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Never have I got home from a holiday and not felt just a little bit pleased to get back. There’s always something I’ve missed: my clothes, my house, (most likely) my own bed. But then I’d never been to Mark Warner Paleros, in Greece.
To be fair, as the resort was only three weeks old, barely anyone else had been either.
If you can’t be arsed to read the rest of these 900 superlatively-filled words which, spoiler alert, are only going to be raving about every aspect of the holiday we’ve just come back from, just know that we are less than a week home and I’ve already booked a return trip. That’s how much we loved it.
Mark Warner Paleros, Greece
Mark Warner’s Paleros resort is situated about 25 minutes away from Preveza airport, just around the coast from beautiful Lefkada and across the water from the islands of Skorpios (which was once owned by the Onassis family) and Meganissi, where my ex-in laws used to live. It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the country, just as gorgeous as any Greek island you’ll visit.
This resort is so new there were no photographs of it online yet, and so having booked our holiday based on only computer-generated images of the resort – I haven’t paid for a trip so blind since I chose a hotel in Faliraki from a 2cm photograph in a brochure aged 17 – we really didn’t know what to expect.
But upon arrival I exhaled: it was gorgeous. Absolutely, truly, wonderfully gorgeous. Having been on 4 previous Mark Warner Holidays I knew their standards were high but this really was a cut above what we’d experienced before.
Mark Warner Paleros was a destination actually belonged to the holiday group about ten years ago before going out of commission (a quick gander on Google Maps will show you how derelict it was previously). Since its recommission back into the fold the resort has had a ground-up refurbishment, with absolutely everything save the walls of the rooms and main buildings re-built, and the transformation really is incredible. IN-credible.
At the resort you’ll find the usual Mark Warner sports facilities – excellent tennis, a great bike center, watersports on a beautiful beach, a daily fitness program – alongside their excellent childcare facilities and a plethora of activities for kids. There are also two pools, including one just for adults, two restaurants, two bars and a spa.
And of course, a shop selling an excellent range of inflatables.
The rooms were absolutely lovely, the nicest we’d stayed in with Mark Warner. Brand-new and kept spotlessly clean (nothing short of a miracle with two kids who spent their days rolling around on a beach), they were perfect for our holiday and we settled in beautifully from our first night. I’m fussy in this respect – I’ve stayed in some amazing hotels and Greece’s rooms can err on the side of basic – so I was pleasantly thrilled with how luxurious these felt.
But for me, it’s the staff and the social camaraderie that really makes a Mark Warner holiday. We were so happy to see some familiar faces at our welcome and in childcare, and we even bumped into some holidaymakers who’d also been on our last trip to their Levante location. Everyone was so welcoming and made us feel really excited to be on holiday, which to be fair is a pretty crucial mindframe to get in when you’re away. I adored the fact that, on more than one occasion when faced with a whining child and a parent trying not to roll their eyes, the lovely staff didn’t even blink before reminding the kids “it’s mummy’s holiday, too!”.
Did I mention how I love the festively social aspect of these breaks, too? Ten years ago I might have cringed at the thought of organized holiday entertainment but really, when you’ve just had a lovely sunset dinner with 18 new friends there really is nothing better than laughing your head off with them at a quiz or music night. Especially if your kids are happily ensconced in the free childcare. And there’s the local rosé on tap.
Heaven, heaven, heaven.
Mum came with us on this trip and it was such a treat to have her along for the ride. I think it took about 24 hours before she was also a fully paid-up member of the Mark Warner Paleros fan club: subscribing to the social holiday ideals just as much as me (this must be where I get it!) she loved the easy-going and fun-loving vibes we were so getting into. We did social dinners, we went Paddleboarding (ok, she went paddleboarding), it was absolutely amazing to have her with us for the duration.
(She’s also chomping at the bit to come back with Dad next year. June ’20, here we ALL come!).
Mark Warner Paleros, as the name might suggest, is a quick 20-minute walk along the coast to the small harbour town of Paleros.
When you book your holiday you can choose between a half-board and all-inclusive package at the hotel, though the restaurant is closed two nights a week to all to encourage you to get out and see more of the beautiful local area (there is a hotel BBQ available these nights at an additional cost). On our ‘nights off’ and on the recommendation of a friend we dined at the New Mill Tavern, a restaurant so good we returned two nights later with 18 of said new holiday friends.
With no menus, we rocked up and were presented with a jug of local rosé (served by the kilo – tick) followed by the most amazing homemade garlic dips (double tick) and my favourite, cheese pie with honey. This was followed by huge prawns, local meatballs and kleftiko, before a really delicious local dessert. It was 60 euros for four of us and to be quite honest I would have happily paid twice that for how amazing the food was (just don’t tell them that before we return for a third time…).
My advice? Just go.
Mark Warner don’t offer cheap holidays (it certainly cost a bit more than Faliraki 2002), but they’re worth every penny. Like I said, we re-booked to return in a couple of months – we made use of the current 15% off code for holidays booked this summer – and I would wholeheartedly recommend it as a location for anyone travelling with or without kids.
Like I said, JUST GO.
See you soon, Paleros!