A Greek island getaway offers endless summer days, relaxation and incredible food. But which island is best for an escape with kids? Perched on top of dramatic rock formations rising out of turquoise waters in the secluded north of Zakynthos Island sits The Peligoni Club. Here’s why I’m drawn back to this family-run barefoot luxury beach club for our holidays in Greece every summer.
The Club’s story
My introduction to The Peligoni Club was through friends who organised a Greek island holiday for a group of Singapore-based families. It’s a small, personal members club that offers weekly membership and nearby villa-style accommodation.
It was founded in 1989 by a British couple who fell in love with the magical location on a Greek island sailing trip and decided to stay. Back then, the non-arable land along the coastline was home to only a handful of stone cottages and wild goats. In 2005, the club was taken over and extended by the Shearer family, who’d been regular guests during the 1990s.
Today, the next-generation sister-and-brother team Anouska and Ben Shearer have assumed the reins. They grew up whiling away their summers at the club, so want to retain its relaxed, bohemian, breezy vibe. They’ve succeeded, as life here is still blissfully slow, sweet and simple.
The villas at this Greek island club
There’s accommodation to suit different groups and budgets. Whether you’re after an ultra-modern luxury ten-person villa with private infinity pool or a small bolthole by the sea. Our first year, we shared a large villa on the hillside with another family. This happily halved the cost and doubled the size. We returned solo this year, so we went for a charming seaside cottage instead. The villas are predominantly Greek-owned. It was lovely on both visits to get to know the welcoming local hosts, and try their homegrown wine and produce.
Activities on and around Zakynthos Island
Watersports are at the core of what makes The Peligoni Club ideal for my family of four children. My boys and girls range from five to 14, and every one of them was desperate to get to the club each day! In large part I think it’s because the staff are a young, vibrant, energetic crew. Predominantly English, Irish and Scottish, they’re all friendly and great with kids.
From the Ski Shack, you can stand-up paddleboard, kayak, sail, windsurf and water-ski to your heart’s content. Safety and tuition is included too, so there’s no need for helicopter parenting. The sweeping white decks with with comfy sun beds and shady umbrellas are the perfect place to read a good book and soak up the chilled atmosphere. Springing off the wooden diving board and swimming out to the pontoon is a refreshing reprieve from the Mediterranean sun.
Children of every age are engaged at the club from babies to teens. I met quite a few parents of babies and toddlers who enjoyed quality couples’ time while their little ones were cared for in the crèche. In-villa babysitting is also available for a night out.
Four- and five-year-olds flock to the kids’ club, called Rugrats and Rascals. It offers fun morning, afternoon and full-day activities like tie-dye t-shirt making, rock painting and pirate training. The “inbeteeners” aged six to ten are entertained by British creative events partner Sharky & George. And teen parties and activities are also on the agenda; so everyone feels the love.
Food and drinks on holidays in Greece
Greek food is always a family favourite for us, but there’s something extra delicious about it when in Greece. Maybe it’s the quality of the creamy yoghurt, crumbly feta and straight-from-the-branch olive oil. Or, more likely, it’s feasting overlooking azure blue vistas. Either way, it’s safe to say we ate very well on our trip.
At lunch we’d amble up to one of the two restaurants, Tasi for modern European fare or the Terraces for wood-fired pizza, pasta salads and grilled meats. Of an afternoon we’d retreat to the shady poolside cabanas for a milkshake (or Aperol Spritz) at the pool bar. Legend has it that in the Yard Bar the TV is turned on only for Wimbledon – as it should be! Many evenings we’d have adult time sitting at the Driftwood Bar with a sundowner watching the kids catching the last catamaran ride for the evening.
One night we had a laid-back family dinner at the Deli & Kitchen, enjoying the light breeze on the veranda as the sun set over the sea. We demolished one of the best charcuterie and cheese boards of the tour. This was followed by crispy wood-oven pizzas for the kids and succulent, piquant chimichurri steak for us. And the famed chocolate brownie with ice cream didn’t disappoint. That evening was quiz night, so as we bundled our tired brood off home we could hear laughter and frivolity echoing through the balmy air.
Only a two-minute drive from the club, The Deli’s an easy spot to pick up a bottle of rosé, nibbles or meat for the barbecue. We also pre-ordered essentials for the villa on arrival, which took the edge off the journey.
Intimate guest-chef dinners are held each week through the summer and are a highlight of our holidays in Greece. This year, UK-based Japanese chef Yoko Nakada prepared yuzu cocktails, blistered padron peppers and sticky charred Iberico pork skewers, all of which went down beautifully. But, like so many events at The Peligoni Club, the dinner isn’t just about the food. It’s also about bringing together like-minded people, to connect, relax and recharge. The next day we chatted to our new-found friends, and even reconnected with others we met the year before. It’s all part of the holiday experience.
An absolute must-do is a meal at The Peligoni Club’s sister restaurant Mikro Nisi. It’s a charming cliffside taverna accessed by speedboat direct from the club. Featuring fresh grilled whole fish, calamari and traditional Greek dishes, it’s the perfect place for a long lazy lunch punctuated by dips in the ocean.
Fitness and wellness
For those wanting to keep the feel-good endorphins pumping there’s a gym, tennis courts, cycling groups and fitness and yoga classes. I’m more of a lay-like-broccoli sort on holidays in Greece, but I did do a strength-band training class overlooking the water. It was surprisingly challenging! My seven-year-old had a session with the resident tennis coach, which received rave reviews.
One thing I can get behind on holidays is pampering me-time in the spa. The Greatest Of All Time (Goat) Shed is a peaceful, cool, dome-shaped treatment room made of natural stone with ambient low-lighting. I enjoyed a divine sleep-inducing Swedish oil massage. The spa also has a great range of facial and body treatments plus nails, waxing and tinting services.
The club is ideally located a few minutes’ drive from diminutive Agios Nikolaos seaside village (population 42), for when you feel like venturing further afield. A few restaurants not to miss for authentic, affordable fare are Madrakia and La Storia – home of the yachting crowd. New Greek/Aussie-owned boutique Almyra is a haven for Greek resort wear and jewellery.
We did a morning excursion up the northwest coast of Zakynthos Island to Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves. A world famous attraction, the huge, rusted boat is marooned on a white sandy beach surrounded by imposing sheer rockface on one side and crystalline water on the other. It can get crowded during peak season, so the club tour heads off early to avoid the hordes. The route home took us through the spectacular Blue Caves, a series of natural caves and arches between Cape Skinari and the port. The boat can only just squeeze into the tight spaces, so it’s a thrilling adventure.
Our favourite afternoon of our holidays in Greece was spent aboard Odyssey. This bespoke, 55-foot wooden Cacique-style yacht built in the Peloponnese in the early 70’s is a quintessential Peligoni experience. Joined by four other guests, we drifted along the coast and dropped anchor in a still bay for a late grazing-style lunch. The children spent hours snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding and jumping off the boat while we sipped chilled rosé on the deck. Unforgettable!
Zakynthos Island is a short direct flight from many European cities including Paris and Munich. We’ve done both of and found it a good way to get over jetlag. This makes Zakynthos easier to reach than some better-known Greek islands that require a transit through Athens.
The Peligoni Club is open from May until October, and you can also visit during shoulder season for wellness experiences and more. We’re already plotting our return, so until then we’ll have to make do with our memories and sub-par homemade tzatziki!
The Peligoni Club
+44 208 740 3001 | peligoni.com
Now you have your holidays in Greece planned for next year, do you need some summer outfit inspiration?
This article about The Peligoni Club on Zakynthos Island first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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