Review: Blue Palace Elounda, Marriott Luxury Collection

Review: Blue Palace Elounda, Marriott Luxury Collection

NAME: Blue Palace Elounda
LOCATION: Heraklion, Greece
DATE: May 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: This is an exceptional hotel with gorgeous views, several great restaurants, an amazing breakfast, and lots to do. I'd return in a heartbeat.
18

We spent our entire week in Crete at two Marriott Luxury Collection properties — we spent our first four nights at Domes Zeen Chania, and we spent our last three nights at Blue Palace Elounda. In this post I wanted to review the latter hotel in detail.

How & why I booked Blue Palace Elounda

For our time in the northeast of Crete (near Heraklion) I tried to decide between two properties — Blue Palace Elounda, a Marriott Luxury Collection property, and Domes of Elounda, a Marriott Autograph Collection property.

I ended up pretty easily deciding on Blue Palace Elounda. Why? As a Starwood Preferred Guest loyalist back in the day, I remember this hotel always being on SPG’s homepage (anyone else remember it?), so I figured it was time to finally visit. I also had friends who had stayed at the property, and had good things to say.

Since we were visiting early in the season, paid rates were still quite reasonable (at least relatively). I decided to book two rooms for 280 EUR each. This rate included some extra perks, like complimentary breakfast and a daily 50 EUR credit per room, so I feel like we got a pretty solid deal. In peak season this hotel can be significantly more expensive.

As a point of comparison, Blue Palace Elounda is a Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning a free night redemption costs anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000 points per night, depending on whether it’s off-peak, standard, or peak. Based on my valuation of 0.7 cents per Bonvoy point, paying cash was a no-brainer in this case.

Blue Palace Elounda location

Blue Palace Elounda is about an hour drive from Heraklion, which is Crete’s biggest city. I don’t necessarily view that as a key attraction of staying here, but rather you come to this hotel to enjoy the resort, and the beautiful scenery around it.

The hotel is just a five minute walk from the small village of Plaka. This village is right on the water, and has a variety of cute fish restaurants, so it’s a convenient dining alternative to the resort.

The village of Plaka, Crete
The village of Plaka, Crete

One of the main attractions in the area is Spinalonga, a 20th century leper colony, which can now be visited. You have views of it from all parts of the resort, and a lot of tourists come into town to be able to visit this. It’s just a short five minute boat ride from Plaka or the resort, so it’s easy to access.

View of Spinalonga from Blue Palace Elounda
Walking around Spinalonga

Mainly we just had an incredible time driving around the area. The views are stunning, and we largely just drove aimlessly and saw where the roads took us.

View from above Plaka

Blue Palace Elounda property layout

The 255-room Blue Palace Elounda is a huge property, at 143 acres. The rooms are spread across over a dozen buildings, so you never feel like you’re in a crowded resort, even though there could be 500+ guests staying here at once.

Map of Blue Palace Elounda

While you can walk between all parts of the property, there’s also a funicular between the upper and lower level of the property — the upper level has most of the rooms, the lobby, two of the pools, and some of the restaurants, while the lower level has one another pool, the beach, the spa, and some of the restaurants.

Blue Palace Elounda funicular

Blue Palace Elounda check-in & lobby

Upon arrival at the hotel we were welcomed by the bellmen, who helped us with our bags and parked our car (parking at the hotel is complimentary, including via valet). We were brought into the lobby, which was much more impressive than your typical Greek hotel lobby.

Blue Palace Elounda lobby
Blue Palace Elounda lobby

The check-in process ended up taking a ridiculously long time, around 30 minutes. This hotel has the most hilarious implementation of “contactless” check-in I’ve ever seen. It was explained that in order to make the check-in experience contactless, each guest would have to download a third party app (Exclusivi) and enter all their personal details, including passport information.

That took quite a while, though the bizarre part is that after spending so much time entering personal details through the app, the front desk associate then asked for all of our passports, because apparently they have to verify that the details are correct. That’s not how contactless is supposed to work. 😉

Anyway, it was ultimately a small point of frustration, and the hotel generously upgraded both of our rooms. I had used Marriott Bonvoy suite night awards to confirm an upgrade to a Maisonette Suite (which I was going to give to my mom and her partner), but the hotel also upgraded our second room to that, so that we could be near one another. That was very kind, especially since I realized at this point that the hotel is designed so that all of these types of suites are in the same area.

It probably helped that we were staying at a time where the hotel was quite empty — I’d guess it was at most 20% full.

By the way, that Exclusivi app ended up being pretty useful on property after check-in. The app has all the information you could need about the property (including menus at all the restaurants), and you can even instantly make restaurant reservations through it.

