A question we are often asked is which resort is better, Ikos or Sani? Our very own Josie was invited by Classic Collection Holidays to visit and experience these beautiful resorts…
Halkidiki in north Greece, is a popular destination to visit. A pretty peninsula with three legs: Kassandra (the most developed), Sithonia (quieter and more relaxed) and Unesco-protected Mount Athos, home to a remote monastic community. The renowned award-winning resorts, Ikos and Sani both fringe the Kassandra peninsula.
Read on to find out if one is better than the other or if it is simply down to personal preference and holiday needs.
Here’s Josie’s story…
Our first day started bright and early at London Gatwick where easyJet and BA offer a direct service to Thessaloniki. The flight time is just under three hours from London so makes it an ideal flight for people travelling with young children.
The exclusive Ikos and Sani Resorts, a group of luxury 5* hotels set on the beautiful peninsular of Kassandra and Sithonia on Mainland Greece.
Incredible Ikos Resorts
Ikos Olivia Hotel
The first hotel we visited was Ikos Olivia – aptly named after the numerous Olive trees found around the extensive hotel grounds. Here manicured lawns meet the beautiful white sandy beach and the Aegean Sea. The design of Olivia is contemporary elegance with a chic ambience and a warm welcome.
450m of Blue Flag pristine beach with luxury sun loungers was a sight to see. I’d seen the photos of Olivias beach and always thought wow but the pictures really don’t do it justice! If you’re not a beach fan or fancy a change there are four swimming pools to choose from. Whichever you choose you won’t be far from impeccable service with the all-day waiters tendering to all your needs and if you’re feeling you need a break from the little ones the beach childcare service is at hand.
There is a great variety of room types to choose from with 142 bedrooms and junior suites and 149 private bungalow suites some with private balconies, some with private pools, some with both – but all set in beautifully groomed gardens. From double rooms sleeping two, to two bedroom beachfront deluxe bungalow suites sleeping six and everything in between, there is something to suit everyone.
Josie recommends ~ This resort is great for families. The resort itself is quite flat (great for little legs), with plenty of amenities for kids, they’ll love the kids pools and play area and the adults will love the large rooms, plenty of space to spread out.
Our next hotel was the Ikos Oceania, a sister to the Olivia however quite different. My first view was 350m of unspoilt beach, fringed by fir trees – just breath-taking! As Ikos Oceania sits quite high you will have the most amazing panoramic views of the manicured gardens leading down to the private beach below. As the resort is based on the side of the hill it’s quite a steep decline to the beach, but not to worry as the ‘Grooms’ as they are called are always on hand to give you a lift on the electric buggies.
Due to the location Ikos Oceania is probably better suited to adults however, there is plenty for the children to do as they have dedicated toddlers and children’s swimming pools, whilst the adults can enjoy the infinity and indoor heated pools and of course take advantage of the attentive all-day waiter service.
Following a major refurbishment the Oceania offers a world of luxury with elegant rooms and exquisite dining. You can choose from one of the four al-la-carte restaurants, most with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs and if you feel like a change of scenery why not opt for the Dine Out experience taking you to some of the best local restaurants in the area.
The rooms here are a little different to Ikos Olivia. The 290 beautifully appointed rooms and suites are positioned in 15 acres of landscaped gardens and have been beautifully renovated in an understated but super luxurious way. The lead-in rooms are doubles which are very stylish, spacious and airy with floor to ceiling windows and have a private terrace. There is also the option of a superior double which has a balcony and side or direct sea view. Next are the Junior Suites which are bigger and can occupy two adults and a child as they have a bedroom and living area compared to the Panorama Junior Suite which can accommodate four. If you need something a bit roomier then the one bedroom Family Suite or Deluxe Junior Suite, might be perfect for you, sleeping two adults and two children with an extended terrace and magnificent views over the Aegean Sea and Mount Olympus. If that isn’t big enough there are two bedroom suites with all the trimmings sleeping six.
Josie recommends ~ This resort is great for couples although kids are allowed. You will find plenty of secluded, adults-only areas though so you can enjoy some peace and quiet should you want to. The resort itself is on a steep hill (not great for little legs) so something to keep in mind.
Like all the Ikos resorts, Ikos Olivia & Oceania have an extensive range of a la carte restaurants catering for all; the All-Inclusive basis means all meals, drinks and snacks are included. One of my favourite things about staying at an Ikos or Sani resort is the Dine Out experience that the resorts offer where arrangements have been made with some of the best local restaurants so guests can leave the resort to discover what the local area has to offer and sample some local cuisine at no extra cost.
Ikos Activities and Experiences
Both Ikos resorts offer a wide range of land and water-based activities at no extra cost so there’s something for everyone.
Both Ikos resorts are known for their amazing kids club, they cater for all ages from crèche to teens and have a fantastic programme every day of the week. There is also a Football Academy during the summer months. It is advisable to pre-book though as they get booked up really quickly – so do this when booking your holiday!
Tennis, cycling, squash, aerobics, yoga or diving, windsurfing, canoeing, water-skiing are just some of the activities on offer. The Ikos resorts have so much choice there will always be enough to keep you busy should you wish and mostly at no extra cost!
