In the foothills of the Dikti Mountains, high on an olive-strewn escarpment, you will find the charming Velani hotel, overlooking the fertile Langada Valley. Built from the reclaimed stone of the land it is built upon, it's as though this rural haven has grown from the hillside on which it sits. A lifelong project of its owners, Sabine and Manolis, this retreat has been lovingly created to showcase the rugged beauty of the island and offers spectacular views across the valley to the sea beyond. The hotel restaurant boasts fresh local produce and authentic Cretan fare, including olive oil grown from the olive trees that surround the property. The infinity swimming pool brings welcome respite from the heat of the day as does the expansive covered terrace where guests can relax and enjoy a cool drink or a bite to eat.
The 26 much-loved horses are part of the family and live on-site, enjoying their purpose-built open stables as well as year-round turnout amongst the olive trees and kermes oaks. All the rides are based at this rural idyll. The Panorama Rides comprises of full and half-day rides out in different directions, exploring the dramatic Cretan landscape and its quaint mountain villages. The Sun and Riding Programme is a relaxed version, which runs in July and August when riders can spend the heat of the day by the pool with a cool drink and save a couple of hours a day riding in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
The Lassithi Trek is a spectacular 100 mile circular ride up and over the Dikti Mountains, down to the Libyan Sea where, if tides and temperatures allow, riders swim with their horses before returning across the farms and olive groves dotted around the island's rustic interior. This ride can be booked as a guided trek throughout the year and also as an unguided trek for the more adventurous (and experienced) rider.