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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 credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (17)

  • 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.