A Peachy Life: Mark Warner Levante Resort, Rhodes

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Imagine strolling along a quiet starlit beach, safe in the knowledge that your children were happily enjoying some funtime.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

The Levante resort at dusk

Picture lunches by the pool, with those children telling you all about their morning’s adventures: splashing in the water, sketching seaside characters, sailing and windsurfing (and that’s even the three year olds…).

Mark Warner Levante Resort

And dinners under clear skies, with a feast of international and local dishes: sea bream grilled to perfection, flavoursome paella, fresh feta salads, melt-in-the-mouth mezze…..

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Levante’s Amalthia Restaurant welcomed guests with a staggering array of carved watermelons

Think of a holiday where you could escape with your partner for some treasured adult time: cycling along the shore, diving to the bottom of the sea, or just lounging in the sun, with a good book in your hand and a cerulean pool lapping at your feet.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Levante Beach Resort is on Rhodes’ longest beach, Afandou

Too good to be true? In this case, you should believe the blurb. Our holiday at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes, was all this, and more.

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life”

Henry David Thoreau

(Ok, ok, I know it wasn’t the woods….but we really did suck delight from our time at Levante…)

When I found out, last December, that I’d won a trip to Levante, I was blown away. A holiday, as a prize for writing this post about Mumsnet Blogfest? I’d hit a sun-drenched jackpot.

I’d never holidayed on a beach resort before. Would D and I have the freedom we wanted? Could a resort package provide us with the excitement that comes with independent travel (which is what we’d been used to, in our pre-children days)?

Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes

The answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

And – as the writer Rachael Lucas had predicted, in our Twitter exchange before I left – as well as taking every last bit of enjoyment from each tiny moment, D and I were able to have our “first rest in forever”.

So how did Mark Warner manage to convert us seasoned independent travellers into resort-lovers? For us, there were a few selling points.

Childcare

I’m a stay-at-home Mum, and our two children (four and two) haven’t been used to much in the way of childcare. But I do know that, if the children aren’t happy, then the whole family ends up miserable. No amount of sunshine and blue skies can make up for having to drag fed-up kids around for a week. Mark Warner took care of this. Their service was, in our view, second to none.

Austin’s Mini Club was full of adventure. His key worker, Maz, gave her all in helping the 3-5 years olds enjoy a wide range of Mark Warner activities. As well as watersports, the children took introductory tennis lessons, poolside picnics, and crafty sessions in a delightfully cool Club house.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Gwen, kitted out in swim safety gear during her Toddler Club pool session

Little Gwen was nurtured in the Toddler Club (for 1-2 year-olds). Although she took a while to adjust to being without Mum or Dad every morning, she built up a strong bond with Charlotte, who was by her side through pool splashing, hole-digging on the beach, crown-making, and triking sessions at the resort’s playground.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Gwen at her end-of-club presentation ceremony, with an ‘art attack’ award for enjoying all the week’s art activities

This all allowed D and me to spend some quality daytime hours together (from 9am till 12.30, for 6 days of our stay – unheard of in our normal lives. The best we usually get is an evening at a local restaurant, where we’re both so shattered we can’t do much more than grunt at each other). And the evening creche, running from 7.30 till 11pm, gave the kids a chance to unwind with little friends in front of a TV show and film, while Mum and Dad dined under the stars, at one of the resort eateries: La Taverna, the Amalthia Restaurant, or pan-Asian Annora.

Hellenistic Ruins: the view from La Taverna at twilight

Hellenistic Ruins: the view from La Taverna at twilight

The same childcare staff looked after the youngsters in the evening as well as the day, so there were familiar faces at bedtime. And the nannies were sensitive to the needs of each child: our little Gwen, who rarely gets put to bed by anyone other than us, was upset in the creche on a couple of evenings. Maz came to find us in the Amalthia Restaurant to let us know, and find out whether we wanted to collect her (we did, but Austin insisted on staying. We practically had to drag him away from all of the children’s activities). And – a lovely touch here – the maitre d’ of the restaurant, Mika, even arranged for a waiter to carry our (very heavy) plates of food and wine to our balcony, so we could continue dining after putting Gwen in her hotel room bed.

