Ever since I became a mom, my travel behavior has changed a fair bit. Not at all in terms of frequency mind you, if anything I travel even more days out of the year now than I did before. However, the way I pick destinations, the duration of my stay, the things that matter to me most – all that is totally different now to what it used to be.
Happy child, happy mom
There is a saying that if mom is happy, everyone is happy. I can only speak for myself but I can only be happy if my son is happy too (especially since he is still so little). Consequently I like to pick out places that will make it easy for me to spend quality time with him. What does that mean, exactly? I’ve always found it the hardest bit of being a mother to have to take care of chores all the time. Cooking, cleaning, washing, running errands. And on top of all that of course working, making a living for yourself and the family. Knowing that those points go on holiday the same time I do is bliss. It means I can be totally in tune with my toddler and do things we both enjoy.
Never before in my life was a nice hotel so important, because it lays the groundwork for all the above. I want to stay in a hotel that is spotless, worry-free (meaning that everything works the way it’s supposed to), has great food, nice staff and a lot of entertainment options such as a clean swimming pool (or 10) a beach and a kids club or a playground.
When the offer came around to check out one of, if not THE best family resort in Greece I gladly jumped at the chance.
At first I didn’t quite get it. Was Costa Navarino the name of a resort or a place? Or was it a region? As a matter of fact, it is all of the above, in a way. First and foremost it’s the name of a destination which is home to two major, interconnected resorts: the Westin and the Romanos.
Both resorts excel in comfort and decor, although the Westin appears to be a little more suited towards families with kids. This is where we ended up spending three wonderful days which felt like a whole week.
It speaks for itself that the place appeared to be almost fully booked, even though it wasn’t even high season yet. Clearly, Costa Navarino has not seen any of the economic crisis Greece is currently facing. It’s true that the majority of guests had traveled there with children. A simple look at the following facts pretty much explains why.
- more than 10 pools (some of which are so flat they are suitable for small children!)
- 2 gigangtic water slides (and adults are allowed to hold a small child on their lap when sliding down!)
- 2 kids clubs, seperated by ages (6months to 3 years old and another for kids aged 4 and over)
- a kids table at the evening buffet
- kids menu’s at most restaurants
- cots available upon request
Impressive? Yes. When I wasn’t busy deciding what pool I wanted to swim in that day or which restaurant I was going to try I’d simply stroll down to the beautiful beach for a bit of tanning and a swim.
Water lovers and sun worshippers will really profit from this destination to the max, I have never seen so many empty beach chairs at a resort that was almost fully booked! This hotel beach is easily the longest I’ve ever come across and that means a relaxing and undisturbed experience. Building sandcastles with the little ones, taking a swim in the cool ocean, letting Greek sun give you the glow of a lifetime…
Best part of the beach, if not the entire resort, is Barbouni, a stunning restaurant located right at the beach front with incredible design and delectable fish and seafood dishes on the menu. Only pitfall: Barbouni closes at 5pm as not to disturb the sea turtles seeking refuge by the beaches in the evenings. Simply plan your day around lunching here – you won’t regret it!
Speaking of restaurants – there is a great range of them in Costa Navarino and I loved trying a different one each day. Picking out favorites is tough because they really all were very good. Morias is the most central one in the Westin resort and the place that serves a buffet breakfast in the morning. It also serves a buffet in the evening from 7pm. Taverna dishes up typical Greek cuisine that will have you licking your fingers after every course. I loved the cozy atmosphere of this one, too. A great pick for the whole family is Da Luigi, an authentic Italian restaurant that serves a truffle risotto which even has native Italians raving (I would know, I was dining there with about 6 of them!). Da Luigi has lots of outdoor tables around a small square allowing children to run free and meet the other kids in the resort.
Beyond the resort
There is so much to do and to discover inside both the Westin and Romanos that it’s no surprise many visitors never even leave the premises. They are missing out! Just a 10-minute drive away there is so much more to discover. The nearby village of Gialova has seen a rise in inhabitants in the past five years, with the construction of the Costa Navarino resorts with currently almost 300 people (up from 36!) working mostly in the tourism industry running hotels, restaurants and shops catering to a well-endowed clientele. Gialova is beautiful and mostly untouched with wonderful viewpoints and a great beach on a particularly beautiful stretch of Navarino Bay.
The village of Gialova is a wonderful little place to while away for an afternoon, shop in one of the clothing stores where you can find some pretty unique stuff of great quality, have an ice cream and watch the world go by as you pick a table at a seaside cafe.
I could have gone and seen much more and for the adventurers out there, a rental car will come in extremely handy in checking out the many truly stunning and authentic villages in this region. The one hour drive from Kalamata airport gave me intense wanderlust and I decided then and there that I would have to come back to this beautiful part of Europe to see much more.
Are you inspired to visit Costa Navarino? Or have you already been to this area? Let us know in the comments below!