La Mer Resort & Spa is a new 5-star resort on Crete’s north shore, 40 km east of Chania, and 80 km west of Iraklion (both cities are served by international airports), near the village of Drama. The beach that the resort is on has superbly transparent waters.
If peace and quiet is your goal, this is the place for you: the resort is about 20 km west of Rethymno, which is the largest population center in the area, but otherwise its location is relatively remote and peaceful. Its architectural elements do a good job of fusing modernity with tradition Cretan styles, resulting in a building complex that is both pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate.
The resort has 76 rooms and suites, 2 gourmet restaurants, 2 bars, a large pool, and an on-site, state of the art spa, among other amenitites. Guests really liked the cleanliness of the hotel and grounds, the excellent restaurant food and the service.
Rooms at Le Mer have a sturdy, well-built look about them. The furniture is solid, and the rooms have a pleasing color scheme of light beige and white walls and ceilings contrasted by the dark brown wood of the furnishings and the bathroom sinks, fixtures, floor tiles, and walls. The bed orientation of the many of the rooms is interesting; they face the balcony. So you get the full view of the world outside the balcony when you wake up in the AM, or when you have a lie down during the day. The TV is also mounted on the balcony window for viewing whilst lying down.
Standard room amenities include free WiFi, AC, cable-satellite TV, full-length mirror, coffee and tea facilities, beach towels, bottle of wine and fruit basket on arrival, bathrobe and slippers and bath amenities, magnifying mirror, pillow menu, hairdryer, guest laundry, iron and board, laptop or tablet available on request and availability, mini bar, safe deposit box, writing desk, and lots more.
Double Room with Partial Sea View
Comes with a 6m2 furnished balcony. Choice is between 2 single beds or 1 double, with your choice of pillow. Linens, towels, and robes are all anti-allergy. Nice view from the balcony of the grounds, and a partial view of the sea and the coastline.
Double Room Sea View
Balcony affords a great view of the grounds, the beach, and onward to the wide open horizon of the Sea of Crete. You can relax in the evening with a coffee or tea from the complimentary coffee/tea facilities before heading out for the night. Beds are either 2 singles, or 1 double.
Double Room Garden Level with Outdoor Jetted Tub
The 12m2 furnished terrace is fenced on the side for privacy by a rustic peeled-sapling divider. The highlight of the terrace is the roomy jetted tub, where you can have a pleasant soak during the hot afternoon hours. Terrace leads directly onto the manicured grass of the gardens. Choice of 1 double or 2 twin beds.
Superior Room Sea View
This room gives you a choice of a double bed, or two singles, plus a third single for a 3rd guest. View from the balcony is the inspiring sight of the Sea of Crete. There’s something about the wide-open spaces of the sea that makes the imagination soar.
Superior Room Garden Level with Outdoor Jetted Tub
This Superior Room can sleep up to 3 guests, with a third single bed placed next to the two twins (or queen size), divided by the bedside table. Choose the pillow of your choice from the pillow menu. A special treat is the outdoor jetted tub, which provides a great opportunity to decompress and relax in the quiet of the evening. The garden is just a few steps away from the terrace.
Food and Drink
Le Mer Resort offers 2 restaurants and two bars for your dining and drinking pleasure.
The resort’s main restaurant, Perle Noire (Black Pearl), serves a buffet breakfast with a nice selection of the type of food Cretans enjoy as the first meal of the day to fortify themselves. It also adds some international breakfast items for variety. They serve a buffet dinner of Mediterranean specialties, rounded out by some really nice Cretan and Greek wines. Some evenings themed menus are on offer.
La Brise de Mer (Sea Breeze) is the resort’s poolside eating venue, a place you can go to enjoy a nice open-air lunch a la carte style of Cretan and Greek based menu items, and a wide variety of fresh caught fish. Dinner uses a unique recipe book compiled by previous generations of Cretan women, with locally sourced products cooked to perfection. International wines as well await your selection, and tickle the palette as you enjoy your meal.