Tennis

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Mark Warner tennis pro in the making. Lesson one, at Mini Club

Mark Warner holidays are renowned for their tennis facilities, so D – a keen player, but whose serves have become a bit wonky from lack of practice – was in his element. He was able to get back some of his old form with the help of some one-to-one coaching from tennis pro Charlie.

The standard among a lot of the Mark Warner guests was high (one of the other guests during our week was the brother of a former British number one player). I’m pretty rubbish at the sport, but the tennis was set up to make it easy to find players of a similar level to yourself. And the ‘social tennis’ was aptly named: D and I made friends with a fair number of people on the courts.

I felt comfortable enough to play the games set up for beginners at the Tennis Festival, and the sociability of the game was so enjoyable, that I’ve signed up for a local beginners’ class, to hone my skills in time for next Summer’s season….

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Father-son time on the tennis court

Perhaps by the time Summer comes around again, our whole family will be able to hit some serves together, on a court under the sun.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Even little Gwen managed to get in on the action

 Watersports

The Levante waterfront, overseen by industrious Pedro, was bustling with activity. You could choose whether to traverse the waves by sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, waterskiing or wakeboarding.

And – not to be forgotten – there was also a huge inflatable green and yellow sofa, dragged along by a speedboat, which some of our new holiday friends told us was just like a fairground ride, only bouncier.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

D and I signed up for the resort’s introductory sailing session. We spent two relaxing hours in a Pico together, tacking backwards and forwards across the sparkling bay, and sailed upwind towards the gauzy green hills at the edge of Afandou.

For me, it was almost effortless: under the serene sky of the Greek morning, I found out something new about my partner. He already knows how to sail (and windsurf). After nearly capsizing our boat, I decided to turn down the offer of swapping into the instructor’s vessel for some one-to-one tuition. It was more fun to sit back and let D take control of the rudder, listen to his tales about childhood sailing on Scottish lochs, and find out something unexpected about this man I’ve known since we were nineteen.

Anyone who says romance dies when you have kids, needs to hop onto a BA flight and get their butts over to Levante.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

windsurfing in the bay. We didn’t manage to fit in a session, but there’s always next year….

Scuba and Cycling

The most thrilling part of the trip for me, was scuba diving, under the watchful guidance of In-Depth diving instructor Dan. His career stemmed all the way back from early diving days, as a novice 14-year-old learning his skills in murky Peterborough pools.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

My practice dive in the resort pool, before heading out to sea

We drove out to a cove with a shallow bay; flubbered our way down the beach in our wetsuits; and took a short tour of the 6-metre-deep bed. At one point Dan led us to the edge of a sheer cliff, where the sea floor dropped dramatically down to 30 metres (is it possible to get vertigo under water? I know I certainly did…..)

Although the Med is the most over-fished sea in the world, we still managed to see a fair amount of marine life, including a sea cucumber, which Dan passed me to hold (they’re quite soft and delicate-feeling. Whoever knew?). I shared the dive with a father and his 12-year-old daughter, whose first sea excursion it was. The beams on all our faces on the drive back to the resort were bright enough to dazzle the oncoming traffic.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Natty headgear, nifty bikes

D and I also cycled. One morning we took out a couple of mountain bikes, to explore the area around Levante. We biked along with the sound of cicadas belting out from the undergrowth; coasted past olive trees, and emerged onto a coastal path, which took us along a pretty much deserted stretch of the beach.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

The area around the resort was beautiful, and it left us aching to see more of this intriguing island.

Home comforts

We managed to cram an awful lot in to our week at Levante, but somehow it all felt blissfully easy. Our accommodation – we were given a family suite, with two interconnecting rooms – was comfortable, and kept immaculately clean by dedicated hotel staff (who even made a special out-of-hours trip back one evening, because the children had been napping when they did their rounds).

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Chilling out in our deliciously cool home-from-home

Attentive staff in the restaurants kept us well-fed and happy. And, even though the food was so delicious that we ate about three times as much as we normally do – and despite the fact that we seemed to do loads of lounging by the pool – we managed to avoid piling on the pounds. Exercise just seemed to happen effortlessly on the resort.

