LOCKDOWN has been tough for all of us but especially challenging for my ‘quaranteenager’ daughter Evie, 16, who was deprived of friends, socialising, and experiencing new adventures while having to endure months of online schooling and exam uncertainty.
As the school year drew to an end, I wanted to whisk her off to mark the end of her secondary school days in style and celebrate the start of the next chapter in her life.
Sani Resort is one of the most luxurious, family-friendly spots in Europe, if not the world and seemed the perfect choice.
Like most other travellers venturing on their first holiday post Covid, safety was our prime concern and I was impressed to read it had partnered with leading experts Euroclinic, TUV Austria and Ecolab to establish its onsite healthcare and in-resort testing in order to create a protected space where guests can feel free and safe.
It dispelled any nervousness and provided reassurance before we even arrived.
The resort sits in a 1,000-acre private estate on Kassandra’s beautiful Cape Sani. Its location could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean with vistas of crystal clear blue seas, pine-fringed golden beaches not to mention the most beautiful orange-hued sunsets guaranteed nightly.
Sani Beach with 253 rooms and suites is a hotel within the resort particularly suited to families – from those with new-borns venturing on their first holiday away from home to more seasoned, larger families with adventure seeking teens.
What is also remarkable about Sani is that it also works brilliantly for couples, for a girls’ trip, and also for mums and daughters who want to enjoy some quality time together in a magical setting.
The hotel is impressive, while it is quite large, it has been cleverly designed and oozes relaxed luxury and a sense of tranquillity.
Every aspect of the hotel has been thoughtfully designed with stylish interiors by Nimand Architects throughout complimented by interesting artwork adoring its walls.
Light and airy rooms range from doubles to junior, one and two bedroom suites; we opted for a sea front, one bedroom suite with a separate lounge.
Styled in a contemporary, colonial way with floor to ceiling windows leading on to its own private balcony, it offered stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
To the front and rear of our room was the perfect postcard image: seven kilometres of sandy beaches with shallow, crystal clear water, glistening in the sun. Happy days!
We spent our first few days chilling on the most comfortable of sun loungers and we kept pinching ourselves that we were actually away.
The resort was fast becoming “one of the best ever places we had stayed in” according to my daughter. “Why?” I asked. “The Wi-Fi throughout the resort is amazing, I can even send pictures of the fish in the sea to everyone at home using WhatsApp!” Full marks to Sani.
After catching up on our sleep, we decided to try a few of the in resort activities.
The choice was endless. For example, new for this year is the Bear Grylls Survival Academy where guests young and old build shelters and fires, learn to signal for help and try their hand at Astro Navigation at night.
There’s also a new Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre with eight clay courts and a Club House offering high quality tennis coaching with programmes developed by the Rafa Nadal Academy, a Football Academy in association with Chelsea FC.
We decided to go for something a little less strenuous and signed up for a one-hour e-bike tour with a KTM-certified instructor to see the Sani wetlands which is home to some 200 species of birds. We were hoping to spot some of the wild flamingos as they prepare for their long migration journey back to Africa.
While we sadly did not spot any, we absolutely loved riding on the e-bikes – this new mode of riding a bike was a first for both of us and we mastered it quite quickly, gliding through olive groves and navigating our wheels through sandy tracks. It was great fun.
Determined to shed some lockdown pounds, I committed to a daily fitness class and the choice was endless. Aqua Fit, Tabata, Pilates, TRX and guided jogging tours are led by a group of highly experienced instructors including Maria, Raphaele and Aris. This was the first time I had done exercise on a holiday and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
With the exercise endorphins running on high, I encouraged that my daughter join me for sunset yoga. It was the first time either of us had tried it so we were a bit nervous although we did not need to be.
The shaded setting for the session, overlooking the beach and the sea, could not have been more magical and we mastered our downward dogs and sun salutations in true Sani style. It was a lovely mum and daughter moment to cherish.
Shopping in Sani
Just a few minutes from the hotel is Sani’s glamorous yacht marina with 215 berths. Guests can enjoy shopping in the elegant marina where stores include Vilebrequin, Melissa Odabash and Missoni as well as Optomania, offering contemporary sunglasses from Prada to Balenciaga. While not cheap, many of the shops are carefully curated and offer plenty of opportunity for retail therapy.
Cuisines to suit every palette
One thing for sure, guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to food at Sani Resort. Our favourites include Ammos with its enviable on the beach location offering fresh fruit smoothies and local Greek breakfast fare as well as eggs poached, scrambled or fried, pancakes and waffles. This is also a great spot for lunch, cocktails and mocktails (Roman, its charismatic A La Carte Director, was brilliant at helping us choose).
