On a serene coast outside the picturesque village of Panormos, a brand-new haven awaits the modern nomad. Combining Crete’s rich heritage with exceptional experiences of the here and now, The Royal Senses Resort & Spa is the latest chapter in lifestyle hospitality from the Troulis Royal Collection.
The Royal Senses Resort is a contemporary interpretation of the Cretan soul – rugged, warm and deeply intertwined with the landscape of the island. This is a resort for curious guests seeking a genuine understanding of Crete, past and present – the character of its people, the harvests of the land and the colours and textures of the local natural world.
Its design blends local heritage with contemporary elements. The celebration of local roots has been the main driving force behind the hotel’s overall architectural and design approach. The landscape’s rough beauty creates a wonderful juxtaposition with the clean, minimal lines of the buildings. It is designed and positioned in such a way that ensures unobstructed views to the endless blue of the sea.
Local artisans, excellent craftsmanship and local techniques have informed the design and created handcrafted bespoke furniture, repurposed items, objects and artwork that celebrate the artisanal skills of the islanders throughout.
Upon entry, guests are greeted in a tall light-filled space, where cream raffia covered panels line the walls and the stone floors ensure a cool welcome. Artwork is curated in a dialogue with the wall panelling, pendants hang low and the furniture is soft.
Tall and oversized, dark wooden screens reference traditional doors of Crete and are a defining design element that makes a grand statement. Stone slabs on reception counters are semi polished with untreated raw edges and wood trunk coffee tables break up the otherwise orderly geometry.
Guestrooms are generously sized, each one flowing towards an outdoor terrace. Materials are tactile, local and honest, walls are textured, and surfaces are thoughtfully accessorised with artefacts crafted by neighbouring communities. These are rooms designed to satisfy any contemporary globetrotter with tables made for working as well as dining, luxurious bathrooms and delightful details.
Every room features carpentry from highly skilled local third-generation craftsmen (many of whom make their living by building traditional fishing boats), while furnishings, such as the cushions, are entirely made by hand in traditional motifs from the local women weavers’ association.
Vanity counters from local stone are luxuriously long and smooth, flooring is lined with large format tiles all the way to the private terraces, while marble lined drinks stations are inviting. Each piece of furniture is hand-picked from local vendors or developed for the project to reflect a contemporary Cretan look and feel in rusty and earthy tones.
All rooms maximise the time spent outdoors celebrating views and pools, while the dark metal finishes and details such as leather-wrapped door handles add an extra layer of depth in the overall look and feel. The open, boundless, layout connects the indoors with the outdoors and invites guests to enjoy these generous, calm spaces in their entirety.
Strategically positioned between terrace and indoor lounge, the lobby bar serves cold espressos in the morning and designer cocktails until late at night on both sides. The seating is curated to feel right on the landscaped terrace and give an outdoorsy feeling when inside. Ceilings are panelled in raffia and wood with clever timber details concealing all services, planters add a refreshing touch of green and round terracotta coloured banquettes add to a relaxed and laid back feel. Artefacts are mixed with an Assouline curated library of books. This is a relaxing haven to hide away and lounge in when the poolside action gets too much.
With generous sea views and a delightful outdoor terrace, most of the dining at GEA is done al fresco. Seating is a celebration of colour, with deep reds and mustard yellows mixed with natural wood details and smooth stone tabletops. Water features dot the terrace and make something of a romantic setting, with low lighting in the evening and the soft sound of water. Indoors, delicate linen pendants designed bespoke for the restaurant hang in clusters and gently move in the breeze adding a sense of playfulness.
Connected to the main kitchen, several stations feature live cooking, while local freshly prepared food is elegantly displayed on rough stone-clad islands throughout the restaurant. A great deal of equipment is hidden away in the large dividing screens that offer a decorative separation between seating groups. Cretan craft is evident everywhere, from the bakery corner baskets to the delicate ceramics on display and the large Cretan pots throughout. The layout is designed to offer both intimate dining and the possibility to generously accommodate larger groups on monastic tables, with a feeling of getting together like a big Greek family!
Outdoor pools follow a strong horizontal axis across the width of the resort and are organised on different levels providing generous space for poolside lounges with sea views. Along the cream stone pavement, guests can gaze the sea views from stylish pool loungers or with timber cabanas with flowing drapes. The colour scheme references the rich red tones of the surrounding Cretan landscape.
At Mitato Restaurant, a traditional menu is the focus with open fire cooking the main attraction. The design intent is an elevated Grecian farmhouse aesthetic, with clay tile floors, dark textured timbers laced with carved motifs, and serene canvas or leather chairs organised around long tables. Refrigerated displays of dry ageing meats and local wines whet the appetite while cooking is done ‘in the round’. Tall windows open onto a wonderful terrace with a view, ideal for late nights.
Dining with a splendid view is the theme of Cretamos: a small restaurant with a handful of covers makes it feel exclusive. The aesthetic is minimal and designed as to not detract from the fabulous views. Straw-filled ceiling panelling connects the interior with the terrace and all other surfaces are a gentle graduation of tone: from patinated charcoal shades in the kitchen to light cream stone booths outside. Floor lanterns sparkle with soft lighting in the evening, the open kitchen adds a touch of theatre and the mood is intimate.
The Pure Senses SPA is rustic, authentic and joyful: a contemporary interpretation of the island soul with a cosmopolitan aura. Its design blends local heritage with contemporary elements and is a celebration of its local roots – the main driving force behind the spa’s overall architectural and design approach.
The spa expands over two levels: an active space with indoor-outdoor pool and fitness area, both enjoying 360-degree views of the sea and horizon beyond. A stone facade wraps around the column geometry, bringing a harmonious transition from the outside in.
Massages can take place in open-air cabana settings in the garden, while more rigorous Cretan spa treatments require a descent into the mystical darkness of the level below. The decor follows the wellness journey, while lights dim and the guest is invited to slow down. Floral wallcoverings animate the space, while light glows from crochet wallsconces. There are four single treatment rooms and two double suites, complete with steam showers and their own private lounge nooks. The turquoise tones of the treatment room joinery nod to the healing hues of water, while rods with hanging dry herbs add reference to the rich fragrant landscape that surrounds the resort.
Further inside the building, wet areas open up through stone-carved portals. Here, a high vaulted traditional Cretan hamam, a dark mosaic lined steam room, and a glaze fronted sauna with crafted interior are all designed to evoke the resorts’ identity and inspire relaxation, while a number of experience showers and a candlelit calm zone complete the offering. Post treatment, guests can sip tea under high vaults, with twinkling lights from pendants above or enjoy more water therapies outdoors in the sunshine.