Cultivating Happiness: The Keys to Joy at Costa Navarino

As the world celebrates the International Day of Happiness on March 20th, we share our most valued keys to happiness.

By Paulina Björk Kapsalis

H – Heritage

Nothing ensures moments of joy like a place where we feel deeply connected. In Messinia, tradition creates opportunities for social gatherings and celebrations rooted in distant eras, while well-preserved historical environments invite us to rejoice in the richness of the land and its heritage. Archaeological sites such as the Palace of Nestor, the ancient city of Messene and the region’s enchanting medieval castles make for experiences that go beyond sightseeing, fascinating us adults, firing the imagination of children, and encouraging a more philosophical approach to life itself. In the shade of thousand-year-old olive trees, we take part in tasting sessions of wine and olive oil produced according to the methods of our ancestors and stroll along the paths they once wandered.

From early spring through late fall, historical events are celebrated with popular festivities. We join in celebrating freedom at events marking the liberation from foreign rules, like fireworks show symbolizing how Messinians would throw gunpowder-filled cylinders to keep the Turks at bay. Come fall, we witness the Navarinia, a spectacular anniversary event for the legendary Battle of Navarino (1827), with a reenactment playing out in the bay. While we’re here, we feel our merriment echo through the ages and become part of history.

A – Authenticity

As a visitor, it doesn’t take long to realize some of the region’s beauty; the untouched nature, the mesmerizing vistas, the history, and the deep-rooted culture are all right there for you to enjoy. Soon, you’ll come to wonder what life may be like here. How do the people of Messinia live?

The Messinian Authenticity program has been designed to allow everyone to feel like a local, offering experiences tailored to every taste and interest. And because happiness comes in many forms, there’s an experience tailored to every taste and interest: Putting your creative mind to work during a mosaic workshop, your hands will learn the joy of shaping traditional motifs and patterns; clinking glasses with your loved ones during tastings and workshops, you’ll sample olive oils and wine, and learn about the road from earth to bottle; and, in the setting of a local home, you’ll cook a Messinian meal using local ingredients, and enjoy it in good company. And there’s much more. You may enjoy fishing or a birdwatching experience at Gialova Lagoon, take a botanical tour to learn about the local flora, join an art tour or a philosophy walk, experience the olive harvest in the fall, or explore the night sky during a very special astronomy night.

P – Philoxenia

Imagine being on vacation and feeling like you’re at home. Picture stepping outside to greet a neighbor and sitting at a table for a meal cooked and served by someone happy to see you.

The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, carries more weight than the English word. Within it lies a code of values with roots stretching back to antiquity. It’s about give and take, sharing joyous moments with a guest, and the happiness of being together. This philosophy is embedded in all of the services at Costa Navarino’s four resorts, The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort (a romantic resort ideal for couples situated just above the pristine The Dunes Beach), The Westin Resort Costa Navarino (offering a multitude of venues and activities designed especially for families and young guests), W Costa Navarino (a vibrant resort for adults and young adults over 12 years old, boasting an exciting program of events) and Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino (the destination’s newest resort, featuring earth-sheltered villas and breathtaking views of the bay of Navarino).

If, like many before you, you fall in love with Messinia’s philoxenia, Costa Navarino also offers a range of real estate opportunities—from fully furnished, income-generating resort apartments to 3-7-bedroom villas—all providing full access to the resort’s facilities and services, ensuring happiness that may last forever.

P – Playground

All parents can testify to this: nothing brings more joy than the sound of children’s happy giggles. On summer days, we cherish their laughs and excited shrieks as they go down the waterslides at the Aqua Park and the smiles on their faces at the end of the day. Their laughter fills the air at the kid’s clubs, where entertaining educational activities include becoming gardeners for a day, planting local seeds, picking vegetables, and discovering the connection between farm and fork; or transforming into archeologists, unearthing replicas of artifacts similar to those discovered at Nestor’s Palace, and making their own clay Linear B tablets.

Young soccer players can also join the FC Bayern Football Camps, while children who love basketball can benefit from the exciting NBA Basketball School. Meanwhile, teens meet up at Division 16, a vibrant space with a 60s vibe, for bowling, VR gaming, augmented reality air hockey, breaking out of the escape room, karaoke, and much more.

