Katherine MacAlister takes her family on an early break to the Greek mainland and never wants to return

Memories of our Greek odyssey continually pop into my mind, hauling me back to that early summer sunshine, on our early June break.

The five-star Aldemar Royal Olympian, nestled on the beaches of the Peloponnese on mainland Greece near Olympia, luring us to take an unexpectedly early break.

We had no preconceptions, having never stayed in a hotel complex before, which begged a few questions. Weren't resorts crowded? Would we cope with the all inclusive style package rather than roaming free on our own terms? Would it be more pedestrian than the island hopping mentality we were used to? Would it be hot enough? Would the food come up to scratch?

We needn’t have worried, because as soon as we glimpsed the Aldemar's shores framing the Royal Olympian, we knew we had found an idyll to remember, and enjoyed every precious moment.

You can fly to Kalamata with EasyJet, but as it’s the only airport nearby, flights tend to get booked up well in advance.

So instead we flew to Athens, picked up a wonderfully affordable hire car and drove straight to the marvellous NJV Athens Plaza hotel, whose cool marble interior was a welcome retreat from the staunch heat emanating from the heart of the Greek capital.

Despite being so central, parking was available, the restaurants were open despite the late hour, and the rooms air conditioned, stylish and comfortable.

Determined to make the most of it, after a very smart breakfast, we ventured early to to The Acropolis by foot, marvelling at this famous wonder of the world, mounting its heights slowly but surely until we reached the Parthenon and my favourite the Diana Temple, before hot-footing it back to the hotel to pick up our car and drive to the coast, a few hours away.

Reaching the Aldemar Royal Olympian by mid-afternoon, we were faced with a vast hotel, divided into two parts, the recently added and more upmarket Royal Olympian added to the Aldemar Olympian Village, to catering for its wealthier clients, it’s accommodation reflecting that admirably.

We were housed for the week in a charming wooden apartment on stilts, facing a huge circular oasis pool, steps leading down from each unit into the turquoise salt filtered water.

Elegant, spacious and family-friendly, we squealed with excitement and immediately jumped in, swimming around the circular route, past the restaurant where we ate breakfast every morning. Paradise indeed.

Further exploration was of course required and we ventured down to the beach, passing a gorgeous little taverna on the corner serving traditional Greek food, and along the vast sandy stretch, complete with tempting beach beds swathed in drapes, a water sports school, numerous other restaurants, including a smart Italian and a more sedate beach restaurant, bars, and fitness suites, along the length of its promenade as far as the eye could see.

And so our week began in earnest. We had booked the Elements Dine all inclusive package - there are various incarnations, ours being the most inclusive, meaning we were able to enjoy all of the Aldemar Olympian Village hotel at the other end and it’s more mainstream attitude to mass entertainment and catering, while able to retreat to our exclusive end when required, and eat and drink what we wanted, where we wanted on site.

It meant we rarely left the complex. With the sea and long beach to enjoy every day, perfect temperatures, sun loungers, sun downers, pilates and yoga on tap, tennis, huge water slides for children, volley ball matches on the beach every evening and the endless restaurants and pools to choose from, there was little need.

At night you could venture up to the nightly show at the Olympian Village, with the vast majority of the guests, or eat, swim, walk along the beach and generally chill out, which we tended to do instead.

What impressed me most about Aldemar Royal Olympian was the scope of accommodation, which was spaced out, sympathetically designed for maximum ease, comfort and accessibility as well as carefully landscaped and thought out, the range was impressive, from little beach bungalows overlooking the sea with their own private infinity pools, to stilted apartments like ours and everything in between, all either beach front or poolside.

Our only trip then was to Mount Olympia, itself, just up the road and we were pleased to have made the effort.

What a sight. Like a ghost village it remains as it was abandoned by he Ancient Greeks, it’s leaning pillars and intricately planned site mean still easy to explore, enjoy and examine.

Built purely as a celebration of exercise, it slowly metamorphed, into a vast centre visited by thousands from all over Greece, despite its remote location. Athletes were housed and trained here, competitive sport was embraced with zeal and of course the Olympics resulted, the buildings reflecting the lauded occasion around them, the stadium itself stretching far into the distance.

The heat meant that it's best to visit it out if season, but the coolness of the encompassing museum where it’s many artifacts can be seen , provides some welcome relief from the sun.

Then back to the Aldemar Royal Olympian, where I was booked into the legendary Thalasso centre. A vast, professional and terribly advanced Thalasso pool was housed, and rather appropriately after our extensive day trip, as a therapist guided me round the advanced jets and equipment, as the water pummelled, pumped and pushed me into shape, leaving me enormously invigorated and mightily impressed. The actual spa itself was another wonder and I was given a heat treatment and then a fantastic facial, as if I wasn't relaxed or pampered enough already.

The next day, the kids persuaded us to climb into a giant inflatable pulled behind a very fast speedboat, which made me hoarse with screaming, much to their enjoyment, but secretly really good fun.

The food as well surpassed itself, the Italian restaurant my favourite, the Greek my husband's and the beach restaurant the children’s, the courgette fritters there will be forever etched in my memory.

So with winter approaching we have found ourselves reflecting back on that wonderful week, harking back to all the things we did and enjoyed, while wondering how soon we can return. An immensely successful holiday then.


Book to stay at the 5-star Aldemar Royal Olympian on Elements Dine around from £3,526.02 based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing a superior beach front suite for May half term 2019, visit www.aldemarroyalolympian.gr for information and to book.

NJV Athens Plaza

Family room / 46 square meters

2 Bedrooms with twin beds, bedrooms share 1 bathroom

Rate: € 350 / night (Buffet breakfast included for 2 adults & 2 children / day)

Reservations: www.njvathensplaza.gr