all aspects – more about that later).
From the floors to the walls and furniture, accessories, and even the aromas, you can tell that a lot of thought was put into every single detail, shaping the experience of those coming to the resort. Hotels at this level of finish and style that are also aimed at families with kids are quite rare.
Other than the large and impressive lobby, every spot in the hotel – the bars, restaurants, shops, pool, spa, and even the kids’ club – are designed to broadcast just one thing: a stylish good time.
One of the highlights of this resort, as far as I’m concerned, is the funicular – a kind of see-through cable car that allows you to casually move through the resort, as it’s built on the side of a mountain.
All the rooms, suites, and villas at the Royal Senses were planned and built, both agriculturally and design-wise, to smoothly integrate into the natural landscape of the area, in a way that guarantees you an uninterpreted view of the Aegean Sea’s endless blue, from any room you choose to stay in.
The rooms convey tranquility while using a calming neutral color pallet along with Cretan authenticity and contemporary design. Some of the rooms have terraces, others have personal lawns, and some villas even have a private pool – the choice obviously comes down to your budget and personal preference.
Pools and beach
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe the resort pools as perfect. There are a lot of them. The main ones – are two parallel stripes of infinity pools (one of them was even heated!) and tanning beds with super-thick and comfortable mattresses alongside palm trees and cultivated flora.
The spa complex has a lightly-heated indoor pool (entrance fee not included) as well as an outdoor pool with jacuzzi jets and amazing tanning beds by its side.
Other than these, there are also 3 kids’ pools: one next to the central pools, and 2 others in a special waterslide area – one for small children and the other for older youths (and adults, if you’re into it 😋).
While the resort doesn’t have its own private beach, there’s an option to go to the Royal Blue Hotel’s private beach, a 3-minute resort buggy drive from the Royal Senses. I don’t think it’s a great solution with a baby, since it’s too complicated and the beach is also paved in an exclusive Italian style which isn’t as fun for kids (though the beaches on Crete aren’t generally great for kids, most don’t have sand but rather tiny pebbles).
There’s no greater delight than the first walk through a quality resort’s breakfast buffet table, and that’s exactly the case at the Royal Senses. There’s an enormous range of food: fruits, vegetables, cheese, sausages, Greek dishes, eggs, and an assortment of desserts, completely exceeding our expectations. The dinner buffet is also great, and aside from the good food, the atmosphere at the resort’s main restaurant (especially the terrace overlooking the sunset) is simply excellent.
Besides the main restaurant where the buffet is served, there are a few other great restaurants and bars at the resort. We ate at MITATO, a gourmet grill restaurant with a Cretan twist, and it was great.
By the way, if you chose a villa with a private pool you can also order a floating breakfast at your pool, which is totally Instagram-worthy.
As I’ve told you before, the Royal Senses is a family-friendly hotel, but what makes it so great isn’t just that it’s luxuriously decorated and allows you to have a stylish family vacation… in case you were wondering: how can the sense of relaxation remain uninterrupted and preserved at the resort? This is thanks to the multitude of activities the resort has to offer children of all ages.
Other than the amazing waterslide compound we’ve already seen, the resort has a huge kids’ club that offers activities from 10 AM until 6 PM (straight!) and also serves a warn lunch for the kids inside the club, so parents can spend time at the pool or enjoy a pampering resort spa treatment without a care in the world.
You can leave kids ages 3 and up alone at the club; kids under the age of 3 can play with their parents or a babysitter – which leads me to another amazing service the resort has to offer!
A babysitting service – not just for nighttime but during the day! At a reasonable cost of 20 Euros per hour (the price increases when there’s more than one child), ordered a day in advance. You can guarantee that your vacation will be extra-quiet and relaxed – as if you brought your own au pair with you. Yes, this treat makes the vacation more expensive, but you know the saying: freedom is priceless 😉.
I only recently familiarized myself with the concept of a resort application for our trip to the Maldives, and I have to say it’s a great feature that adds to the comfort of the resort experience. The Royal Senses application is a kind of concierge at a press of a button; aside from having information about the area, the resort’s restaurants, bars and shops, you can also use it to make reservations for the resort’s spa and all its restaurants with a press of a button. Moreover, every guest at the resort has their own private area that acts like a calendar, where they have all the attractions and activities they’ve booked.
If you’re looking for a perfect location for a family vacation on a sunny island near Israel, you should check out the Royal Senses. With breathtaking design, amazing atmosphere, great food and attractions for both kids and adults, there’s no doubt that it’s a great resort for stylish families.
What do you think of The Royal Senses Resort?
I would love to hear in the comments 😘