This is our review of the Domes Aulus Zante resort on Zakynthos.
Last month, I was invited to visit two Domes Resorts for review purposes – Domes Aulus Zante and Domes of Corfu. Being the ignorant tourist that I am, I decided that as both resorts were in the Ionian group of Greek Islands, they would be a doddle to visit at the same time. They are not.
It took an eye-wateringly expensive 48 hour car rental, two ferries and a four hour drive to get between the two. But it was actually a lot of fun, very helpful to compare the two resorts back-to-back and there are worse places to drive than along the picturesque west coast of the Greek mainland.
This review is the first of the two reviews and was the first stop on my trip – to Domes Aulus Zante, on the island of Zakynthos (Zante). My Domes of Corfu review is here.
The Aulus ‘sub-brand’ signifies Domes’ all-inclusive offering, so this was an all-inclusive stay. I was there with my husband and two year old daughter so this is a family focused review.
Thank you to Marina and all the team at Domes who made this stay possible and were so very welcoming.
A quick introduction to the Domes brand
Domes Resorts is a fast growing brand of lifestyle group, represented by four standalone brands (Domes Originals, Domes Noruz, Domes Reserves, Domes Aulus) with 11 sites open or opening this summer. The resorts are largely located in Greece, with one new conversion property, Domes Lake Algarve recently opened in Portugal.
The resorts are a mixture of family-friendly and adults-only, all 5* and with an emphasis on understated luxury accommodation and excellent service.
The reason they fall under the HfP remit is that the majority are part of Marriott Bonvoy. One recent opening, Domes Aulus Elounda, is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection.
Domes Aulus Zante is part of Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph Collection. Standard Bonvoy benefits apply, but as this is an all-inclusive resort you don’t need elite status to get free breakfast!
Location and first impressions of Domes Aulus Zante
Domes Aulus Zante is located a short drive from Zakynthos airport and on the outskirts of Laganas, an infamous party strip, beloved by 18-22 year olds experiencing their first holiday sans parents.
Do not let that put you off, however. It is entirely possible to simply drive around the Laganas strip, arrive into Domes Aulus Zante through their security-manned gates and quickly forget that there’s a future generation making poor life decisions after eight blue cocktails half a mile away.
After passing through the aforementioned gates, a driveway surrounded by lush greenery leads down to the entrance of the hotel. The hotel exterior is sleek and stylish, and is invitingly shady on a hot day.
The hotel lobby is very representative of what I’ve seen so far in Domes Resorts – understated, stylish and lots of natural materials. There’s a staircase in the centre of the lobby, shrouded in an unusual rope and metal design feature and plenty of long, stone-coloured sofas.
Check-in was very straightforward. We were taken to a sofa, handed a cold drink and the check-in documents. My daughter was given a little bag with a jigsaw, which was thoughtful and smart as it kept her busy whilst I did the check-in forms.
Rooms at Domes Aulus Zante
We were given a Grand Sapphire Nest, suitable for a small family with one bedroom with double bed, interconnecting to another room with a pull out double sofa bed.
The main bedroom is a good size, not huge, but plenty of room to move around the bed. There is a small desk area under a large TV, although the chair was more ornamental than suitable as a desk chair.
The bed was very comfortable and had decent pillows and soft linens. There are sockets next to the bed so you can easily charge a phone there and plenty of room on the side table for books and the like.
One section of the room has a cupboard housing a steamer and the safe, along with a drawer and a shelf for clothes. There are hangers along a rail so you could hang clothes up, but it is quite shallow, which is a little inconvenient if you want to hang up a long dress.
To the left of the cupboard is a set of shelves with a mini-fridge, which the hotel kept well stocked with cartons of water, and a Nespresso machine with four pods. There is also a kettle.
The second bedroom had a large L-shaped sofa which could be pulled out to make a double bed. We never used this, as our daughter was in a travel cot, but it looked like it would be a decent sized double when extended. Again, there was a small, narrow desk below a large TV and the same set up in terms of cupboard, mini-fridge and hot drinks station as the main bedroom.
Both rooms had identical bathrooms. They were small, but with a double shower so it wasn’t too pokey.
There was just a single sink, but it was well designed to provide quite a bit of usable surface space and a helpful shelf under the sink. I liked the unusual black stone sink design, and brick wall design. It very much represents what I like about the Domes approach to design. It was an ordinary, small-ish hotel bathroom, but the thoughtful design choices elevate it to make it feel that little bit more luxe.
Toiletries were by a Greek brand ‘Olivia Thinks’, focused on vegan, natural ingredients.
Both rooms had their own balconies, a small strip with chairs and table, looking out to the sea.
Interestingly, we were directly above the main bar, which did get busy after dinner, but weren’t troubled by noise at all. Out on the balcony you could hear some hustle and bustle below, but inside the room was very quiet.
Pool, gym and spa
There’s just one proper pool at Domes Aulus Zante, plus a small paddling pool under shade for kids. The pool is quite large and is also very close to the beach so you can wander down to the sea for a swim if you prefer or take a lounger there if the pool was too busy.
