Our family recently spent five fabulous sun-filled days in Crete. This happened to be my second time in Crete, since I visited with my husband 12 years ago, before we had kids.
We’d always wanted to return, so when my in-laws wanted to plan a family trip, we thought it’d be a great opportunity to return with the kids.
This time around, we chose Chania as our base, and stayed at our first Domes property, the Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort. As it turned out, it made for a very pleasant stay for us and our extended family.
In This Post
- Resort Layout
- Sapphire Family Pavilion
- Pool & Beach
- Other Facilities
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Booking
Domes Resorts is a luxury brand comprised of both family-friendly and adults-only resorts, mainly situated in Greece. Over the last few years, many of these properties have come under the umbrella of the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Collection and Autograph Collection hotel portfolios.
Domes Zeen Chania is one of those properties. The resort officially opened in 2019, but with the pandemic, it didn’t really take flight until 2022.
As with most hotels located on the Greek islands, Domes Zeen Chania is only open during the summer season. Therefore, bookings can only be made from the beginning of May to the end of October each year.
When it comes to booking, your best bet is to book early. I noticed that when tracking the cost for our dates, it tended to increase as we got closer to check-in.
For bookings in the early season, expect to pay around €250–300 ($270–325 USD, $370–440 CAD). During the peak summer months, room rates start at €400 ($434 USD, $590 CAD), and go up from there.
If you’d like to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points, expect the cost to range between 50,000–91,000 points per night.
It’s worth noting that the baseline redemption rate applies to several room types that vary in cash prices, including:
- Tropical Open Plan Suite
- Sapphire Bungalow
- Tropical Bungalow
- Tropical Family Bungalow
Of these, the Tropical Open Plan Suite tends to cost the most.
Unfortunately, if you’re travelling as a family, these base-level rooms can only accommodate up to a maximum of two adults and one child.
In most situations, it makes more sense to pay the cash rate and save your points, when using our target valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents per point (USD) / 0.8 cents per point (CAD) as a guide.
Rooms aren’t priced by the number of people, so if you’re travelling as a group, it actually makes economical sense to maximize the room’s occupancy limits. All room rates include a complementary breakfast for all guests, in addition to some other amenities.
The half-board package includes a daily three-course à la carte dinner (some items have an additional surcharge) served in Beach House, excluding drinks. The dinner benefit can be exchanged for lunch instead on any given day.
Strongly consider it if you don’t plan on venturing off the resort too much.
The variety of accommodation options can be a bit confusing, but in general they can be grouped into three types:
- Bungalows, which have a balcony or terrace, one king bed, and can accomodate up to three guests
- Pavilions, which have a private or shared pool, can accommodate up to three adults plus one child up to age 12
- Villas, which are larger than Pavilions, can accommodate up to four adults and one child up to age 12 in a two-bedroom villa
Pavilions and Villas come with a complimentary upgrade to the half-board package, along with the following additional benefits:
- Access to Haute Living Room from 10am to 11pm, which acts as an executive lounge with elevated services
- Use of a WhatsApp number for direct communication with a member of the concierge team
- Domes exclusive check-in experience, and pillow menu selection
- Colouring books, info on kids activities, no tear bath amenities, and mini sleepers for children
Tropical accommodation options don’t offer a sea view, and tend to be on the ground level, whereas Sapphire options are at a higher elevation and offer a sea view.
Travelling as a family of nine, we had to book two rooms. We booked the Sapphire Family Pavilion for €817 ($883 USD, $1,200 CAD) per night (a maximum of three adults and one child), as well as a Two Bedroom Family Villa for €1,455 ($1,573 USD, $2,135 CAD) per night (a maximum of four adults and two children), approximately six months in advance of our stay.
If you’re paying cash for your stay, be sure to book through Marriott STARS to get additional perks.
