Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE HIDDEN RIVER (Jean-Francois Lesage) bomb







The loon calls at the end of this documentary were the only moving effect in this pretentious film where different groups of friends and family gather at different spots on a lovely river that seems to symbolize life’s flowing currents. There is a group of women who talk about their feelings of motherhood; two men who contemplate depression and death, young boys jumping in the river, one fly fisherwoman, a couple – she loves him; he is more into other things.
 This film is so ridiculously unrealistic. Do people in nature truly wax philosophical for 20 minutes with each other. Not once, did anyone ask: “So how are you? What’s happening in your life? Peopledo not listen to head speak about life in such surroundings, other than in a life coaching class or in a university
    lecture in a philosophy class with a bad professor.

                                                 Screened at RIDM, 2017.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

TRANSCENDENT CRETAN LUXURY


ST. NICOLAS BAY AND RESORT HOTEL




There are hotels, and then there are those that surpass the highest of expectations; they attain perfection. This is one such hotel.                 
                                                                                                   Nancy Snipper




Set among lush gardens on a lofty hill overlooking eastern Crete’s magnificent Marabello Bay, St. Nicolas Bay and Resort Hotel is renowned for its breathtaking panoramic view.  Close to ten acres (40,000 square metres) of property steeped in luminous natural beauty mesmerise – starting with the hotel’s private pristine sandy cove beach, made more remarkable by huge flat-bed rocks for relaxing, perched just above the sea – well deserving of its Blue Flag E.U. status. The property stretches beyond to reveal a natural variety of vistas and villas.



                                 Inspirational scenes beckon the guest and the bather. 






Stone and marble merge into the boundless blue of sea, sky, and swimming pools. 





                           A signature centre piece is the enormous salt-water pool.





If you book one of the waterfront luxury Thalassa Villas (there are eight of them), you’ll have your own heated one!  Reserve a villa for your family or go for its romantic appeal. Not surprisingly, weddings are held here.







Outdoor/Indoor Mediterranean Splendour

Winner of the world’s most prestigious awards for hospitality excellence, this Trip Advisor top-star hotel has garnered so many kudos, it outranks most that strive to emulate it. 

                                Minoan-like archways frame vistas of green. 



                                                 










Stone pathways meander among pine, palm and carob trees, accenting buildings bathed in white and marble. 




                                       

Lush and lovely!

                             


View of St. Nicolas Bay from hotel.




Grounds are gorgeously enhanced by a series of beguiling indoor architectural features and objects that bring to life elements of Greek antiquity. Such impeccable taste attracts the discerning traveller in need of calm surroundings cocooned in authentic Cretan elegance. 








Started in 1988, St. Nicolas Bay and Resort Hotel is owned and built by the 
visionary Cretan architect, George D. Alexandrakis. Highly artistic, Mr. Alexandrakis has designed an array of wall fixtures, lamps, mirrors and handicraft which enhance the hotel. A genius for creating unique furniture as well, each room demonstrates his passion for design originality. Functional, visually appealing and clever, many objects you see are a product of his own brilliant imagination.


























“George always wanted to create a hotel having all the elements of a Cretan nobleman’s home with soul, elegance and style,” said head manager, Costas S. Zarbalas who’s been with the hotel for 30 years.  “We want to fulfill people’s holiday dreams, so we work as a caring sincere team (over 165 staff members).  We give personable attention to their wishes; this is a small size hotel so we accomplish every guest’s expectations for a perfect holiday.”

 The harmonization of traditional Greek architecture with contemporary chic is its signature style. Upscale rooms – all 107 of them – are stunningly appointed. An exquisite blend of different textures and creamy hues put the tranquility of the Aegean Sea right next to you. If Aphrodite were mortal, she surely would have settled here!


Room Variety with Sea Views

Although there are over 100 rooms, each seems to be an island on its own. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to hear or even see your neighbour, as the hotel is constructed to ensure serenity and privacy.















There are several types of rooms – each with its own distinct layout. Most offer sea views.  Rooms range in size from 30 square metres to 160 square metres, such as the two villas within the Club Collection. Their terraces alone are 90 square metres and the pool is 30 square metres. No matter the size, all rooms have marble bathrooms, bathrobes, big thick beach and bath towels, slippers, luxury toiletries, a Nespresso coffee machine, fridge and of course WIFI, movies,  multiple language TV channels, telephone and air-conditioning. Some sport designer couches with lots of pillows.
There’s no lack of choice: from studio and one bedrooms to two and three bedrooms with lovely layouts. There are six different kinds of rooms within the Classic Collection: Junior, Deluxe and Executive suites. Most come with Jacuzzis, two balconies or one huge one. Twenty-three private pools are there to enjoy in some deluxe suites and in the exclusive Club Collection. Many have ensuite bathrooms and all kinds of state-of-the-art amenities with VIP extras. 







The Aphrodite House even has a remote control that opens up the in your bedroom to reveal a spectacular sea view right in front of you.











          My own private pool in the Classic Executive Suite. The view was captivating. 







I felt like a Minoan princess (without the regal attire!) 






The trick to ordering your room depends on your requests. Do you want a garden view, sea view; how many bedrooms; do you want a private pool, Jacuzzi, two balconies?  Order your preferences and priorities; make your bucket list, and the reservations department will grant what you request. Bear in mind, that price varies depending on room type and the season. I saw several rooms. All displayed an understated sophistication that exuded distinctive allure. 
               
 Visit the website at the end of this feature to obtain more detailed information.


