Lemnos, Greece by JaycB

Neilson Portomyrina Palace Beachclub, Lemnos, Greece

Neilson’s Lemnos beachplus club, The Portomyrina Palace, is situated on the Western side of Lemnos, around 25 minutes’ drive from the airport.  It’s one of the larger beachplus resorts, with 132 bedrooms in total, split between the main building and a number of rooms in two-storey mini-villas that stretch down almost to the sea.  The main building also houses the restaurant, health spa, reception area and a small bar.  Several paths wind down from the main building, through the grounds and past the small villas to the pool, main outdoor bar and beach.  A nice feature at this end of the site is the information kiosk (in fact it’s pretty much a mini-reception) right next to the pool.  The staff here are on duty all day and through into the evening and provide information, take bookings for lessons, trips and events, exchange beach towels (if you’ve paid to hire them) and look after room keys while guests are on the water.  It’s very convenient and saves guests having to trudge to and fro up to the “front” reception area in the main block.

We were lucky enough to stay in one of the villas with a direct sea view, though these are a little more expensive.  Our apartment had a bath/shower/toilet room and a main bedroom area with double bed.  Sliding doors opened out onto a patio with table, chairs and clothes dryer and then a large grassy area ahead of the beach. 
There are large hanging cupboards in the entrance hallway with plenty of room for clothes and there’s also a safe built into one of them.  Extra blankets are provided though we didn’t need them.  Each room has its own air conditioning/heating unit with remote control, colour television and fitted fridge.  The bathrooms are a good size, with a large full-width mirror and marble-topped sink surround.  Complimentary soap and a built in hair dryer are also provided, along with four bath towels.  
For single travellers there are some mountain-facing rooms available with no added supplement (the one our friend had did in fact have a bit of a sea-view if he looked sideways off the balcony).

Meals are provided on a “club-board” basis; all breakfasts and lunches are included, as are four evening meals.  These are eaten in the covered restaurant area or a smaller outside area.  There is a small bar next to the restaurant but this only opens during meal times.  Most drinking, socialising and entertainment takes place around the large open-air “Kyma Bar” down by the beach.  There are plenty of shaded seating areas here – very welcome in the hot mid-June sun.
All drinks and other on-site expenses are paid using a room credit system, the room bill being paid at the end of the week.
On the non-inclusive nights there are themed meals (beach BBQ, Greek night etc...) on offer at additional cost if you’d prefer to stay in resort, but I’d advise walking ten minutes down the road to the Manos Beach restaurant – it’s a lot cheaper.  Some friends recommended us the Sunset Cruise trip and this was good value. We were taken by coach to Myrina harbour and then cruised around the coast for a couple of hours on a wood-built motor yacht watching the sunset.  Wine and canapés were also included, and on returning to the harbour there are plenty of fish restaurants to choose from for a romantic evening meal by the water’s edge.

The resort’s large swimming pool is next to the open-air bar and it really is huge!  There are plenty of sunshades, sun loungers and a few hammocks spaced around the pool.  For the younger children there’s a smaller, shallow circular pool off to one side. 

Like other Beachplus resorts, there is a wide range of inclusive activities on offer including sailing & windsurfing, yoga, cycling, waterskiing/wakeboarding and kayaking.  There were also some triathlon training sessions organised while we were there.

The beach itself is a mix of sand and the occasional large pebble.  A word of warning here – the beach is littered with buried and half-buried sticks, twigs and bits of dried seaweed, so it’s advisable to wear flip-flops or at the very least watch where you tread if you want to avoid stabbed soles.  It’s also worth mentioning that the surface of the sand gets extremely hot during the afternoon.   Halfway down the beach is the equipment shed and teaching area.   There is a lot of kit here, reflecting the large size of the resort.  I lost count of the Lasers and Picos, but there are four Dart 16 catamarans plus several Laser Stratos and Bahias.  There are apparently some RS Fevas there too, though I never saw these in use.  
For windsurfers there are plenty of boards to choose from including Fanatic Sharks, Mistral Synchros, RRD Zrides & FreeStyleWaves, and Starboard Kombat, Go, Rio ranges along with a couple of slightly tired-looking Carves.  Sails come in a range of sizes in the Tushingham Storm, Rock, Wedge & Thunderbird ranges, the largest being the 8.5m T-bird.  There are quite a few kiddie rigs too, and for beginners there is a separate area a little further up the beach with a big stack of Hifly Primos and starter sails. 
Guests can attend free beginner and improver lessons during the week and work towards gaining their RYA Level 1 & 2 certificates by the end of their holiday.

The sailing area covers almost the entire width of the bay, one side being formed by the foot of a large hill and the other by three small rock “islands”.  This area is reduced by a buoyed off ski boat lane and a swimming area, resulting in a thin, “deep” sailing area.  The beach crews were generally reasonable about experienced windsurfers and sailors going out a bit further than the outer marker buoys in order to get clean wind runs, but strictly (and rightly) enforced the rule that we shouldn’t stray out of view to one side behind the three rocks. 
During the week we were there the wind tended to be strongest in the early morning between 7-10AM, dropping off gradually through the day with a brief resurgence for about an hour around midday.  Timing one’s windsurfing with this lunchtime sweet spot made a big difference to the quality and quantity of planing runs on any given day.  The wind generally comes from the North, giving cross-on conditions at the beach.  With the big hill in the way this led to some frustrating lulls and unexpected big gusts close in.  Further out near the outer markers the wind was cleaner and stronger yet even out here seemed to lack consistency in all but the windiest periods.  The sea can also start to get very choppy beyond approx. 400-600 metres out.  Personally I found this combination quite challenging for the first few days, though it certainly forced me to look closely at my technique and by the end of the week I’d gotten to enjoy bouncing off into the distance and then planing in on long wide arcs with the swell.  The best advice I can give is to avoid taking too small a board out, stay at least 300 metres from the beach and be prepared to come in and change sails several times during a session if need be.

If you’re a holidaymaker who likes a bit of pampering after a hard day on the water, the health spa provides a range of massage and relaxation treats, though these are extras and are added to the room bill.  We had a delightful neck, shoulder and back massage on the last day.  There’s also an indoor pool and gym in the spa area. 

This beachclub seems squarely aimed at the watersports family with young children and for this group it works very well.  It would make an ideal first “post-baby” holiday for sailors, windsurfers and waterskiers.  All of the parents we spoke to were very pleased with the quality of childcare on offer and there seemed to be a high nanny-to-child ratio.  The food is excellent and varied – even the fussiest eaters will go to bed with a full tummy.  Given the added benefit of the short transfer time, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Portomyrina Palace to watersports dabblers with young children.  However, for the more serious windsurfer, or windsurfing couple without family ties, this resort isn’t really the best choice; Neilson offer much more suitable alternatives in the form of Ortakent, Vass and Dahab.  


J.C. Baracas,    July 2009

Additional photography by SarahG