As well as all the tennis, diving, cycling and sailing, the glistening pools were so inviting, and the sea so cool, that we spent hours just messing about in the water, making happy family memories.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

I spent a couple of hours in Levante’s air-conditioned gym, and took a few exercise classes with the dulcet-toned fitness instructor Hannah: aqua aerobics, sunrise stretch, and a delectable yoga-style stretch on the beach. D played regular 5-a-side-football sessions with a team assembled by Rich, whose sprightly commitment to the beautiful game caused him to pull a tendon on the last evening of our stay.

And it was this commitment – shown by all the staff we met – which helped turn our Mark Warner holiday into such a comfortably exciting experience. We were welcomed and looked after by a large team of British and Greek professionals, all glowing with bronzed health and looking as though they were delighted to be there, working in such a fine resort.

And who could blame them? I’m itching to go back.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Hellenistic ruins at Levante (with one of the resort’s beautiful olive trees)

Our life, for our all-too-short week at Levante, felt charmed. We were bedazzled by the perpetual sunshine, and the clear azure skies; cooled by the refreshing sea breeze; and lulled by the cicadas in the evenings.

Not everything was perfect. Some of the music played over the resort’s sound systems wasn’t quite to our taste, and a bit loud (personally, I’d have preferred them to crank up the jazz, and tone down the Euro-pop). The Satellite TV in our room brought us horrific scenes from the Middle East; there’s no escaping reality, even when you’re in paradise. And Austin caught a bug towards the end of our stay, so he had to miss the last day of Mini Club, which he was very disappointed about.

But none of these things eroded the peachy glamour of Levante. There was enough adventure on the resort, to keep us there, without feeling the need to explore further afield. And we ended our week-long stay feeling as though holidays would never be the same again.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” – Henry David Thoreau

If you’d like to see even more of the resort, check out this sneak peek preview I posted last week.

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38 Comments

  1. Manneskjur
    August 5, 2014 / 7:38 am

    Looks divine Nell – what a lovely chance to take a break and re-charge. And woah watermelon craving skillz!

  2. August 5, 2014 / 6:49 am

    LOVED meeting you and your gorgeous family on the plane – and around the resort! Fab write up. You’ve brought it all flooding back – loved the mountain bike trip too! Thanks for the link x

    • August 5, 2014 / 6:58 am

      Thanks – it was great to meet you and your beautiful clan, too! It was such a sociable place, wasn’t it. Such an amazing way to spend a week.

  3. August 5, 2014 / 6:54 am

    Rob and I hadn’t had any time to ourselves in daylight ours for 7 years before our holiday in Levante this year, it was just amazing.

    Thanks for the mention, and great write up. xx

    • August 5, 2014 / 7:00 am

      Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it too. I think it would be difficult not to!

  4. August 5, 2014 / 7:59 am

    Wow those carved melons are literally something else. I watched a Youtube video a few days ago of someone carving a watermelon into a bunch of roses, it was phenomenal x

  5. August 5, 2014 / 8:10 am

    That sea water looks absolutely divine. What an amazing trip…something for all of the family. I love it…and want to go…right now!! πŸ™‚

  6. August 5, 2014 / 9:08 am

    This looks like a brilliant holiday. The sea looks beautiful and I think I would enjoy doing lots of water activities! It looks like you had a wonderful time.

  7. August 5, 2014 / 10:24 am

    Sounds like you had a great week. Still not sure it is the place for me and mine though

  8. August 5, 2014 / 12:07 pm

    Wow, this looks amazing, especially the water melons! It’s great that you had some time as a couple and that the kids were so well looked after. It sounds like Mark Warner have thought of everything to ensure that families have a relaxing time there. Are teenagers well catered for too, do you think?

    • August 5, 2014 / 1:02 pm

      Yes, if anything I’d say there were more teenagers there than younger children. Mark Warner have an ‘Indie’ club for older teenagers, which they can dip in and out of as they wish. All the activities – sailing, windsurfing, tennis, cycling, lounging around by the pool etc was on offer to the teens…..and I noticed LOADS of flirting near the bar area in the evenings πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’d have loved it when I was a teen.

