It’s not often that one has the chance to be the very first person to stay in a new hotel, but that was the surprise which awaited me on the Mediterranean island of Crete.
I’d accepted an invitation by Travel Massive Crete (a trade group of hospitality professionals) to explore the Greek island in the spring. Because of an airline mistake, I’d missed my fight connection in London, and I arrived at Chania long after everyone else in my group. I hopped in a cab and told the driver to take me to my pre-assigned lodging, the Ariston in the Chania suburb of Platanias.
I didn’t know then, but the hotel wasn’t yet open (and didn’t appear on the cabbie’s GPS). The driver, however, was a pro — and after lots of questions shouted out the cab window at locals along the way — got me to the construction-blockaded front door. The manager saw my arrival and rushed out to greet me, assuring me that my room was ready even if the entire hotel was not.
Soon I was ensconced in a luxurious room where the most astonishing amenity was the view from the balcony. Out my window was the Mediterranean. Miles and miles and miles of white sandy beach lapped by the bluest sea on earth. Somehow I wasn’t entirely sorry I’d missed the opening reception when I had such a splendid vista all to myself.
The Ariston has just 13 suites, each 40 meters square (about 431 square feet). I was the first guest to sleep in the comfy king-sized bed and splash in the elegant bathtub. The WiFi was in working order, and the coffee maker in place. The decorative details were yet to arrive, but the blackout curtains were hung — not that I ever closed them.
The next day, while our group went off exploring the island, a crew of workers hammered and painted and laid tile — putting finishing touches on the hotel (which, of course, is now complete). I could see that guests would soon have a pool (along with the beach). A spa and restaurant also are in place, as is an eclectic collection of books guests can borrow from the lobby library. There’s a Turkish bath, massage room and gym.
Suites are about $200 per night; you can make reservations on the hotel site.
The hotel is not far from the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete. Although the eatery wasn’t open when I was there, I’ve learned that the Olive Tree restaurant at the hotel relies on herbs and fruit from the gardens (seen below) as part of its emphasis on local sources and indigenous cuisine.
(Photos courtesy of the Platanias Ariston and by Susan McKee, whose stay was hosted by Travel Massive Crete)