Villa Aphrodite in the traditional village of Xirosterni, Apakoronas, Crete is an idyllic residence with that 'Goldilocks Factor': "not too far from tavernas and beaches, but not close to neighbours!" - as our guests have commented. In an acre of gated grounds, next to pine and olive groves, Villa Aphrodite is designed for maximum comfort. Its style blends traditional Cretan arches with sympathetic contemporary lines. Guests instantly recognize that this isn't a typical or basic holiday rental. The hand-made furnishings and fabrics, the modern amenities, the numerous French windows allowing the outside to flow indoors, the choice of sun or shade - all speak of the owner's careful attention to your needs and relaxation. Each air-conditioned bedroom has its own balcony or terrace for you to enjoy that lazy, private breakfast with your partner, or that cool evening drink while watching the sunset or the clearest of stars. Set on a gentle slope, the upper floor living areas take advantage of the gentle breeze and stunning views on all sides, while the bedrooms benefit from being in the cooler downstairs. The large, unoverlooked, totally private pool has sun-loungers, umbrellas, awnings, water-proof giant bean-bags and refreshing shower.
A 10 minute drive to the blue flag sandy beaches and pretty harbours of Almyrida and Kalives, both child-safe with many beach side tavernas, snack bars and shops; 20 minutes to the bustling resort of Georgiopouli with its fresh-water fed beach of Kalavaki or the pounding surf and beach sports along its 7 kilometre coastline; 25 minutes to the fresh-water Lake Kournas with its turtles, wild-life and hire boats; 15 minutes to an unusual and peaceful bathe in the crystal waters at Ombrogialos cove.
The villa is a 5 minute walk to the centre of Xirosterni village with its well stocked mini-market, friendly good value Kafenion ( basic taverna), church and wells. Vamos, 5 mins drive, has tavernas, shops, bank, ATM, pharmacy, English butcher, post-office. Gavalahori, 5 minutes, has excellent tavernas, bakery, cocktail bar, traditional crafts and ancient monuments. The beach resorts of Almirida and Kalives have a host of water-side tavernas, shops, supermarkets, internet cafes and gift shops. Georgopouli has nightclubs, hotels, many souvenir shops, boat and kayak hire, markets and is a lively resort.
Once into the gated grounds, the beautifully prepared villa - named after the Greek Goddess of Love - comes complete with a welcome pack of groceries, a guide book, maps and a substantial file of local events, activities and historical sites. Guests often find it hard to tear themselves away from the relaxing villa, inviting pool, or games area, but the local villages, both inland and beach-side, are well worth sampling. They are still traditional, friendly and very good value. Luckily the region of the Apokoronas is one of the greenest in Crete, the scenery beautiful, and the amenities extensive.
Only a 20 minute drive away are the impressive remains of the ancient city of Aptera, (second only in Crete to Knossos), and the villa is perfectly placed for exploring the various and breath-taking gorges of the White Mountains - so called because of its snow-clad peaks in winter. A visit to the bustling nearby city of Chania is a must. Its street markets, tavernas, entertainment and museums are very colourful, and watching the cosmopolitan world stroll by while you sip a sunset cocktail alongside the Venetian harbour can be the perfect way to top your shopping expedition.
The equally vibrant Venetian town of Rethymno with its market day is always high on our guests 'must-do' recommendations. For the more adventurous, a drive across the White Mountains, which are the spine of Crete, will reveal gorgeous and rugged bays lapped by the warm waters of the Libyan Sea. There are several hidden-gem villages along this southern coastline, such as Loutro, which are only accessible by the regular ferries or cheap water-taxis, which are well worth a visit or even a never to be forgotten overnight stay.
Guests will be struck by the double height living area with its cypress wood ceiling, having no less than 3 sets of French windows which lead out onto mountain view balconies, or the spacious veranda with its uninterrupted sea views. At any time of the day guests can find amply shaded lounging areas outdoors, or discrete areas for sun bathing. All rooms have additional fans and the lighting system allows guests to alter the mood to suit their taste. Excellent WIFI internet access and 4G phone connectivity. For the young, or young at heart, there is an extensive range of sports and board games to entertain you.
Apart from the poolside jasmine and bougainvillea, the grounds have been left natural with wild thyme, sage, rosemary, and olive, carob, hazelnut and almond trees. There are spacious sun terraces surrounding the pool, which have been finished with non-slip local flagstones and low stone walls. Romantically lit at night, it has a barbecue area, sail shades and awnings, a selection of easy chairs, tables, and a hammock to provide an exclusive, private bathing experience. The larger than average pool (5 metres by 10 metres) has a shallow depth of 1.20m and a deep-end of 2.20m. The generous, upstairs veranda has comfy cane furniture, and an extending teak table for perfect al-fresco dining while you enjoy the views. The lounge balcony has reclining chairs and telescope for star-gazing. Half-way down the sweeping driveway is the functioning well with its ancient stone channel and drinking trough. Tucked away into the corner of the grounds is the ancient, dry-stone shepherd's hut or 'kumos'.
The air-conditioned mezzanine is a second lounge, complete with 4 futon sofas, giant floor cushions, occasional tables, a useful teak dresser and ceiling fan - a perfect chill-out zone. The games area has full size table-tennis, table football and pool.