Testimonial from Sophie Cuesta
We cannot recommend Villa Lavanda/ Lavender lodge highly enough. The location is absolutely fabulous. From the lodge and house, there are incredible views over the olive groves towards the sea and soaking up the sun, from the terrace and pool, you are surrounded by Tam’s wonderful botanical garden. Here the air is redolent with the smell of lavender and lemon verbena, and the garden, filled with pomegranates, figs, oranges, lemons, avocados and many other aromatic plants, provide a haven for butterflies and are used to make Tam’s botanical remedies and aromatherapy products, including the most fabulous face creams, body sprays, soaps and candles. Bill and Tam harvest their Kalamon olives in late Autumn and hand-cure them, as well as using them to produce their single estate extra virgin oil, both of which are truly heavenly, and the pomegranates and lemons are used in tinctures – a real enhancement to prosecco! It was fascinating to learn about some the herbal remedies and see the plants growing, for example echinacea and its use for keeping colds at bay – much needed to survive UK winters!
This part of the Peloponnese is a totally unspoilt and, even in high summer, was not touristy at all. We spent a week on Zakynthos first (would also recommend!) and then took Levante ferries across to the mainland – a very easy journey; Bill kindly collected us from there. Bill and Tam are the most amazing hosts and go out of their way to make your holiday special. As a family of five, with three boys – aged 13, 12 and 9, holidays can be challenging (and not always relaxing!) and this was genuinely our best holiday ever. Whilst the boys were more than happy to spend time in the pool, there was also such a variety of things to do in the local area. Bill and Tam took us to incredible waterfalls, river gorges, archaeological sites, castles and also on a trip to Olympia, where Bill was the most amazing guide, his many years experience as a Greek and Classics teacher coming to the fore! We practised our sprints from the starting line! There were so many highlights of the holiday : watching turtles hatch in the moonlight and make their way down to the sea at the local village, sunset swims at a local beach, learning about Tam’s herbal remedies and making our own soaps and perfumes, adventurous trips with Bill to local sights and much more! Watching the sun go down over the sea, from the terrace, a glass of chilled organic wine in hand, with fabulous company, and locally sourced food, all drenched in the most amazing olive oil, you will not wish for anything more!
We returned home, feeling truly rejuvenated in body, mind and spirit, our bags filled with olive oil, honey and the most wonderful smelling soaps, herbal mists and creams, but also longing to hop back on to the next plane back! We cannot recommend this unique and very special place highly enough. The Cuestas. “