Halkidiki, Greece by Helen Pardy-Taylor

I love Greece so welcomed the opportunity to visit Halkidiki, a region in Northern Greece on the mainland with the three jutting peninsulas.

Friday 13th October 2017

On arrival after meeting 3 other colleagues we dropped our bags off & proceeded to the British Airways Club lounge at Gatwick South Terminal. The lounge is very comfortable, spacious and stylish with lots of room. Spirits, wine, tea & coffee, soft drinks and water are all available along with a selection of pastries, rolls, fruit, yoghurt and cereal.

On our British Airways aeroplane the standard configuration of 3/3 seating is reduced in Club Europe to 2/2  by
taking out the middle seat allowing for aisle or window only. This early morning flight includes  breakfast and drinks. The flight was very comfortable with plenty of leg room.

On arrival at Thessaloniki we were met by IKOS & transferred to the IKOS Oceania Hotel for check-in followed immediately by lunch. Flavours restaurant is a Mediterranean buffet with lots of choices, complemented by the most stunning view of the Aegean Sea.

Following lunch we had a site inspection to include some different room types, theatre, child care facilities, beach, various pools & the other 4 restaurants.

This evening we dined at Fusco the a-la-carte Italian restaurant. Fusco has an indoors and outdoors area again with the most beautiful sunset and Mount Olympus in the distance. The food was amazing!

IKOS means home/family and you really do feel this is the case at both IKOS. Both hotels are luxury All Inclusive (no wristbands), with Michelin chefs at the 4 a-la-cartes. International and local drinks along with cocktails are fully included. If you have a favourite tipple let them know before your arrival and they will stock your fridge with your favourite.

All rooms at Oceania have Sea View or Side Sea View set out among the hill. Pools are heated to 27C.  Waiter service, bringing snacks, food and drinks to order to you by the pool and on the beach.

If you would like to experience a true Greek restaurant use the ‘ Dine Out ‘ option with transport included.

The hotel was fully booked during our stay, but didn’t feel this was the case. The only difference is more children during the Summer Holidays.

The beach has approx 70 steps down from the hotel however no issue as you can call a buggy and  they will take you and return you to your room. There is a very small local road / lane between the beach and hotel with a guard on the gate by the beach.

Our rooms were junior suites, very bright, spacious and modern after their renovation earlier this year.

The Oceania is an excellent hotel for all generations of family. The food & drinks is of an extremely high quality. Service was impeccable with a very friendly, happy team.

IKOS provide an app which you can download to book restaurants in advance for the a-la-Carte. You may reserve up to 3 restaurants prior to your arrival and the remainder on arrival.

Saturday 14th October 2017

Following a very comfortable sleep, some met up for breakfast at the French a-la-Carte ‘ Provence ‘, just by the adult pool. There was a selection of continental style with cooked or waiter service cooked to order. I did find the cooked selection to be only slightly warm.

We all then transferred to have a site inspection of IKOS Olivia. This hotel offers a main building with bungalows which are set in beautifully manicured gardens. The Olivia offers the exact same named restaurants ( if using the app make sure you are reserving the restaurants at the correct hotel ! )

The main difference is the Olivia is flat and you can walk straight through the gardens onto the beach.

Buggies are also available here to drive you around the hotel and offers the exact same pool / beach service.

The Olivia ( named after the Olive trees in the grounds ), had a very calm, relaxing feel to it.

We transferred at mid-day to Sani Resort for our site inspection of the various hotels.

On arrival at Sani Club, the oldest hotel of the five in the Resort, you are welcomed into their new lounge where you will be transferred to your room by buggy and your luggage is delivered. Sani Club is set in an amphitheatre style with 3-4 tiers of rooms. Buggys are always available to transport your around the hotel. All rooms viewed were lovely and bright and the private pools are big enough to swim in. Quality is guaranteed for a relaxing, luxurious holiday. The beach is of a white sand with the water clear and shallow. The Sani Club offers a 20km hiking route through the forest at the rear of the hotel. You don’t have to walk it all ! If you plan a hike and where you want a buggy to meet you at a certain time and place, just let the hotel know.

To transfer from the Sani Club you have to use a shuttle bus which will take you to the remainder of the Resort and Marina.

Sani Dunes – my favourite. This feels very adult orientated but from 2018 this will also cater for families. Rooms again all very bright, fresh and spacious. The pool is huge and winds its way through the beautiful manicured gardens to a lovely white sandy beach which is shared with Porto Sani.  The grounds and gardens are immaculate as is the whole resort.

Sani Asterias We stopped for a quick drink by the marina side, unfortunately we didn’t view the beach here. While sitting here at a very hot temperature for this time of year, I noticed no breeze. Goodness knows how hot it would be in July / August ! We viewed a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom bungalow with private pool which again was large enough to swim in. I did notice the walls around the garden/pool area need more height to feel more private. This hotel feels like a luxury boutique hotel with 57 suites all of which are elegant.

We used the buggys along the Marina which gives the Sani Resort a feel of a cosmopolitan village. Sani operate a ‘ Dine Around ‘ system which includes other hotel restaurants in the Sanri Resort and the majority of restaurants along the Marina.

Sani Beach was our last inspection of the day. Built in the style of a multi-storey beach front 70’s style hotel. We viewd a lead-in garden view room which was basic and small compared to all other rooms at the alternative resort hotels. I would recommend a junior suite which felt more larger and comfortable. The main pool was lovely and leads down to the beach. The other side of the hotel has a beach bar ‘ Bousoulas ‘ which is on what is known as the best beach in Sani Resort.

We checked into our hotel Porto Sani, a two storey hotel and noticed immediately how dark the bedroom was compared to all other hotel rooms. My room was yet to be refurbished but managed to inspect a refurbished room there was no difference with the darkness. Also, depending on where you are located in the Resort you may experience some noise from a small road.

The pools were lovely and again at Sani Resort they are heated to 27C.

Sunday 15th October 2017

Today was spent at leisure. However this morning myself and a couple of colleagues went along to view the beach of Porto Sani and got a buggy to go and view the Bousoulas beach. All the drivers of the buggys are so happy, polite and really can’t do enough for you. Following this we returned to the hotel pool for a qui9ck swim before lunch.

We met at ‘ Psaroyannos ‘ at Sani Marina is a beautiful traditional style Greek taverna. The food was delicious and can get very busy.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a quick spa treatment followed by dinner at the Dunes hotel. You can sit indoors ( found this very bright ) or outside with candles, heaters and blankets if required.

Monday 16th October 2017

We had breakfast by the beach at Sani Dunes ‘ Beach House ‘. Various continental style and waiter cooked to order. Again I found the cooked to be rather cool.

We made our way back to Thessaloniki airport. After checking-in and security you have a small seating area with a few shops. I would recommend booking the lounge if waiting a while for your flight.

We flew back in economy with British Airways which offers a selection of Marks and Spencer food as their in-flight service.

Overall, I love Greece and found this to be a thoroughly lovely part of Greece. The Sani Resort was fantastic for a luxury holiday where dinner and drink options are pricey, but you would expect this from such a 5* luxurious resort.

My overall favourite was IKOS ( either hotel ), it attracts a lot of British holiday-makers and just felt so at home !