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Veláni Country Hotel is a family run hotel with its own stables (Odysseia Stables) situated in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains. There are different itineraries depending on your riding level so the holiday is suitable for groups of mixed ability. It is also a great base for non-riders. You can arrive and depart on any day and stay as long as you like.
Competent riders can explore the surrounding area on the Panorama Rides. Novice riders can choose the Learn to Ride programme. Sunny Rides offer shorter rides for either less experienced riders, or those wanting to spend less time in the saddle. There is plenty of time to spend either visiting the beach or heading into the mountains and the Lassithi Plateau. Children are welcome all year round with riding programmes for all ages.
The horses and ponies at Odysseia Stables include Arabs, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods ranging in height from 14.2hh to 16.3hh. Chosen specifically for their temperament and stamina, they are relaxed but eager on the trails.
Crete is a dry island and the trails all follow hard, stony tracks - very different to the green grassy terrain found in northern Europe. You will canter on these tracks but don't worry because the horses are all conditioned to this terrain and are sure-footed.
The rides do not all head out at the same time. The Panorama Rides usually begin around 10:00, and the Sunny Rides around 14:30. The lessons usually take place in the mornings whilst the Panorama Rides are happening. Therefore, if you are travelling with others who have booked a different riding itinerary to you, you will likely be riding at different times.
Kept in an open-stable type environment, the horses and ponies can always choose if they want to be inside or out. All horses are trained in hand and using classical dressage training are suitable for all levels of rider.
The riding style is English, on a loose rein. Hard hats are mandatory and you should take your own. There is a rider weight limit on all rides of 90kg (14st).
Panorama Rides: Each day you ride out from the stables, returning to Veláni Country Hotel. The rides are from three to five hours long and all are within the Langada Valley. Most days you will return to the Hotel for a late lunch and a leisurely afternoon but on some trails you may have lunch at a local taverna.
The pace on the ride is varied, depending on the terrain, with opportunities for canters on the rural tracks. You should be a competent rider, capable at all paces over uneven terrain. Over a seven night stay you ride on six days for a total of about 23 hours. The Panorama Rides do not run during July and August due to the heat. Children aged 12 years and over, who are experienced riders, may be accepted on the Panorama Rides, subject to an assessment.
Sunny Rides: The Sunny Rides itinerary is a more relaxing holiday and includes a two hour ride each day. In July and August, rides are split according to ability; a slower ride with generally only one short canter in the morning, and the other being more challenging in the evening. For these rides you should be happy at walk, trot and canter. Over a seven night stay you ride on six days for a total of about 12 hours.
Children aged 12 years and older (and exceptionally aged 11 years and under) who have the required experience, may join the Sunny Rides, subject to an assessment.
Learn to Ride: There are two different instructional programmes available all year round.
The Beginner Course is for riders who have never ridden before, whilst the Starter Course is aimed at riders who have had some riding lessons, or have ridden in the past, and are keen to improve their basic riding skills. The holiday includes a combination of private and group lessons together with hacks in the area. Lessons in horse care (grooming and tacking up) are also included. Over a seven night stay you ride on six days for a total of about six hours. Children aged 12 years and older are welcome on this programme.
Children's Programme: This programme is for children aged 8 to 11 years, who are able to walk and trot. Children from the age of 4 can enjoy ten minute pony rides, whilst from 6 years old they can have half hour lunge lessons in the arena.
Please note, the hotel does not offer a child minding service and children remain the responsibility of parents at all times.
The Veláni Country Hotel is next door to Odysseia Stables. There is a large infinity pool as well as a separately located children’s paddling pool.
The estate has its own vegetable, herb and fruit garden providing the restaurant with fresh produce each day. Olive oil is also produced from the local olive groves, and all other ingredients are sourced as locally as possible.
There are twelve spacious, en-suite rooms each with either a private patio garden or balcony. Each room has a hairdryer, television, fridge, air con and heating. Prices are based on a Classic Room or a Family Room, but upgrades are available.
Classic Rooms are on the ground floor and have a private veranda. Each room has either a king size bed or twin beds, and a spacious bathroom with a bath and shower. Ideal for couples, friends sharing or single guests.
Deluxe Suites are also on the ground floor and have a private veranda and sun patio. Each room has either a king size bed or twin beds, and a spacious bathroom with a jacuzzi bath. In addition, there is an open plan sitting corner with a fireplace. Ideal for couples, friends sharing or single guests.
The Panorama Family Room sleeps a family of up to four people. This room has a large double bed and a single bed, and a further single bed in the split-level room. There is a spacious bathroom (with a bath), an open plan sitting corner with fireplace and a balcony. This room would also be suitable for friends wishing to share.
