8 things to know about Domes of Elounda, a Marriott Autograph Collection property on the Greek island of Crete

Jun 27, 2022

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Every year for our anniversary, my wife and I try to book a trip — and this year, to ring in number 14, we opted for Greece. We had a bit of a nightmare actually getting there, but we ultimately made it — and it was worth it.

Part of our trip involved a five-night stay at Domes of Elounda, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection on the eastern side of the island of Crete. This wound up being a terrific choice, as it offers a beautiful setting, an array of amenities and fantastic service.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re booked at (or considering a visit to) Domes of Elounda.

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Check paid rates before using points

The Marriott Bonvoy program removed published award charts earlier this year, but Domes of Elounda still prices at (or near) previous levels. Free nights will generally set you back up to 100,000 points.

However, be sure to check paid rates for your stay — especially if booking far ahead.

We were able to lock in a rate of 370 euros ($391) per night by booking several months in advance. And while that may have been a function of lower demand for international travel at the time of booking (August 2021), there are some late-summer and early fall dates available for close to that price point.

While you do get a fifth night free on award stays with Marriott, even that savings wouldn’t have made a redemption worth it for us.

The standard room is a full suite

Many luxury properties feature a wide variety of accommodations — from standard rooms to multibedroom villas. Thankfully, the base room at Domes of Elounda is a large, garden-view suite. We were upgraded to a suite with a sea view thanks to my Marriott Platinum status (more on that later), but the general layout was the same — and it was a very comfortable spot for our five-night stay.

The spacious living room included a sofa that pulled out into a bed for our 7-year-old daughter.

There was also a Nespresso machine with plenty of pods along with multiple flavors of tea bags and a fully stocked minibar (which we promptly asked housekeeping to remove so as to prevent a certain little travel companion from having an expensive drink or bite to eat).

The bedroom featured a comfortable king-size bed with his-and-hers closets.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

The bathroom wasn’t massive, but the shower-tub combination was great for our needs.

However, the real standout of the room was the large, open-air deck. It included a comfortable loveseat (that easily accommodated all three of us), a butterfly chair, a small dining table (where we enjoyed room service our first evening, on account of being exhausted from the inbound travel experience) and even a two-person hot tub.

Even though the weather stayed quite warm during our stay, taking a quick soak in the hot water was very relaxing.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

But the deck’s true highlight was the view. Even though we were only on the second level of the property (Suite 208), we enjoyed sweeping vistas of the sea and Spinalonga, the former leper colony on a small island just off the shoreline.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

When we travel with our daughter, we like having extra space, and as a result, we’d booked vacation rentals on many recent trips. No need to do that at Domes of Elounda.

All that said, just be aware that, since the property is all suites, you are not able to use Suite Night Awards if you select those as a Choice Benefit of qualifying for Marriott Platinum or Titanium.

Related: How I plan to use 23 Marriott Suite Night Awards this year

Breakfast is included for all guests

Another perk that’s typically reserved for higher-tier Marriott elite travelers is free breakfast, but every guest at Domes of Elounda can partake in complimentary full breakfast each morning of their stay. This included a wide variety of cold selections, warm items, made-to-order dishes and even sparkling wine.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

On our last day, we had an early flight from Heraklion (about an hour’s drive from the property), so we asked about a to-go option. The staff was happy to pack us breakfast boxes, which included ham-and-cheese sandwiches, chocolate muffins, a selection of fruit and juice drinks.

However, giving breakfast to everyone doesn’t mean that Platinum and Titanium guests miss out on being rewarded for their loyalty.

Marriott elite members get several perks

As a Platinum member, I received the following amenities during our stay:

  • Complimentary upgrade from a garden-view to a sea-view suite.
  • A 25-minute, complimentary “thermae spa” experience (use of the spa facilities).
  • One dinner at Blend restaurant, which included an appetizer, entree and dessert per guest.
  • A welcome bottle of sparkling wine and a box of Cretan olive oil biscuits.

In addition, my status gained us access to the Haute Living Room, essentially an executive-style lounge located by the main pool. This offered snacks and drinks from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. — and was a welcome respite from the heat (and noise) that was typical of the pool area.

Just note that you must use a separate keycard for this lounge — so I made sure to have both it and my regular room key whenever we left our suite.

Finally, on the Wednesday night of our stay, we were invited to an elite members cocktail reception at Grand Domes Bar, just off the main lobby. This was a great opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery with a chilled glass of prosecco and canapes while the resort’s management team visited with Marriott’s loyal guests.

TPG's Nick Ewen and his family at Domes of Elounda, a Marriott Autograph Collection property in Crete, Greece
(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

There are 5 hotel restaurants — but eat off-property as much as you can

There’s something to be said for convenience when it comes to dining on vacation, and if you have a lengthy stay at Domes of Elounda, you’ll appreciate the fact that there are several restaurant options (and food trucks) on the property.

  • Tholos, which offers buffet breakfast and dinner.
  • Topos 1910, specializing in seafood and located on the beach.
  • Blend, a steakhouse next to the main pool.
  • Yaosai, an Asian fusion restaurant next to the adults-only pool (open to families for dinner).
  • Core, a collection of food trucks around the plaza between the pool and kids club.

Then there were four bars — one on the beach, one each by the adults-only and main pools, and the Grand Domes Bar in the lobby.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Room service is also available 24/7, and you can access all dining menus by scanning the QR code on your room key packet. And while some of these outlets were only open certain days of the week, we were provided a complete list of these operating hours at check-in.

However, if you take all or even most of your meals on the property, you are missing out — and likely hurting your wallet more than is necessary.

