We have found the perfect place for the Honeymoon, which is worthy to the gods of Greek mythology. The Abaton Island Resort & Spa in Crete is a perfect symbiosis of tradition and modernity, which has preserved its cultural authenticity.
Welcome to Abaton Island Resort & Spa. Its like traveling to the summer residence of the Greek gods of Olympus. I walk through the entrance doors in the Arabesque pattern. Due to the sunlight, they glow in a discreet golden color. A vast hall entirely in white is welcoming me. The wide sea and the bright blue sky, which can be seen in the background through the glass front, appear like a painting that seems to move.
We are on Crete, the birthplace of the God Zeus himself. For my next couple of days in this bathing paradise I will reside in: Room No. 101 with the magical sounding name Island Seafront Honeymoon Suite. A 50 m² luxury apartment with a 260 m² private garden including an always heated outdoor private pool and jacuzzi. The rooms are bright white, furnished with light-colored wooden furniture, mostly handmade in Indonesia. The headboard of my king-size bed is decorated with a mandala-like wooden decoration. The pillow carries my embroidered initials, which will be given to me when I leave!
Next to the bed, the bathtub is already in place for twosome hours. The decoration in the living room has a Greek-oriental touch. I open the glass terrace door. The light white cotton curtains blow in the wind and the sound of the sea penetrates the room. I sit on the sofa and look over my palace, this is what a Goddess must feel like. I like the fact that there is not a single door between the rooms. It’s a perfect, straightforward labyrinth for honeymooners.
My doorbell rings. A smartly dressed and very tall gentleman beams at me: “Hello, I hope everything is to your satisfaction! I am Nole, your personal butler for the coming days!” Nole is friendly, warm, but still authentic. He organizes my dinners, the breakfast in my suite and gives me great tips for my planned road trips. I do not have to worry about anything. I immediately feel like a goddess upon arrival. No – even better. I am treated like one.
I take a walk over the extensive grounds. Abaton, ancient Greek for inaccassible, holy, welcomes its guests from April to October. “The house is completely booked out”, owner Georgios Kaloutsakis, who accompanies me, tells me, “and yet you have the feeling of being almost alone here.” His father, an architect, designed and built it, Georgios, his son, took over the interior decoration.
His brown eyes light up when he talks about the house. He too is absolutely authentic. Dressed with a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers he doesn’t look a bit dressed up. This work is his passion. “Our processed materials are light wood, stone and marble, as they are found in our mountains.” He likes wide architecture that is inviting. Like the entrance hall.
We reach the lobby with its high rooms and glass fronts facing the beach. What seems like a hundred small lamps hang from the ceiling, like drops in a wave form. “I wanted to break the sterile vastness of the room, so dynamics had to come in. That’s how I came up with this idea. The poor electrician worked on it for two weeks,” Georgios tells me. On the way to the bar, which is made of black marble from Iran, I notice an extraordinarily large black wooden sculpture. “Fascinating, isn’t it? My co-worker found this work of art in Indonesia. It was in a traditional manufacture for wood. I still don’t know the name of the artist. Nevertheless, I would love to find him and show him where his work has ended up.”
We walk across the bar terrace along the restaurants, fountains and outdoor pool heading towards the sunset. Our path ends at a small amphitheater. Georgios is glowing: “It is popular for wedding ceremonies. We give our international summer concerts here. There is an antique technique hidden here as well …” He taps his foot along the floor as if he were looking for something. It sounds dull. And there! Now the tapping is loud, as if he was making his movement on a microphone! “The point zero! This is something we learned from the ancient Greeks. From here, everyone can hear the singer perfectly,” explains Georgios.
That is what is so exciting – history runs through the architecture. I ask him about the logo of the hotel. Does it also have something to do with antiquity? “Yes, you got it right. It is the labyrinth of the Minotaur, which was depicted on an ancient Greek coin. It can be seen in the archaeological museum. You have to explore the area around the resort anyway, then you will have a better feeling of the island and its history.”
The resort is only located about 30 kilometers east of the capital Heraklion in the middle of beautiful nature and villages, which are connected to the ancient world and Greek mythology.