The poolside bar La Mer a boire (Drink by the Sea) is a pleasant place to relax with your favorite beverage, be it alcoholic or non, whilst working on your tan at the pool. The pool bar also serves light snacks both at poolside and on the beach.
For a more cosmopolitan vibe, the Lobby Bar Oceanus is where you can find a wide selection of world-renowned beverages, wines, beers, soft drinks, and cocktails created by the Lobby Bar’s expert mixologists. A variety of tobacco products are available as well, including Cuban and Dominican cigars.
Spa and Wellness
The Ariadne Spa Center is where you go to be pampered, rejuvenated, and revitalized. The spa’s design is conducive for relaxation, and its varied treatments and massages provide and avenue and opportunity to recapture the elasticity of skin, the healthy tone of youth, and the feeling of inner well-being that a body in perfect harmony with nature enjoys. This ultra-modern, state of the art facility has a freshwater indoor heated pool, five treatment and massage suites, a double suite for couple’s treatments, a relaxation lounge serving complimentary teas and juices, a sauna, and an ice fountain.
Treatments and services include beauty, facial, and body treatments and massages, manicure and pedicure services, and even a hairdresser to get you ready for that big night out. There are also seaside and poolside open-air massage treatments available.
A fully equipped fitness center gives you a unique view of the garden and grounds as you continue your normal at-home fitness routine with the resorts treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes, rowing machines, and complete selection of free weights. An on-site trainer is available for individualized consultation and supervision for a safe and complete workout.
Indoor activities on tap at La Mer Resort include table tennis, foosball, and billiards.
In the Area
Because of La Mere Resort’s relative isolation, your best option for a day out is Rethymno and its environs. Rethymno, which, at 40,000, is Crete’s 3rd largest city, and is about 20kmto the east of the resort. This historic city is well worth a solid day’s trip, as there’s lots to see and do. Rethymno is full of interesting architectural features and lots of really nice beaches nearby.
Rethymno's history goes back to Minoan times, whose acme as a civilization was about 2000-1500 BC. After a long history of Hellenistic, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule, the Venetians took control of Rethymno in 1204 AD. The city really began to flourish in the latter 16th century, when its Cretan-Venetian character was established, particularly in its architecture. This part of Rethymno is now known as the Old Town (Palia Poli). It remains one of the best preserved Venetian old towns on the Greek islands.
The Old Town has retained its Italian architectural character, featuring the massive Fortezza (the citadel and castle guarding the harbour), bougainvillea-bedecked, stone-constructed arches and gateways, doorways, and staircases, scattered Byzantine, Roman and Hellenic ruins, churches, Mosques, a compact Venetian harbour, and characteristic narrow streets.
Recent years have seen considerable development in Rethymno from its tourism sector, which accounts for most of its employment and revenue. Despite this, the town and the area around it retains its unique character.
Geographically, Venetian Rethymno runs along the base of a fat peninsula about 700-by-700 meters, jutting northward into the sea, with the harbour on the peninsula 's east side. The Fortezza, the town's first and strongest line of defence, dominates the peninsula's northern end. The Fortezza is the largest and most complete citadel built by the Venetians on Crete.
In front of the main gate of the Fortezza is the pentagonal Rethymno Archeological Museum, featuring chronologically-ordered exhibits of the region from Neolithic to Roman times.
Some other points of interest in Old Town include:
The Venetian Harbour. This picturesque little harbour, less than 100 meters in diameter, is enclosed on its east side by the mole the Venetians built in the 13th century. At the end of the mole is the charming Egyptian lighthouse, built in 1830, after the Turks had given Crete to the Egyptians. The quay itself is lined with tavernas, cafes, and restaurants occupying the ground floor of two and three-story Venetian-style buildings with later, Turkish-influence structures making for a colourful, pleasing-looking whole. Docked fishing boats bob along the quay, along with some old-style wooden ships, including a fake pirate ship or two, used for local cruises.
