When Lesante Blu was named a Leading Hotels of the World member just months into operating back in 2018, it was as though an asteroid carrying an alien life-form had hit the village of Tragaki, overlooking the eastern shore of pretty Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea – the 92-suite adults-only hotel brought a new type of traveller to what’s sometimes referred to as ‘Zante’ in the UK: a more sophisticated and discerning one, with a hunger for top-notch dining and all sorts of experiential fun.
Looking out the window of Lesante Blu’s Range Rover as the hotel picked us up from Zakynthos Airport, we could immediately tell that the island has, at least until now, largely managed to avoid the Starbucks-ification you’ll see elsewhere. The route to Tragaki comprises roads that run along olive tree plantations and dirt paths that seem to cut right through them – needless to say, it’s all perfectly charming and rural. But beyond that, it’s also surprisingly green. That’s because this part of Greece is blessed with more rain than, for instance, the Aegean. And luckily, the landscape designers responsible for Lesante Blu’s lush gardens, rich in flowers, trees and all sorts of shrubs, have incorporated this wealth of chlorophyll into the resort’s overall aesthetic… it’s something we thoroughly enjoyed, looking out over the grounds from the suite of our private terrace, berries in one hand, and a champagne flute in the other.
Those wanting to sunbathe among fellow guests, instead, can choose to do so in the pool area at Lesante Blu – said pool being rather spectacular: we naively attempted to swim a few laps before breakfast one morning, wildly underestimating the sheer dimensions of this big, blue basin, which wraps around an elegant relaxation deck and gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘infinity’, reducing us to a single lap that would account for five to seven in a standard-sized pool. The views are near-infinite, too, and it’s easy to get lost in endless vistas of the glittering sea or the ancient-looking lands of the Peloponnese and Kefalonia island on the horizon. To the delight of our inner romantic, Lesante Blu takes full advantage of the scenery with pool-top, ’floating’ daybeds that turn into dinner tables at night, offering nothing short of real-life magic.
You’ll have to book the degustation menu at the resort’s top gastronomic experience, the Nikos Ispiroudis-headed Melia Fine Dining, to be seated here, but seeing our company was seriously impressed by the 13-course menu, we’re sure it’s worth it. Since the tasting menu isn’t exactly veggie-friendly, though, we sneakily got meals from the main restaurant, Ostria, delivered to our table, and everything we had was perfectly delicious. We can’t imagine anyone complaining about the food here, but should you be disappointed, it’s conveniently easy to push a waiter into the pool by shoving your chair back a bit as they serve you another Sizzling Ouzo – just kidding, service is on point at Lesante Blu and if anyone falls anywhere, it’ll be you, in love with the courteous team.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Book a day out on one of the hotel’s private yachts and they’ll pick you up from Lesante Blu’s pier. Trips are completely customisable, so once you’ve ticked off the iconic (but far too crowded) Navagio shipwreck beach, your skipper will gladly show you around lesser-known bays and caves. There’s the show-stopping Mizithres viewpoint in the village of Keri, where pearly white cliffs protrude from a sea so bright, it borders on neon blue. On the return journey, moor your yacht at Nobelos organic restaurant, where we savoured artichokes in lemon sauce and Greek salad with Kalamata olives.
Local produce rules supreme across the three restaurants and three bars; especially Zakynthos’ famous olives and raisins, although those looking for more exotic flavours will find them at Almyra Beach House, the Japanese-inspired eatery flanking Lesante Blu’s private beach. It’s here we headed for lunch-time poke bowls and light sushi rolls served in a barefoot luxury setting that entailed a chic but relaxed vibe, chill-out music oozing from the speakers and a constant, light breeze typical of this part of the Med. Almyra is also a good place to meet Mikey, a friendly stray cat that’s decided to make Lesante Blu his home – if you’re nice to him, he’ll come and sit next to your table during breakfast at Gaia the next day (which we didn’t mind at all, being fans of felines). Speaking of breakfast, we enjoyed the traditional, Greek fare lovingly arranged on a tray for us each morning, although we struggled to find plant-based options on a separate menu – a simple but well-done avocado toast or some hummus would’ve made great additions to what was otherwise a tasty start to the day.
When we weren’t eating, we spent quite a bit of our time lazing away in our suite. All accommodation is open-plan and features generous balconies with uninterrupted views of the Ionian Sea, wall-mounted LCD TVs, remarkably well-equipped bathrooms and bathtubs perfect for a nighttime soaking session. Upper-end suites also come with additional amenities; from indoor or outdoor jacuzzis to private infinity pools of varying sizes, and at the top of the spectrum, the unique Royal Grand Suite is spread across two storeys and a lavish 160 square metres. While we certainly liked our polished lodgings, we did think the modern, white marble and glass and mirror-dominated interiors missed an opportunity in providing a sense of place. As it stands, the whole hotel with its silver lampshades and artworks depicting flowers wouldn’t look out of place on other Greek islands or, in fact, in Ibiza or Cancun. That said, Lesante Blu was among the first luxury properties on the island and as such, it’s unsurprising they opted for a contemporary formula – perhaps when the first refurbishment comes along, they’ll incorporate a few references to the local DNA.
Before you check out, it’s obligatory to pay a visit to the hotel’s Essence Spa, which features just about anything you could hope for in a wellness area: from a steam bath and a fully-equipped gym to a hammam and a beauty salon. There’s also an indoor pool of (you guessed it) rather extraordinary dimensions and treatments like ‘Golden Lesante’ make the spa a destination in its own right – who would’ve thought a golden nectar and seaweed wrap could feel this divine? We also opted for a massage, which was consistently firm and made bespoke with a selection of exclusive essential oils to choose from. If you’re not the type for treatments, Lesante Blu offers plenty of other ways to relax; not that things ever got hectic around the resort’s hidden away, seaside location.
Its privileged position is perhaps among the hotel’s main selling points. During our stay, we felt nicely cushioned from the more tourist-trodden parts of the island, where roadside restaurants and boat tour operators vie for visitors’ attention. There are plenty of activities and facilities to keep you entertained on-site; whether you’re into yoga, tennis or jet ski rides. Most jaw-droopingly, Lesante Blu’s pier also gives you direct access to the sea via a collection of private yachts. What more could you want from a Greek getaway?