By booking your stay through an authorized travel advisor, you’ll pay the same as the best-available flexible rate, but you’ll enjoy a suite of perks, including a $100 (USD) property credit, priority for room upgrades, and more.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Location
Crete has two international airports, one on each end of the island. Domes Zeen Chania is located a 27-minute ride away from Chania International Airport, and a two-hour drive from Heraklion Airport.
The resort is tucked away in a quiet residential area just outside the main town of Chania. There isn’t much around the area if you’re looking for nightlife, but there are a couple of restaurants, cafés, sports shops, and a supermarket are located within a 10-minute walk from the resort.
If you rent a car, there’s a gas station just down the road from the hotel.
It’s worth noting that most people who come to this resort aren’t here for the nightlife. Rather, they come for a relaxing family getaway during which they can unwind and be pampered, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed.
Downtown Chania is located a 10-minute drive from the resort, and it costs €10 ($11 USD, $15 CAD) one-way by taxi. There’s a coastal path that you can take from the hotel all the way into town, but it’ll take about 30 minutes to walk it. In the heat of summer, it’s not the most pleasant walk, unless taken in the early morning or early evening.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Check-in
We decided to rent a car. Driving to the resort wasn’t difficult, but we questioned whether we were heading in the right direction right at the end, as Google maps took us down a couple of narrow dirt roads. The last dirt road finally opened up to a parking lot and the main reception area of the resort.
As we pulled into a parking spot, a bellhop dressed in black came out to assist us immediately. Hotel parking is complimentary, and is located right outside the hotel.
The bellhop assisted us with our luggage, and directed us inside. One thing I wasn’t too comfortable with was that our luggage was left outside the entrance, which seemed to be a potential theft risk to me.
From the outside, seeing the standalone reception building, you wouldn’t think much of the resort; however, once you enter the lobby and beyond, you’re whisked away into your own secluded luxurious retreat.
The entrance opens up into a spacious reception area, with the reception desk on one side and comfy lobby lounge seating with coffee tables all around on the other.
We went up to the check-in desk, and the staff located our reservation and welcomed my husband as a Marriott Titanium member. They offered him 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as his welcome amenity, since breakfast was already included with our stay.
Across from the check-in desk is where you’ll find the concierge desk and the Haute Living Room, which I’ll discuss in detail below.
At the other end of the lobby is a bar area, where the welcome drinks are prepared.
The building, much like the rest of the resort, is comprised of stone and cement walls and flooring and floor-to-ceiling windows, with wooden teak accents throughout.
The décor and furniture was of different shades of beige, brown, and grey. It gave a laid back yet modern vibe, and fit in well with the surrounding landscape of Crete.
The reception building is located at the top of the resort. It overlooks the grounds and the ocean through its floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to the balcony outside.
On the balcony are several seating arrangements, which are great for socializing or just sitting back and enjoying the view with some bubbly.
Once seated, a staff member came around asking for our passports, and explained the paperwork we needed to complete for check-in, as well as the resort activity and event schedule for the week.
She also handed out a small Tumbling Tower game to each of our kids. Another staff member promptly came by and presented us with kid-friendly welcome drinks, which was a glass of local iced tea with local herbs and lemon.
When we arrived at around 11am, one of our two rooms was ready. The check-in staff introduced us to our personal Haute concierge contact, who promptly arranged for a buggy to take us to our room.
Buggies are available throughout the day to transport guests around the resort as needed, but there are only a few, so sometimes there can be a wait for the service.
If your room isn’t ready yet, you can relax by the poolside, and the staff will send you a WhatsApp message when it’s all set. There’s a washroom behind the reception desk, or you can head to the one by the pool to change into your swimwear.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Resort Layout
The layout of the resort is such that most of the public facilities are located at the bottom of the resort, close to the beach.
The Bungalows are located closer to these facilities, which include the restaurants, pool, kids club, boutique shop, and gym. Pavilions and Villas are closer to reception, the Haute Living Room, and spa.