The all-white and ultra cool Bousoulas Beach Bar & Restaurant serves homemade nachos (you have to try!) with guacamole, mouth-watering burgers, Greek salad and chicken satay skewers for lunch. Fast-forward a few hours later and Bousoulas is worth revisiting, offering the perfect spot for a sundowner with breath-taking views of Mount Olympus and the ocean. Serving amazing cocktails, our favourite was called ‘From London to Sani’. This was a sublime mix of Tanqueray gin, mint leaves, passion fruit, fresh lime juice and Angostura bitter and has just launched for the 2021 season…..
In total, there are over 40 restaurants and bars within Sani Resort offering from Michelin star dining to traditional Greek cuisine to Spanish, French, Italian or Japanese cuisines.
Sani’s marina alone includes 24 restaurants and bars, offering everything from breakfast and a mid-morning coffee, lunch, delicious cocktails and dining opportunities. Favourites include Macaroni (Italian, great for families), Asian (‘Weeping Tiger’ marinated beef, green papaya salad and sticky rice fabulous as is the Roasted Silver Cod with champagne and honey sauce finished off with Crispy Chocolate Spring Rolls!) and the nearby El Puerto with its Spanish inspired menu created by Michelin star chef David Ibarboure.
Elsewhere in the resort, it’s worth visiting Water restaurant, which offers a French-Mediterranean menu, designed by 3 Michelin starred chef Mauro Colagreco and Fresco with its interesting Italian menu designed by Michelin starred chef Ettore Botrini. You can see why the daily exercise became a must do!
On our last full day at Sani, it was Evie’s school virtual graduation.
We had lunch in our favourite Greek restaurant – The Ouzerie – brilliantly managed by the warm-hearted Maria who has worked in the resort for 14 years – and then chilled on the beach for a few hours.
I secretly asked Sani’s guest services team if they could do something special for Evie as we wanted to mark the occasion and celebrate in style.
Before we knew it there was a knock on the room door and Evie opened it only to be greeted by two smiling members of staff who presented her with a beautiful bunch of flowers, a personalised ice-cream chocolate cake, and a balloon saying ‘Happy Graduation’.
She was over the moon.
As the day drew to a close, we both got dressed up and enjoyed a barefoot walk on the beach as the sun was setting before dining at Cabana, a seafront restaurant located in the resort.
We tuned to the school graduation virtually just as the sky was turning golden yellow and enjoyed the evening in the most sublime of settings.
If only all graduations were like this we both thought!
After an amazing week, we did not want to leave and, on the way to the airport, we chatted to our driver who had been working for the hotel for many years.
He said: “In Sani, problem is no problem.” This is so true. The ever present and ever attentive staff and concierges are always on hand to help, recommend or attend to guests’ every need and nothing is too much trouble, from organising a PCR test in resort ahead of our flight home to booking activities and restaurants.
Sani Resort offered a Covid-safe sanctuary, a much-needed opportunity to relax as well as a chance to be active at the same time on our first holiday post lockdown. As I boarded the plane home with my newly graduated daughter, we were already planning our return trip as we now follow Sani’s mantra…..problem is no problem.
Rooms: From €156 per night on a half board basis At Sani Beach. Click here for bookings or call 08009496809.
Flights: British Airways flies London Heathrow to Thessaloniki, from £175 return including taxes and charges (including bag fare).
- After you’ve booked, download the Sani App. It is worth booking your restaurants for the first two or three nights of your stay as they can get busy.
- Sani Resort’s Dine-Around programme offers half board and full board and guests can choose from many of its restaurants and is worth doing. It’s a foodie’s heaven.
- There are a host of free activities and experiences to enjoy at Sani Resort so pack your trainers as well as your flip-flops if you fancy trying them. It’s also worth reserving a spot in advance for popular classes.
- Many of the shops in the marina offer discounts to Sani Resort guests – it’s worth asking before you purchase.
- Bousoulas Beach Bar is a buzzy spot with stunning wide-open views of the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its white night parties and is a great place to head if the mood for dancing strikes. Just remember to pack something white if your case allows!
- Check Government latest advice for travelling to Greece to ensure you have all the correct paperwork ahead of travelling and adhere to both the UK and Greece’s entry requirements.
- Anyone travelling to Greece must comply with the Greek authorities’ requirements, including completion of a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before you travel (both into and out of Greece). For departures, fill in a few days before you leave (note this has to be filled in at home no later than 11:59pm of the day before arriving in Greece).