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  • Greece luxury holidays: Costa Navarino

    View from the pool at the Romanos

    Local scenery

    The Dunes beach

    Children's Play Area at The Romanos

    The Lagoon Pool at The Westin

    Greece luxury holidays: Costa Navarino, a super resort, super indulgent and super fun

    Strewn with beautiful beaches and ancient ruins, Byzantine churches and dramatic hilltop castles, Messinia in the sleepy south-west corner of the Peloponnese is a place you could pitch a leaky tent, and still have the holiday of a lifetime. If only there was a hotel worthy of the location, we used to moan. Well now we’ve got two.

    Opened just a few years ago after a 25- year labour of love Hercules himself would have been proud of, Costa Navarino is a super-resort making a major splash in the luxury holiday world, with two stunning beachfront hotels, The Westin and The Romanos. Almost preposterously indulgent, with a 4,000-square-metre spa overlooking a one-mile sandy beach, a Bernhard Langer-designed championship golf course, and exquisite terrace tavernas overlooking the Ionian Sea, the resort is nevertheless as family-friendly as it is luxurious, with two of the best – and most beautiful – Kids Clubs (ages 8 months to 12 years) we’ve ever seen.Offering watersports and martial arts, archaeology and the usual arts and crafts, it’s little wonder the Kids Club here even offers sleepovers, but if you do drag them away from the fun, and you manage to make it past the beach and pools, Messinia is a wonderful land of hidden coves and dramatic gorges, Mycenaean palaces and wild, deserted beaches. With rustic, inexpensive tavernas dotting the landscape, this is a brilliant place to explore with children – a superb complement to the cosseted confines of the resort, no matter how alluring.

    One hour north of Costa Navarino along a coastal road offering twinkling glimpses of Zante across the turquoise sea, Olympia is the big-name draw in these parts. Site of the very first Olympic Games in 773BC, this is one of the best ruins in Greece for anyone visiting with children, packed with details that will act like catnip on their imaginations, from marble starting blocks to the original stadium running track – as well as plenty of shade for when all that scampering tires them out. While here, don’t miss the pretty village of Floka one mile up the hill from Olympia, which has a wonderful tavern overlooking the village and sea, as well as grilled lamb and zucchini balls worth the journey alone.

    About one hour east of Costa Navarino, the town of Kalamata is also worth visiting with kids, especially if they’re old enough to climb the small hill above town to one of the most panoramic castles on the Peloponnese. There’s also a good beach just below town if they’re desperate for a dip after the climb. Also worth a visit is Kalamata’s colourful food market, groaning with the figs and olives for which the town is famed. A fabulous place to go for lunch, Kalamata’s old town is peppered with superb tavernas, none better than I Milopetra, known throughout the region for its gourmet snacks.

    Heading back to Costa Navarino from Kalamata, the canyon of Polilimnio is a short detour no adventurous family should miss, a hidden world of waterfalls and lakes reached only via a two-mile hike across a series of magical, wooden bridges straight off an Indiana Jones film set.

    Further afield, Palamidi Fortress is a fantastic adventure for fit families, the 18th century Venetian citadel sitting atop a 216m outcrop reached via a 999-step staircase that twists and climbs up the cliff-face above town. Stunning views, hugely worth the effort, with the wonderful ruins at Mystras a brilliant stop-off on the road home, if your little explorers aren’t too tired from the climb. Not that you need travel as far as Palamidi for fabulous castles. Just 15 minutes down the coast from Costa Navarino, perched on a promontory all but marooned in the sea, Methoni’s fortress is one of the best, reached by a 14-arch stone bridge that straddles the castle moat. Even closer to home, the Gialova lagoon just south of Costa Navarino is awash with migrating birds in spring and autumn, with a superb set of hides and watchtowers providing a brilliant early-morning escape from the resort.

    That all said, when the vast majority of guests at Costa Navarino do venture from the compound gates, it is usually for one of the area’s myriad, magical beaches. Forming virtually a 300 degree, picture-perfect crescent of golden sand lapped by turquoise shallows, Voidokilia beach is undoubtedly our favourite, only 20 minutes drive south of Costa Navarino. An Omega-shaped slice of sandy perfection overlooked by a 13th century Frankish castle and spectacular cave, the beach can get busy in high season, when the extraordinary, bright gold sands of Mati beach are a quieter but no less beautiful option barely a beach-ball toss from the resort.

    We’ve waited a long time for Messinia to get the hotels it deserves, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer it at last. A brilliant destination for couples and families, Costa Navarino offers huge rewards whether you’re looking to just fly and flop, or explore.

    Below is more information about the two superb hotels in the Navarino resort which use the same common leisure facilities, each with its own style and price point.

    The Westin Resort
    445 rooms and suites with 24 hour room service.
    Lots of room options for families are available.
    Expressions Holidays includes flights with Thomas Cook to Kalamata, private car transfer and bed and breakfast.
    Prices for 2 adults and 2 childrenunder 12 in a deluxe resort view room from about:
    £2150 in low season
    £3400 in high season

    The Romanos

    321 rooms, suites and villas with 24 hour room service and 24 hour butler service in the villas. Villas can sleep up to 6 people and all have terrace with sea views and a private infinity pool.
    Expressions Holidays includes flights with Thomas Cook to Kalamata, private car transfer and bed and breakfast.
    Prices for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 sharing two interconnecting Deluxe Rooms with garden view from about:
    £3100 in low season
    £5200 in high season

    Shared Navarino Resort facilities
    7 restaurants, numerous bars and cafes throughout the resort and the Agora Village, Spa, Children’s clubs (for children aged 8 months to 12 years, at a charge), watersports, tennis courts and tennis coaching, Squash courts, basketball, bowling and 18 hole championship Dunes Golf Course. Indoor and outdoor swimming pool and the Aquapark for children. The sandy beach at Costa Navarino is over a kilometre long.

    Find out more about our full range of luxury holidays to Greece, or our family holidays to Europe.

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