Travel Review: Zakynthos, Greece


Aegean Dreams

We travel to the Ionian island of Zakynthos in search of some sunshine

Words by Becky Pomfret

Make the most of a week away with stays at two of Zakynthos’ most exclusive five-star hotels, where luxury and service are the order of the day

Rates at Lesante Cape Resort & Villas and Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort Zakynthos Inspired by the land they sit upon, Lesante’s resorts invite guests to immerse themselves in the breathtaking nature, traditions and practices of the island

While craving Greek sunshine my online search took me to the Ionian island of Zakynthos. Of course, the capital Zante’s reputation precedes it as a party destination to rival Ayia Napa, but I’m determined to look beyond the neon lights and sure enough, further research tells me that much of the island is indeed beautiful, and relatively unspoilt. Lesante Collection, a family-owned group of five-star abodes comprising the award-winning Lesante Classic, the adults-only Lesante Blu, and the recently opened Lesante Cape, catch my eye. I am spoilt for choice and so I plump for four nights at Cape followed by three at Blu, and I’m excited to experience what each has to offer.

I’m thankful for the short drive from the airport to the Akrotiri Peninsula to get to Cape, and while the travel has been relatively quick and fuss-free, I find myself transported into another world. The tranquil lobby, combined with the scent of lavender and stunning sea views make me a little teary, confirming just how much I need a restorative week away. The resort itself has been designed to look and feel like a traditional Greek village. There’s a maze of beautiful low rise white stone buildings and high archways, complete with a village square at its heart. There’s also a church, and a museum, as well as a large herb and veg garden, which provides fresh organic ingredients for the resort’s first-rate restaurants.

Rates at Lesante Cape Resort & Villas and Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort Zakynthos

My suite is impressive and roomy with a welcoming queen-sized bed, and the neutral interiors make it warm and inviting. As I slump into a super comfy L-shaped sofa I can’t help but reassess my own sitting room set-up, rearranging the furniture in my mind. I’m even more impressed when I step out onto the terrace as I’m greeted by my very own plunge pool. The terrace has high stone walls and shrubbery at the far end, which offers all-important privacy but without the feeling of being entirely cut off. It would be the height of laziness to order room service and stay put – though on one night I do just that – so, I head out for a meander, and find Cape’s restaurants and infinity pools perched on a cliff edge with the most amazing panoramic views. A room of one’s own is lovely, but these views (and cocktails) win out.

The resort offers various private dining options and I go for a lunchtime cooking lesson with head chef Manos and his sous chef Christos from Fiore, Cape’s lauded fine dining restaurant. The experience begins with a tour around the vegetable garden, gathering ingredients before we head back to the kitchen to make a glorious garden-fresh Greek salad. A wonderfully fragrant and colourful start to the meal, it is followed by spanakopita, a traditional vegetable and herb pastry pie, then sea bass, and a useful demonstration of how to fillet and cook the fish to perfection – before devouring it.

Rates at Lesante Cape Resort & Villas and Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort Zakynthos

After four nights at Cape, the next stop is sister hotel, Lesante Blu. The most significant difference here being that Blu is adults only, and it immediately looks and feels more contemporary and minimalist in design. The sea view is nothing short of breath taking, made all the more so by Blu’s own private jetty where you can drink it all in, watching the yachts sail in and out. Here, the rooms are more compact than at Cape, and are set out with open-plan bathrooms (if you don’t know your roomie well before the trip, you certainly will by the end!). But Blu’s facilities are every bit as relaxing and accommodating as our previous accommodation, the indulgent pool-side service being a particular highlight. Every taste is catered to, from fine-dining gastronomy at Melia to more casual fare at Ostria and Gaia, each menu paying homage to traditional Greek and Mediterranean flavours and local produce. Gaia’s rib-eye steaks are cooked to perfection and are best served while guests enjoy the warm evening air and the spectacular vista.

With plentiful trips on offer to beautiful beaches and to see the local wildlife, I really only touch the surface of what Zakynthos has to offer, so a return visit is very much on the cards.