Just like the Durrell family, I discover the best that this Ionian island has to offer.
Gerald Durrell fell in love with Corfu’s sweeping bays, its sun-drenched olive groves and wild countryside, but much of the Greek island’s charm can also be found in its Old Town, which still retains plenty of Venetian and British influences. From the Old Fortress at its entrance to its warren of winding, cobbled streets and alleys, there’s plenty to explore. Soak up the sights with a sweet coffee at one of the buzzy bars found in the elegant Liston arcade. For something quirky, visit Casa Parlante (the Living History Museum), which gives a potted history of the town through the eyes of three generations of a noble family.
Opened in May 2018, the new Ikos Dassia – found 15 minutes north along the coast from Corfu – may be a smart, all-inclusive (making it tempting to stay put on your sun-lounger), but it actively encourages guests to get out and about and explore the island. Its Local Discovery concept includes offering guests a Mini Cooper for the day, so there’s no excuse not to discover Durrells’ beauty spots. Also included is a dine-out option, where you can choose to have your supper at a local taverna. One of these is the Vido Island Restaurant, situated on a private island, where you can eat chargrilled octopus, overlooking the twinkling lights of Corfu town. It’s ridiculously romantic.
Ikos Resorts may have built up a loyal following with well-heeled families, due to its stylish yet practical take on holidaying, but it also gives plenty of nods to singles and couples with its luxury, adults-only zones. This, its third property, is the largest yet and is found on the Bay of Dassia (there are also two hotels in Halkidiki, plus a fourth due to open in Cos in 2019, followed by Andalusia in 2020). Its bedrooms have nice, luxury design touches – velvet bedsteads, statement lighting and slick bathrooms – and there are stylish public spaces to hang out in. Spread across two buildings – Sea and Sky – each with their own lobby, shops, bars, restaurants and pools – the resort feels super-spacious. As well as 23 acres of tropical gardens, and a private beach club on the unspoilt Dassia Beach, there’s tons to do, including water-sports, football, pedalo boats and kayaking.
When it comes to dining, you can forget old-style buffets, which are usually the norm in all-inclusives, here guests can choose from two informal restaurants and six àla carte restaurants, the latter spearheaded by Michelin-starred chefs. Needless to say, the culinary offering is a highlight. Included in the line-up is an Asian fusion restaurant, Italian, French, Greek and a modern deli.
With a focus on local Corfiat cuisine, Kerkyra is not to be missed. It’s overseen by Greek Michelin-star chef Ettore Botrini, who is better known for his Corfu Etrusco restaurant, ranked 68th on the list of the world’s best restaurants. Décor is beach-chic with rattan furniture, driftwood features and stunning ocean views. Top dishes from the menu include baby anchovies with Kefalotyri cheese, the traditional beef stew ‘Sofrito’ and the sweet pumpkin pie.
It’s hard not to immediately switch off here, but those wanting total relaxation can book a treatment at the sophisticated The Spa by Anne Semonin. The Pure Rejuvenation massage uses Greek olive oil blended with natural essential oils and marine ingredients to bliss you out in minutes.
Rates at Ikos Dassia start from €230/£205 approx. per night based on two people sharing a double room. To book, visit www.ikosresorts.com/resorts/ikos-dassia or call +30 23730 95300.
*This article was also published on 11 March 2019 in City Am Newspaper