In my mind, the resort layout resembled that of a labyrinth, comprised of concrete block buildings with large windows and stone walls, a main road that zigzags down to the bottom, and concrete pathways and stairs interspersed to connect the different levels.
As as majority of the units have their own terraces or pools, the stone walls provide added privacy to the individual units, so you can enjoy your own secluded oasis from the comfort of your own room.
Desert gardens consist of a variety of local flora, and line the pathways and roads to match the surrounding arid landscape. The greenery and palm leaves soften the concrete look of the resort, and give the place a tropical vibe.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Sapphire Family Pavilion
After checking in, a buggy took us right to our pavilion. The entrance was on the side of the building. Our Haute concierge went with us to explain all the features of the room.
She also gave us her personal phone number so that we could contact her by WhatsApp for any assistance we may need, including in-house dining reservations or any other service requests we may have.
Entering the room, the boxy concrete exterior gives way to a luxurious open interior. Like the lobby, the room was decorated in shades of grey, with brown wooden furniture and beige-coloured fabrics to contrast it.
The teak and rattan accents gave it a bit of a tropical vibe.
The natural light coming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows around the room added warmth to the modern minimalist design, making it a welcoming, comfortable space.
At the back of the room is a long desk with a rattan-backed wooden chair. Keeping with the minimalist theme, the desk only had a lamp and a folder with general information about the room and resort on it. Under the desk is a wooden garbage bin.
The centrepiece of the room is the king-sized bed that lies in front of the desk. On either of the bed is a light hanging from the ceiling.
Each side of the headboard has an outlet with USB ports. Below this is a black knob that controls the room lighting, and on one side is an alarm clock.
The staff already had all the bedding set up for our family. Since my son was staying in my in-laws’ two-bedroom villa, the room was set up for four. The sofa was already converted into an extra twin-sized bed.
Unfortunately, they’d mistaken my youngest daughter’s age, and placed a crib in our room rather than a cot. This was rectified quickly, as our concierge promptly had housekeeping replace it with a cot.
We didn’t have much indoor seating, since what would normally have been a sofa by the window was converted into a bed. The sofa would have been a long cushion with a couple of arm cushions on a cement platform.
There’s also a rattan accent chair, with a small wooden side table.
In the middle of the seating area is a coffee table with a a few welcome amenities laid out on it, including a personal welcome note from the manager, a bowl of fruit, a bottle of Champagne in a bucket of ice, a bottle of water, and a box of olive oil biscuits. Cutlery and glassware were laid out for us to enjoy the amenities as well.
Attached to the side of the sofa bed is a cement side table with a couple of rattan baskets for décor, and also a tray with all the phone and remotes for the various devices in the room.
On the other side of the sofabed is a floor lamp, which provides adequate light for the individual sleeping there.
Although some rooftops stood in the way, the view from the window was still beautiful.
Mounted on the side wall is a small TV. It seemed slightly awkwardly placed, but looking around the room, there really was no better place for it. It can be viewed from the seating area, but not from the main bed.
The bar area is located right at the entrance to the Sapphire Family Pavilion. There were some sweet and savoury snacks for purchase on the shelf, as well as a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in the fridge.
Having access to the Haute Living Room, we had no need to partake in the bar offerings. There was a complimentary bottle of water as well, which is replenished daily.
On the stone countertop is a Marshall bluetooth speaker, which can connect with your device to play your own playlists.
There’s also a kettle and Nespresso coffee maker, with a selection of pods and teabags to be used with them.
On the side opposite from the bar are two closets made of teak wood with rattan doors. Inside are were plenty of hangers, a few shelves, and drawers, a safe, a bathrobe, a pair of slippers, the hairdryer, an iron, and an ironing board.
Although not in the closet, there were also slippers provided for the kids.
The bathroom is located behind the bar and closets. It was modern, simple, and functional.
It features a long vanity with an enormous wall mirror. One end of the bathroom opens up into the shower, while the other end gives way to the toilet area.
