A multi-generational holiday in a luxury villa in Corfu | Travel

Ah, the multigenerational party. Such a great idea in theory – grandparents happily watch children frolic in the sea, parents smile as they sip a glass of something cold – but such a hard thing to pull off in reality. “3G” vacations (am I the only person who didn’t know they were called that now?) Apparently that’s a big deal. But for our family, things are not so simple. As I sit in Gatwick waiting for our easyJet flight, a buggy on one side, my mum’s wheelchair on the other, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Wouldn’t a break in the UK have been easier?

Well yes. But after three years of holidays in Scotland we wanted a little sun. And how hard could it be to ship myself and my husband (in his 40s), my daughters (two and eight) and my 70-year-old mother – in wheelchairs awaiting hip replacement surgery? – through Europe ? OK, don’t answer. Instead, think about the real question: where could this demanding group satisfy?

Proceed towards Corfu and the Courti estate. The pink house with an old olive press dating from 1770 has been given a modern and sensitive makeover. Courti sits on a hill above the village of Messonghi to the south-east, with magnificent views of the mainland. Any preconceptions I had about Corfu – I’ve watched too many Kavos-based reality TV shows – quickly dissipated as we walked up the private driveway to what must be one of the chicest on the island. It’s been open since 2017, but thanks to the pandemic-enforced hiatus, it feels like new.

Laura and her youngest daughter in Messonghi

Here is the relaxing and luxurious vacation I dreamed of (too bad for the toddler). The rooms are huge and simple; if you have mobility issues, ask to stay in the annex rooms with no steps, which made it easier for my mum. A dining room in the old olive press overlooks a huge infinity pool – all the entertainment my kids needed, quite frankly. It can accommodate 18 people and you can rent all nine rooms; weddings are popular here, and a big family anniversary would work wonderfully. Some weeks you can book a single room and share the domain with other people.

The grounds include a treehouse, lounge chairs, a lovely courtyard, and, oddly enough, a massive outdoor chess set. But the wink? Although the rental price for the week isn’t cheap, it includes an entourage of staff including a housekeeper, cook and gardener, with meals prepared all day – a game changer when multiple people eat multiple things every waking hour. Nothing was too much trouble for the chef, Lilliana, who looked after my picky and messy eight year old toddler, always with a smile on her face. We ate homemade tzatziki, moussaka and falafel; breakfast was a feast of fresh bread, cheese, eggs and fruit, some of which was grown on the estate. Private accommodation, but with hotel-like service and delicious food? He set the bar high.

Truth be told, the five of us would have been perfectly happy spending the whole day at the estate, the kids splashing in the pool as soon as breakfast was over, while all my mum asked for was a quiet seat with a magnificent view on which to read his book. Well, that and a bit of history. Luckily, Corfu Town, home to beautiful Venetian, Greek, and French architecture, is a 20-minute drive away, as is a rather lovely Olive Oil Museum. A car is essential – there’s nowhere far on the island, and ten minutes’ drive is enough to take you to a deserted strip of beach for swimming or to an old village perched on the hills (we used the local car rental company Abba).

The Courti Estate

Just, whatever you do, don’t read what the guides have to say about Messonghi, the village at the foot of the hill. One devoted two whole lines to its charms – another recommended crossing without stopping. It’s quite unfair. What may once have been a tourist trap has evolved.

Chryssa Poupard, owner of the Courti Estate, has family on the island and knows the “secret Corfu” perfectly. She prepared a program for us that included everything from one of the best beaches in Corfu, Chalikounas, and the Tayo Beach Bar (which the kids loved) to an evening wine tasting with a lovely local sommelier, who was a hit with my husband. “Corfu has an unfair reputation for nightclubs thanks to Kavos in the south, but the island is so much more than that,” says Poupard. “One of my favorite activities is hiking in the hills, for example.”

Le Courti is not the only place in the Messonghi district to defy perceptions: the Olivar Suites, a luxury hotel where each room has a private swimming pool, has opened a few steps away; go for a beach sunset (olivarsuites.gr).

● The best all-inclusive hotels in Corfu
● The best beaches in Corfu

Alternatively, there are traditional Greek spots within a five-minute walk of the estate. Walk through the bars to the waterfront, where Bacchus Tavern is a family restaurant overlooking the water; we ate fresh squid while watching a fisherman come ashore. We also hired a boat, which might have been tricky with someone with reduced mobility. However, the crew (we traveled with Captain Homer) saw no problem and managed to get everyone on board for a quick trip across the water to Vlacherna Monastery, where we had lunch at the tavern Flisvos Seaside – its ingredients come mainly from its neighbor garden.

The key to a multigenerational stay that still feels like a vacation? Choose a place where nobody cares about your sometimes difficult situation: the patience of the Corfiots with our buggy/wheelchair scenario was endless. Second, find yourself somewhere with plenty of space so everyone has time to themselves: my eight-year-old daughter loved having her own room to relax in, away from her little sister. And finally: a large swimming pool is a must, for all ages. Just keep this image in mind as you struggle through the airport.

Laura Atkinson was a guest at the Courti Estate. Seven-night self-catering accommodation from £17,000 for 18 people, including chef, housekeeper and daily maid service (thecourtiestate.com). Fly to Corfu

Villa on the beach of Roda

Three other villas in Corfu

1. Roda Beach Villa

The morning ritual here goes as follows: step onto the spacious lawn, walk straight up the garden path with the mountains of Albania crowning the horizon in front, and after a few steps you reach a gentle stretch of sand from the north coast. To the left is a tavern, to the right, possibly, the long beach of Acharavi. Two of the villa’s five plush bedrooms are on the ground floor and around the swimming pool (with integrated hot tub) you will find a mini play area with slide and swings.
Details Self-catering accommodation seven nights for ten from £2,489 (oliverstravels.com)

Villa Oliveto

2. Villa Oliveto

Rising out of the Mediterranean greenery below the winding coastal road east of Nisaki, Villa Oliveto is a place of moving vistas. It’s also a perfect place for families – the swimming pool, with its shaded bar area, can be separated from the rest of the panoramic terrace. Life inside centers around the bright dining room on the ground floor, with four double bedrooms, a lounge on the lower level and another bed on the mezzanine above. In addition, there are four shower rooms.
Details Seven-night self-catering accommodation for eight from £7,320 (simpsontravel.com)


3. Felix

South of Corfu Town and just east of the airport is a startling wooded enclave, home to both the Mon Repos estate (Prince Philip’s birthplace) and this nine-bedroom luxury villa that was a 007 slot at Just for your eyes. Whatever naughtiness the smaller generation has planned can be avoided with childcare services and bookable activities through Greek Villas. Other stress relievers include the hotel-sized pool, gym, chef and in-house cleaning staff, and cinematic terrace with padded benches projecting almost above the sea. .
Details Seven nights half board for 18 people from £18,500 (thegreekvillas.com)
Rory Goulding

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Elisha A. Tilghman