If you’ve ever wondered where local families head to for a perfect day at the beach in Chania, it’s the same spot where you will find Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and First Lady Mareva Grabowski Mitsotaki, who spend most of their summer weekends here.
Marathi is around a 17 km drive from the city of Chania and this gorgeous spot boasts two clear, sandy beaches that are separated by a charming little port. Both of these bays are organised, so you will find rows of umbrellas and sunbeds, which are filled with visitors who come here for all-day swimming, followed by a late lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants along the coast- serving delicious local seafood and other well-known Cretan dishes.
Ioanna Filippakis, who along with her brother and parents own and run Marathi Villas and Psamathi Restaurant, recently spoke with IN+SIGHTS GREECE about the family business and why this spot in town is one of the island’s best-kept secrets.
When did Marathi Villas open?
The property has been in our family for over three generations. Initially, there was only a small house and an olive grove. Then we renovated the spaces (without disturbing their natural beauty) and created eight elegant villas, which now accommodate up to four people in each. By the water, a space that used to be the local “kafeneion” has now become a restaurant, offering visitors a range of Mediterranean flavours, including fresh fish and good Cretan wine.
Tell us about the style and décor of the villas.
The four villas, with uninterrupted sea views, have a purely minimalist feel. The other four overlooking the garden have attics and are decorated in a 1930s and 1960s style. We chose pastel shades because they blend in perfectly with the surrounding environment.
Your restaurant “Psamathi” is a favourite amongst locals, tell us about your menu.
All the produce used in our restaurant is organic and locally sourced. The oil, honey, and wine are actually produced by our family. There is plenty on offer for brunch, lunch, and dinner. My favourite dish at the moment is Pasta served with Mediterranean squid and stuffed with Feta and olives. Our customers’ most loved breakfast is the Cretan specialty, which consists of Strapatsada (eggs with tomato and Feta), Yogurt with Walnuts and Honey, Sfakian pie, and Cretan Dakos.
Where do locals love to swim?
Very close by you will find a bay, known to a few, which is called “White Beach”. You can get to the bay by boat or by swimming. The sand is white and the waters are crystal blue. There are high cliffs, ideal for diving, and a small cave.
What makes Marathi an ideal spot to visit?
Marathi is a place where the natural landscape wins you over. Souda Bay which encloses the area does not allow the winds to get through, so the sea is always at peace. It’s always calm and looks like paradise. Marathi is ideal for rest and relaxation. Here it’s all about sunbathing and swimming. You can also enjoy walking along the adjacent bays and participating in water sports such as canoeing and pedal boating.
What history can be found here?
Marathi is built on Ancient Minoa at the Port of Aptera. Parts of Ancient Minoa, the jetty, and the ancient sanctuary are visible from here.
What are the best months to visit?
The best months for holidays here are May, June, and October. The weather conditions during these months are such that the temperatures are at the best levels so you can enjoy a wonderful vacation without the crowds.
Tell us about Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ connection to Marathi.
The Mitsotakis family originates from Chania. Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ father the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis built a holiday house here because he loved the wonderful natural environment with views of the mountains and the Gulf of Souda. The Prime Minister spent his childhood here and has incredible memories of summer vacations in Marathi, which he has now continued with his own children. Former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis Mitsotakis, sister of the PM, considers Marathi “a place of unsurpassed beauty.”