How we spend our hard earned cash on our holidays has more than ever been given more thought and consideration. These last 2 years have highlighted how fragile life can be and how things can change overnight. Today there is a huge shift in travellers demands. What is important to us is being given priority when it comes to planning a holiday.
Changing Wellness Travel Trends
The GWI reports:
The impressive 21% annual growth rate projected for wellness tourism through to 2025 reflects new traveler values (a quest for nature, sustainability, mental wellness) as well as a period of rapid recovery from pent-up demand in 2021 and 2022.
Research reports from *Global Wellness Institute also indicate people are seeking travel with purpose and deeper connections.
I was delighted to experience a family holiday recently in Paliouri Greece. It had been 20 years since my last visit. My own priorities for travel have also changed, certainly very different requirements from my 20’s (!). For this trip, it was important that I felt connected to the area.
I wanted also to have our own private accommodation to retreat to but to also have the option to eat there and enjoy a cocktail!
Villa D’or offered this with in house dining and also lawn spaces to sit and unwind and take in the amazing sea views. It also had a communal pool which was mostly empty when we were there. Some of the Villas have their own private pools. A close distance to sea and restaurants was also a deciding factor. It feels good to walk and leave the car behind. Wellness relaxation services on site and close by also came also was on the list!
Villa’ D’or offered all of the above and more. They offer modern Villa style accommodation ranging from small to large sized options, with a nod to beautiful local crafts and airy light interior style. I loved that it’s on a smaller scale, 22 separate villa style houses in total.
The drive from Thessaloniki airport to Paliouri is very direct, 103km in distance South bound. We laughed all the way in our hair dryer engine (as the kids called it)mini Fiat car. Paliouri is a traditional cluster of long-standing stone houses, with paths leading over forested hills to a sheltered bay.
Once you start to drive out to the ‘leg’ or arm (!) of the peninsula (one of three) you can feel your shoulders relax as the sea comes into view. You can catch glimpses of the turquoise water all around and there are endless Olive groves, some cultivated some that look wild. We also learnt the area is famous for its honey. The setting was so pretty we kept stopping at every corner. Taking deep breaths of the sea air and pine trees all around.
You can’t fake warmth and genuine hospitality and we received that from the moment we arrived at Villa D’or. The staff went the extra mile in many ways. We were warmly welcomed and invited to go relax and a welcome drink was brought to us as we took in the view across the bay of Kassandra. What a setting! Set back from the road amidst the olive trees and greenery with views of the blue blue sea all around.
We felt at ease immediately and the children couldn’t wait to jump into the pool. They would have happily spent the whole week here not leaving and ordering juices (!), they loved it so much. Whilst the accommodation didn’t have a Spa, they had an ‘on call therapist’. Booking a treatment the next or same day is a great way to help get rid of the travel tiredness and put you in holiday mode.
Agia Paraskevi thermal springs are also close by. Overlooking the Aegean sea you can enjoy the therapeutic qualities of Agia Paraskevi Baths and sea water Thermal pools.
On our first day we explored Paliouri town, a small town with a few cafes and restaurants, excellent bakery & homemade ice-cream (divine) set on a small square area were the local kids play. Whilst everything is translated for the tourist you can see it is town with of local people. We loved the restaurant Tavern Nikos Moschos, discovering Greek salads loaded with dill and fried zucchini. We drove right to the tip of the Peninsula leg and discovered a tiny Orthodox church, St. James where we lit some beeswax candles outside.
We took a day trip into Thessaloniki exploring the cultural UNESCO monuments, Roman arches. Thessaloniki is famed for its delicious pastries, spicy meatballs, wine, frappés and local specialities reflecting a rich cultural heritage. On a recommendation, we had a delicious meal at Mamalouka, tasty a delicious chickpea salad and honey soaked flat bread. The day went quickly in the busy beautiful town and we headed home to the quietness and sound of cicadas in the Olive groves.
We explored local beaches of Paliouri and Xenia and also loved Pefkohori, which in April were quite desserted. We also had one directly in front of us where I enjoyed early morning swims. The water here is mezmorising if not freezing (!) and flat like a lake all the time, a wonderful play ground for snorkeling and I believe diving is fabulous in the area too. We were hoping to take a boat trip but most operators where only starting in May. We could see too all the beach restaurants and bar shacks were setting up too and one beside us had the most gorgeous setting. Next time!
We spent many evening on the large Terrace, playing games and enjoying the service at Villa D’or. The simplicity of watching the sunset with a drink felt like a real treat. The breakfasts they serve are divine and offer very healthy options and typical local pastries.
Often after returning from a family holiday you can feel exhausted but it is possible to get that balance right for the adults too with some careful planning. I loved that this accommodation offered a connection to local food and products, all their staff were local and were happy to recommend the best places to go too. Everything was with a smile.
It this sense of ‘home’ that I believe more of us are seeking and what type of service a Hotel accommodation can offer to help you feel good. Here, is simply the warm welcome, the good healthy food, the ultra comfortable beds and accommodation, views and options to be active in nature.
I would return in a flash to Villa D’or but I would to also see some relaxation and exercise classes on offer on a small scale. Yoga on the beach and other services to help delve deeper into Wellness and relaxation. Their offering is unique and sits so well in the landscape, and is good for the soul.
Thank you for reading,
Feel free to reach out to me if I can help in any way:
Villa D’oro, Paliouri