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Domes of Elounda and its link to the history of British Airways

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In October we headed down to Domes of Elounda in Crete for a week. This hotel has been covered on HfP – most recently in this ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – and I don’t want to go over old ground by reviewing it again. We paid the standard rate so I have no obligation to the hotel.

To summarise quickly, Domes of Elounda is – as readers have reported in the past – one of the highest quality family hotels in Europe.

Bay of Elounda from our private pool at Domes

Note the ‘in Europe’ caveat, of course, as there isn’t a lot of competition for that prize. Whilst it can’t compare with the glitzy resorts of Asia or the Middle East, Domes is only a short haul flight away. You also get the pleasure of walking or taking a speedboat down the coast to visit the nearby towns and villages.

You can book Domes of Elounda on Marriott Bonvoy points and, despite steep points price rises, remains decent value in peak season, especially as you get 5 nights for the points of 4.

Bay of Elounda from the resort grounds

Where does British Airways comes into this?!

Domes overlooks the Bay of Elounda. A five minute speedboat ride from the hotel is the derelict island of Spinalonga, occupied for centuries but used most recently as a leper colony. To my great surprise, one of the old stores:

The old shopping street on Spinalonga

….. has been turned into a small British Airways exhibition.

Here is the story. Note that the images are photos of photos which accounts for the quality.

The bay of Elounda was, at one point, used as a supply base for Imperial Airways (one of the predecessors of British Airways) flying boats.

Imperial Airways flying boat in Elounda Bay

During the 1930’s, Imperial Airways had a base ship MV Imperia moored in the bay:

MV Imperia

In August 1938, as an example, there were eight weekly flights from the UK to Egypt which landed in the bay to refuel. From Egypt, the flying boats would continue to Calcutta and then Sydney.

London to Sydney was a 10 day trip at a time when the equivalent boat journey would take 30 days.

Imperial Airways flying boat in Elounda Bay

The exhibition includes a card from the Lambert & Butlers ‘Imperial Air Routes’ cigarette card series. (Young readers should ask their grandparents about cigarette cards ….) It shows a flying boat called Scipio passing over the Acropolis. The notes on the back say:

“After having taken fuel aboard at Athens, the Scipio starts on the crossing of the Mediterranean, passing down the islands on the east coast of Greece via Crete, where the Imperial Airways motor yacht Imperia is stationed. She is used as a wireless station and refuelling point.”

On 22nd August 1936, an Imperial Airways flying boat crashed in Elounda Bay:

There were fatalities but no details are given.

The exhibition has a lot more photographs in it, although there is little more of the story behind Elounda. We are not told how long Imperial Airways operated from there, when it began or why and when it ended.

If you visit Domes of Elounda, take a trip over to Spinalonga and see for yourself. Some resort packages include, as ours did, a free speedboat trip and private guided tour.

The resort website is here if you want to know more.

Get extra bonuses when booking

If you are thinking of visiting Domes of Elounda, our hotel booking specialist Emyr Thomas can get you extra benefits as he is a member of Marriott’s Luminous programme for luxury travel agents.

All bookings via Emyr come with:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • Early check-in / late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary wi-fi

You would also receive Marriott Bonvoy points as usual.  You can contact Emyr via this form.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Capt Hammond says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the review by young Robert – I missed it the first time around – it’s lovely – full of enthusiasm and well written too. Really cheered me up after reading the latest gloomy news about covid.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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