The Superior Family Suite has two connecting ground floor rooms with a private patio and garden. The master room has a large double bed and an open plan sitting corner with fireplace. The second bedroom has twin beds and an open plan sitting area and extra TV. Each room has a spacious bathroom with a bath. This suite is suitable for a family of up to four people. It would also suit friends sharing. A single supplement is payable if either room has single occupancy.
The Panorama Wellness Suite offers you a personalised Wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room. The suite is on the first floor with a king size bed or twin beds, and a further single bed in the split-level room. In addition to the spacious bathroom (with a jacuzzi bath), there is also an infrared sauna cabin (for two), colour therapy and aroma therapy, an open plan sitting corner with fireplace, a balcony, and a private sun patio with sun beds. Ideal for couples, friends sharing or single guests.
The Superior Wellness Suite offers a personalised Wellness experience, together with a large private garden. The suite is on the second floor with a king size bed or twin beds, and a further single bed and child’s bed in the split-level room. In addition to the spacious bathroom (with a bath), there is also an infrared sauna cabin (for two), colour therapy and aroma therapy, an open plan sitting corner with fireplace, a balcony plus private veranda and sun patio with sun beds. Ideal for couples, friends sharing or single guests. With the child’s bed, the suite can accommodate a family of four. Please note this bed is not suitable for adults.
You can arrive and depart any day (minimum three nights). We recommend stays of seven nights.
Each member of your family or group can choose a different riding programme. Panorama Rides are not available during July and August. Sunny Rides, Learn to Ride and the Children's Programme are available all year round.
Sample Itinerary for Veláni Country Hotel
Select your preferred arrival date:
|Per person (7 nights)||Panorama Rides
(c.22 hours riding)
(c.12 hours riding)
|Learn to Ride
(c.6 hours riding)
(c.6 hours riding)
|6 Nov - 14 Dec 2023||$1,305.74||$1,100.47||$1,032.05||$644.32|
|15 Dec 2023 - 7 Jan 2024||$1,385.57||$1,180.30||$1,111.88||$724.15|
|15 Mar - 30 Jun 2024||$1,642.16||$1,436.89||$1,300.04||$872.40|
|1 Jul - 31 August 2024||Not available||$1,436.89||$1,300.04||$872.40|
|1 Sep - 3 Nov 2024||$1,642.16||$1,436.89||$1,300.04||$872.40|
|4 Nov - 24 Nov 2024||$1,562.33||$1,357.06||$1,220.21||$792.57|
|22 Dec 2024 - 11 Jan 2025||$1,642.16||$1,436.89||$1,300.04||$872.40|
INCLUDES Accommodation in a Classic Room; meals (from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day); riding as per the itinerary (no riding on arrival or departure day).
ROOM UPGRADES (for 2023 and 2024)
Deluxe Suite $74.13 per room per night.
Panorama Wellness Suite $148.25 per room per night.
Superior Wellness Suite $171.06 per room per night.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT There is a single supplement of $39.91 per night for single occupancy. A supplement also applies in a family suite if either room has single occupancy. Room upgrade prices also apply.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Transfers; drinks; desserts & ice cream; gratuities.
NEAREST AIRPORT Heraklion.
TRANSFERS from Heraklion airport are €55 per vehicle each way (up to 4 people) (for 2023 and 2024). Alternatively you may wish to hire a car.
Flights can arrive and depart at any time.
Transfers can be arranged from Heraklion airport, a journey of about 40 minutes (payable locally).
Alternatively you may prefer to hire a car and self-drive to the hotel. We recommend this option for guests on a sunny rides programme. The hotel is located on an unpaved rural road; every car can reach the hotel but the hotel does advise a car suitable for an unpaved road.
It may be possible to share the transfer with guests arriving at a similar time but we are not likely to know that until near the date of your holiday.
Room check-in is from 14:00 on the first day and check-out is by 12:00. Guests arriving or departing outside these times are welcome to use the public areas.
Set in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains, about 40 minutes south east of Heraklion.
The climate in Crete is primarily Mediterranean, with hot and sometimes humid summers, and mild winters. Most rain falls from January to March but, as you are riding in the mountains, you should be prepared for rain at any time and cool temperatures in the evenings, except in high summer.
This was a fantastic riding holiday that far exceeded my expectations. Between the well trained and responsive horses, interesting rides through the Cretan countryside and the absolutely delicious traditional Greek food and wine, I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more! I highly recommend this holiday!
Blake ,LondonOverall rating: 5/5