Because of this app, unfortunately I won’t be able to post menus (as I usually would) when talking about the restaurants, since there was no option to download menus, and I’d be posting dozens and dozens of screenshots to show all the menus.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite

As soon as the check-in process was complete, we were escorted to our rooms. The building with our rooms was down the hall past the lobby bar.

Blue Palace Elounda lobby bar
Blue Palace Elounda lobby bar seating
Blue Palace Elounda lobby bar seating
Blue Palace Elounda hallway

We were assigned rooms 529 and 530, which were Maisonette Suites right next to one another (the building we were staying in exclusively had these rooms types).

Blue Palace Elounda building exterior

While the hallway felt a bit shabby, the room as such was great.

Blue Palace Elounda building hallway

The 750 square foot Maisonette Suite had the living area on the first floor and the bedroom on the second floor. Inside the entrance was the living room, which had a couch, a loveseat, a desk with a chair, and a TV.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite living room
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite living room
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite living room

There was a welcome amenity on the living room table, consisting of fresh fruit, some alcohol, and some bottles of water.

Blue Palace Elounda welcome amenity

There was a Nespresso coffee machine, which was great for my first cup of coffee every morning.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite coffee machine

Back near the entrance was the second bathroom, which featured a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite second bathroom
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite second bathroom

A staircase led up to the second floor, which featured a comfortable king size bed, a chair, and a TV.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite bedroom
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite bedroom

The main bathroom was also on the second floor, and had a sink, a walk-in shower, a tub, and a toilet.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite bathroom
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite shower
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite bathtub
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite toilet

Toiletries were from Apivita, which I hadn’t used before.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite toiletries

The second floor had an outdoor seating area with a table and two chairs.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite second floor balcony

The highlight of the room, however, was the outdoor area on the first floor. This also featured a table with two chairs, as well as two loungers which could float in the pool.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite deck
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite deck

Each Maisonette Suite has a pool — I’d consider these to be semi-private rather than private, since there are several next to one another.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite pool
Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite pool

The hotel faces east, so the sunrise views were breathtaking.

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite sunset view

Views of the moon weren’t too bad either!

Blue Palace Elounda Maisonette Suite moon view

The rooms were solid, and we got great upgrades, but ultimately the rooms aren’t the highlights of the hotel. I’d say the room decor is a bit bland and could use a refresh, but the views more than make up for it.

Wi-Fi throughout the hotel was fast and free, and was easy to connect to. I was also impressed that the hotel offered twice daily housekeeping. Meanwhile Domes Zeen Chania only offered housekeeping every other day, and no turndown service, and blamed it on coronavirus.

Blue Palace Elounda pools & beach

Blue Palace Elounda has three different sets of pools, in addition to a beach. This isn’t a property where you should ever have to fight for lounge chairs. The first major pool is in the upper part of the hotel, right by the lobby. If you saw pictures of this property on SPG’s homepage back in the day, this is probably what you saw.

Blue Palace Elounda pool
Blue Palace Elounda pool
Blue Palace Elounda pool

The pool itself is large, and on top of that there are an endless amount of seating options around the pool, from tables to lounge chairs.

Blue Palace Elounda pool deck
Blue Palace Elounda pool deck
Blue Palace Elounda pool deck
Blue Palace Elounda pool deck

The biggest pool is at the bottom of the resort (which is accessible by funicular), and it’s right by the beach. While not architecturally that inspiring, the pool is ginormous.

Blue Palace Elounda pool
Blue Palace Elounda pool
Blue Palace Elounda pool

Also in this area is the beach. As I often say, you typically don’t come to Greece for the beaches (there are exceptions), and that applies at this property as well. This is a rock beach rather than a sand beach. Given that many sand beaches in Greece are kind of mediocre, I loved this unique alternative. On top of that the water is fairly calm here, so you can actually swim, which isn’t the case in many other parts of Greece.

Blue Palace Elounda beach
Blue Palace Elounda beach
Blue Palace Elounda beach

In addition to the two main pools there’s a third pool near the hotel’s Asian restaurant, though it’s much less exciting than the other two.

Blue Palace Elounda pool

Blue Palace Elounda spa & gym

Blue Palace Elounda has a spa and gym, located in the lower part of the property. The gym was closed during our stay (due to coronavirus, or something), so I wasn’t able to get pictures of it. I also didn’t get any spa treatments (I was either working or spending time with my mom), but the spa looked lovely, and also had an indoor pool.

Blue Palace Elounda spa

Blue Palace Elounda Anthos Restaurant breakfast

Olea is the name of the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, which is where guests can usually enjoy breakfast (and I believe most rates here include breakfast, so the restaurant can probably get crowded).

However, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and above can instead choose to enjoy breakfast at Anthos, the hotel’s Cretan restaurant that’s primarily open for dinner, but it seems this is also the hotel’s “premium” breakfast location.

First of all, the restaurant is ridiculously cute, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, all with white tablecloths.

Blue Palace Elounda Anthos restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Anthos restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Anthos restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Anthos restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Anthos restaurant

Talk about breakfast with a view!

Breakfast with a view at Blue Palace Elounda

I don’t know what I loved more at this restaurant — the food or the service. We had the place to ourselves each morning, and there were at least five servers taking care of us. At the previous hotel it often took 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee, while breakfast at this place was almost a choreographed performance, with one server pouring us coffee, while another service poured us fresh orange juice at the same time. Our drinks never got more than half empty.

Blue Palace Elounda breakfast

And the drink selection went beyond just coffee and juice — I enjoyed the freddo cappuccinos immensely.

Blue Palace Elounda breakfast

The restaurant had a small breakfast buffet inside with fresh fruit, pastries, bread, cereal, etc.

Blue Palace Elounda breakfast buffet
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast buffet
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast buffet
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast buffet
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast buffet

The buffet was only intended to complement the menu. You could order as much as you want, and you’d think they were working on a commission based on how much they could get you to eat, because they kept encouraging us to order more.

The food was exceptional, from the yogurt with granola, to the chia pudding, to fresh avocado, to avocado toast, to a Cretan omelet, to Greek scrambled eggs.

Blue Palace Elounda breakfast
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast
Blue Palace Elounda breakfast

It would be an understatement to say that breakfast was a treat. The fact that this hotel goes above-and-beyond to offer this to elite members is a lovely gesture.

I’m convinced that Blue Palace Elounda has the world’s best Marriott Bonvoy Platinum breakfast. I can’t think of any hotel that offers such a spectacular upgraded breakfast for Platinum members, which isn’t available to other guests. Yes, there are breakfasts as such that can compete with this (like that of the St. Regis Bali), but there the same breakfast is available to all guests.

Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant dinner

Blue Palace Elounda has lots of restaurant options, and we weren’t able to visit them all during our stay. Our favorite dinner at the hotel was at Blue Door, located down by the beach. It’s a restored fisherman’s house, and serves Greek cuisine for lunch and dinner, as you’d expect.

Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant

How adorable is this restaurant?!

Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant view

To start we shared some eggplant dip and tzatziki, both of which were great.

Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant dinner

We enjoyed the main courses as well, from the chicken kebab, to the fish, to the shrimp risotto.

Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Blue Door Restaurant dinner

Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue dinner

One of the nights we ate at Asia Deep Blue, which is Blue Palace Elounda’s Asian fusion restaurant. I have a general distrust for Asian fusion restaurants, and for that matter I’ve never had a great Asian meal in Greece. Then again, by day six in Greece we were wanting to try something new, so I came in with reasonable expectations.

Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant
Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant

The food wasn’t amazing, but was reasonably good, especially for Greece. We had the edamame, some sushi rolls, tuna tartare, a hot and sour soup, and some broccoli.

Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant dinner
Blue Palace Elounda Asia Deep Blue Restaurant dinner

Blue Palace Elounda room service

On our last night we decided to have a room service dinner. We had been out for most of the day and also hadn’t spent our credit for the day, so this seemed like the best option, especially since we had a very early departure the next morning.

The food was great, and most significantly, was served with real china and silverware. At the previous hotel they only did room service in to-go containers, so I’m pleased by the extent to which Blue Palace Elounda has restored service.

Blue Palace Elounda room service dinner

Blue Palace Elounda service

With the exception of the very slow check-in experience, service at Blue Palace was generally very good, from housekeeping, to service in the restaurants, to the front office staff. A special shout out to the breakfast restaurant staff at Anthos, who provided the best service on property.

Bottom line

We enjoyed our time at Blue Palace Elounda, and I’d recommend this hotel in a heartbeat. While this hotel has 250+ rooms, you’d never know it based on how spread out the property is, and how many dining venues and pools there are.

I loved just about everything about this hotel, from the large rooms, to the excellent restaurants, to the views, to the area. We had fun exploring the area for three days, and I can’t wait to return.

My only constructive feedback for the hotel would be that the rooms are starting to show their age, and are a bit bland. Fortunately that doesn’t extend to the rest of the property.

If you’ve stayed at Blue Palace Elounda, what was your experience like?

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  1. Santastico

    I stayed there with my family 3 years ago for 7 nights. The hotel was fantastic and we got the same suite you got which was perfect for a couple and two kids. The staff was extremely friendly and I my kids still talk about that fantastic breakfast. I would highly recommend this place. Also, there is another small village 5 minutes by car from the hotel which is very nice at night and also...

