Blatant Croatia plug – Qantas insider

I love me a travel list.

I love me a travel list even more when it includes islands, coastal properties and Croatia.


Harpers Bazaar best hotel pools c/o Mr & Mrs Smith

I love a best pools list.

This one is a jealousy inducing, perfectly distracting list for a dreary Monday.

Not quite Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort – August 2012

My week of summer holidays in Croatia was sans hotel due to the family focused nature of our trip, however i still managed to slip in a little hotel dreaming in.

Searching for the best pizza on a day trip to the island of Hvar, a recommendation to try Villa Dinka, which is just next to the hotel was too good to ignore. The Amfora Hotel takes up an alarming large stretch of land and private beach, and is all inclusive and exclusive – pools, restaurants, beach club, bars, yoga classes, spas – you name it, this place has got it. The pool even has a waterslide ( cue jealousy. Yes, I am 5 years old).

As far as a luxury Croatian holiday experience goes, the Amfora certainly does not disappoint. It is big and glitzy, and delivers all you need in a massive resort. Hvar has become quite the luxury hotspot, attracting a myriad of international celebrities, most chilling on their super yachts Jay Z & Bey style. But i guess those without their own yachts have to stay somewhere, and the Amfora is not the worst you can do!

But i digress. For us, it was all about the Pizza. Villa Dinka is perched high up on the mountain overlooking the Amfora and out to the sparkling blue ocean. The Prsut pizza is my standard test pizza, and Villa Dinka delivers a tasty meal at incredibly cheap prices. The pizzas were around the 40 kuna mark (AU $10, GBP 4.50), and it was a struggle to finish it. As it was a particularly hot day, and we moved into a pizza coma fairly quickly after eating, a planned post lunch cocktail at the Amfora never materialised. I guess i will just have to come back to visit again.


Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort,

Hvar Island, Croatia

Aeneon Villas, Santorini – July 2012

We were lucky enough to stay at Aeneon Villas as part of a wedding celebration for one of my nearest and dearest. Arriving at the hotel through the main entrance hides the breathtaking view, so it is not until you climb up the stairs to the main pool area that you realise what you are dealing with. And what you are dealing with is a million dollar view.

The main villa was home to bridesmaids and night before the wedding activities. A luxurious family/group villa, with a master bedroom and two small rooms, large lounge areas and a full kitchen and dining area is big enough for entertaining – or just more lazing about and thinking of entertaining while ordering room service.

The main bedroom takes on a cave like appearance, with an open ensuite bathroom that was surprisingly traditional styled and quite an offset to the rest of the room. The two smaller bedrooms get the morning sun, and waking up to that amazing bright light really is something. Not so great is waking up to the local rooster, but it was fine – he started crowing well after sunrise and was a perfect reminder that lazy days are on the cards on this island.

It didn’t take very long to completely soak up the chilled lifestyle vibe created by Aenon. So much so that I felt it completely appropriate to swan about in my bathrobe and slippers in the villa and also down to reception.  Lazing on the couches one day I was so chilled out that I didn’t realise that I was watching a Sophia Loren movie in Greek.

The villa was a perfect backdrop for the ‘bride getting ready at her stylish home’ photos as the entire house follows a strict white colouring policy, with accents of wooden accessories, flowers and helpful mod cons like Bang and Olufsen ipod decks & speakers.

And when the interiors are just too perfect for you, it is a short stroll out to the main guest area complete with infinity pool that looks over the money shot: clifftop views of the ocean and  island surrounds. The small towns on either side of the hotel make for a perfect backdrop at night, with lights twinkling in the distance.

Things I love about Aeneon

Impeccable service – George and Alexandra have made these villas feel like home. An amazing home. A home I wish I had. A special shout out has to go to Dennis the amazing staff member who catered to every need. And we were a needy bunch. From finding things we had misplaced across the property (the downside of having the whole property to ourselves meant that we were VERY much at home) to bringing us a constant supply beers/coffees/diet cokes, no request was left unfulfilled. Dennis, you are a machine.

Promotion of national products in the best way possible for this hotel lady – Korres skincare and haircare products. I love a bit of cross cultural promotion and have often purchased the products after a hotel stay. There is nothing better than whipping out a body moisturiser that in one moment can take you back to a poolside location.

Deck chairs peppered across the property, keeping it uber private and chilled

Full cleaning of the room top to toe every day – windows included! I’ve never seen this devotion to cleanliness before. AND I LOVED IT.

Breakfast of champions – spanakopita, Greek yogurt, omelets, croissants, cereal, fresh fruit and those santorini tomatoes. Yes, we will eat them for any/all meals, thank you very much.

Aenaon villas,

Imerovigli, Santorini 84700, Kyklades Islands, Greece

Caldera Villas, Oia, Santorini – July 2012

Santorini is the stuff dreams are made of. After a lifetime of staring at postcards of Oia, I thought it was only a fantasy land that could so perfectly combine my love of sea & white everything.

Arriving at Caldera Villas, it is very hard to hate on anything. The view, the view, the view. Did I mention the view? It completely blows you away, and it is amazing how quickly you are mesmerised by the incredible scenery.

Our room was perched up above the pool and main hotel area, complete with a private balcony and outdoor seating. Views of the ocean can be seen while lazing in bed, for those who are too lazy to go outside to experience Oia.

The rooms are mainly white (of course), with the layout an open plan studio with sumptuous queen beds and a small seating area that was quickly made into a dressing room as we quickly shed all clothing to get into the sunshine and water. The bathroom was oversized and cave like, offering plenty of space to line up my bottles of sunscreen.

The accommodation included breakfast and we were a little disappointed on day one as it was quite basic. They must have read our minds on day two, as the breakfast spread was beefed up to include a range of hot options. I preferred to stick with the greek yoghurt and honey, sparking off quite the addiction. Free tea/coffee/juice all day is a nice touch, and particularly handy during the long hot days by the pool.

Things I love about Caldera Villas 

–        That view.

–        The staff: so friendly and helpful, we really couldn’t have asked for more.

–        Incredibly comfortable beds (though that could have been the after affects of our bodies getting some sunshine after a long dark ‘spring’ in the UK)

–        The sweetest bath towels in old European style prints

Things I don’t love about Caldera Villas 

–        The steps. Without sounding like a completely lazy person, they could do with some work. While it is expected that a Cliffside property is going to be laden with stairs, the crumbled tiles and concrete mix was slightly dangerous, and while no injuries were recorded (amazingly as I am quite uncoordinated the more relaxed I am on holiday), it was a bit of a daily struggle to get up and down each day in one piece. There was plenty detail on Tripadvisor with warnings, and the staff do carry your bags for you, but they could still be improved.

–        While the bathroom & shower unit looked brand new, I would have expected something a little more high powered on the water front. A little bit all show, no performance.

Hotel lady tip:

Oia restaurant recommendation: Most of the restaurants in Oia are tourist focussed so I never thought we got a great authentic Greek meal. The closest was down at the old ferry port, where there are waterside restaurants where you can choose your own fish and they BBQ it right in front of you. Otherwise, in central Oia, my pic of the bunch would be Scala. In any case, order a Greek salad and you will never go wrong.

Santorini restaurant recommendation: While it might not be close to your hotel if you stay in the tourist areas of Oia or Thira, Perivolos Beach is worth the bus/taxi ride for a quick dip in the ocean, and alight lunch at Seaside by Notos ( We went for a girly lunch, and enjoyed a few of the local specials tapas style. Great service, right on the beach and killer cocktails.

Caldera Villas

Main Street, Oia 847 02, Greece