The shower features luxury brand Byredo bath amenities. Toothbrushes, a comb, a vanity kit, a nail file, and a shower cap are also provided, with plenty of towels available.
The toilet area has a sliding door for privacy, a black toilet, and a vertical bidet.
In my opinion, the true highlight of the pavilion wasn’t inside, but outside. A glass patio door opens up to a terrace where your private oasis awaits.
The stone-floored terrace features a cushioned seating area in the back, with a gazebo to provide shade, two loungers with an umbrella, and a private plunge pool that’s 1.25 meters deep at its deepest point.
A stone wall around it was high enough to provide privacy from neighbouring units.
The hotel was nearly at full capacity when we visited, so the private plunge pool was a great retreat from the heat and the crowds, especially after the hotel closes the main pool.
The pool was decently sized, and the kids absolutely loved popping into it whenever they wanted. It wasn’t heated, but given the high summer daytime temperatures, this wasn’t an issue.
There are lights on the patio so it can be enjoyed late into the evening.
If you’re travelling with an infant or toddler, the hotel has a variety of amenities and gear, including diaper packages, floaties, highchairs, and more. Contact the hotel beforehand to see if they have what you need to save some luggage space.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Dining
There are two main dining venues at the resort, in addition to in-room dining and the Pool & Beach Bar. All of the menus and hours of operation can be viewed on the hotel’s website.
The main restaurant is Beach House, which is located right by the main pool. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It’s recommended to make breakfast and dinner reservations beforehand during the peak summer months when the hotel often is near full occupancy. We made reservations every day, but I found if you went for an early breakfast or dinner seating, space generally wasn’t an issue.
The restaurant has an indoor seating area, as well as an outdoor seating area by the pool.
Depending on the time of day, we found sometimes the sun was too hot or bright to be directly by the pool. There’s also a large covered area, so if you foresee this being an issue, request a table here.
Breakfast is served 7–11am every morning. The first half hour is supposed to be only a continental breakfast, but in our experience, hot food was already being put out shortly after 7am.
During breakfast, you have the option of ordering à la carte, or having the breakfast buffet.
We found the breakfast buffet to be very good, with a variety of hot and cold items, including vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. There’d always be some traditional Greek fare as well.
Each day, some of the buffet options would change, including the featured egg dish, some hot dishes, the featured smoothie, and the assortment of fresh fruit.
Every morning, there was an extensive bread and pastry selection.
The cold buffet area included a featured mezze dish, as well as a selection of fresh, grilled, and pickled vegetables, cold cuts, and cheese.
The hot buffet area would always feature several egg options, cooked vegetables, and meat options.
In the middle of the buffet table, there’s a variety of cereals, nuts, fruits, and traditional baked sweets.
Aside from the routine breakfast beverages, there’s always a cold herbal tea, oat milk, a featured smoothie of the day.
Should you wish to order à la carte instead, the prices are quite reasonable, with dishes from €10–14 ($11–15 USD, $15–20 CAD) each, although the menu selection is very limited.
If you happen to have an early morning excursion, the restaurant allows you to take breakfast to go, and will give you a paper box to fill up from the buffet along with disposable cutlery.
Lunch is served from 12:30–3:30pm, but we actually never had a chance to try it, as we were either out sightseeing, or by the beach or pool and ordering food by the poolside.
Dinner at the Beach House is served à la carte from 6–10pm. Every night the dinner menu is a bit different, with some consistent dishes and others that change.
If you’re on the half-board package, a three-course meal is included. Some seafood or meat menu items aren’t included in the package, but you’ll get a 30% discount if you order them.
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Aside from a couple of dishes being a bit bland, we found the food at the Beach House to be quite good.
One member of our family is a pescatarian, but also requires gluten-free and dairy-free options. Although the menu lacked options that satisfied her restrictions, the chef was always able to accommodate with some modification to an existing menu item, or just create a new dish altogether.
