The villa is beautiful - high quality, spacious, spotless, well-equipped, in large gardens with panoramic views. Sunsets over the mountains were a photographer’s dream. There is air-con plus ceiling fans, a full cooker, enormous fridge-freezer, two bathrooms, a DVD player with a stack of DVDs, CD player with selection of CDs, books, games – a real home-from-home. A generous welcome pack was provided – tea, coffee, water, eggs, bread, jam – even a bottle of the local wine! We had no noisy neighbours – just the tinkling bells of the local sheep, the local cockerel crowing and a friendly moggie or two passing through. Communication with the owner was easy and efficient and every query I had was quickly and pleasantly answered.
The supermarkets in Almyrida aren’t up to much but a short drive into Kalyves takes you to the INKA store which has everything you could need and even opens on Sundays.
Almyrida is a sweet little seaside town with a great choice of eateries lined up along the shoreline. We found it very easy to park – either next to the Almyrida Beach Hotel, along the promenade or slightly off the main strip. The beach seemed a bit crowded but we didn’t really use it as we had such a lovely place to go back to.
I can thoroughly recommend the 20 minute stroll from the Villa to the pretty village of Douliana. (Follow the owner’s written directions for this walk and not Google, as Google will mis-direct you to the garden of a rather grumpy Brit!). The Blue Garden Restaurant and Pool Bar in Douliana is lovely and ideal for a lunchtime snack. There is also a taverna and at least 2 other bars. The lady at Natalia’s Houses will even rustle you up an ice cream sundae with home-made grape syrup for a very reasonable price! A drive to nearby Georgiopolis is also well worthwhile.
Now the negatives (which are not the fault of the villa but which may be relevant to your enjoyment of the holiday!):
Cretan country roads are a total nightmare – especially those leading to hillside villas! The track to Villa Helia is single lane, pot-holed, steep and slippery. Non-confident drivers beware!
Although the walk from the villa down to the seaside at Almyrida is picturesque and quite easy, I would advise driving unless you are prepared to either walk back up (bearing in mind that there is no lighting so it is black as pitch after dark!) or to fork out 17 Euros plus tip for a taxi back – surely the most expensive taxi ride metre for metre in the civilised world! (Which was a bit of a shock given a reviewer last year saying taxis were easy and cost 5-10 euros!) Our taxi driver apparently had no idea where Villa Helia (or the boatyard on the way) were to be found. He phoned his office but they didn’t know either. Despairing of getting back, we had the idea of showing him our destination by finding Villa Tamos on the taxi driver’s smart phone. (Villa Tamos is the villa next door and, unlike Villa Helia, is pin-pointed on Google maps). The driver then followed Google’s directions! Incidentally, the “Villa Tamos method” of navigating also works when you want to find your way back from other outings – providing you have a smart phone! The driver also complained incessantly, on the short journey. about the state of the road surface as if it were of our doing!
The only other negative as far as I was concerned was that the beautiful pool was too deep for me to touch bottom at any point except the area near the steps. I came to swimming late in life and need to be able to know I can just put my toes down. This was not a problem for the rest of the party who ploughed up and down confidently but just be aware if you are a wuss like me! Perhaps pack a float?
All in all a great holiday choice whether you want to chill and relax or to explore the area and take in some of the history and sights.
We have just spent an idyllic 2 weeks in Villa Helia, we booked for our honeymoon, and we weren't disappointed, even though we had a later flight and arrived in the dark, we found the villa with the excellent directions we had been given, the villa is fully equipped with everything you could possibly need, every bedroom has air conditioning and a balcony with stunning views, we chose a different balcony every evening!! the area is incredibly quiet, except for jingle of sheep bells, and of course the chicadas, we sat out on the balconys in the evening watching for shooting stars and we were lucky enough to see a few, the villa is far enough away from everything for peace and quiet but close enough to Almyrida if you want a romantic meal, the village of Gavalohori is approximately 10 minutes by car and has a few wonderful tavernas, the beach of Almyrida is also very pretty and a few evenings were spent watching the surfers and the sunsets, the villa has a huge pool and with the temperature in the 90's it was perfect to cool down, the Villa is of very high standard, and Graham has certainly thought of everything you might need, and even a few things you might not, we loved it so much that we are looking to book again next year, I cannot rate this villa and Graham high enough, as it truly is a little piece of heaven!!
The lovely online photos don't actually do this property justice. The villa is large, airy and well looked after and the pool is nothing short of spectacular! We had a wonderful stay with our two young children at the start of June. The villa was well equipped, and the large private grounds perfect for days lazing around the pool. It's just a short drive into Almyrida to a long, safe, sandy beach and a good selection of restaurants. Graham (the owner) was very helpful pre-trip will lots of information and guides to the local area. We couldn't ask for more from a holiday, we would love to return!
My heart was in my mouth when we turned off the main road on to the dirt track leading to the villa - over 1 mile later and some real twists and turns we arrived to this lovely private villa perched high at the top of the track.
That was the only time I queried booking here, the villa itself is spacious and well equipped, with ample storage in all bedrooms.
The pool is large enough to have a really decent swim and by the evening the water has warmed up to bathwater level - wonderful. There are large private gardens and although there are other villas around we never felt overlooked nor did we have any problems with noise, despite there being a young family next door.
Despite original reservations we actually found the walk down the track to Almyrida (1.7 miles downhill) was just what we needed after a lazy day around the pool. It set us up for a cheeky G&T for our efforts whilst we sat overlooking the beach and enjoying the sunset before deciding which of the many restaurants to try that evening. It was easy to get a taxi back - prices ranged from 5 - 10 Euros.
For us the week went far too quickly.