Hidden away in the Peloponnese The Westin Resort Costa Navarino waits on the quiet Ionian sea coast line. To get to the resort a short drive from the airport along beautiful windy mountainous roads lined with jasmine and lavender that cut through groves of Olive Trees help shake off the post flight fog you before you’ve even arrived.
The resort was the vision of Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos, a local businessman and shipping merchant who wanted to create something personal, sustainable and authentic of Messinian culture in his hometown. Genuine and Authentic are two words that are banded around heavily at Costa Navarino and with good reason too. The resort’s architectural design is influenced by the area, the resort works with local producers to provide the ingredients for its dishes, it uses the olive oil developed in the area (for which Kalamata is most famous for) and employs locals to work within the complex.
Let's talk about the apartment...
The apartments are large, two bathrooms, lounge area, king-size bed and boast a deep standalone bathtub. Pure delight and that’s before we even clocked the balconies. The balconies lead off from the lounge area and seperate bedroom giving impressive views of the mountains and sea. The view even inspired me to get up extra early to watch the sunrise as it came up over the mountains. The design of the rooms are inspired by old Messinian mansions using natural stone and local design to compliment the nearby beach and hilly landscape. Every design feature in the resort has its place and feels like it ebbs and flows with the natural environment.
What's the bar and restaurant sitch?
We started evenings with cocktails at the hotel bar 1857 and were obsessed with the Hisbiscus Kiss. Working up a hunger in the bar meant it was food time. Within an easy walk from the bar there are 21 on site restaurants ranging from Lebanese, traditional Greek to Japanese. We were a fan favourite of Kafeneo for lunch (serving wraps and delicious Greek salads) and Da Luigi for dinner (serving traditional Italian food).
The Da Luigi kitchen served up pastas, risottos, ravioli and endless cheese dishes with wine that had us feeling so full and satisfied that we felt brave enough to handle Grappa and Tsipouro shots post dinner. This intensely strong distilled spirit is not for the fainthearted, it warms the chest and sent shivers along my arms. It’s the perfect, refreshing (if not burning) palate cleanser for the post meal sleepy slump.
Okay, those cocktail were great, recovery?
A hangover cure is needed. A buffet breakfast is served up at the Morias restaurant every morning. We’re talking world breakfast here, cereals, full fry-ups, fruit, pastries, yoghurts, the works. You can sit out on the deck to dine whilst tiny birds flutter nearby and around you like the beginnings of a twee Disney film (we’re looking at you Cinders). If this is all a bit too much nature whilst you are on your fourth round at the buffet, a falcon is lead around the dining area to ward off the tiny pests. Personally I found this a bit excessive but after being allowed to stroke the falcon…TINY BIRDS BE GONE.
I'm in the mood for some exercise, what's the plan?
After filling up on one too many bowls of fruit and yoghurt (bacon and eggs) its time to burn off some of that fuel. Costa Navarino is famous for its two golf courses where you can pluck figs and oranges straight off the trees to eat as you better that handicap. If golf doesn’t quite swing your club then there is plenty more to do to work off those cals. The facilities include a gym with intermediate classes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as outdoor adventure activities. I went all in for bike trekking. The trek lead from the resort and through the local sleepy village of Romanos, down the winding roads of Olive Trees to the beautiful Voidokilia beach. The beach is an open bay with crystal clear waters with mountains surrounding it to create a perfect private space. I couldn’t resist a dip, regardless of the fact that towels had been forgotten meaning the cycle back to the resort was more fly like the wind than a meander through the groves.
Another great part to the activities and facilities onsite is that you can hire New Balance kit (in case you left yours conveniently at home) to use whilst you stay at the hotel. We were using this chic lending service as a way to replace horror memories of the dreaded PE kit box at school. *shudder*
Best way to chill?
After all that strenuous exercise its time for some deep relaxation at the Anazoe Spa. At the Spa a range of hot and cold steam rooms and pools await. We had a float in the sea salt pools followed by a massage. Massage techniques and philosophy are taken from the work of the Greek physician Hippocrates. We went for the Healing Massage, which combined soft tissue therapies with ancient Greek physiotherapy and aromatherapy, the aim of which was to ‘balance the body’s energy and give renewed vitality.’
Cocktails, bars and spa treatments all accounted for. Let's have some fun...
After all the food, cocktails and yoga classes we embraced our inner child and get down to the 50s diner on site to go bowling. After realising there were getting more gutter balls than hit pins we pushed through the crushing defeats with classic thick shakes whilst trying to avoid the ice cream brain freeze. Aside from the bowling family activities include a cinema, water parks and activities curated especially for kids to keep them entertained.
On the final day and getting ready to leave the resort after all the mountains of food, endless cocktails and suprising exercise, the only question I had was, “Do I really have to go back to London?”
Okay so how do we book?
British Airways started flying the new route to Kalamata on April 30 2016.
Kalamata - British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the 5* The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, from £1299 per person, travelling July 1 - July 31 & September 1 – September 17. Includes Euro Traveller return flights from London Heathrow and accommodation with breakfast. Book by June 30. For reservations visit ba.com/kalamata or call 0344 493 0125.