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 is the latest chapter in lifestyle hospitality from the Troulis Royal Collection.

Situated next to its sister property, the recently renovated sea-front Royal Blue with its 100-acre premises, the Royal Senses makes its mission to go above and beyond that of a typical luxury family resort. As a true ambassador of Crete’s rugged beauty, the Royal Senses is deeply intertwined with the landscape of the island and the character of its people, while still maintaining a cosmopolitan aura.

Built with togetherness as a guiding principle, the resort’s 179 suites and villas connect seamlessly with their natural surroundings. Accommodations range from spacious 35-square-meter rooms, where undisturbed sea views and natural furnishing materials bring to mind a private cove, to ultra-luxurious 200-square-meter villas with amenities such as private infinity pools organically carved from the rock that surrounds the island. Ever present is the element of water: the four large communal pools and the 74 private infinity pools lined with elegant sun loungers and cabanas seem to cascade from level to level, creating a sense of motion that stirs the soul of the traveller.

For Zacharias, Kostas and Manolis Troulis, co-owners of the Troulis Royal Collection, this project showcases their lifelong dedication to Crete: “We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural heritage. We wish to show guests all sides of the Cretan identity and embed ourselves purposefully into the texture of the island”.

A design that blends Cretan heritage with contemporary elements the celebration of Cretan roots has been the main driving force behind the resort’s overall architectural and design approach. “The landscape’s rough beauty creates a wonderful juxtaposition with the clean, minimal lines of the buildings. We designed and positioned all buildings in such way that ensured unobstructed views to the endless blue of the Aegean Sea, wherever you are”, say Nikos Peppas and Katerina Tsiolaki, of Peppas N Architects, when describing the project.

The interiors were designed by award-wining consultants HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates and Constantina Tsoutsikou, subsequent founder and creative director of the new London-based high-concept practice, Studio Lost. Their task was to showcase the owners’ genuine commitment to local authenticity in a modern way.

“We wanted to create a destination that benefits local communities,” says Tsoutsikou, who briefed local artisans in their workshops and on-site. “I found a wealth of excellent craftsmanship and local techniques that informed the design as we went along. We created handcrafted bespoke furniture, repurposed items, objects and artwork that celebrate the artisanal skills of the islanders throughout”.

The rooms and suites, all flowing towards their outdoor terrace, are built to remind the contemporary globetrotter exactly where they are — with framed views of the Cretan sea setting the tone. Earthy and textural, every guest room features carpentry and furniture 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. The walls, treated with softly textured paint and cornices, are subtly marked out with traditional Cretan patterning, whereas the juxtaposition of rough and smooth surfaces mirrors the untamed character of the island itself.

All rooms maximise the time spent outdoors celebrating views and private 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.

Engaging Cretan souls through authentic experiences At the Royal Senses, the traveller is called to connect with a community of kindred souls and experience a renewed sense of ancient mindfulness. This sense of community is highlighted by the fact that guests can seamlessly traverse across both resorts. Experienced in tandem, the Royal Blue’s private beach and marina and the iconic hilltop views of the Royal Senses set the tone for a holistic exploration that goes beyond the beaten path. Here, Crete’s multifaceted culture and ceaseless joie de vivre can be taken in at one’s leisure.

As celebrating locality is of the utmost importance for the resort, the three restaurants (two of which offer a la carte menus) and the various pop-up food bars at the Marketplace honour Crete’s rich culinary tradition in various ways. Along with four bars, these dining locales create the perfect backdrop for precious moments together.

True to the spirit of engagement and togetherness, the resort provides travellers a plethora of distinctive experiences to help them connect with the island and one another. At the farm, visitors can stroll the fragrant hillside, discover a cornucopia of local herbs and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. Guests may also enjoy the resort’s unique Marketplace – a home to curated selections from small-farm producers and local artisans, blending tradition with a contemporary shopping experience.

Last but not least, guests can luxuriate at an activity spa offering therapies that exclusively utilise Cretan herbs, as well as a heated pool, leaving them radiating with serenity and relaxation.

Rustic, authentic, joyful and proud, the Royal Senses Hotel & Spa is above all a contemporary interpretation of the Cretan soul.