I – Inspiration

The breeze that rolls in off the Ionian brings with it the scent of salt and warm earth. Is it the soil of Messinia, or a piece of land across the sea? Is it the same scent once breathed by families of ancient sailors, and did they associate it with faraway ships, carrying their loved one’s home? The vibrant colors – the green of the rolling hills, and the bright pinks and oranges of the sunset as you watch it from the dunes of the lagoon-like Voidokilia Beach – inspire creativity and storytelling, almost urging you to capture them in art. Meanwhile, the architecture of the traditional villages captures you with its simple beauty.

N – Nature

Wherever you find yourself at Costa Navarino, nature springs abundant joy. The blue of the Ionian Sea – scientifically proven to promote calm and relaxation – is ever-present. Endemic shrubs and flowers line the walkways and fill the air with beautiful scents. The knobby trunks and silvery leaves of olive trees make you feel in touch with the land, where olives have been cultivated for thousands of years. All of this is intentional. Environmental preservation and sustainability are cornerstones of the destination. The nearly 7000 olive trees around you, some of which are centuries old, are part of the biggest tree-transplanting project in Europe. The water to support this green ecosystem, meanwhile, is provided by three reservoirs filled with excess runoff from local rivers, and recycled wastewater.

You may notice other things too, like a sign informing you of Loggerhead Sea turtles (Caretta caretta) hatching on the beach, an adoption center hosting stray animals (Navarino Pet Community has already found home to more than 250 of them) and climate-smart options available on the restaurant menus. The destination is also a member of the UN’s Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, and contributes to various programs for environmental protection, collaborating with organizations such as WWF Greece, the Navarino Environmental Observatory, and Save Your Hood Greece.

E – Exploration

Standing strong atop a stand-up paddleboard, with the sun warm on your shoulders, you propel yourself towards a secret beach, unreachable by land. Later, on a hike up a path between pine trees and sycamores, you come upon a majestic waterfall. Its cool water feeds a 1.8-meter-deep plunge pool where you enjoy your most refreshing dip of the summer.


We love the joyous thrill of exploration. On cycling and e-biking tours to the protected Gialova Lagoon, we try to spot rare birds and stop by one of Greece’s most famous beaches, the Ω-shaped Voidokilia Beach. On hikes, we discover the varied natural landscapes of the region, from its green hills to its lush, jungle-like river trails. Meanwhile, at the destination’s watersports center, we learn to master kayaks and boards, while marveling at the view of the coast from the sea. We experience pure bliss with sailing or yachting, while uncovering hidden coves and secluded beaches.

S – Savor

As the old proverb says, laughter is brightest where food is best. Raising a glass of wine made from the drupes of local vines above a table strewn with dishes cooked with ingredients sourced nearby, it has never rung truer. Costa Navarino is home to over 40 dining venues, boasting cuisines from all over the world. Their chefs, each an expert at the food that they serve, work hard to ensure that more than 60 percent of the ingredients they use come from local producers. Regardless of other influences, this is one of the ways in which they honor the culinary traditions of Messinia – knowing, as you also will, that food always tastes best when it’s made with the freshest possible produce.

Here, a meal is more than sustenance and more than comfort – it is an experience and a source of enjoyment. To bring some of the experience and flavors home, Navarino Icons offers a range of ethically sourced gourmet items from over 30 carefully selected local artisanal producers, such as extra virgin olive oil, olives, honey, preserves, sesame seed bars, and vinegar.

S – Serenity

According to Ancient Greek medicine, the best foundation for well-being is to achieve harmony between nature, body, and spirit. Gazing out over the sea during a sunset yoga session on the beach or enjoying a massage under the olive trees with natural products made from ingredients sourced in the Messinian countryside, you’ll feel it deep within: they were right.

At the spas of Costa Navarino, ancient Greek health and beauty practices are still used to create specialty treatments, in combination with modern science. Therapeutic olive oil treatments are based on ancient local practices inscribed on clay tablets discovered at the nearby Palace of Nestor, and a range of thalassotherapy treatments are based on the ideas of Hippocrates. During innovative health retreats, you’ll spend your days finding inner peace, growing stronger, achieving harmony, and attaining happiness.

The phrase “Happy to be here” rings truer than ever before.