One of my earliest holiday memories is of a trip to Greece as a seven-year-old girl – my dad hired a scooter and we got spectacularly lost.
I vividly remember lots of roundabouts and pavement shops, restaurants and bars, and having sun burnt arms from where I gripped on for dear life for hours. I still groan to myself now when my dad decides to work out directions for himself.
As a thirtysomething travelling enthusiast I found myself back in Greece, this time with a trusty hire car – hoping to create some new memories of this beautiful country.
I stayed at the SENTIDO Mediterranean Village, in Paralia mainland Greece. SENTIDO Hotels and Resorts are exclusive to Thomas Cook – offering idyllic resorts for family or adult only holidays. I was promised beautiful surroundings, exceptional service and locally-sourced good quality food.
SENTIDO Mediterranean Village didn’t let me down. From the wonderful authentic food on offer, to the pillow menu left in your room to help you sleep better at night, and the luscious grounds framing perfectly maintained swimming pools, elegant palms and a beautiful beach – it really is a little slice of paradise.
Unwinding on the beach is a sophisticated affair, complete with views of the magnificent Mount Olympus, the calm crystal clear sea and pristine sand. Hiring out a cabana for a €30 fee was a treat. Each cabana came with waiter service and complimentary water – and the hut was ours for the day. Comfortable loungers and parasols are also available free of charge to hotel guests.
There were a few pools located around the complex, but I found myself heading towards the main pool by reception. It was such a delight to relax in the sun on a padded lounger and take in the views of the beach and surrounding resort. And when the heat got too much, which it did often, the adjacent outdoor lounge and bar area was a shaded but elegant bolt hole, the perfect spot to read and chat and take a rest from the intense sunshine.
If relaxing all day on a sun lounger isn’t your thing, though, there are activity schedules on offer too – with light workouts and activities during the day for guests.
The hotel is offered as a half board package – and breakfast and dinner buffets are substantial.
Food is replenished and replaced often, so fresh and tasty food was plentiful for each inclusive meal.
For those that like to take their time in the morning, a continental breakfast was offered for lazier folk… like me… between 10.30 and 12noon.
Here you took a seat on the outdoor terrace and were served plates of cheese and cured meats, pastries, bread, jam and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Being the type of person who often misses breakfast because of strict timings, this was a winner for me and definitely allowed me to have a more relaxed approach to my day.
SENTIDO resorts offer at least one a la carte restaurant per resort – available to all guests for a minimal charge per person.
Mediterranean Village had a choice of three.
So after paying my €10 supplement, I dined at Paprica – a beach-side restaurant within the complex, offering typical Mediterranean and Greek food.
Paprica has a vast, although slightly vague, menu. The items I chose – with the help of the waiter – were an absolute delight.
The grilled eggplant was a beauty – a juicy aubergine grilled with chopped fresh tomatoes, feta cheese onion and olive oil. The taste so fresh and unexpected – it was the kind of dish I’ll continuously attempt to recreate at home, but never get quite right.
Recommended also were the courgette fritters with homemade tzatziki – although not something I would naturally find myself opting for, it was delicious.
A twenty minute walk, or €5 taxi, from the hotel and you were in Paralia city centre.
After the elegance and calming feel of the hotel, it really was an assault on the senses. Bright lights, restaurants and cocktail bars. Shops lined the streets selling homemade local gifts and souvenirs, fur coats, jewellery shops and accessories- the beautiful St. Fotini Church standing proud.
With guidance from the hotel receptionist I had a list of recommended places to try, and had a great time.
As rain was forecast for one of our final days, I hopped in my hire car and drove to Katerini centre to see the main shopping district.
Although it was Sunday, when the majority of shops were closed, it was pleasant to sit in cafes and bars, and just soak up some hospitality and explore the city on a quieter day.
I still managed to be back in the spa at the SENTIDO Mediterranean Village for some more rain dodging activities that afternoon! Thank goodness for sat navs… if only my dad could have had one of those all those years ago.
Thomas Cook offers seven nights on half board at the four-star SENTIDO Mediterranean Village in Paralia, from £536 per person. Enter code BOOKIT for £75 off.
Price based on a departure date of May 26 from Manchester. Economy Plus flight upgrade on Thomas Cook Airlines from £59.99 per person each way. www.thomascook.com, 0844 412 5970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook store.
Car hire with Pieria bookable with Thomas Cook in resort from €45 a day.
See www.thomascook.com for full terms and conditions. Other optional extras may be applicable at the time of booking. Thomas Cook Tour Operations terms and conditions apply.