Eating like a Minoan Princess

Five great areas for eating Greek and international cuisine are located in scenic areas of the hotel. My first night of arrival, I ate in the Greek Kafenion whose specialties include all kinds of Greek fish, pasta and meats. I found this meal to be a delightful first-night indulgence.











Two bouzouki players set the mood for taste enjoyment. 






Everything is cooked fresh at the hotel, and all produce comes from the area.  For my appetizer, I had a delicious seafood salad of greens, locally grown olives, mussels and huge pieces of jumbo shrimp. It was excellent.  My main course was a wonderful slow-cook oven-roasted veal dish whose huge tender pieces were flavored in tomato sauce, and pepper with Hilopites pasta surrounding it all. Wine was a 2010 red wine from Nemea. My dessert was a startling affair.  Service was of the highest quality.



Breakfast… Beyond Believable!




Served in the Club House Restaurant indoors or on the sea-view terrace, breakfast is an exorbitant feast. Guests can either sit on the terrace overlooking the sea or inside where all the food is presented on 12 long tables beautifully set with fine linen table cloths. The buffet is laden with countless classic Cretan and international dishes which delight the senses.  Ten hot servers for meats and cheese pies form part of this fabulous morning feast.  I loved the various sheep and cow’s milk yoghurt of different fat percentage.  The grape mousse cinnamon pudding called moustalevri was my addictive discovery. You have the choice of Gluten free and lactose intolerance dishes as part of their health-conscious cuisine. Meat, fresh fruit, Cretan cheeses, cereals, a yummy creamy vanilla pudding, and the list goes on.  Cretan olives – five different kinds, including Tsakistes and Throubes were a delight to sample as was the smoked pork. Figs, dates, all kinds of dried fruit, even goji berries. Jams, purees, Greek marmalades – home-made of course – like everything else – decks out more banquet tables. Incredible Cretan creamy desserts and strudels to satisfy the sweet tooth have tongue-watering palette appeal. Typically, they have their own table, and it’s a popular one!  You can enjoy all this, and also order from the à la carte menu which offers omelettes, crepes, pancakes and more yummy morning goodies?





Later on, take time to relax,
to eat and imbibe in other areas. 


                                 Night-time at the Greek Kafenion Restaurant




Astra Bar strides a lovely pool; then take a step inside the Minotaure Restaurant which specializes in sushi and Far Eastern cuisine. The Blue Bay has a Japanese menu along with grilled fare, savoury Greek food, pasta and salads.  Discover them all. Variety is the spice of life, so indulge in all of them. That’s part of the fun.

For all information on rooms, prices, restaurants and more,
Email: reservations@stnicolasbay.gr
Address: St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel is Thesi Nissi, Aghios Nikolaos, 721 00



Pampering at Poseidon Spa



Taking a treatment in the hotel's world-class spa is a must. There are over 40 all-natural beauty and well-being treatments to address body and face issues. 




 The spa’s bio-tech face technology by Elemis a ground-breaking anti-ageing product line, specifically targets wrinkles, pigmentation, skin tone and so much more. There’s even facial resurfacing and non-invasive lifting – a god-send!








Prior to my treatments, I enjoyed a scented hot vapor room. I did not have time to take a swim in the beautifully heated pool that alleviates pain, but I would return.






The setting for my treatments was incomparable.  The sea at my side, two demure trees swaying in the wind and tiny rock island poking up. The view was sublime. I was already relaxed.
My expert therapist Helen suggested I have the spa’s Signature deep tissue back massage which uses Cretan bees wax and ointments. I could hardly wait. Using her forearms to swiftly move along my spine and loosen knots, Helen found areas of tension I did not know existed. This novel forearm technique created a smooth rubbing sensation on my back; knots were soon loosened.
After my back massage, Helen gave me an Easy Going Facial – specifically the Fleurs de Bali 30’. 


Helen used products from France’s Cinq Mondes line. They are completely natural and feel gloriously light on the skin, yet the result is astounding.  I could not believe how my skin was transformed in just over an hour.  This particular facial had several steps: cleansing, spraying flower rain tonic, doing an exfoliation, and next – a mask accompanied by Helen doing a scalp massage. 





Applying a deep nourishing elixir for my dry skin (there are five to choose from).
And finally, the Serum of Youth. All worked their combined magic; my skin’s leathery look was no more. Instead I saw a clear, bright and radiant sheen of youth.  My skin felt like silk. I wanted it to last forever.

For all information, visit: www.stnicolasbay.gr
                                                                      




Venturing Beyond
St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel is a utopia; linger all day or get active at the quiet beach by partaking in the waterfront activities there. Canoe around, paddle board  jet ski or/and be taken in the speedboat to the nearby church-topped island with cri-cri (Cretan goats).






If you want to explore beyond this paradise, here are some suggestions:
Aghia Nicolaos:  Just over 1.5 km away from the hotel, Aghia Nicolaos is a trendy touristy city. More like a big town, it has an array of both exclusive and souvenir shops that wind around the enchanting waterfront. Picturesque with its own history, this seaside summer resort has its own archaeology museum.






Spinalonga: take the bus, or taxi to nearby Elounda or Plaka, to boat over to this deserted island of 16th-century stone walls that once quarantined lepers from Crete and the rest of Greece  in the early 20th-century until 1957. Interesting but bucolic, there is an unmistakable melancholy in the atmosphere. Join a guided tour to get all historical details.



For boat times, visit: www.spinalongaboat.gr.

If you rent a car, get lost along the coastal road, and enjoy the spectacularly high mountains on one side, and cozy bays of perfect blue that beckon.  Kayaking and all kinds of sports, you can find in town, but some of these activities, you can do directly from the hotel.  Here’s the website again: www.stnicolasbay.gr.