Despite discovering her quarantine fate while on the island, April Hutchinson says a trip to Crete was worth the ensuing 14-day isolation, and predicts that in these times of uncertainty, old favourites such as this could prove the most resilient options
I must apologise to Crete, it seems to have become an island I only seem to visit at uncertain times. The first time I went there, it was 2016. June 24th, to be precise. I was asleep on a friend’s sofa, before our early start together to Gatwick. She shook me awake when it was still dark. “We’re leaving!” She said. “I know – I’m getting up now.” “No,” she replied. “We’re LEAVING – the EU!” Cue much crazed shaking of our heads as we realised we were waking up in a country that no longer wanted to be part of Europe.
We made our way to the airport anyway, wandered around staring at everyone. We speculated on the flight as to who around us had voted which way. “Leaver. Remainer,” we would nod every time someone walked past us. Later that night, over dinner at the beautiful hotel, we continued the activity. It seemed a “remain” kind of resort, we decided. But we were still in shock, yet despite feeling our earth had been shaken, we tried to act normal.
And now, there is no “normal” any more. In post-referendum 2016, we went down to the chi-chi town of Elounda in search of some taverna action, to eat out among locals, and more importantly, check ATMs still actually worked and we could get Euros out (they did, we could). Fast forward four years though, and these days, I’m worried about even touching the keypad of an ATM, not just in Crete, but anywhere.
This time around, the resorts I’m headed to, Abaton Island Resort & Spa and Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa will do everything in their power to quash any uncertainty, and have absolutely dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s when it comes to new Covid protocols.
My sister and I arrived at Abaton – which only made its debut in 2018 – at dusk, and our driver takes us through the gated entry point, where a chap leans into the car and takes our temperature; we’re fine so far. And with most staff wearing visors, instead of cloth face coverings, we can see all their reassuring smiles as we enter the hotel.
There’s an instant serenity in the lobby, with vast white marble spaces, a view behind reception of the resort and ocean beyond. And we’re whisked to a comfy seating area for a private check-in and a glass of bubbles – even better, news reaches us that we are to stay in a villa, complete with butler service; ours is Nole Zivkovic. He wears a cloth mask, but it’s still very clear he’s always smiling and he whisks us away in a golf buggy to our two-storey home for three nights. The villa has its own pool, and more than enough space for my sister and I to start spreading out our ridiculous amount of shoes, clothes and toiletries… what can I say; we may have got overexcited with the packing.