On the following day, my car is to be delivered from Athens for the road trips. I would be able to get a luxury rental car. But I want to drive something special that is eye-catching, luxurious and yet down-to-earth. A DS 3 Crossback of the French luxury brand of the same name is shipped to the island for the very first time. Like a divine chariot it is exactly the right vehicle to explore the island. The small SUV is agile, spacious and equipped with all the safety standards needed for the upcoming excursions in the city and nature. The next morning my DS 3 Crossback including my companion will be here and waiting. The Athenian Ilias Chantzos is a development consultant in an organization that takes care of ancient monuments in the country and integrates them into everyday life. He is the perfect travel guide.
Our first destination is the palace of Knossos, which dates back to thousands of years of Minoan civilization. We walk through the ruins. I am looking for the labyrinth of Minos, the bullheaded god, son of Zeus and Europe, which also had its shepherd’s hours on Crete. ” That is a legend,” laughs Iliad. More about the myths and the Minoans can be found in the archaeological museum in Heraklion. And we also find the coin.
Maneuvering your car in Heraklion is a challenge, admittedly. The alleys are so narrow that we have to fold the side mirrors. Ilias confidently drives the small SUV through the narrow streets. He has experience. The city is characterized by Venetian architecture. Many small stores and cafés invite to stay. In the evening we take a walk to the old fortress Koules, which can be reached via the quay. Young and old sit in groups on benches or the fortress wall and enjoy the warm night with lively conversations.
The next day is dedicated to the mountains. Georgios, a Cretan, who often stays in Germany because his wife comes from there, wants to show us the mountain landscape of the island. His family comes from a mountain village and has olive plantations. It continues upwards, partly on non-tarred roads. We pass his village Gergeri. Here time has really stopped! Old, partly abandoned stone houses flank the road. We drive on to the plantations.
The olives are quite small here. The variety called Koroneika needs a lot of water to give a high amount of oil. The area is rich in water thanks to the numerous springs. Georgios brings us to a small mountain lake and other beautiful viewpoints.
We are alone here. Only some farmers pass us. It is a wonderful road trip to get to know the wild natural beauty of Crete.
“Before you leave Crete, you must of course visit the birthplace of the god Zeus!” Ilias drives the car along the serpentines, so that I can let nature have a better effect on me. About 50 kilometers from Heraklion eastwards into the interior, a beautiful road leads to the village of Psychro above the Lasithi plateau. The hills are shining in a rich green and you can see the sea and endless mountains. We stop again and again to enjoy the view and inhale the fresh air. We park our car in front of a store that prepares fresh juices. We walk the last part to the entrance for about 20 minutes. A footpath through the wild shrub forest leads upwards.
The rocks at the entrance are covered with moss. Cool air comes towards us. It goes downstairs. A world of stalactites and stalagmites, bathed in green light, opens up to us. Some are now turning into Speleothems, others are about to do so. This is what it is called when a stalagmite and stalactite meet. We spend a good hour inside. The sculptures formed by nature are too beautiful. Not only Zeus was born here.
It is also the place he chose to marry the beautiful Europa which he kidnapped. Honestly – we would like this place as a wedding location or for a marriage proposal too.
We drive back towards the sunset. This island … It is so magical! Why is it magical? Because it has remained natural, calm and authentic. Here, couples become part of the mythology. Guests can share in its beauty, tradition and history. It is the same with the cuisine of the Abaton. Georgios shows me the heart of the house: the kitchen behind the scenes. It stands out because it is primarily regional and seasonal. Everything is homemade – bread, desserts, smoked meats and even cheese. Everything is bio-based without the use of preservatives. Even sugar is taboo. “Eat the pasta with lobster tonight,” Georgios recommends me as he closes the heavy door to the refrigerator.
It is the best pasta of my life! It comes from Greece and not from Italy! Sorry, ragazzi! How come? Zinon, Executive Chef of the kitchen, and F&B Chef Vasili explain this and much more to me in an interview. But that is another story.
The first Citroen DS 19 from 1955 served as the namesake, and its modern successors were to become avant-garde art objects on four wheels again. Beauty and style should reflect the spirit of France, the home of haute couture, history and culture. A cult object that combines tradition with modernity. Therefore it was a perfect companion on this road trip like the luxury house Abaton Island Resort & Spa. And the nice thing about the whole story – we were the first to drive the car on the island!