    I stayed there with my family 3 years ago for 7 nights. The hotel was fantastic and we got the same suite you got which was perfect for a couple and two kids. The staff was extremely friendly and I my kids still talk about that fantastic breakfast. I would highly recommend this place. Also, there is another small village 5 minutes by car from the hotel which is very nice at night and also has some great restaurants, ice cream shop, souvenirs stores, etc… I was one the best places we have been in Greece.

  2. Sean

    This looks like a terrific property all around. I might have to put this on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing your review.

  3. ECR

    Debating a to Crete or Bodrum... would be interested on your comparison of the two. Also these properties vs. the Bodrum Edition (although I guess the Edition's in a different price tier).

  4. Craig

    The breakfast at the Marriott Hotel Hacidena Belen in San Jose, Costa Rica is amazing! And the staff are lovely.

  5. Filip

    We went there a few weeks before you I guess. Check-in was ridiculous, even beyond what you have encountered. It took about 45 minutes for us, with no other guest around: we had to wait for someone to shop up at every step. And above all, the person who escorted us to our room got lost in the building with us following and coming back on our steps, with our luggage and all (because since...

    We went there a few weeks before you I guess. Check-in was ridiculous, even beyond what you have encountered. It took about 45 minutes for us, with no other guest around: we had to wait for someone to shop up at every step. And above all, the person who escorted us to our room got lost in the building with us following and coming back on our steps, with our luggage and all (because since it all took so long, we didn’t want to wait for our luggage for hours at 10pm). Our stay was OK: great room upgrade, great breakfast indeed. The rooms would need some refurbishment however. Dining was just OK (on the expensive side, considering what you get). But the definite worse part of our stay is that they wanted to kick us out at 12pm because they needed the room for someone else. I get it’s a resort and late checkout isn’t guaranteed but this is hardly justified when the property is as empty as it was (I’d say 10% occupation). So, no, I would’t say our stay was as good as yours; definite lack of professional service.

  6. Alvertos

    "...you typically don’t come to Greece for the beaches (there are exceptions)". That's like saying "...you typically don't come to Japan for the sushi"...! The best beaches in Europe are in Greece, and some of the best in the world.

    1. KK13

      eh... Spain has better beaches, IMO.

    2. JW

      In Europe, yes, maybe, in the world, man where have you been. These beaches would have been suicidal to the resort if you see one in the Maldives. Even beaches I came across in the Caribbean trounces this.

  7. John T

    If you're not going to Greece for the beaches then you're going to the wrong islands!

  8. John

    Not quite as entertaining as the Aegon.

  9. David

    That's a lot of pools!

    Ritz Carlton Kyoto also deserves a special mention, for being the only Ritz Carlton (AFAIK) that offers free breakfast to Marriott Elites, and an excellent one at that.

    This place looks great, but the rolls in that fusion Asian restaurant looks pretty bad... The rice got pressed so hard (and are so soft) it looks more like a rice paste.

    1. Evan

      I remember the RC Kyoto had an awesome breakfast as well, which I believe was served with some kind of vinegar shots?

    2. David

      Yeah, and also a grape juice of some sort as well.

  10. beachfan

    I had an awesome time at the hotel and loved the local town where a greek salad, fresh fish and house wine was under $20.

    And I just had a regular room.

    Crete is awesome and two price notches below the rest of the popular Greek islands.

    Talk about service? I got a parking ticket that required paying in person to get the lower fine, and they hotel sent someone to pay for me and put the fine on my bill, without service charge!!!!

    1. Steven

      That's incredible! Absolutely the cheapest Greek trip we ever did was Crete.

  11. RAP

    We loved our stay in 2015, the only hiccup was they lost our keys to our car on the morning of our departure for about an hour. It was a tight drive getting to the hydrofoil to Thera on time

  12. UA-NYC

    Fond memories of my stay there...great to see that Marriott hasn't yet corrupted many of the best legacy Starwood Lux Collection properties

  13. Tom

    Have you ever tried Elite breakfast at Rossini, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok, also Luxury collection hotel?

Featured Comments Load all 18 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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John T

If you're not going to Greece for the beaches then you're going to the wrong islands!

Alvertos

"...you typically don’t come to Greece for the beaches (there are exceptions)". That's like saying "...you typically don't come to Japan for the sushi"...! The best beaches in Europe are in Greece, and some of the best in the world.

beachfan

I had an awesome time at the hotel and loved the local town where a greek salad, fresh fish and house wine was under $20. And I just had a regular room. Crete is awesome and two price notches below the rest of the popular Greek islands. Talk about service? I got a parking ticket that required paying in person to get the lower fine, and they hotel sent someone to pay for me and put the fine on my bill, without service charge!!!!

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