Passion Points: Family
The big buzz in Greece this summer, especially among golfers, has been about the new Starwood resort project on the Costa Navarino, which includes a Luxury Collection resort called Romanos and a Westin. With a stunning site overlooking the Ionian Sea and Greece’s first 18-hole championship golf course with magnificent sea and river views designed by U.S. Masters Champion and Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer, it is sure to lure sportsmen from around Europe.
The smaller, more luxury hotel called Romanos opened at the end of May and the adjoining Westin opened its doors in July. Drawing on the nearby ruins of Nestor’s Palace, Romanos features marble clad structures and ancient architectural motifs. There’s a wonderful taverna with tables featuring individual grills for private barbecue meals. The massive pool area has been surrounded by 100-year-old olive trees that were uprooted from the area and kept in a nursery for two years before being replanted. The best of the 321 rooms are the villa suites that face the sandy beach, but even in these you will be aware that you are part of a very large hotel. The Westin, which has close to 450 rooms, offers an even less intimate feeling, but for families who care more about constant entertainment than an old-fashioned Greek island experience, they will find everything from indoor basketball, badminton and squash courts to an onsite water park and outdoor movie complex.
In surrounding area, you can explore medieval castles, Byzantine churches, ruins from the Mycenaean era, and UNESCO sites such as Olympia, Mystras and the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, as well as Ancient Messini. Resort closes October 10, 2010 to May 1, 2011.
Getting there: Most guests fly to Kalamata and then drive one hour, but when a major road project is finished, the driving time from Athens should be cut to less than three hours.
Best rooms: Those on villa row, which are closest to the beach and farthest from the hive of activity around the lobby areas. The three-bedroom Presidential Villa has the best views and location.
Bottom line: While the press is touting this as Greece’s most luxurious hotel, remember it is a mega-resort, which means there are lots of activities and onsite options (multiple restaurants, pools, spa and shops) but there’s not a lot of charm or soul.
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