The evenings won’t disappoint either, depending on what you are looking for from your holiday you can indulge in vibrant nightlife, shows, music and dancing or just enjoy relaxing with a cocktail, the choice is yours.
And when you are in need of an extra bit of pampering the Ikos Spa by Anne Semonin is ready and waiting for you.
This is one of my favourites …. book the Mini Drive Adventure, where you can hire a brand-new Mini Cooper to explore the local areas for the day. Download the Ikos Mini app, and you’ll have a full library of directions and local things to do and see. Best of all, this is part of the Ikos’ Infinite lifestyle offering so there is no extra cost to do this.
Creating Lasting Memories
The next stop on our trip was Sani, a privately developed ecological resort on 1000 acres of natural forest with seven exclusive beaches which could compete with the Caribbean. This is home to the collection of five awarding winning 5* hotels which are positioned around the cosmopolitan Sani Marina with its rather large impressive yachts, bars, restaurants and shops for some retail therapy. We stayed at Sani Club, one of the original resorts.
Each of the five properties has its own unique vibe. The vibrant Sani Beach which is perfect for families with young children for its kids clubs and splash park. Next, it’s the refined Sani Club which is the original resort and the relaxed elegance of Porto Sani which is set away from the beach. Sani Asterias is exclusive and intimate and I think is the most prestigious and last but certainly not least we have the newest property to the Sani portfolio, Sani Dunes with its grown up ambience.
All five properties are within walking distance of each other and set around the glamorous Marina with its buzzing bars and restaurants. For me this setting is heaven; people watching, whilst sipping cocktails, watching the world go by and the yachts bobbing on the turquoise sea, this is what holidays are all about.
Sani Experiences and Activities
Sani is not all about what resort you stay in though, although there is a resort for everyone, one of the main reasons people stay at Sani is for the wide offering of things available in resort.
To start with, the most popular, is the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy and the Chelsea Football Academy. You can book yourself and the children onto a four to seven day course where they really get to embrace the sport and learn from the professionals.
If the Academies are not your thing, then why not try the all new Sani Adventure Park. Complimentary for all guests (pre-booking required) Sani Adventure park offers guests an exhilarating combination of zip lines and challenging courses high in the treetops of Sani’s pine forest.
Or try the Bear Grylls Survival Academy where you can learn lifelong survival skills, build rafts and learn to navigate through the stars all whilst having fun with your family or making new friends with like-minded people.
Along with these, there’s also the Bike Academy where you can hire KTM bikes to explore the local hiking trails. Scuba diving lessons, tons of water sports including scuba diving and sailing, beekeeping lessons, bird sanctuary, forest walks and sunset cruises on Sani’s very own fleet of yachts.
Evening are not forgotten with the infamous Sani White Nights, Greek Nights, Caribbean Nights, Live Music, Leading DJ’s and shows at the Garden Theatre.
Moving with the modern times, when you book to stay with Sani, you can download the Sani app from the App store. Here you can book restaurant reservations, childcare and see the daily resort schedule should you wish to join in on some of the activities.
The Renowned Sani Dine Around
This is another reason why I think Sani is the perfect family holiday. If you are on half or full board in addition to eating in your hotel you can dine at 22 restaurants either in the other Sani properties or around the Marina so you can have a change of scene and enjoy and experience the local vibe and cuisine.
Travellers Choice Awards voted Sani Beach in the Top 10 best family hotels in the world.
Let me start with Sani Beach, this resort may look like a 70’s apartment block from the outside but the interior paints a different picture.
From doubles to suites Sani Beach offers the widest choice of accommodation, if you need some extra room the gorgeous two-bedroom family suites with two spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms and a beautifully designed living area would be perfect for you. All rooms have a contemporary colonial style, are light and airy with either terrace, balcony or private garden.
Sani Beach has two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and a kiddie’s splash park making it ideal for families. Along with the splash park, there’s also a kid’s playground, the renowned kids clubs and over six bars and four restaurants on site. You have a choice of beaches with four Blue Flag golden beaches on your doorstep, all offering refreshing drinks and snacks, beach games and toys, comfy sunbeds with sumptuous towels and as if you can bring yourself to leave your sunbed you are a short walk to the Marina which hosts bars and restaurants that you can use your dining plan in, along with some boutique shops, and some rather large yachts.
Josie recommends ~ A great resort for families, especially families that love water and adventure parks as you are right next to them here. A fab location, within walking distance to the marina, shops, cafes and shopping. You and the kids certainly won’t get bored!
Next along is Porto Sani, described by Sani as relaxed and elegant and recently refurbished. Porto Sani is set back from the beach, which is just a few minutes’ walk away, this resort is perfect for families who love the pool and is known for having the best Anne Semonin Spa.
Porto Sani has been design with children in mind and each of the 98 luxury suites has been tailored to accommodate the needs of the little ones. Guests staying here can have a complementary session with Carol Mae Baby Consulting who can help you adjust your children’s sleep and routines to the holiday setting. Meals times haven’t been forgotten with children food stations and special menus from renowned food experts with healthy options and freshly made purees for babies. Oh and we must not forget the adults, Porto Sani is the home of El Puerto lead by the Michelin Star Chef David Ibarboure.
