Jet set: Take the plunge into alluring summer destinations

Words by
Jemima Sissons

5th August 2021

For those willing to travel, Europe offers some of the hottest stays this season, including Dormes Corfu, Costa Navarino and more

This year (and last year and next year?) may be the summer of the staycation, but, with Cornwall sold out for the foreseeable future, there are plenty who dream of foreign climes. Many are booking ahead for next summer. And for those who are willing to make the leap this season, just be rigorous in checking the regulations, from filling out passenger locator forms to taking a Covid-19 test on the correct day, to downloading the NHS app in time. But the rewards are great for those who can shoulder the red tape. From new tennis academies in Greece to DJ sessions in Marbella hotels, we bring you the hottest destinations to visit this summer – or to book ahead for when life returns to normal. 

Costa Navarino

This expansive resort on Greece’s Messinian peninsula (the region’s capital Kalamata is famous for its olives) is a convenient three-hour drive from Athens (or one hour from the local airport) and has it all under one sky… with its man-made piazza in the style of a traditional village and amphitheatre it brings people together. As dusk falls, children run around or sit on the wall licking homemade ice-cream from the excellent… adults take in the cacophony of twilight birdsong over a Campari and soda at the Branco bar. Friends are made at the post dinner entertainment (from Greek shadow theatre to bubble shows for younger guests). For the active, there are distractions aplenty. The new Mouratoglou Tennis Centre is a slick collection of 16 courts framed by olive groves, overlooking the Ionian sea. The teachers are world-class– although try and book the 8am slot if you want to avoid the searing heat. Hours of fun are to be found in the water park and the new Division 16 teenage hub, next door. Here an American-style diner serves up excellent burgers and rosemary fries. The bowling alley is a treat for children and adults, and for the footloose, the evening discos provide a jolly draw. The Sandcastle kids club is faultlessly run – children spend the day crafting fancy dress outfits and learning about Greek art and culture. With the wonderful array of restaurants, it is easy to stay put for the entire stay from wafer thin tataki at Onuki, to the bubbling pizzas at Da Luigi and the wood fired seabass at Armyra served with samphire. Even when it’s full, there is plenty of room at the three pools, and you can always get a perch at the excellent beach restaurant where diners tuck into spicy tuna ceviche and ice cold glasses of Miraval - the very taste of summer. 

For: Families and sports lovers who want it all under one roof

Finca Cortesin

Escaping the high-rises of the Costa del Sol, the road snakes into the hills and curves towards the majestic, whitewashed walls of this converted hacienda. Shocking pink clouds of hibiscus frames the tiled walls. Inside the cool atrium hallway, ikat seats framed with red cushions form inviting corners, flanked by bushy palms. After the razmataz of Puerta Banus and Marbella, this secluded retreat is a fresh-aired jasmine-scented haven where sparrows sing and gardens burst with alliums and olive trees.  Rooms are vast and come with elegant architectural drawings on the walls and pretty blue and white flecked bedspreads. Generous bottles of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet provide a sweet, scented shower before feasting in one of the excellent restaurants. A tasting menu at Kabuki Raw reveals wafer-thin slices of toro with truffle. This place is very hard to draw oneself from. The gentle waters of the pool, the calm twilight and the convivial chatter enjoyed over a post prandial Martini stay with you long after. Their new six-bedroom family villa is perfect for those looking for complete privacy this season. 

For: Golfers, spa lovers, gastronomes, those wanting a quiet romantic escape

Puente Romano Beach Resort

There are two sides to this expansive beachside estate, set among 13 acres of lush botanical gardens.  The cool kids come in their droves for the poolside posing, the wellness cocktails, the DJ spinning his tunes in the spanking new gym (yes, really) and the glamorous on-site nightclub, La Suite. Yet it offers much more. The well turned out international set come for its exceptional gastronomic offerings – the steak is Sea Grill is out of this world, and the breakfast spread is staggering, from the home-made cakes to the multi-coloured tableau of tropical fruits; it is – for party centric Marbs – very family friendly (they will be opening a new kids club later this year). Also added to its roster of restaurants which includes an uber stylish Nobu, is La Concha, a Mexican-inspired adult-only bar, and Les Jardins du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant. Nestled in secluded subtropical gardens, La Selva is a new exotic hideaway for cocktails with a hint of Caribbean flavours”. An outdoor cinema and eco-friendly yacht are also greeting guests this season. There is more beyond, including riding lessons in the Andalusian mountains and honing one’s tennis skills at the hotel’s academy (run by Djokovic’s brother, no less). Lunch at El Chiringuito isn’t all chilli & coconut mojitos (although these help get the day party going from midday). A new wellness menu includes vegan pesto spaghettini and smoked aubergine with miso, so you can, for once, leave Marbella in a more refreshed state than when you arrived. For poolside posing, upgrade your beach outfit from the newly opened Orlebar Brown store onsite.

For: Party-ready glamazons and fun families

Domes of Corfu

Nestled at the foothills of Corfu’s pine-covered mountains, Domes of Corfu is fresh to the island this season. Now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the newly refurbished resort sits on the fringes of the aquamarine Glyfada beach, conveniently located 20-minutes from the airport. While children are brilliantly catered for with its kids club and its central agora and its immersive evening activities – there are adults—only pools, trekking tours to ancient sites and beach cruises. There are four restaurants serving an array of food, from Italian-Greek fusion Frourio to fresh fish of the day. With 233 rooms furnished in earthy hues, many with their own villa pool, you can you be as secluded as you like. The top villas are also part of the Autograph Collection’s excellent Haute Living, which enables guests to have 24-7 concierge accessand many bespoke offerings.

For: history lovers wanting to explore Corfu; couples who want adults-only areas in a resort