Nestled in to the hillside near Parga, MarBella Elix is the perfect place for a digital detox with its connection to the Ionian sea and its beautiful and tranquil atmosphere

You know you’ve found a good hotel when you return from your holiday and immediately start googling if it is part of a collection. When we stayed at MarBella Corfu last year, we were blown away by the service, family-friendly attitude, and stunning surroundings, and so to discover that it was part of a wider hotel group with further Greek treasures to enjoy sparked the wanderlust again.

Following a recent rebrand this year, the Mar-Bella Collection, with MarBella as its signature, is a family-run group which has a special connection to the Ionian Sea. Within the collection, MarBella Elix can be accessed directly from the mainland with flights to Preveza from the UK, or, in very James Bond style, from the hotel group’s catamaran from Corfu, meaning you could easily combine a stay at both venues.

Great British Life: The main pool area enjoys incredible views over the Ionian (c) MarBella CollectionThe main pool area enjoys incredible views over the Ionian (c) MarBella Collection

For those travelling without children, Nido Suite & Villas is a walk away from MarBella on Corfu and offers a more private and independent base, which would work perfectly for multi-generational holidays. For our family holiday this year however, we decided on Elix in Parga, as an opportunity to further explore Greece, but also, the sea and in particular, the beach, which is accessed via a funicular railway, was a big draw.

Arriving at a Mar-Bella Collection hotel is literally like a breath of fresh air. The lobby at Elix is bright and airy with the floor to ceiling apex windows showcasing the truly incredible views out over the Ionian. The hotel is built into the side of the cliff, meaning there is nothing standing in between you, and the sea. And the pale, neutral décor allows for the turquoise blue to pop out as if you were swimming immediately within it. It is calming and peaceful and the vaulted roof gives an almost cathedral like atmosphere. There are nods to Greece’s rich history with lighting and wall décor channelling an Ottoman theme, and the comfy seating invites you to pause to enjoy the view or rest weary travellers’ legs (the transfer is an hour and a half on windy hillside roads, thankfully, the hotel can arrange air-conditioned minivans).

Great British Life: Enjoy beautifully presented dishes from a selection of four restaurants (c) MarBella CollectionEnjoy beautifully presented dishes from a selection of four restaurants (c) MarBella Collection

We are immediately served chilled glasses of champagne and apple juices for the children before being shown to a sofa to sit and take everything in while one of the team went through the hotel information. This is so much more personal that queuing up at a check-in desk, it’s an opportunity to ask questions, get your bearings and discover what’s on throughout your stay, a truly five-star approach.

Once keys were handed over, we were escorted to our room, a junior suite which comfortably sleeps two adults and two small children on sofa beds. Every member of staff is well-versed in the area’s local history and geography and our guide was quick to point out the stunning vista including the tranquil islands of Paxos and Anti-Paxos across the twinkling sea laid out in front of us. The serene décor extends into the rooms and suites, some of which come with private and swim up pools, most with those majestic sea views, and our suite boasted a beautifully balcony which ran the width of the room, with glass balustrade so as not to interrupt those views. Furniture is cool and contemporary, with bean-bag loungers and floor cushions encouraging a slow, laidback pace.

Great British Life: Hiring one of the hotel’s luxury yachts is just one of the excursions on offer for guests (c) MarBella CollectionHiring one of the hotel’s luxury yachts is just one of the excursions on offer for guests (c) MarBella Collection

In contrast to MarBella, which has two pools and a waterpark, Elix has just the one. But it is perfectly formed, and also includes a smaller, shaded and shallow warm pool which was popular with little ones and babies. Around the pool area you can also find Indigo, one of the hotel’s four dining options and our particular favourite. The others being buffet dining Saffron, fine dining Pearl and beach restaurant Azure. At Indigo, you can enjoy an a la carte breakfast, poolside lunch and a beautiful sunset dinner and the menu has plenty to suit all tastes, including Italian classics such as risotto Milanese and spaghetti vongole, which we loved. If you’re content by the pool, cocktails and poolside menu can be served straight to your sun lounger, with the same service available on the beach.

The high-quality menu at Indigo is indicative of the gastronomical scene at Elix, and from the buffet options in Saffron, which are authentically Greek, fresh and in abundance, to the fine dining in Pearl, each dish is presented beautifully, with care and attention given to letting local ingredients shine. The hotel often hosts notable chefs with pop-up dining events and tastings, and there is also a dine-around option included in the ultra-all-inclusive package, which supports a nearby restaurant and gives guests the opportunity to experience further local cuisine.

Great British Life: Our junior suite was comfortable enough for two adults and two small children (c) MarBella CollectionOur junior suite was comfortable enough for two adults and two small children (c) MarBella Collection

For those not just content in lounging by the pool all day, the hotel has direct access to Karavostasi beach, one of Greece’s most beautiful, with its sloping shores into the Ionian being perfect for families. The hotel’s laidback vibe continues down here with cocktails and drinks served from Azure, and there are also watersports to enjoy such as paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing, some of which form part of the ultra-all-inclusive package. For those on half-board options, there are other bars and restaurants along the beach to experience, and a small shop at the far end for essentials and holiday buys. Saying that, the hotel’s two boutiques stock everything you need should you have left anything behind, as well as things you may not, with stunning kaftans, dresses and beachwear and jewellery to satisfy any retail therapy urges.

From the beach, you can also gain access to one of the hotel’s yachts, just one of the exclusive services available to guests looking for excursions. Others being cycle hire and tours, guided hikes, fitness and wellbeing events with sports agency Oyogo, well-equipped gym and for some dedicated me time, the spa and wellness centre with treatments by nature-inspired brand SOTHYS.

As the lights dim and the sound of crickets fill the air, Elix quietens completely. There is evening entertainment in Ruby, the gorgeously sophisticated cocktail bar, but overall, things become relatively subdued. Perfect for switching off completely and getting some very decent shut eye, but if you’re looking for something more lively, nearby Parga is a buzzing fishing town with stylish restaurants and bars lining the waterfront.

Great British Life: The dining area (c) MarBella CollectionThe dining area (c) MarBella Collection

If it’s winter sun you’re after with incredible sea views and everything you need under one roof, Elix is a getaway that you’ll remember for years to come. The Mar-Bella Collection service is second to none and Elix is a jewel in the Epirus region’s crown.


Rooms at MarBella Elix start from 196 euros on Half Board basis and 258 euros for ultra-all-inclusive for 2 adults in a Standard Sea view room.