The small village of Plaka is just a three-minute drive up the road from the resort, and it alone boasts over a dozen restaurants — many with water views. Elounda is a much larger town and just a 10-minute jaunt. And there are some absolute gems in both.

We enjoyed a pair of terrific lunches in Plaka, first at Thalasso (the grilled octopus and seafood pasta were standouts) and then at Piralia (we started with the blue crab appetizer, then chose one of the pasta dishes). Each one featured stunning views, and despite ordering starters, two entrees, a bottle of wine and a drink for our daughter, the bills at each clocked in at less than 57 euros ($60).

Nick Ewen and his family at Thalasso on the Greek island of Crete
(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Just note that some of the hosts along the water in Plaka can be somewhat pushy in their attempts to bring you in — so do your research ahead of time and know which place(s) you want to go.

We ventured into Elounda more frequently, and here too had some incredible dining experiences. Rusteak made for a fantastic lunch on our first full day, and dinners at Lotus Eaters and Moon Spinners were equally outstanding. The whole, grilled snapper with roasted vegetables at Moon Spinners was awesome.

Whole grilled snapper at Moon Spinners on the island of Crete, Greece
(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Note that there are two, separate strips of restaurants along the water in Elounda — one is just off the main harbor in town and offers slightly elevated views (Lotus Eaters), while the other is a bit farther and requires a drive right along the sea (Rusteak and Moon Spinners).

Finally, I found that acceptance of American Express was very rare — in fact, across our seven meals off-property, just one took my American Express® Gold Card (one restaurant owner indicated this was a Bank of Greece restriction). However, my Chase Sapphire Reserve was an easy substitute thanks to the 3 points per dollar on dining I earned.

You should rent a car

As mentioned earlier, Domes of Elounda is roughly an hour’s drive from Heraklion International Airport, one of the island’s two gateways for arrival by air. Arranging transportation to the resort and back to the airport would’ve been doable, but I’d highly recommend booking a rental car. This gave us the freedom to visit the fantastic restaurants and pick up some snacks and drinks for the room at the supermarket in Elounda.

It also offered us the chance to visit a Cretan olive oil farm, just under 20 minutes from the hotel in the town of Agios Nikolaos. We opted for the Cretan Culture Panorama, which included:

  • A tour of the property, including a history of the island’s olive oil production.
  • A visit with some goats — and the opportunity to milk one!
  • A tutorial on the many cheeses of Crete — and a chance to taste fresh-made cheese from the milk we had just milked.
  • A snack of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and olives.
  • A hands-on cooking lesson, where we made tzatziki and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).
  • Several shots of raki, a strong Greek liquor that’s emblematic of the culture’s familial ways.

The three-hour experience was a great way to enjoy Cretan hospitality and learn more about the island’s culture.

It’s a great spot for families

Domes of Elounda is also a terrific resort for families with small children — and this goes beyond the accommodations.

For starters, there’s a complimentary kids club with organized programs for kids ages 4-12. This was divided into morning sessions (from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and afternoon sessions (from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) — so there’s no all-day option. Our daughter had a fabulous time during each of her visits, and we loved that she was making friends with kids from all over the world.

For those with younger children, there’s also a paid option for child care.

  • Ages 4 months to 2 years: 30 euros/$32 per session (or 50 euros/$53 for two sessions in a day).
  • Ages 2–4: 25 euros/$26 per session (or 40 euros/$42 for two sessions in a day).

Then, on Tuesday and Friday nights, the property’s Core area (right near the main pool) transformed into a family-friendly outdoor event, one night with a bubble show and the other night with face painting, stilt walkers and balloon animals.

There were also a few food trucks that served drinks and tasty-looking snacks, and it was essentially an excuse for the children to run around — and play with the new friends they had made at the kids club earlier in the day.

There’s plenty to do — if you want — but book ahead

One of the best things about Domes of Elounda is just how wide its appeal is. Do you want to simply lay by the pool or lounge on the water, with nothing but a book and some sunscreen? Would you rather be busy at all times of the day — be it testing out spa treatments, trying your hand at water sports or taking in live music in the Grand Domes Bar? Or do you want a combination of the two?

Wherever you fall on this spectrum, the resort should appeal to you. We saw plenty of couples simply relaxing, but then many others were active around the property. My wife and I skewed more toward the “do nothing” crowd after our stressful travel experience, but it was nice to have the option to stay busy.

On our last full day, we even tried a paddleboat rental, complete with a slide to escape the heat of the day in the cool waters of the sea — note that these water activities are cash-only and can’t be charged to the room.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

And (of course) there was an array of things to do in the nearby towns.

That said, we did find that booking ahead was important. On our first afternoon, we attempted to schedule a few sessions at the kids club for our daughter, but every single morning slot for the rest of the week was full. And then, after the director was able to squeeze her in, my wife and I tried to schedule a couples massage, but there was just one time slot still available that day.

It all worked out, as we were pretty flexible on timing, but if you have a more rigid schedule or are traveling to the resort during the height of summer, it’s definitely worth reaching out to prebook certain things.

Bottom line

Crete had long been on our bucket list, and we were looking forward to our stay at Domes of Elounda for many months. As the anticipation built ahead of our trip, so did our expectations.

Fortunately, both the island and the resort wound up exceeding our lofty expectations. Crete is gorgeous, with delicious, affordable food and welcoming people.

Meanwhile, Domes of Elounda offered a beautiful setting to relax and recharge, complete with myriad family-friendly features — such as free breakfast, full suites and a complimentary kids club — plus staff members that made us feel right at home.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

If you’re looking for a way to earn (or redeem) Marriott points and enjoy a spectacular resort in Greece, look no further than Domes of Elounda.

Featured photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy.

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