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"I think this a really good option if you're looking…"
I think this a really good option if you're looking for the benefits of a child-friendly resort type holiday but without the crowds and with a bit more privacy.
Periyali is a collection of pretty stone villas in an incredibly picturesque setting overlooking a beautiful coastline.
It's very child friendly. So you can have the privacy of your own villa, each with a small pool (perfect for young children just learning to swim/ gaining confidence in the water). There's also a larger collective pool with comfortable loungers and a nice cafe where the kids (and you) can socialise. The children can go from villa to pool safely and easily by themselves and you can stroll to the beach (a private pebble one on site) or glorious sandy ones a little further away.
There are lots of fun beaches in the area and you get a car thrown in, so you'll have no problem exploring Zakynthos. Our favourite beach by miles was Daphne beach. The road is a little treacherous but once you're there it's well worth it. Daphne is a broad stretch of fine sand with cliffs behind and a sprinkling of tavernas and bars on the beach but very well set back - you're not allowed to disturb the nesting turtles. It's got a vaguely hippy feel about it - no watersports on this beach - and it's rather magical.
The villas themselves are comfortable, though not luxurious. I/ we thought the pool taverna food was quite reasonable and the barbeque night (which is about as intrusive as the entertainment gets) was well worth doing.
We didn't use the kids' club (mine just won't do that sadly) but other parents spoke highly of the staff and were very grateful of a few hours peace each day. (We just gave ours sweets )
The flights/ travel arrangements were all arranged efficiently and none of the times or transfers were too grueling.
I'd say it was a fab choice for a family with young children who want peace, some playmates and good weather, all in beautiful surroundings. It's Mark Warner without the madness.Read moreLess
2 people found this review helpful.
"We visited Periyali when DS was tiny, and loved it…"
We visited Periyali when DS was tiny, and loved it so much we ended up dragging friends back the following year. Set on Zakynthos' sleepy Vassilikos peninsula, Periyali comprises a low-key collection of pretty little houses, set in beautiful communal grounds with spectacular sea views, a small pool and kids' club - plus good tavernas and beaches nearby. It's an idyllic setting if all you want to do is chill with the kids - although teenagers might find the rural setting a tad lacking in nightlife.
Anyhow, last year we went back again - this time to give the new-look Periyali the once over. Now part of Simpson Travel's portfolio, for 2007 the company oversaw a re-vamp of the properties that included adding private pools. To be honest, I was a bit concerned that these changes would see Periyali transformed from a lovely, laid-back escape into the sort of overtly chi-chi resort where you need to wear full slap at all times, change your cossie on the hour and have a Russian oligarch welded to your arm.
I needn't have worried. Yes, the villas have been given a much-needed spruce up, but overall the vibe is one of comfy simplicity. Our villa, "Lito", was a vision of pared down nautical loveliness, all white walls, bleached beams and tasteful furnishings (think Southwold crossed with New England via a hellish afternoon in Ikea). New air-con'; an upgraded kitchen and bathroom; and a stereo, TV and DVD (no reception, but a borrowing library of films at the kids' club) are also welcome additions. Sliding doors from the living area opened out onto an enclosed terrace, shaded by over-hanging grape vines, with a table and seating for six and a proper brick barbecue. The terrace led - via a lockable gate - to our garden, complete with new small pool. (Nowhere near big enough to do laps in, it was still great for cooling off in or for the lilo wars that DS views as an essential part of any holiday with a pool.)
Periyali has always been a haven for young families, but the re-vamp means it's even more baby-friendly. Last time we stayed DS was only just three and delighted in "leaving home", but villas are now toddler-proof with enclosed gardens, gated pools and, if required, plug covers and stair gates. Other essential bumph beyond the obvious (e.g. trainer loo-seats and bathroom steps) is also available - I even saw one mum borrowing the pool-bar's food processor for purees. Another plus is that you can get your laundry washed and ironed for you - so you don't need to pack a zillion outfits to ensure the kids stay this side of clean.
The one thing that we were delighted to see hadn't changed was that the pool bar is still run by Sandri - Periyali's bar-man/handyman and DS' biggest fan. An absolutely sweetie, he will ply your children with ice cream and generally make a massive fuss of them. He seems to work full time throughout the season, without a day off - so how he manages to keep smiling is beyond me, but he never stops.
