urope’s biggest outdoor cinema, 15 swimming pools, its own water park. Creta Maris certainly doesn’t do things by halves.

But the family-friendly five-star hotel next to a Blue Flag beach on Crete’s rocky coastline also masters the art of doing big, nicely – in a stylish way, which doesn’t doesn’t feel like you’re staying at a busy resort with 2,000 other guests.

The charming hotel combines the ease of an all-inclusive holiday with the elegance of traditional Greece. It’s been designed to resemble a Greek village with bougainvillea-lined alleyways, hibiscus flowers, olive trees, gleaming white walls and hidden squares – made for Instagram.

It’s the sister of honeymoon favourite Santo Maris on the nearby island of Santorini, but with more of a family feel: think six restaurants, nine bars, 15 pools, a spa, waterpark and an open-air amphitheatre (plus Netflix in the rooms if you need a quiet moment).

Creta Maris

From the luxe hammam spa to dedicated kids and teens club, here’s what to expect.

Where is it?

Next to a Blue Flag beach in Hersonissos, right on Crete’s rocky north-eastern coastline. Crete’s airport Heraklion is just a 30-minute drive away.

Creta Maris


You won’t get the quiet, honeymoon-perfect intimacy of sister resort Santo Maris, but you will get traditional Cretan charm and Aegean architecture – which is impressive, given the size of the beach resort.

Think of it as a village, rather than a hotel: clean, safe cobbled streets, bougainvillea-lined walkways, olive trees and hibiscus flowers so perfect they almost look fake. Friendly staff dressed in traditional Greek attire will greet you from your taxi and will drive you to your room in a golf buddy through the resort’s winding paths, with rooms feeling more like miniature homes rather a traditional hotel: gleaming white, cave-like architecture, bright yellow arches around the doorways and Mamma Mia style blue wicker chairs on the terraces outside.

Creta Maris

The Mamma Mia feel continues indoors, with rustic blue and white bedrooms, four poster beds and striped sofa cushions. There’s a friendly, but peaceful feel, with families playing, guests relaxing under shady olive trees and stray cats wandering the grounds.

Which room?

Creta Maris sleeps 2,000 guests, but you wouldn’t know it. The resort’s 680-plus rooms are nicely spaced around the village, with families deliberately located in the same area to reduce disturbance, and each has its own charm, from seafront bungalows with terraces overlooking the beach to pool villas with private gardens.

Creta Maris

Choose a family-friendly deluxe room in one of the resort’s seafront bungalows – each comes with its own balcony or terrace directly overlooking the water – or upgrade to the pool villa apartment, big enough for five guests and a child, featuring its own sauna, hot tub bath and walk-in wardrobe.

Food & drink

Creta Maris’ food and drink offering is surprisingly high-end for an all-inclusive resort. There are six restaurants to choose from, from the hotel’s organic dining spot, Pithos, to buffet restaurant Cochlias, right on the waterfront – ask for the mixed grill, tahini salad and Bougatsa for dessert: a warm vanilla custard wrapped in filo.

Creta Maris

Platia restaurant serves a creative Greek a la carte menu right next to the resort’s historic chapel on property while the chilled-out Almyra restaurant sits right next to the main pool – perfect for a post-dip salad or plate of seafood.

There are also nine bars on site so you can enjoy your sundowners with a different view each evening once the kids have gone to bed. The Steki Pool Bar services cocktails and ice ream from 10am to 6pm each day, the Waterpark Snack Point serves salads, pizzas, burgers and cool drinks from midday to 5.30pm and Kourites Bar is a favourite for sunset, with views over the hillside and Terra building. Make sure you try the signature Creta Maris cocktail.

Creta Maris

If you’re looking for something more intimate, candlelit private dining is also available at a beautiful table on the waterfront. Begin with a welcome glass of champagne and choose from the exotic menu (sauteed scallops, grilled lobster, mango parfait), the romantic menu (seabass ceviche, beef fillet, chocolate soufflé), a summer sunsets menu (beef carpaccio, rack of lamb, chocolate tart), an exotic delights menu (octopus carpaccio, tuna fillet, and lemon and chocolate symphony) or the vegetarian menu (fried feta cheese, mushroom risotto, chilled melon veloute with chocolate mousse).


Yeah, the food is great, but Creta Maris’ USP is its facilities, from the luxe on-site waterpark that opened three years ago to the kids club and giant amphitheatre-style outdoor cinema – Europe’s biggest. Name a film that isn’t better against a backdrop of silhouetted Cretan mountains in the distance.

Creta Maris

More than a dozen cat houses are dotted around the resort – the beautiful stray cats here aren’t technically owned by the hotel but staff feed them since they’re there. There are also 15 pools (six are adults-only) dotted around the village, all 1.2m in depth and surrounded by cushioned sun-loungers, plus 250m of glorious safe sandy beach (and 100m of rocky beach), with a lifeguard, free sun chairs, umbrellas and towels. Sun worshippers could easily spend the week without repeating the same sunbathing spot.

Naturally, there’s plenty for children, with a dedicated kids club, teens club, baby room, playground, mini disco, tennis lessons and live entertainment nights. There’s space for 600 children on the resort at a time, but it’s not just for families. With one of Greece’s biggest convention centres on site, it’s also popular with business travellers, and plenty of couples come here for a dose of Cretan escapism (there’s an on-site church for weddings and christenings).

Activities-wise, there’s a fitness centre, pool tables, arcade games, hammam spa, tennis and table tennis, five-aside football, basketball, mini golf, boccia, darts, yoga and Pilates, cooking classes and dance classes, and the resort is so spacious you won’t feel on top of each other, with little areas to play cards or relax with a cocktail. You’ll never have to fight for a sunlounger – well, unless one of the cats gets there first.

What to Instagram

Candlelit dinners on the rocks, hibiscus flowers hanging over the front door, and the view from the little white church on the clifftop just along the coast. The traditional Greek chapel is just a 30-minute walk from the hotel and a perfect viewpoint if you fancy stretching your legs – the coast is dotted with sea swimming spots on your way there and back.

Creta Maris

Best for?

Burnt out parents in need of a (luxe) all-inclusive week in the sun. There are so many activities you and the kids will never get bored and there are new facilities are added very year. No wonder the hotel has so many repeat guests – particularly Brits.

How to get there

Flights to Heraklion are just four hours from London and it’s a 30-minute drive at the other end.

Creta Maris

When should I go?

Between April and October. Temperatures hit highs of 29 degrees in July but a lower-season trip at one of the quieter ends of summer is ideal if you’re keen to avoid the crowds (or have a tendency to burn). The upside of a September getaway is it’s still warm enough for tanning and sea swimming in the day, but you won’t get a Sula on your way to dinner.


Rooms from £151 a night based on two adults sharing on an all-inclusive basis.

Navarchou Nearchou, Limenas Chersonisou 700 14, Greece, cretamaris.gr