Crete

Vera Natura Villas (Rethymno)

Note: This post has been updated to include details of our second stay at Vera Natura Villas in June 2021.

Vera Natura Villas consists of two identical villas, Vera Natura I and Vera Natura II. They are located next door to one another in the middle of an olive grove with views of the mountains and the sea. We were not expecting a view of anything so our 180° view was a pleasant surprise!

Looking north through the olive trees to the sea.

The villas were new in 2020 and the owners are still working out the kinks. It took four years to build the villas and they were completed in February 2020, just in time for the coronavirus outbreak. Ugh.

The villas are located to the east of Rethymno near the tiny village of Adele. The drive to Rethymno is about 15 minutes.

Nearby, there’s a local taverna (re-branded in 2021), another local taverna slightly further away, a fast-ish food type of restaurant, a Lidl supermarket, and two local supermarkets (nothing “super” about them but they get the job done).

Each villa is a standalone three-bedroom house with a fully fenced yard and a private pool. The properties are marketed by ThinkVilla but the villa owners were hands-on and we contacted them with any issues or requests that we had.

The worst aspect of the villas are the driveways. The driveways are only two meters wide, barely wide enough for a compact car. They require a skilled driver to navigate and they are not navigatable in the dark. The owner is aware of the driveway problems and has plans to fix the issues once this pandemic is behind us and cashflow is consistent.

The villas are mirror copies of one another with the exception of two minor differences. The decision of which villa to book comes down to if you want more privacy or easier parking.

Upside for Vera Natura I: Vera Natura I sits higher on the hill and has a bird’s eye view of Vera Natura II’s pool and veranda areas (but only if you stand on the retaining wall and peer over the fence, don’t be that person!).

Upside for Vera Natura II: Vera Natura II’s driveway is straight whereas Vera Natura I’s driveway has a bend in it which makes backing into the driveway more difficult.

Note: There is on-street parking a short walk away for those who do not want to tackle parking at the villa and/or have a vehicle that is too big for the driveway.

Vera Natura I’s driveway and a Mercedes A160 at the bend of the driveway.

Having stayed at both properties and with the driveways/parking being the biggest negative to these properties, I would choose to stay at Vera Natura II in the future.

Vera Natura II

We stayed eight nights at Vera Natura II in August 2020. We were one of the first guests to stay at the villa.

We arrived and were greeted by the husband and wife owners. On the table were two bottles of wine, a bottle of raki, and a 1.5-liter bottle of olive oil that was freshly pressed from their farm.

The wife instructed us to use the tiny glasses for the raki and the husband put his hand on the top of the olive oil bottle and said, “Text me if you need more. I will bring it right away.”

We used the olive oil every day and this is how much remained when we checked out of the villa.

With the priority raki and olive oil announcements out of the way, they gave us a tour of the villa, provided quick tutorials where needed, and said their goodbyes. The husband said he would be back in a couple of days to check the pool chemicals.

Under new covid guidelines, the pool chemicals must be checked on a more frequent basis to ensure it doesn’t become a breeding ground for coronavirus.

The pool guidelines were not the only covid change that we noticed. There were other things that were not normal but to some extent, expected given the circumstances.

For example, the remote controls for the air conditioning units (super strong!) and TV were wrapped in plastic. At first, we thought this was like the Fiat Panda wrapping and was intended to be removed but quickly realized that this wrapping was not to be removed. It was a protective barrier so that the remotes did not become a home for the virus.

Another change was with pantry staples. The wine, olive oil, and raki were the only foodstuffs at the villa, though it is questionable whether raki should be ingested.

Raki tastes a little bit like Sambuca and is just as dangerous alcohol-wise. It’s served after every meal alongside pieces of fruit (peaches, watermelon) or sweets (honey-soaked donuts). It’s meant to be taken as a shot followed by eating the piece of fruit, similar to tequila and lime. It’s an acquired taste and I’ll leave it at that.

Protip: If a Greek person offers you “their grandfather’s water”, it’s raki so proceed with caution.

We learned that under new guidelines, there can be no sharing of food across villa stays, so any pantry staples that are left behind by guests must be removed at check-out. This meant that we had to buy salt, pepper, sugar (poolside mojitos, duh), and other standard foodstuffs.

Partly because the property is new and partly because of coronavirus, there were limited dishes, flatware, utensils, and cookware (pots, pans, mixing bowls, baking sheets, etc.). The biggest problem was that there were no food storage containers.

We were told upfront that the guidelines were to minimize the number of things guests touch so for our party of two, the cupboards were stocked with four place settings (4 plates, 4 bowls, etc.). This was not enough dishes for two people who were sometimes eating three meals a day at the villa.

The dishwasher, which is a half-size dishwasher, ran constantly as I laid on my sunlounger drinking my weight in rosé and rehydrating with plates of watermelon.

In keeping with the new normal of “less is more”, the kitchen also lacked things like plastic cling film, aluminum foil, baggies, etc. We had to buy all of these supplies whilst there.

Finally, almost all decorative items (throw pillows, knick-knacks, books, etc.) were removed from the property to minimize the spread of covid through touch.

It was all a little over the top if I’m being honest.

Vera Natura I

We stayed eight nights at Vera Natura I in June 2021. At the time of booking, both villas were available and since we’d previously stayed at Vera Natura II, we decided to book Vera Natura I because it offered more privacy. What we didn’t know at the time was that the driveway was even more of a nightmare than Vera Natura II’s driveway.

We were greeted by the owner and since we’d stayed at their other villa previously, there was no need for a tour. He simply handed us the keys and away he went.

We noticed a couple of minor differences between our two stays. First, there were more dishes which was a welcome change. Second, decorative items (throw pillows, knick-knacks, books, etc.) had reemerged in the villa. Third, there was little emphasis on checking the pool chemicals.

Would we stay at Vera Natura Villas again? I think that’s an obvious yes.

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