Rhodes to Recovery – how a multi activity holiday in Greece was both energetic and relaxing

Rob Stewart
23rd October 2018

It’s taken me years to realise this, but I’m what’s known as a ‘fidget pants’ – well, that’s what I call it anyway. Sit on a beach with a book for a day and soak up the sun, my idea of hell. Pre-breakfast sun lounge towel competitions with fellow hotel guests so you can sit all day by the pool without losing your spot – I’d rather insert pins into my toenail thank you.

That’s why I’ve always enjoyed mountain activity holidays, not a sun lounger or beach in sight and so many things to distract the part of me (or is it the rest of the family?) that is saying, ‘relax, just relax’.

But no one understands – chuck me on a mountain bike, give me a rope to climb, throw me down a gorge, put me into a round of The Hunger Games (okay, maybe not that last one) and I am relaxed. Make me sit still all day in the baking heat with some book about a depressed detective in Sweden and I’m seriously losing the plot, fast.

But when I saw an advert for a multi activity holiday in Greece that included mountain bikes, road cycles, sailing boats, tennis, scuba diving, paddle boarding and windsurfing I thought perhaps my family’s dream of a Mediterranean beach holiday might finally come true after all. After all these years of forcibly marching them up mountains, throwing them into lakes and generally taking them to places that most infants would find terrifying, perhaps my now 9 year old daughter could experience a beach – and of course, I could run off to my heart’s content.

So we (my wife, Jacqueline and 9 year old daughter, Amelie) booked a week at the Mark Warner Levante resort in Rhodes at the very start of the school summer holidays.

I thought perhaps my family’s dream of a Mediterranean beach holiday might finally come true after all.

The first thing to strike me about my first visit to Greece was how hot it was. I mean, really hot (“funny that”, commented my wife sarcastically when I remarked on the fact). Fortunately though, not a lot hotter than it had been in the UK during the summer of 2018 so we adapted fast – in fact, I realised that I liked the heat here. Dry, with a gentle breeze off the sea (good for sailing I thought) and most brilliantly, air conditioned rooms and 6 swimming pools to plunge into at any time and no need to hang around with a book.

Because there was so much to do. No sooner than my wife had found the perfect ‘relaxation’ spot by the main pool and Amelie had disappeared to ‘Junior Club’ (9-12 and 2-6 daily) – and I was being instructed to ‘relax’ for at least an hour, I heard about the water sports briefing session on the beach. Whoosh, I was off. Jacqueline followed, eager to hear about the paddle boarding on offer.

I’d sailed a little as a teenager, mostly dinghy’s and had become proficient enough to handle a Laser and equivalents single handed, but it had been many years and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by jumping in and instantly capsizing. Fortunately there was an introductory session for three hours the next day and I enrolled. Jacqueline did the same for the paddle boarding experience at the same time.

Every area in the resort has its own instructors and most of the sessions are included in the holiday price. It didn’t take long for us to get onto the water in our own boats – in this case, a Laser Pico. There’s an excellent water sports centre right on the beach and they never seemed to be short of boats or instructors down at the waterfront – as well as a team of safety staff both on and off the water to make sure things run smoothly. We followed our leader and soon I was sailing, a gentle off-shore wind that picked up during the two hour session, which started to make the sailing fun and challenging. But I was hooked and during each day for the rest of the week I’d be running off to grab

a boat in the afternoons when the wind picked up. Could I get my wife on one? No, I was off sailing, she was off on a paddle board – oh well, we were all happy.

Fortunately evening meals brought us together – although Amelie preferred the early tea session and then the evening movie with her new found friends. This gave us time to eat together as a couple (#strange #unusual #nochild #whatdowetalkabout) in one of the two restaurants in the Levante complex. The larger, buffet set up is impressive. Whisked to a table, swiftly brought the wine menu, up to the buffet (too much choice – the first evening I ate so much I almost needed that sun lounger the next day), all very high quality in dazzlingly large quantities. We tried the alternative Greek Taverna, thinking the few Mezze dishes would be a lighter option, but they brought the whole lot. I soon realised why they had so many activities on offer here, you had to burn off the evening meal somehow.

The cycle centre has a mix of hard tail mountain bikes (Cannondale Trail 4) and road cycles (Cannondale Synapse Claris) that can be taken out through the day, subject to availability. Being a keen mountain bike enthusiast, I decided to head out into the small hills and explore with Jacqueline – the terrain is rugged, but not single track style. There’s plenty of group trips too, with the same for the road cycling set up, but we managed to find the club details on my Strava app and simply follow the marked routes out. Despite the temperature being in the high thirties during the afternoon, cycling feels remarkably cool, due to the gentle breeze cooling the body as it sweats. The large hills are a twenty to thirty minute ride away and there’s several good 1.5 hour circuits to be enjoyed – apart from a lunchtime meal in a nearby village (with the most amazingly fresh grilled fish) it was the only time we left the resort.

I was getting through the tick list – sailing, cycling and still no lounging around the pool apart from plenty of sessions with Amelie, which I loved, but fortunately there was still plenty of other distractions to get away from those sun loungers.

There’s a fully-fledged on-site tennis centre with in-house coaching staff and plenty of willing opponents. I’m a regular club player, but sit in the middle ability wise. They split the players up according to different levels and I joined the social tennis sessions between 5 and 6pm. They run hour, day and weekly tennis coaching clinics here, but I was happy to dip in and out when I could, making sure I got at least one game in a day. Beginners can have lessons and the social tennis attracted every level from almost beginner, right up to county level standard.

All this activity was starting to tire me out and I finally succumbed to the pool. Amelie had been enjoying a scuba diving session for juniors and ball games with her friends – and of course in all seriousness, I made sure I did spend time with her everyday having fun in the water too. In fact, within this one week she had gone from previously being a nervous swimmer, going nowhere near the deep end of the pool, to a highly confident one, kitted out with snorkel and fins. Since returning, she’s gone up three levels at her local pool, where she’d previously been stuck in the same one for over two years. There’s no doubt a week here is what has made the difference.

Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely – I still love the mountains and we will certainly holiday there again, but Levante offered the very best of both worlds. Fantastic for the fidget pant and anyone into dark Swedish crime fiction too, I even managed a few chapters myself. markwarner.co.uk/sun-holidays/greece/levante-beach

Holiday details:

Prices: Adults from £669pp /children from £599pp (based on 4th May 2019 departure) and including, return charter flights, resort transfers, accommodation on a falf board basis (breakfast and dinner – full board upgrade available), sailing and windsurfing with tuition, kayaking and SUP boarding, tennis, fitness classes, biking with guided tours, childcare 2 – 17 years (chargeable 4 months – 2 years) and evening childcare.

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