Where was Dominic Raab on holiday? Inside luxury Crete hotel where Foreign Secretary 'stayed' as Kabul fell
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Dominic Raab has been criticised for remaining on holiday in Crete while the Taliban advanced on Kabul.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary is facing calls to resign after it emerged that a crucial phone call he was advised to make to Afghanistan’s foreign minister about evacuating interpreters did not take place.
Senior government officials had reportedly advised that Mr Raab should “urgently” make the call to Hanif Atmar last Friday (13 August), two days before the Taliban closed in on Kabul.
However, they were told he was “unavailable” while on holiday and the responsibility of arranging the call was then handed to a junior minister - although the Foreign Office has since admitted that it never took place.
So, where was Dominic Raab on holiday, how much does the Amirandes Hotel cost - and is he still there?
Where was Dominic Raab on holiday?
The Foreign Secretary was reportedly relaxing on the beach in Crete, Greece, with his family as the Taliban took over the Afghan capital.
He was spotted enjoying a sunny break at a luxury five-star resort on the Greek island, after The Times reported that the minister in charge of overseeing the UK’s response to the Afghanistan crisis had “defied advice” and gone on holiday anyway.
The hotel has since been named as the Amirandes, which is situated on the east side of the popular tourist hotspot.
A holidaymaker claimed they saw Mr Raab “lounging around” on the beach on the day Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The source told The Telegraph: “It was definitely him. I’m not political and obviously accept everyone is allowed a holiday. But the Foreign Secretary shouldn’t be on the beach on the very day Afghanistan is imploding.
“He certainly wasn’t roughing it. He was on the beach all day yesterday.”
But the Foreign Office responded saying it was “wholly inaccurate” to suggest the government minister had been on the beach for a long period of time.
How much does Amirandes Hotel in Crete cost?
Amirandes describes itself as a “unique hotel built around water” that “allures you at every turn”.
It says it is “styled after the sprawling palaces of the Minoan kings and Venetian nobles who once ruled Crete” and offers “the easy elegance of true European luxury”.
The five-star boutique hotel sits on its own private beach and has “first-class dining”, while guests are able to book activities like "sunset gazing with champagne and canapés".
Rooms and villas at the luxury resort cost several hundred pounds per night. Superior family guest rooms at the complex cost around £750 a night.
The Telegraph source said: “To have one of the gazebos at that complex, you usually have to be staying in a private villa, which comes with its own plunge pool.”
Amirandes is said to be popular with influencers and Instagram stars and has nearly 10k followers on the social media platform.
Mr Raab has not given any details about his family retreat, but has said he was in constant contact with government officials while he was away.
Is the Foreign Secretary still on holiday?
No, Mr Raab has now returned to the UK.
He reportedly left the Greek island late on Sunday night (15 August) - the day Taliban forces took over Kabul - to make it back for the parliamentary debate on the Afghanistan crisis which took place on Wednesday.
The Foreign Secretary was then seen entering the Foreign Office on Monday morning.
How has the Foreign Secretary responded to criticism?
“In retrospect”, he wouldn’t have gone on holiday if he had predicted “the scale of the Taliban takeover”, Mr Raab said when asked if he regretted not returning from his break at an earlier date.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “Everyone was caught off-guard by the pace, scale of the Taliban takeover.
“When [foreign secretaries] are abroad, whether it’s travel for work or for holiday, we are there able to respond to events. So I was engaged in Cobra, talking to foreign counterparts, directly speaking to the head of our team here in London, I was doing that on an hour-by-hour basis and, of course, I left as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it.”
He added that government ministers deserved a break after “two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule”.
But Mr Raab has faced mounting pressure to stand aside after he refused to speak to Mr Atmar while on his luxury Crete getaway.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru have called for the Foreign Secretary to step down from his ministerial role, or that Prime Minister Boris Johnson should sack him if he does not resign.
Downing Street has said it has “full confidence” in Mr Raab.