Other sites worthy of note in Rethymno include the Historical-Folk Museum, which has collections of fabrics, pottery baskets, coins, costumes, and the tools needed to make them. The Museum is an effort to present daily life in a villa during the latter years of Venetian rule.
Arkadiou Street, which follows the curve of the water's edge is chock-a-block with Venetian-era mansions. These dressed-stone buildings with their moulded facades and neo-classical entryways will make you think that that you're in Italy, not Greece.
Venetiko Limani (Venetian Port) Beach is along the shoreline of the new harbour, southeast of the Venetian harbour. Starting at the Venetian harbour lighthouse and running southeast for 350 meters, this beach is often packed in the summer because of its proximity to town. Although the waters aren’t quite what they are further from town, still and all they are quite nice. The beach isn’t really organized but will do for short-term visitors. Its big advantage is that the harbour helps to block the meltemi winds which blow out of the north in summer.
Rethymno Town Beach is just east of the Venetiko Limani Beach. Because it’s close to town, it also attracts a lot of visitors, but it is well-organized, with sun beds, umbrellas, and a variety of water sports. Beach bars line its length, and a flag system is in place to warn of the high winds which can endanger small children. The following beaches are really part of one long strand running eastward from Rethymno for about 20 km.
Some other places worth considering in the area of Rethymno include the Arkadi Monastery, about a half hour's drive (23 km southeast of the town), the site of a Turkish siege. Founded by the Byzantines in the 5th century, the present main church was built in the Venetian style by Greeks during 16th century, in an interesting Italian Baroque architectural style. It was known as a center of learning, with a large library. In 1866, 943 Greek women and children taking refuge in the monastery chose to blow themselves up with gunpowder barrels rather than surrender to the besieging Turks. It is now a national sanctuary honouring the Cretan Resistance against the Ottomans.
Atsipopoulo a village, really a suburb, just 5 km south of Rethymno, is an atmospheric place full of Italian-style architectural touches. The houses were built each wall touching the other in order to provide not only shelter, but a defensive perimeter around the village. many of the old villas have been renovated, and some now serve as small hotels.
Rethymno Myli is 7 km from Rethymno. Its inhabitants were forced to move to a new location because of the unstable geology which led to rock slides, destroying many homes and the water mills (mylia) which provided its people with a living.
Myrthios, 20 km south, is situated at an altitude of 500 meters, and is surrounded by natural gorges and rock formations. It features many picturesque stone cottages. Not far from Myrthios is Prassies, a village in a relatively lush area ("prassino" = "green") with a beautiful gorge nearby.
Melidoni Cave, about 30 km east of Rethymno, and 5 km inland from the sea, is an important cave with a sad story attached to it. The cave is named after Antonios Melidonis, a leader in the rebellion against the Turks, who was from the nearby village of Melidoni. In 1824, 250 villagers who were taking refuge in the cave were suffocated when the Turks sealed the entrance. The cave now houses a large sarcophagus containing the bones of the victims, which has become a monument to the Cretan resistance.
By the way, the cave was said to be the home of Talos, a mythical bronze giant who was the first robot in history. He was a gift to the Minoan King Minos from Zeus to be the guardian of Crete. A vein running from his neck to his ankles carried his blood- molten metal. Nails in his ankles kept the blood from running out. Jason and his Argonauts tricked Talos, occupying him by using the sorceress Medea to tell him tales while she cast spells, causing Talos to lose his common sense, remove the nails from his ankles, and "bleed" to death.
The cave was also the site of worship of a female deity during the middle Minoan period (2100-1600 BC). A copper ax from this period has been found there. The cave seems to have always been a place of great religious importance; the Romans worshipped "Taleos Hermes" there, as well.
La Mere Resort is a great holiday choice. But if you wish to go a bit further afield, the area around Rethymno has a lot to see and do.
Dramia - Georgioupolis, Crete 730 07
(+30) 28310 611-63
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