The beach is part of a highly protected turtle sanctuary. Loggerhead (Caretta-Caretta) sea turtles breed along the beach and are a regular sight, particularly when snorkelling in the bay.
The hotel works closely with the local turtle conservation organisations to ensure the beach is looked after appropriately. It can also arrange turtle-viewing boat trips with responsible providers who follow a local code of conduct designed to keep the turtles safe.
The protected status means the beach is remarkably quiet given the proximity to populated areas like Laganas.
The gym was suitable for a resort – not massive but given it was never packed in there, seemingly the right amount of equipment. As well as a couple of treadmills and bikes, there was a weight rack.
Next to the pool is the Soma Spa, offering a range of massage and beauty treatments. I had a massage with Olga, who was very good. Soma Spa use Elemis products which I personally rate.
Dining at Domes Aulus Zante
There are five dining options at the resort. The main buffet restaurant is Monachus, located in the central hotel building and you can always get a table here. However, for the other restaurants, you do need to book in advance and they could be pretty popular. The hotel very kindly sorted me out when I requested help with reservations, but I’d recommend anyone staying booking themselves in early.
Monachus had a lovely large outdoor terrace with plenty of shade. Most guests ate outside, but there was a large indoor area too if the weather had taken a turn.
There was always a pretty good range of food to pick from and despite the end of our trip coinciding with half-term, it never felt too overcrowded as the counters were quite spread out.
At breakfast there was a station with cooked-to-order eggs. There were also all the standard hot foods – sausages, bacon, hash browns, plus baked omlettes, pancakes and eggs.
The fresh fruit station was always well stocked.
The bread station had a range of mini pastries as well as cakes, muffins and plenty of bread options.
Lunch and dinner at Monachus was also decent with a big range of hot food which changed every day. Service at Monachus could be a little slow (although largely self-service, you still needed to order coffee or alcoholic drinks). In general, it was very good, but the staff did seem stretched.
The salads were always excellent, with two big salad bars offering a range of fresh ingredients.
Meze is the resort’s ‘Greek Family-style Tavern’. It’s in a really picturesque location overlooking the beach, under a shaded taverna-style roof and was one of my favourite spots in the resort.
The food here was really, really good.
As you’d expect, the restaurant offers classic Greek food including salads, dips, grilled sausages and fritters.
It was all beautifully presented and was the best meal of our stay.
The hotel also has a trattoria restaurant, Tesoro Mio, offering pizza and pasta. This was also very good, offering a lot of expected Italian recipes such as lasagne, but with a few more interesting options on the menu and available as specials.
This bruschetta starter was delicious.
This fresh pesto pasta had a few unusual twists such as pomegranate seeds
The Griglia is a grill restaurant, located next to the pool. I have to say this is the only spot where the food let the resort down, and the ambiance is a bit weird. It feels like the restaurant can’t decide whether it’s a pool bar, a cafe or a serious restaurant.
There’s a food truck called Canteen which offers pitas filled with chicken souvlaki or lamb kebabs. Whilst it is a food truck, the food looked much higher quality than a usual kebab van! I actually didn’t try anything here, but a guest told me it was great.
You can also get pre-made snacks like sandwiches and salads from the pool bar, but we never bothered. The food in Monachus was always pretty good and the resort isn’t that spread out, so it was worth the short walk from the pool. The pool bar staff were some of the friendliest in the resort and were incredibly efficient.
As well as the pool bar (Lianolia), there is an additional bar in the main hotel building called Oikia. This served a large range of drinks and had a really pleasant patio that looked out over the resort. The drinks were decent throughout the hotel, with branded spirits included in the all-inclusive package, a wide range of wines included and some great non-alcoholic options too.
There was a kids club in the resort which was situated at the side of the hotel, away from the busy pool and dining areas.
It had loads of toys and games, a comfy area for stories and movies, and a small shaded outside area. The ladies running the kids club seemed lovely and were very competent, engaging the kids in games and structured play. From aged 4 to 12 the kids club is included in your stay, but under 4s can go to the crèche (which is incorporated into the Kids Club but with higher ratios of staff). It costs €25 per morning or afternoon for under 4s. Babysitting is also available.
Domes has done a good job on the design and the general styling of the hotel, and it certainly has the look of a high-end hotel. Service was very effective, everyone was helpful and friendly, particularly the front desk.
Where there was some slowness in the main buffet restaurant, I think it was largely reflective of the fact that we stayed a week after the resort had opened for the season and during half-term. That said, this does need to improve if the hotel is to fully justify its 5* rating, as does the food quality in the Griglia restaurant.
Domes Aulus Zante is a good spot for a family-friendly break. The location is surprisingly peaceful and picturesque and there’s plenty to do nearby. If you like the idea of an upscale all-inclusive stay in Europe, it ticks the boxes nicely, with decent drinks and a good range of restaurants.
Off-peak rooms are available from about £170 per night for all-inclusive. B&B only is available from approx £150 per night. Marriott Bonvoy redemptions start at 57,000 points per night.
You can book Domes Aulus Zante on the Marriott Bonvoy website here.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2023)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)