Cretan Malia Park, Crete, Greece

Cretan Malia Park, Crete, Greece

Sustainability is more than just a checkbox at the
recently renovated Cretan Malia Park, a family-run
coastal resort that brings together lush gardens, California vibes
and views across the Mediterranean Sea on the
Greek island
of Crete.

Malia has had its share of bad press – or good press, if you are
a British teen planning a hedonistic end-of-term holiday – not
helped by its 2011 starring role in The Inbetweeners Movie. Yet on
the unspoilt, craggy (private) beachfront of the Cretan Malia Park,
silence is only disturbed by cicadas and attentive staff. The
nearby strip seems worlds away.

It’s not especially “Greek”, as hotels in Greece go. Recently
renovated, its lobby feels like somewhere between Ibiza
with parquet-style wall panelling, imposing cactus
plants, mid-century furniture and wiry light fittings.

Set in lush gardens (with four varieties of hibiscus, we’re
told), the hotel is more than just green in its surroundings: eco
credentials aren’t just a checkbox here; sustainability
is in every fibre of the property and it has the accolades to prove
it (including a Blue Flag beach). Using local produce – some grown
on site – and solar power to provide most of its electricity, this
family-run resort practices what it preaches.

That said, “resort” isn’t a word that feels right to use here.
Yes, multiple pools and guest activities indicate a holiday-village
vibe, but there is something about Cretan Malia Park that makes you
feel like you’re part of the family.


The complex feels more like a series of villas than a 204-room
hotel, and those nearest the beachfront – mostly suites – have
generously sized balconies with views over the Mediterranean. Guest
rooms are located in the main building, while suites and bungalows
are peppered across the grounds, with either sea or pool views.
Cali vibes continue here – think geometric wallpaper, more cacti
and wicker light fittings – and the decor and colour palette is
nature inspired without being cliché. You won’t find any
unnecessary water features or fake plants here.

What’s for breakfast?

Leaving no culinary stone unturned, Cretan Malia Park has three
restaurants, serving Mediterranean, Cretan and Italian cuisine.
It’s at Mediterraneo where guests can kick-start their day with a
buffet breakfast of Greek pastries, fresh fruit and coffee on the

How about lunch and dinner?

Cretan classics are served in Mouries, a peaceful courtyard with
an open kitchen and hot-coal fire. Yet it’s the recently renovated
Almyra that is the star of the show, serving Italian-inspired
dishes (including some pretty gorgeous pizza
baked in the outdoor oven) in view of the sea. Ask the sommelier to
recommend some Greek wine and settle in for the night.

Is there a bar?

Yes, three in fact, but forgo the poolside and lobby bars for
the newly opened Beach Shack. Here an eternally chirpy team of
bartenders will satisfy just about any cocktail request, to be
enjoyed on cushioned bamboo chairs or, better yet, your sunlounger.
Sunset beach parties are held here most evenings with a DJ wheeling
out appropriate beachside beats – though it is more of an all-ages,
family affair.


It feels as though there’s just one huge pool that spreads
throughout the grounds, with rivers and separate children’s areas –
but it’s really just three. One is heated, but the typically warm
Cretan summer temperatures meant we didn’t feel any need to dip a
toe in. The on-site Cute Spa offers a range of treatments and uses
local olive oil as the base of its products. If you can tear
yourself away from eating, drinking and lounging (we didn’t), there
are bikes to rent, and reception staff will point you towards local

Things I should know

Food is where the hotel really shines, and it knows it. The
executive chef will proudly take you on a tour of the biodynamic
garden where guests can pick seasonal vegetables including cherry
tomatoes so sweet you’ll turn your nose up at the ones you find
back home. Bring your bounty back to the outdoor kitchen at the
Mouries restaurant, don an apron and learn to make stuffed vine
leaves, proper Greek salad and kaltsounia (snail-shaped cheese
pies), served drizzled with honey. Fear not – constant
encouragement and the regular intervals of punchy raki shots mean
even the most apprehensive of cooks will find their inner

Within a short walk you’ll find…

The aforementioned Malia town (it’s not all bad). Eschew the
strip for the old town, a labyrinth of streets with family-run
tavernas set in flower-filled courtyards. The Greeks eat late, so
rock up after 9pm for the best atmosphere. Expect live music and
yet more raki.