Since April 28, Brussels Airlines has added a new service to Greece, more precisely to Kalamata with flights operating once a week on Saturdays. Kalamata is the capital of Messenia in the Southwest of the Greek Peloponnese region. On arrival at the tiniest international airport I’ve ever been to, it was immediately clear that the region is not touristy at all (yet). However, it is a real hidden gem. Although Kalamata has so much to offer, like the Archaeological Museum of Messenia or the Church of the Holy Apostles, I headed west towards Costa Navarino, a high-end area along the Ionian coast where I was delighted to stay at The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort.
The Westin and The Romanos, two luxury resorts at Costa Navarino
Costa Navarino is still a relatively quiet and peaceful area, currently home to 2 of the most amazing 5-star luxury hotels: The Westin Resort, and The Romanos, a Luxury Collection resort. While the first caters towards families with children, the second attracts couples who search for a luxurious tranquil environment. It’s a subtle difference, really. Façades from the Westin feature more stone and timber, while The Romanos has marble all over. Swimming pools at The Westin have rounded edges and feature a couple of slides for kids, while those of The Romanos have a classy, modern vibe to it. Of course you can also access the breathtaking stretch of beach right from the resort.
In the middle of the resort is the Agora, a meeting place for everyone with over 10 places to grab a bite or have a drink! There’s even a Kayak ice cream shop on site! Honestly I haven’t had the time to try them all, but every option I did try was a very rewarding experience.
Costa Navarino is a sustainable destination
Best thing is The Westin and The Romanos are created with lots of respect for the nature, culture and the environment. Respect for nature is clearly visible because of the garden rooftops on the buildings of the resort. They have an animal shelter, a nature centre on site and the beach is a turtle nesting beach for the Loggerhead sea turtle. How cool is that!
The philosophy of Costa Navarino is to promote the Messenia region and persuade tourists to pay the region a visit. Costa Navarino does not offer an all-in option at the resorts, so you’re actively encouraged to go outside and boost the local economy. If you don’t have a car to do so, no worries! There’s a Hertz rental car office at the resort! They literally thought of everything!
What else is there to do?
On site, you can book various activities. Of course, I just HAVE to mention the incredible golf course. Costa Navarino was named “European Golf Resort of the Year 2017” by the global golf tourism association IAGTO. The Dunes Course by the olive trees offers incredible views over the dunes and sea.
I participated in a philosophy walk through the gardens with professor Eleni Volonaki from the University of Peloponnese. Chatting about philosophy while sitting under a big ol’ olive tree is a type of easy activity I particularly liked and haven’t seen anywhere else! Another laid-back activity I did was making lunch in an authentic Greek house in town with the help of two lovely Greek housewives.
In the region, I would definitely recommend visiting the old Navarino Castle. You can hike from Golden beach onward to the top of the hill while being treated to unrivalled views of the region. It takes about 1,5 hour to get to the top. The hike is very much worth doing, during part of the hike you walk on the ancient walls of the castle! If you then proceed to descend on the other side of the hill, you’ll pass by a cave a end up down at Voidokilia beach, which is known as one of the best beaches in the world!
My room at The Romanos Costa Navarino
I was on a solo trip so I was happy to stay at The Romanos, which is a Luxury Collection hotel. I was incredibly stoked because my room was an infinity room! Those rooms are 43 square-metres in size, and feature your own private 23sqm infinity pool! The pool is obviously the showstopper, but what I also particularly liked is you can slide open the wall between the room and the bathroom. You can enjoy a relaxing bath while still admiring the views from your room or watching a show on TV, and you have enough privacy to do so. In the room, there’s enough space for a writing desk, a cupboard with flat screen TV, and a sofa seating area. The marble bathroom has a double sink and both shower and separate bath.
I’m usually not a big fan of resorts but The Romanos Costa Navarino has absolutely blown me away and exceeded every expectation I had beforehand. Both The Romanos and the area around have lots of stuff to do, no matter which type of activity you fancy. Service is impeccable and even at full occupancy the resort doesn’t feel crowded at all. I could have easily spent a few more weeks there without ever feeling bored!