Velani Country Hotel - Crete

Sun and Riding

5 star rating   17 December 2021

Julie who has been on 5 In The Saddle rides. A fun and relaxing week with lovely horses, people, scenery and food | I was given Mangas on my first day, I had mentioned I enjoyed riding Icelandic horses and Mangas was about their size! I was pretty nervous as I had not ridden for so long due to lockdown, and Mangas, though he was the Grandma Giles of the equine world, was perfect for me because he just carried on through everything that came his way, sure footed, eager to trot and canter, ignoring any excitement around him, patient with my useless fumbling with his tack and entirely unconcerned with anything that might make a lesser horse shy.

I was really impressed with how fast this little powerhouse walked and easily kept up with the others.

My holiday included 2 hours riding a day and they were very generous with this.

I really enjoyed the rides as they were so interesting, riding up to the cave which we were able to visit inside. (I was impressed with the way the horses were left tethered, probably the safest way I have seen this done.)
Also the ride to the "drowned village" in the lake, up on to the plateau, and through the village which was really fun, as was encountering flocks of sheep with clanging bells and seeing all the different trees. Not to mention 30 griffon vultures coming out of the mist and circling right over our heads.

I really enjoyed the fact we were encouraged to groom, tack up / untack, as I hadn't done this for years and Beau was exceptionally patient in demonstrating this.
The horses were really well cared for and Beau who took us out was among the best guides I have ever had - she was so calm, kind, encouraging - and funny! And of course, always safe.

On my second day I had Olympia, she was a very beautiful mare and had I not been so rusty I would have enjoyed trying more of the horses, but I went back to Mangas from the third day.

The horses happily trot over stony ground that many would baulk at, but they are so used to it...

The Riding

How well were you matched with the right horse for your ability?
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How would you rate the variety of riding, pace or terrain?
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How would you rate the overall standard of the horses, tack and stables?
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The Accommodation

How would you rate your room(s) for comfort and facilities?
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How would you rate the standard of the food?
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Do you have any comments about the accommodation and food?

As it was pretty cold and wet at times it was amazing being able to go back to the room and enjoy the jacuzzi bath....and the wood fire in the dining room was wonderful too. We just felt spoiled all the time with the food which was absolutely outstanding. The courses just kept on coming till we were groaning !
One day we had: warm rolls with dips; stuffed peppers; artichokes with lemon sauce; pork with carob sauce; salad with pine nuts; chicken with pasta and raisins; pancakes with syrup....
And the local wine was wonderful has no sulphites so I was able to indulge for a change.
The rooms were cleaned exceptionally well every day, towels etc changed.
The staff were all smiling and friendly and welcoming.
My skin by day 4 was completely recovered from UK December skin, to have Crete skin would be a good reason alone to return.

Before Your Holiday

Did you have all of the information you needed to:

Plan and prepare for your holiday?
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Feel comfortable about your transfers and what to expect?
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How could we improve the quality of pre-holiday information that we send?

I had everything I needed and it was reassuring to be able to have phone conversations with Rebecca to check we had everything ready Covid- wise

One thing no one could have foreseen was that in Heraklion they requested to see RECEIPTS for the covid tests we had booked in the UK to be done on day 2 of our return. Nothing we showed them satisfied them even when we explained that without payment we would not have received the code to enter onto our passenger locator forms.
So I would recommend asking your day 2 test provider for a specific receipt.

[Becky from In The Saddle replies: Thank you so much for your kind feedback, we are so pleased that you enjoyed your holiday.]

How could we improve the way we handled your booking and payment?

It was all seamless.

Do you have any other feedback for us?

I appreciate that this ride usually only goes during the warm summer months and I was pleased to be accepted on the ride in the winter when it is not going to be sunny -in fact it rained a great deal though that didn't spoil the enjoyment or any of the rides.
I would recommend that non-riders take books, an ipad to watch films, pack of cards etc. We sat in the dining room a lot as this is the only communal room. Again, I appreciate had it been summer we would have been able to sit around the pool.

I would absolutely recommend the ride, there is a horse for everyone, the rides are varied, not just "up and down the mountain" because you can ride on the plateau - for those who wish it, there are really long trots and canters, but it's also perfect for older, rusty, or nervous riders.