Servers were attentive, and took orders on tablets. The dinner service can be a little slow, with a dinner taking more than two hours. This can be problematic if you’re dining with younger kids; however, the Kids Club has a solution for this, which I’ll discuss later.
Every Monday and Wednesday night, there’s a musical performance in the evening.
If you’d like to try something a little different, then have dinner one night at the resort’s signature vegetarian restaurant, ENINO. The restaurant uses ingredients sourced from local farmers to produce dishes that are healthy yet sophisticated.
I didn’t really get a chance to enjoy a meal here, but another guest at the hotel told me it was very good.
If you’re lounging by the pool or beach, the Pool & Beach Bar is another option for a light meal or snacks from 12–6:30pm. You can order and eat from wherever you are sitting by the pool or beach.
We ordered food a few times here. I had no issues with the food, but the service can be very slow, taking more than 30 minutes for just a salad or burger.
Staff don’t come around too often to ask for orders, but there’s a buzzer on the umbrellas by the pool and beach to call for service. A couple of times, our servers forgot to bring us the bill after delivering the food, and we had to ask for it before leaving.
Room Service is available almost 24/7, with various menus offered depending on the time of day.
There are three bars at the resort: one at the Beach House, Ef Zeen by the pool, and Ammos, a cocktail truck, on the beach.
The pool bar is open until 11pm every night, and features DJ performances four nights a week. After 11pm, the resort shuts down for the most part.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a bit of nightlife, you’ll have to head into town.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Pool & Beach
A big highlight of the resort was its massive pool, which is one of the largest I’ve seen at any resort. Even when the pool was busy, you could still find a little area to call your own.
The water was refreshing, and maybe a bit on the warmer side, which I really appreciated, as most resort pools are too cold. If you prefer something cooler, just take a dip in the ocean.
There are showering stations at both ends of the pool, and they’re nicely situated for those coming back from the beach to wash off any sand before entering the pool. Towels are available by the bar.
There are plenty of seating arrangements by the pool. Beach loungers set up in pairs, with an umbrella between them, lining both sides of the pool. Behind a row of loungers were several patio sofas with a coffee table.
Staff were mainly gathered around the pool bar, and little buzzers to page staff are located at each pair of loungers.
Some may consider this a lack of attentive service, but I rather liked that staff didn’t have to unnecessarily disturb my peace.
If you decide to order food, order it ahead of time, as at times it took more than 30 minutes to get our food. Drinks were generally much faster.
Every afternoon around 4pm, staff come around serving koumpania, small Cretan doughnut balls. At other times, they brought out small snacks like cold grapes or frozen Greek yogurt.
Inflatable water toys and floatation devices for kids are available for use from the Kids Club.
The official pool hours are from 10am–6pm, but staff often allowed people to linger longer, sometimes up to 7pm.
The resort’s beach is just a skip throw away, located across a small parking lot just beyond the pool and restaurants.
It’s actually a private section of the larger public Kladissos Beach.
Here, beach chairs with umbrellas are set up much like by the poolside, with a small wooden boardwalk to help guests move around the area. It’s worth noting that the beach is a bit rocky.
The hotel has a bar on the beach, but unfortunately, service was once again quite slow. A lifeguard is present until 6pm daily at the beach.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Other Facilities
There are many other facilities located at Domes Zeen Chania, which helps to make for a wonderful stay.
Haute Living Room
If you’re staying in a Pavilion or Villa, you’ll have exclusive access to the resort’s Haute Living Room in the reception building.
Although access is supposed to be exclusive, there was no signage, and the space often didn’t appear to be actively run by staff, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some guests unknowingly wander in.
The room is officially open from 10am–11pm, and offers light food offerings, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day. Nuts, fresh fruit, crackers, cookies, rice cakes, chocolates, and yogurt are available all day.
Hot beverages, bottled pop, bottled water, bottled beer, and juice are also readily available.
In the morning, continental breakfast items are served, including donuts, muffins, croissants, and breakfast loaves.
