Travel by Bill McCarthy
It has to be something spectacular when you feel you are standing on the shoulders of giants.
Gazing over remnants of ancient times from nearly 3,000 years ago, it sends a shiver down your spine.
The ancient city of Olympia, home of the original Olympic Games and the ancient temple of Zeus and Apollo are among the treasures to be found in a very special, but largely undiscovered part of Greece.
The country’s islands are rightly popular with tourists from around the world with their mixture of culture, hospitality and not least excellent weather.
But there are also some less well-known areas on the mainland itself which are hidden gems and none more so than the home of an upmarket holiday complex, just a few miles down the road from the town of Pyrgos on the west Peloponnese.
This part of Greece is one of the greenest and its natural wonders range from breathtaking mountains to ancient pine forests.
The sprawling five-star Aldemar Olympian Village is situated in a fairly secluded area near the village of Skafidia. It also includes the slightly more luxurious five-star Aldemar Royal Olympian which offers more exclusive packages, including newly introduced ‘Elements’ all-inclusive.
Both are located right on a five km long sandy beach and offers accommodation to suit all budgets, from hotel-style rooms to apartments, family bungalows and even luxurious, top-of-the-range presidential suites and many with their own pools.
We were housed in a luxury bungalow at the Aldemar Olympian Village, one of three sharing a large private pool, and literally 20 yards from the sandy beach. It featured bedroom, sitting room, two bathrooms and two huge flatscreen TVs with mini bar and tea or coffee making facilities.
Sit on the patio and in the distance is the island of Zante/Zakynthos and a little further north, Captain Corelli’s Kefalonia. For those hankering after island life, both islands are easily accessible from nearby Kyllini: Zante is 45 minutes by ferry and Kefalonia an hour.
The clever design of our luxury bungalow allowed for uninterrupted sea views. The complex has either sea views or over the delightfully manicured gardens.
Not part of an actual holiday resort, the complex nevertheless provides just about everything you would need, including its own mini shopping centre and the Royal Olympian Spa & Thalasso, which offers a full range of luxurious treatments and we did indulge with a superb massage for both of us.
For food and drink there are no less than seven restaurants and eight bars, including an excellent la carte Italian restaurant, all with views of the sea.
To say the food is excellent would be an understatement, the highly-trained chefs provide a full buffet style service available most of the day and dishes to suit most tastes. You would never go hungry.
Activities include water sport and a range of entertainment around the main pool area throughout the day. Other facilities include cycle rental, horse riding courses, and other sporting activities on and off the water.
For children, it offers a Mini Club to keep young guests entertained and amused. There are also a playground, outdoor children’s pool, and, if you have the stomach for it, a 93 metre.waterslide.
That is plenty for all ages, but for those seeking a more exclusive stay, upgrade to the ‘Elements’ all-inclusive package, which includes exclusive dining, branded drinks, yoga and pilates morning and evening, use of the gym, and the Thalasso one day package including three treatments.
Various trips can be arranged on site, but for real freedom hiring a car is a simple and relatively inexpensive process through luxury specialist Fleetway Travel, can arrange a holiday package with flights on all the carriers to Kalamata airport, about 60 miles away, transfers and accommodation on a board basis to suit you.
We picked our car up in Athens and drove the 200-miles to the west Peloponnese, a motorway journey unlike any other. The uncluttered road offering spectacular views of mountain and sea. An opportunity to add a few days in Greece’s capital, Athens, Fleetway Travel can tailor this type of holiday too.
Out and about Olympia is a must see. It was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient Olympic Games were held. The site was primarily dedicated to Zeus and drew visitors from all over the Greek world
The Olympic Games were held every four years from the eighth century BC to the fourth century AD. The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive, although the main Temple of Zeus survives only as stones on the ground and a single column.
The site is a major tourist attraction, and has two museums, one devoted to the ancient and one to the modern games. It is lovingly preserved, although visitors, for the princely sum of just 12 euros have access to the haunting archaeological site and the two museums.
Further afield is historic Sparta, Patras and Kalamata all a full day trip. But if touring is not you thing. The resort has it all.
- Travel to the west Peloponnese with luxury specialist Fleetway Travel 0203 993 6170 fleetwaytravel.com
- Packages to include flights, transfers and accommodation based on two people sharing a double or twin room on all-inclusive at the 5-star Aldemar Olympian Village (aldemar-resorts.gr or aldemarolympianvillage.gr) start from £629 per person for end of June departures from Stansted or Manchester. Car Hire from £150. https://bookings.fleetwaytravel.com/hotels/greece/aldemar-olympian-village?aid=n1