Daios Cove mixes inspiring high-energy fitness with innovative anti-ageing, plus the occasional ‘wellness’ cocktail. Sign me up, says Sharon Walker
It was not what I expected from a holiday on a Greek island. But now I’m at an age where I’ll try just about anything that promises to jumpstart my metabolism and turn back the clock.
So I pulled on a wool hat, gloves and socks – a good look when you’re wearing a bikini – and stepped shivering into the swirling arctic fog of the cryotherapy chamber.
I soon realized the need to cover your extremities, to avoid losing a toe to frostbite, as I watched the temperature gauge plummet, but when I emerged two minutes later – still possessing a full set of toes – I felt like a new woman.
I had signed up for a full body overhaul, the Insight to Wellness package
As it restarts quickly, it doesn’t get much more effective, and this is just one of the many premium legal supplements offered at KEPOS By Goco Spa, in Daios Cove, a glamorous five-star resort on the north east coast of Crete.
The reception at the 300-room hotel was blue skies and bright sunshine, plus a glass of champagne, in the Crystal Box lounge with panoramic views of the azure waters of the Aegean Sea.
You might think of a vacation as a chance to relax and read a book by the pool, but I signed up for a full-body overhaul, the Insight to Wellness package.
So I went straight back to the room, to change into my gym gear, with just enough time to catch a glimpse of my private pool with a stunning view, before heading back to the KEPOS by Goco spa, to work up a sweat in the hotel’s BXR the gym. , with coach Daniel Sonos.
BXR is a pioneering Anthony Joshua-backed boutique gym that has teamed up with Daios Cove to bring their unique brand of body-building exercises to this adorable corner of the Greek Isles.
All of their sneakers look like Greek gods, perfectly sculpted as if carved into the rocks of the rugged bay below; any of them could strut the catwalk or work as a life model for Michelangelo, they are that beautiful.
It’s a strategy that could easily backfire – I mean, what’s the point of even trying? – but it somehow fills me with excessive optimism and so I throw myself into the program without question.
The class is designed to make you sweat
Daniel makes us drag heavy metal sleds up and down the astro turf of the outdoor gym. Then there is a box you can jump on. A giant rollover truck tire. The aptly named single leg deadlift. Daniel yells, ‘Hit!’ There really is no giving up. The class is designed to make you sweat, that’s the BXR thing. Sweat, sweat, sweat. Then, after sweating it out in a puddle, you feel invincible.
As fired up as an extra from Gladiators, I felt like I could conquer the world as I left the gym to dash back to my room for a pre-dinner speed glow, only to realize that flight was out of the question as I could have replaced my legs with wooden crates and feel more agile. So I took the Funicular instead.
Can we just talk about the funicular, because honestly that’s reason enough to come to this hotel. It’s basically a glass box that slides up and down a hill, so you can enjoy the view on your way back to your room.
It’s about as fast as the London Eye or a wooden-legged turtle, and that’s before you stand around for two days pushing a button waiting for it to come. But as long as you’re in a relaxed mood and not in a rush to go anywhere, it’s really fun.
There are other possibilities. You could jump into one of the many golf carts whizzing up and down the hotel’s winding cliffside road, but power walking up the near-vertical hill is really the way to go, you need maximum calorie burn, because the food here is just a little too appealing .
When I wasn’t hanging from the ceiling doing mid-air yoga or doing pilates, I was able to re-energize my by now honed muscles in the hydromassage suite with various fountains, saunas and rainforest showers.
Or swim up and down the pool, stopping only for a moment, between sighs, to enjoy the view of the wide open blue and the speedboats whizzing around the bay below.
Is there anything better than a Greek island boat trip?
Another anti-aging gizmo is the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, where you sit in a sort of giant egg and watch YouTube videos while breathing oxygen through a mask.
Oxygen therapy can reduce stress levels, improve sleep and increase energy, and the idea is to go for treatments during your holiday and come home feeling positively adolescent.
If you have the time or inclination, there are tennis courts and a water sports center with a variety of inflatables to jump on and off of. And for families, for whom Daios Cove is holiday nirvana, a godsend of supervised kids’ clubs.
One afternoon we went on a catamaran and, honestly, is there anything better than a boat trip on a Greek island, diving into the crystal clear azure sea? I really can’t remember much.
The food… oh the food
Daios Cove has six different restaurants. My favorite is The Beach House with its twinkling lights and Ibiza vibes, and the healthy quinoa salad, but they were all extremely good.
We ate sea bream ceviche with citrus flavor and jalapeño mayonnaise, from the Fresh and Raw menu, at Ocean Bar and oven-baked feta and marinated octopus at Taverna, with a Greek salad on top of all Greek salads.
When I was there they were going to label certain dishes as “spa approved” but honestly good luck with that, if I were you I’d just go back to the BXR gym and task Daniel with burning it.
And there are cocktails…
I wouldn’t normally drink on a fitness holiday, but, rather miraculously, they were ‘wellness cocktails’, made to the recipes of the famous Athenian cocktail masters, The Clumsies.
It was hard to choose, but in the end I decided on the fennel margarita. Actually, I had two, because fennel, positively medicinal right?
Who can forget the spa?
But Daios Cove isn’t all sanding and toning. Yes, there was an additional (optional) HIIT workout at 8.30, up on the tennis court, which Daniel talked me into (how?), and all that hi-tech body tech, but the KEPOS by Goco spa also has an encyclopedia of deeply pampering spa treatments.
I went for a recovery massage, which might sound boring, but I feel sorry for my leg muscles, and it was as good as I’ve ever had it. I spent the entire trip beetroot colored, but other, less sweaty, visitors could benefit from a wide range of perfect skin facials from brilliant skincare and body therapy brand 111SKIN.
Fortunately, spas also offer a way to measure CO2 emissions by breathing into the machine. From this it was possible to get a reading of my resting metabolic rate – that’s how many calories you burn per day before you actually do anything.
Goco spa also has an encyclopedia of deeply pampering spa treatments
Cheered by the news that my 1800, 600 higher than the average woman, I enjoyed a rice pudding and a smoothie in the terrace garden of the Ocean restaurant.
I also learned that I need to eat more good fats and fewer carb calories. So I also ordered a delicious avocado and olive oil toast.
A stay in Daios Cove starts from 494 euros per night, based on a Deluxe room with a sea view for two, with half board. Spa programs start at 850 euros for a 2-day ‘Insight to Wellness’.