  9. August 5, 2014 / 1:50 pm

    We love to travel and Mark Warner is definitely going to be a company we consider when next booking.

    Those melon carvings are amazing! x

  10. August 5, 2014 / 2:25 pm

    What a fab prize to win! Haven’t done a beach type resort holiday for years – looks like you had a wonderful time! x

  11. August 5, 2014 / 3:27 pm

    It sounds glorious. I would love to visit and take advantage of the kids clubs. It sounds ideal for us.

  12. August 5, 2014 / 7:01 pm

    What a beautiful place for a family holidays!
    It looks amazing.
    I wish I was there.

  13. August 5, 2014 / 7:20 pm

    This looks like a fantastic place! I’m glad to see that you all enjoyed it so much. πŸ™‚ Love your photos.

  14. August 5, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    Way to make the blogging world jealous! Looks like you had a great time. Your photos are fantastic. I’d obviously rather be sat here at my desk working an overnight shift though…Obviously!

  15. August 6, 2014 / 5:51 am

    This looks amazing – the kids and I would love to go on a Mark Warner holiday as it looks like they have thought of everything.
    I really want to do a scuba dive too, its on my bucket list!

  16. August 6, 2014 / 11:15 pm

    Oh wow what a magic sounding holiday! So many things to do – I don’t think I would ever want to leave. x

  17. August 7, 2014 / 7:27 am

    aaaa looks like you had an amazing time and what a perfect setting to do all those great activities x #activefamily

  18. August 7, 2014 / 8:33 am

    I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to get this – it look like you had an absolutely wonderful time. I am looking forward to my stay in Turkey even more now πŸ™‚ #activefamily

  19. August 7, 2014 / 9:37 pm

    How much did you cram into one week? It sounds like an amazing break! I’m very jealous

  20. August 7, 2014 / 9:48 pm

    It sounds like the holiday of a lifetime- and one where all members of my family would be really happy – despite the age gaps.

    I am glad you won and had such an amazing time.

  21. August 7, 2014 / 11:54 pm

    I’m very jealous, it all looks and sounds wonderful! Those watermelon carvings are brilliant πŸ™‚

  22. August 10, 2014 / 10:07 am

    That just looks like the most amazing holiday ever. I wonder who first thought of carving watermelons?!

  23. August 10, 2014 / 1:30 pm

    i so know what you mean about holidays never being the same again .. they really are amazing arent they!

    the activities are really the icing on the cake for use.. beth (age 13) learnt to play tennis last time!

    thanks for linking up with #ActiveFamily

  24. October 30, 2014 / 8:25 pm

    It’s great to read your review – nice and thorough – and it paints a real picture of what the Levante resort is like. I’m glad you felt the same way about the staff as I did at Lemnos 0 and your pools do, indeed, look amazing! Good for you on the diving and sea cucumber front – you’re a braver woman than I am πŸ™‚

  25. May 8, 2015 / 2:15 am

    Looks lovely and relaxing – those water melon carvings are bonkers , but very cool too! Love the picture of Gwen on the tennis court, not quite Athena-esque but definitely should be a poster. Are you going back? #timetraveller

  26. May 8, 2015 / 3:13 pm

    What a wonderful sounding trip. I always wondered what a Mark Warner holiday would be like, especially when the kids were younger and I have to say that it sounds – and looks – so good!!

  27. May 10, 2015 / 6:39 pm

    Looks like a fabulous holiday, a great balance of time all together and alone, such a super win. I love thos ewater melons also, very impessive! Mich x #TimeTraveller

  28. May 12, 2015 / 2:04 pm

    I am so impressed with mark Warner after reading your review, what an amazing holiday! I can’t believe the maitre took your dinners back to your room for you, that is going above and beyond isn’t it?
    Love the scuba diving, I got my license many moons ago and am so pleased I did.
    Thanks for linking up to #TimeTraveller. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about Levante and now I want to go there too.

    • May 13, 2015 / 6:03 pm

      Oooh you should go. It takes family holidays to a whole new dimension.

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