Light lunch items, such as spanakopita, spring rolls, paninis, wraps, and salads, are served in the early afternoon.
In the evening, hors d’oeuvres are served, including veggie sticks, cheeses, and charcuterie. At this time, house wines are also brought out for guests to enjoy until the lounge closes.
If you’d like an early morning tea or coffee, or a late evening beverage, some reception staff will be more than happy to help outside of normal hours.
The Kids Club is located next to the restaurants, and was a great feature of the resort for our younger kids.
All staff are trained in CPR, and have a degree in education. I found that they’re often just working at the resort until teaching resumes in the fall, when the resort closes.
Children aged 4–12 enjoy complimentary access, while those younger require an hourly surcharge of €25 ($27 USD, $36 CAD).
Staff-to-children ratios vary, depending on the age of the children.
Daily activities include baking, sports, gardening, arts and crafts, pool time, and games. Generally, there are three sessions held daily, except on Sundays when the Kids Club is closed.
The evening session is a movie night with dinner, so parents can enjoy a kid-free dinner should they wish. Staff serve kids dinner at the Kid Club, which consists of veggies, pizza or pasta, and a dessert.
The facilities are spacious, bright, and loaded with toys and activities. The entrance opens up into the main activity room, where most of the activities take place.
Next to it is an area for toddlers, with an indoor and outdoor space. There are plenty of colourful toys for imaginative play, and areas for kids to sit and rest.
Adults are welcome to use this space with their toddlers as well.
The outdoor space was even more impressive. There was a canopied area with comfy bean bags to lounge on, a large grassy yard, a fenced off wading pool, and a playground at the back.
Although kids up to age 12 are welcome to join, I found the activities and space are catered to slightly younger kids. There were some board games and a foosball table, but even then, my 12-year-old son preferred to just stick with us.
My girls, however, loved it there. They worked with clay, baked cookies, and made beautiful paintings. The counsellors were all really friendly.
The fitness centre is located across from the Kids Club, and is open 24/7. Other than having a roof overtop, it’s totally open to the outdoors, so if you were hoping to have air conditioning while you have a workout, you may be disappointed.
There are multiple cardio machines, benches, free weights, yoga mats, and kettle bells. Water, fruit, headphones, and wipes are provided as well.
If you’re looking to get pampered, then check out the resort’s Jungle Soma Spa. The spa is located near the reception, and from the outside, it looks like just another villa.
Inside, there’s a small reception area where you can sit to fill our your health form. When we arrived, the staff were very welcoming, and offered us a beverage as we completed our forms.
There are two private treatment rooms across from each other, as well as an outdoor treatment area, where two people can receive their treatments simultaneously.
Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort, Crete – Service
We found that the service at the resort was generally quite good.
The reception staff and Haute Concierge were fantastic, and went out of their way to ensure we had a pleasant stay.
One member of our family had his luggage damaged by the airline, and although the airline had agreed to give him a replacement, they made it no easy task for him to get it.
We were supposed to go into town to the luggage company to have the baggage assessed and replaced. However, our Concierge made a couple of calls, reprimanded the airline, and arranged for the luggage company to come to our hotel instead. That saved us a lot of time and headache.
The staff at the restaurant were very accommodating to our dietary needs, and the Kids Club staff were attentive to the kids.
Hopefully, the pool and beach service can be improved to the same standards in the near future .
I initially thought that our five-night stay at Domes Zeen Chania would be more than enough, but as it came time to leave, I wish we had a couple more nights to enjoy ourselves.
If you’re looking for luxurious place to stay in Crete with a slightly tropical vibe, this would be it.
The resort may not have a plethora of on-site activities, entertainment, and nightlife options, but it makes up for it in other ways.
It provides refined yet laid back accommodations, appetizing food options, plenty to keep the kids occupied, and customer service that goes the extra mile.
If this is representative of what the Domes Resorts as a chain offers, I’m excited to visit more of them in the future.