Porto Sani is an All-Suite hotel, from the lead in Terrace suites accommodating up to four to the ultimate three-bedroom suites with three separate spacious bedrooms, living room with dining area, three bathrooms, private garden and heated pool accommodating up to seven. It’s ideal for those with larger families or those who prefer a larger room.
All rooms types can benefit from the extra amenities of Wooden Cot, Bathrobes & Slippers, Bedding & Hangers, Baby Bjorn Relax, Bottle Warmer & Sterilizer, Changing Mat, Bath Seat, White Noise Machine, Night Light, Cot Mosquito Net, Potty & Toilet Seat, available either in-room, upon request, or on-site, they are subject to availability so let us know in advance and we can request them for you.
Josie recommends ~ This amazing resort is a real show stopper for first time parents and young families. This is an all-suite resort, so plenty of space for you to relax and the kids to move around. The babies and kids have their own menus, specially created by the World-leading food expert, Annabel Karmel whilst the adults can enjoy the delicious dishes created by Michelin Star Chef David Ibarboure. You can even use the Baby Consulting Services which are available should you wish.
Located right next to the Marina is the stunning Sani Asterias. Now this resort does come at a premium cost however, the minute you walk in the gates you feel how exclusive it is. It’s a lot smaller than its sisters with only 57 rooms, but they are 57 of the best rooms in the resort. We were lucky enough to look around a three-bedroom deluxe suite with pool – which will set you back around £60,000 for the week, as expected it is furnished to the highest standard and really has that WOW WOW WOW factor!
Sani Asterias own exclusive beach is on the doorstep with luxurious sunloungers, beach staff to take care of your every need and Babewatch to give you some time for a peaceful dip.
Cuisine at Asterias, as you would expect is of the highest standards. The award-winning Water Restaurant with three times Michelin-starred Chef Mauro Colagreco has created exclusive menus just for the Asterias guests, this combined with magnificent views of the Marina make this a truly memorable experience. If you’re more of a pool person you won’t be disappointed as the gorgeous pool is set in quiet tranquil surroundings and heated.
Josie recommends ~ If you are looking for your own private villa for you and the family, with top of the range facilities then this is the resort for you. Privacy and elite are two words that come to mind when I think of Sani Asterias.
A little further down we have the newest property – Sani Dunes, which was by far my favourite (although that maybe because I don’t have children!). The resort has a chic ‘grown-up’ feel with a sophisticated contemporary vibe.
Sani Dunes is all about the water, it has the largest pool in Greece which cascades from reception all the way down to the beach and each room has direct access to a pool. The shimmering sea and Blue Flag beach is steps away where you will be spoiled with king size umbrellas and luxurious mattresses and a constant supply of refreshing drinks.
You have three fabulous restaurants and the fantastic wine bar which features over 200 different wines around the world.
This property I would say focuses more on adults and couples, or families with older children.
The contemporary style of the 146 rooms is light and airy, there are 50 open suites and 40 deluxe options. The double rooms with private garden have panoramic views overlooking the gardens and pools. Family rooms with interconnecting doors and one bedroom suites can accommodate larger parties. If you’re looking for top of the range deluxe rooms and suites are available with private gardens and even your own private beach!
Josie recommends ~ This resort is one for the grown-ups. Well known for it’s White Parties, great for couples and friends that enjoy socialising. Trendy and stunning surroundings, you will love this resort.
Lastly, we have Sani Club which is an intimate collection of bungalow style rooms. This resort is perfect for those families who like to have their own space, it is discrete and refined. Being the first Sani resort, Sani Club feels like the hub and is where you meet for a lot of the activities. I spent two nights at Sani Club in one of the suites on the hillside, but here it’s all about the one and two-bedroom suites with private pools or private gardens.
The Blue Flag beach offers shallow waters perfect for children and of course all the normal ‘Sani’ facilities and experiences are available. The extensive pool and a dedicated children’s area.
Sani Club has some of the best restaurants on site from Ouzerie the traditional Greek restaurant to Cabana, a fine dining experience.
Rooms at Sani Club are charming bungalows with a contemporary style with gorgeous blues and white hues, each room has its own garden or private pool. Each of the 253 rooms has floor to ceiling windows providing breath-taking views. Top of the range is the luxurious two bedroom bungalow suite with private living space including a dining area and two bathrooms and private heated pool which can accommodate up to six people.
Josie recommends ~ If you are family that likes privacy and luxury of a private pool, Sani Club is for you. Better suited to families with older children with a more laid back vibe.
So which resort is better… Ikos or Sani?
Josie’s conclusion ~ Both resorts are beautiful so you can’t really go wrong with either, however, if you like the idea of an All-Inclusive resort where you don’t need to venture to far then the Ikos resorts are perfect but if you would like a little more flexibility then the Sani resorts would be better, with a Half Board option and the Marina nearby for a mix of bars, cafes and restaurants. So yes, it really is down to personal preference and what you want from a holiday.
If you are considering either of the resorts or finding it hard to choose between the two, I would love to go through the options with you so do get in touch.