By Lydia Draper
Greece, and in particular Zakynthos (Zante), used to have the reputation for hefty tourism and for being the holiday home of Booze Britain. I remember thinking exactly the above so clearly almost 7 years ago when my husband suggested we go to a remote sailing club on the North of this Island for a relaxing week away. As we boarded the early EasyJet flight from Gatwick surrounded by Hen and Stag do’s I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be the relaxing trip ‘a deux’ I had in mind.
Lydia aboard the Peligoni vintage yacht, Odyssey
Fast forward another seven glorious summers and what has now been my sixth visit out to Peligoni (affectionately known as ‘Peli’) and I’ve only once missed a summer session since– which, I can tell you, was not a pleasant hole in my heart to have had. Three of these trips have now been with large groups of family and, the more recent trip, with both of our parents plus siblings – a grand total of 17 at one point – yikes!
Lydia & family
With such a vast group, the holiday tick boxes were endless and my father-in-law being an avid water sports and cycling fanatic was also keen to try out their new venture of mountain bikes. This year however, I added another rarer dimension to our list of tick boxes that Peli must fulfil ‘pregnant friendly’. 30 degree plus heat and a sailing club may not be everyone’s idea of a pre-baby break but, just after making our booking last year we received an invitation to our friend’s wedding in the very same location. Perfect! Moving a few flights and tagging on a couple more days at the beginning to join in the wedding plans meant that we had 16 days ahead of us. If I’m honest, I never once thought I’d be sat in my very favourite spot(s) holding a wittily named ‘No-jito’ (non-alcoholic Mojito) rather than sipping away at a glass of rosé but real grown-up life calls and I found myself worrying about the dreaded heat and what on EARTH to wear for a destination wedding with my now added personal furnace.
Announcements at Figari
Like with past destination weddings I’ve been lucky enough to attend, I found the couple-to-be have catered for their guests in the run up to the ‘I do’s’. Therefore, my husband and I spent these first few days quite differently to our usual Peli trips – organised dinners and excursions (complete with dedicated drivers) were done with military precision for the 100+ wedding gang before the big day and one final ‘Ibiza style’ pool party for a wind-down after the wedding – for fashion conscious mums-to-be, my pregnant and heat friendly wardrobe for this trip consisted of blue, white or red ‘fashionable tents’ – kaftans to everyone else.
Guests gather for beach drinks at Nobleos. Photo by Luke Hayden.
On the first night we all descended down to Nobelos, the local restaurant, and one of my favourite spots in the area for dinners. They served up an incredibly huge authentic Greek buffet, followed up with a Greek style dance act pulling in guests to dance with them and eventually involving the lot of us. This swiftly followed with the bonkers and classic Greek must-do of plate smashing – thoroughly enjoyable and such a great talking point for us guests to get to know each other. The restaurant catered perfectly for the now reluctant ‘tricky’ eater and I found myself returning back to our quaint house at almost midnight without any care of how shattered I may be tomorrow.
A Greek spread. Photo by Luke Hayden.
Traditional Greek festivities. Photo by Luke Hayden.
Smashing plates. Photo by Luke Hayden.
Day two of pre-wedding festivities were left for us to freestyle and therefore I made the most of some down time with our friend on either the cabanas at the Club or up by the pool we had the gorgeous Ibby taking care of us with water, more No-jitos and beers (for him). I’m already 24 hours in and I rarely have to walk to a bar or, say my drink order… they just appear. Staff understand you here, it’s what I love so much about Peli, nothing is too big an ask and they seem to know the right moment you need that drink in your hand or, this year’s delight, cold flannels – bliss!
Wedding day Canapés. Photo by Luke Hayden.
The evening of day two was the wedding itself. This was one of those weddings I had looked forward to well before sprog was on the horizon and I hated the thought of being ‘that person’ who needs different catering needs, shade, drinks and water. However, being a Peli wedding guest none of these worries seemed a problem. One particular staff member throughout the reception brought a separate plate to keep hunger at bay with all things preggo-friendly to save my husband or I wandering around playing canape chaser… a literal life-saver. Moving on from the reception and into the wedding marquee and the same applied here. Attentive bar staff once again and a well catered for menu to suit bumps needs even if on a pretty remote part of a Greek Island. Tuna, beef and a mix of other fish was served with sharing salads and potatoes, made from the Club’s kitchen, was all totally delicious and moments later the band were playing and the dancefloor was filling up.
Place setting. Photo by Luke Hayden.
The wedding tables. Photo by Luke Hayden.
The bar team. Photo by Luke Hayden.
The gypsy folk band. Photo by Luke Hayden.
I quite literally went home at Grandma’s bedtime and we found drivers on tap for when the dance floor got a little energetic for old sober me leaving the higher spirited amongst us to it. The third and final day consisted of an all-day relaxed poolside BBQ at the infamous Figari Villa which, 24hours later, became our family home for the next two weeks. Here, I happily lounged under a brolly watching the boys for hours try (and fail) to sit on the ‘InflataBull’ (Google it) then collapsing in a heaped mess of defeat. The Club staff had set up a fully stocked bar and DJ booth. The Peli hostesses were busy in the kitchen sending out delicious bowl food and nibbles throughout the day. It was a perfect blend of relaxation vs. Ibiza beach club, I could not have thought of a better way to end a celebration.
The Figari courtyard. Photo by Luke Hayden.
The Figari pool party. Photo by Luke Hayden.
Guests at the Figari pool. Photo by Luke Hayden.
My next two weeks were with the now extended family. My days comprising of mostly lounging and walking from Villa to club and back again. Occasionally swimming elegantly whale-like out to the pontoon to waste a couple of hours bobbing away. Benefitting (twice) from the Goat Shed Spas Pregnancy Massage and a mani. Cue motto of the hols – spend money on yourself when you can’t on booze?!
The Goat Shed Spa. Photo by Nick Isden.
The Goat Shed Spa. Photo by Nick Isden.
Did I miss anything? Unable to sail/ring-o etc yes. Otherwise, only the excitement of après party night gossip amongst the siblings the following day(s). But, I was thankful for the hangover-free days and was oddly grateful for the unprecedented new hours added to my day now having a 6am wake up (why is that?!) to utter quietness before the house woke. Finally, I was willing (and able) to take advantage of a mornings energetic Sun Rise Yoga lesson (with movements changed to suit the bump) on the sea front platform followed by breakfast at the Club bar… a time of the day that on previous trips I wouldn’t have surfaced anywhere near 4hours+ of this time unless going TO bed…
Fitness sessions in the gym. Photo by Jack Forbes.
The sun decks. Photo by Nick Isden.
The Peligoni Club. Photo by Nick Isden.
Did my pregnant Peli experience taint those of the past? Absolutely not, but my goodness I’m looking forward to a glass of D’Ollieres for 2018’s welcome drink. In fact, make it a bottle.
Lydia stayed in Villa Figari – which is next door to the Club and attended one of our private weddings. If you have any questions about villas suitable for mums-to-be of families with small children, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are interested in hosting your celebration at Peligoni please contact us on email@example.com.