Having visited numerous resorts and islands over the years - from Naxos to Mykanos, Kos to Santorini - I can say with some authority what it takes to make a great Greek holiday. The formula is simple; a beautiful, sandy beach to lay on, a blue sea to swim in, Greek salads, fresh fish and inexpensive, yet cheekily satisfying, jugs of white wine at the local taverna, are all you need for a blissful stay.
An hour's drive away from the nearest airport in Kalamata, the seaside village of Stoupa in the Peloponnese remains, amazingly enough, something of a tourist secret. In the past, I've booked cheap Greek package deals and regretted it later. (I'm particularly thinking about the room next to the all-night karaoke bar in Kefalonia here. Thanks Thomas Cook!) Which is why I was eager to found out what it felt like to spend a week sampling the splendour of the luxury self-catering Villa Anthoulla .
Set against the backdrop of olive-tree hills and the impressive Taigotos mountains, the villa is situated in its own grounds and comes with a private swimming pool. Erm, let me pause a moment to decide whether I'd go back to package after experiencing villa luxury. Okay, that's long enough. Of course not!
Although located a short walk from the golden sandy beach of Stoupa village itself, it's probably wise to invest in hire car for a few days to experience all the region has to offer; whether that be visiting the amazing caves of Pirgos Dirou, the ancient ruins of Olympia (two hours away) or Kalogria beach, famous for its rich marine life and where the story of Zorba the Greek took place. That said, it would be hard to blame you for not wanting to venture much beyond the villa gates... with a wide and welcoming selection of tavernas (the owners pride themselves on not 'touting' for trade like other Greek resorts), a bakery and supermarket all within easy reach, the true appeal of Stoupa is its laid-back, simple beauty that makes for a truly authentic Greek experience.
For more information about Villa Anthoulla and other self-catering villas, log on to HomeAway Holiday-Rentals.