I am racking up miles on a water rower overlooking a quiet Cretan bay. It is only 7 am, but the warm September sun is already shining through the palm trees and the smells of breakfast are spreading across the gym terrace from the restaurant next door.
Before my morning omelette, though, a revitalizing dip in the sea to start the new day – or “noruz” as they call it here at Domes Noruz Chania (Noruz literally means “new day”), a sexy five-star adults-only resort in the awarded Domes Resorts & Reserves, one of the fastest growing luxury hospitality groups in Greece.
The group is known for its collection of sophisticated, award-winning hotels, and design, wellness and design are the real USPs here. The boutique resort is an architectural haven, with stunning two-story rooms that feel closer to private villas thanks to their private pools, jacuzzis, and hammocks overlooking the turquoise Aegean waters. Wellness offerings include fitness packages, juice bar, beachside yoga, outdoor exercise sessions, and an underground spa that uses local herbs.
From the Cretan-inspired spa to sunset dinners accompanied by a live violin, here’s what to expect.
In a quiet little street off the main road between Chania and Kissamos, in the middle of a small quiet bay (not private). The main strip isn’t exactly worth writing home, but it serves the essentials, with a few basic restaurants and supermarkets within a five-minute walk of the hotel. Zygos Grill might look modest from the outside, but its charming Greek owner serves traditional pork and chicken gyros for under 4 euros (yes, they’re full size and delicious) – grab one and bring it to St. Apostle’s Orthodox Church yes overlook the bay and watch the sunset behind the mountains.
Crete Chania Airport is only 30 minutes by car and Chania city center is only 15 minutes away (take bus number 21 or ask for a taxi at the hotel). Drop by for dinner one evening and stroll through the bustling old town and Venetian marina with an ice cream.
Entering the main atrium you might think you have entered a spa: calm staff in white angel-like robes, arched ceilings inspired by the island’s Byzantine churches, a “wellness drink” with sage and lemon presented to guests on arrival.
The hotel is all about its architecture and there is an adult and sophisticated vibe. You won’t get noisy revelers or kids bombing the pool; instead you’ll get an adults-only Zen experience with a focus on wellness and design. There is striking architecture throughout, with bold domed stone buildings and fun artistic features including rocking seats in the restaurant, hammocks on some private terraces, and elegant call buttons next to the sun loungers.
The main pool is made up of Mylopetra, a porous element found only in Crete, which looks like sand at your feet and apparently “transmits the energy of the island as it changes color throughout the day, reflecting the playful sky”.
Other local touches include charming patches of Greek white and blue around the hotel and matis (Greek evil eyes) as a parting gift, symbolizing good luck.
All 83 rooms are sleek, modern, and chic on the beach, with domed ceilings, blue, white, and wood furniture, and funky details like sinks sunk into a bar table in the middle of the bedroom.
There’s a minibar in each, as well as a Nespresso machine and plenty of mirrors, but the main USP is your own private terrace. Each room has sliding doors opening onto an outdoor seating area, with plunge pool, outdoor jacuzzi or outdoor bath. You can adjust the wooden screens at the far end depending on how much privacy you want (many look directly at the main pool, so be careful to undress).
The rooms come in six categories (some rooms, some suites) and are grouped around the two main pools, and those with balconies overlook the sea or the pool, so you’ll always have a view of the water. Choose a Sublime Loft room for maximum privacy: it is set over two floors, with a large balcony, a hammock overlooking the sea and windows that peep into the sky above the bed to watch the sunset.
Octopus macaroni, lamb souvlaki with hmummus and roasted aubergines, lobster with traditional “peponaki”. These are just some of the highlights of the a la carte evening menu at Domes’ main restaurant, Topos, which serves neo-Greek seafood awarded by executive chef Dionysios Pliatsikas. The wine list includes 160 labels and dinner is accompanied by a live violinist on Friday evenings. He chooses a swing with a sea view and make sure you are there for the sunset.
Next to the pool you’ll find the Raw Bar, serving burgers and wraps during the day and sushi and cocktails accompanied by a DJ after dark. There is also N Bar in the lobby, which serves bespoke sundowners “just for you”.
The breakfast is buffet style, with all the usual basic foods, from fresh fruit to Greek yogurts, cheeses and meat dishes. There’s a honeycomb wall if you’re craving fresh honey, a custom omelet station, and a huge range of breakfast desserts, from red velvet cakes to baklava. Newspapers are available while you eat, or there’s sparkling wine on offer if you’re craving a more alcoholic breakfast vibe.
Each sunbed has a QR code next to it if you want to order food or drinks between meals. If you’re really lucky, the staff will deliver fresh watermelon to your sunbed throughout the day.
Domes’ main highlight is its trio of pools: two outdoors (one in a “quiet zone”, the other with a swim-up bar and relaxing DJ sets in the evenings), plus one in the spa. You’ll be spoiled for choice of lounge areas, with loungers around the pools and on the beach, bean bags on the lawn behind the beach if you don’t want to go to the sand, and day beds on your private terrace as well. Fresh towels are provided at various points around the hotel.
Many guests come for the Soma Spa, and like many major hotels, it’s all underground, with a jacuzzi next to the pool and a body scrub area to use afterwards. There’s also a huge range of wellness drinks and snacks to munch on while you’re down there.
The spa’s menu includes face and body treatments with Elemis products and local Cretan herbs from the island. Highlights include a 60-minute relaxing massage with CBD, a modeling and draining massage to eliminate cellulite, a masculine anti-aging facial and a customized Haute Couture facial for the face, neck and décolleté. A Theragun can be added to massages for an additional 10 euros.
There’s also an indoor fitness room, morning and afternoon yoga sessions, and an outdoor gym overlooking the bay, complete with treadmills, exercise bikes, weights, and a water rowing machine. The Aegean Sea is only 10 steps away from the main restaurant (the hotel is in the middle of a bay, so the water is calm, especially in the morning).
Choose a package if you intend to make the resort’s wellness services the centerpiece of your trip: the € 350 fitness package includes daily hot buffet breakfast, spa, PT, jogging and yoga sessions, and afternoon bike rental; while the € 400 “eat well, feel good” gourmet package includes everything from champagne brunches to a meal out at one of Chania’s best restaurants.
What on Instagram
The view of the bay from your private pool.
Couples looking for a healthy adult vacation without the kids.
How to get there
Flights are less than four hours from London to Crete Chania Airport. It’s just a 30 minute transfer to the other side.
When do I have to go?
Between April and October. Temperatures reach the 1930s in June and July, but an off-season trip to one of the quieter ends of summer is ideal if you want to avoid the crowds (or have a tendency to burn). The advantage of a September vacation is that it is still warm enough to tan and swim in the sea, but you won’t have a booby on your way to dinner. We barely saw a cloud in six days.
Try the sister hotel resorts in Crete – Domes Zeen Chania and Domes of Elounda – if you can’t get a reservation.
Rooms from £ 169 (for an upbeat retreat with a private pool), Strati Pantelaki 5, Agioi Apostoloi, Chania, Greece 73 100, domesresorts.com