Periyali's size - there's just 11 villas - means you soon get to know your neighbours and DS made friends within about five minutes of our arriving. Despite the new individual pools, the main pool remains the social-hub. The bar serves food throughout the day until early evening - a mix of kids' stuff, salads, sarnies and kebabs. It's not haute cuisine, but it's reasonably priced and the setting, with its far reaching sea views, makes it a great place to just sit back, enjoy a cold Mythos and a Greek salad while the kids lark about.
So what else is there to do? Most mornings we'd swim off Periyali's little pebbled cove - the crystal-clear waters seething with fish hungry for yesterday's stale bread - before walking to our nearest beach, phenomenal Gerakas. Totally unspoilt, its long, sweeping bay of golden sand and gently shelving waters means it's perfect for kids - including those of the loggerhead turtles that return annually to lay their eggs. Because of this there are no bars or tavernas on the beach itself (although there are several back up on the road to it) so bring water and snacks with you - or cash to buy something from the occasional hawker (great donuts and fruit salad). Also, access to Gerakas is sometimes limited during the peak season. When this happens a ticketing system comes into operation to control numbers - and once on the beach you are only supposed to stay for up to three hours. You also have to be careful about not playing too far back from the water's edge (as that's where the nests are) and you have to make sure that you un-make any sandcastles before you leave (so as to give the hatchlings an easy journey from their nest to the sea).
If you want to try and spot one of the turtles there are numerous operators offering boat trips. We went on one run by Nature World Travel, which is owned by Yannis Vardakastanis, a Zakynthian conservationist committed to protecting both the turtles and Gerakas itself. We cruised between Porto Roma and Keri Caves, stopping for snorkelling at various points and, yes, we did see a turtle. A representative from Archelon, Sea Turtle Protection Society was also onboard to tell us a bit more about the turtles and their habitat - so it was a nice mix of fun and education.
Periyali has an on-site kids' club with a Hatchlings "baby room"; for little ones and a separate Turtles club for older kids. You can book either 5 full day sessions or 5 half-day sessions. We did the latter and opted for afternoon sessions, although, to be honest, I hadn't figured on our using it much as I thought DS might not be that interested. More fool me - he literally begged to go with his new friends and had an absolute ball. The club's staffed by qualified, English speaking nannies and the three girls we met - Melissa, Ashlea and Lynsey - were great fun and visibly enjoyed their work. With temperatures in the 40's, the club proved invaluable in the afternoons as it meant the kids could get out of the sun but still enjoy themselves. We'd invariably come straight from the beach and Ds would disappear for a few hours of water-fights and mayhem and we'd slope off to the cool, calm of our pool or snatch a siesta. Also, while babysitting is no longer officially offered, a new twist to the club is that one or two evening sessions are included each week (depending on whether you've booked half or full day sessions), so you get to escape while the kids have games and DVDs.
By chance friends were holidaying nearby, so as the heat-haze started to dissipate we'd get the kids out of the club and all head for yet another beach. The precipitous route to our favourite for snorkelling, Dafni, is not for nervous drivers. ("Go faster," yelled their youngest son. "We're going to die," screamed his brother.) But if you're into swimming Dafni's charms are worth the near heart attack - loads of fish to gawp at - plus there's a great taverna that does chicken and Parma ham kebabs to die for.
Eating simply but well here is easy. There are several supermarkets on the outskirts of Zakynthos town, thirty minutes or so by car, but a good bakery (fab' donuts) and several (very) mini-markets are within ten minutes drive. Though small they stock everything you need to get by, plus non-edible essentials like nappies and baby-wipes. The nearest, Supermarket Mouira, just minutes away in Porto Roma, can order in pretty much anything else you might want - within reason - including fresh meat and fish for you to barbecue. We tended to eat out though; a dozen or so decent tavernas are all within either a short walk or drive away - two of the nearest even deliver) A meal with wine (try the Enetiko Rose) will set you back aroundRead moreLess
6 people found this review helpful.
"All round a great place ! Apartments are mediterranean basic…"
All round a great place ! Apartments are mediterranean basic but with lots of child friendly extras (stair gates, cots, high chair, microwave, toaster, coffee machine, dvd player). Creche great - nannies lovely, rep very helpful but not in your face. Lots of local child friendly tavernasRead moreLess
2 people found this review helpful.
"We thought this was an excellent place and would recommend…"
We thought this was an excellent place and would recommend it to anyone with a toddlerRead moreLess