It’s all in the olives - The secret to St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas

St Nicolas Bay at Sunrise
St Nicolas Bay at Sunrise

During a recent stay at St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel in Crete, Greece, I was told that the secret to this glorious, heavenly place was all in the olives. “You see our culture revolves around olives, my host says. And the proof of this is that the resort is closed from November to April “in order to harvest our olives”. Now closing a resort for weather, I understand, but for olives?!

“Every Cretan family takes great pride in owning olive trees. For five months of the year, everyone stops their usual job and gets to work with their families to harvest the olives. Upon completion, each family turns to their neighbor and without a hint of modesty, declares that they had the most marvelous crop that year! That’s what we’ve been doing for many years going back generations. And that’s what we call “TRADITION” here in Crete.”

They leave their jobs. They earn next to no money cultivating these olives. It’s time consuming, mundane, manual labor. They can only consume about ten percent of their own production, so that the other 90 percent is handed over to manufacturers of olive oil – which also earns them a pittance for all that hard labor. Yet they love it. They even thrive on it. Tradition!

It’s easy to understand when one visits St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel. Many of the management and staff have worked at this hotel for over twenty years. A happy staff translates to service with a warm smile. Tradition!

The pristine surroundings. The grounds with beautiful fig, olive, lemon and pomegranate trees. The quiet elegance. The attention to detail in the décor. The colorful prints of children playing at sea by a local Athenean artist. The spa with its elevated terrace facing the Aegean. Its massage table sitting high on a platform, completely private from view of other hotel guests. It’s magic. Tradition!

The manager who realizes that you’re exhausted at check-in after a long journey and offers to bring sandwiches and Greek salad to your room. The staff that runs to assist a mother with a baby stroller. The concierge who remembers to call you with new information about closing times for a sight you inquired about 2 days earlier. Tradition!

Let’s not forget the choice of 5 restaurants fit for those with the most discriminating palette. The Kafenion Restaurant for traditional local Greek cuisine, with tables bordering the sea and where the reflection of the moonlight adds a touch of romance to the evening. The Minotaure Restaurant offers a unique and exquisite dining experience of fusion Asian/Greek, where the sea bass is grilled to perfection. And for those after a more casual fare there’s the Blue Bay by the pool for lunch with an interesting selection of sushi. Of course the start to the day is exceptional, with a buffet breakfast at the Clubhouse, complete with a la carte options including traditional Greek omelet, a homemade selection of Greek tarts, sweets, pastries, fresh fruit, cheeses, and an endless assortment, both sweet and savory. Tradition!

The St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel sends you home with the color of an unmatchable blue sea in your eye. You’ll want to return for its tranquility and its touch of class. This is a hotel with unmatched heart – and it all stems back to the olives!

Donna Salle is a freelance travel writer and can be reached at