Blissful Return to Sani Resort in Greece
For a seriously passionate and curious traveller, revisiting the same destination is an absolute no go given the world has officially reopened for adventures and there are new places to explore and experiences to be had. Sani Resort in Greece on Cape Sani, is the one exception according to travel writer Maria Boyle.
‘Repeat’ is not a word in my travel vocabulary as my mind is already thinking about the next new destination even before a current trip ends. Iceland, Chile, Victoria Falls, Kenya and the Maldives are all high on the ‘go to’ list at the moment. Yet, Greece’s Sani Resort is a destination that somehow magically continues to pull me back time and time again.
Sani Resort Greece: Ideal for Kids
My first visit was ten years ago when we were young parents and our three daughters were all under five. We chose Sani as it is brilliantly suited to families, together with the fact that it is a relatively short flight and transfer – music to any frazzled parents’ ears. Its childcare facilities were – and are still – the best we have ever experienced in any resort, and as we all know, a happy child is a happy parent.
We loved the accommodation, opting for inter-connecting rooms with plenty of space and gorgeous interiors, and took full advantage of seven kilometres of pristine beaches with shallow, clear waters – the resort boasts ten Blue Flags which is the most in the world –, swimming pools galore, not to mention the 40 or so restaurants in the resort. Ten days flew by and we had the most amazing holiday.
We returned again and again as the children went from toddlers to teens with Sani evolving, just like our children, presenting us with new experiences and facilities really tailored to our growing family and our children’s different life stages. Another recent visit was straight after lockdown to celebrate our daughter’s GCSE graduation, desperate for some sun but safety and cleanliness even more of a priority, we knew Sani would deliver and it did.
The magnetism of Sani pulls guests back, with the award-winning resort experiencing 40 per cent repeat visitors, much to the envy of most other destinations in Europe.
Sani Resort Without the Kids
My most recent Sani ‘fix’ was with my best friend Mars, to celebrate 25 years of friendship. Very much a girls’ trip this time, we left our children at home revising for their ‘A’ levels and end of year exams with their respective dads at the helm. We both wanted somewhere where we could be spoiled, a little bit of luxury, away from domestic groundhog day, with added health and wellbeing experiences, a variety of restaurants to enjoy and a chance to take a breather and recharge. Sani ticked all the boxes.
The resort features five award-winning hotels – Sani Beach, Sani Club, Porto Sani, Sani Asterias and Sani Dunes – within walking distance. For this trip we chose to stay in Porto Sani’s new five star €30 million complex which had just opened. This includes 50 suites – the complex has 148 suites in total – two new restaurants, adult-only and family heated pools and new babies’ splash pad, mini club and creche club, an indoor and outdoor gym, beautifully manicured gardens and a spa. Like Sani’s other accommodation, which ranges from doubles to junior, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, the accommodation and communal spaces have been beautifully designed with stylish interiors by the visionary Dr Niki Manou-Andreadis of Nimand Architects. At every turn, there is a beautiful chair, piece of artwork, interesting light, all of which you want to transport back home.
As full on working mums, we were both in need of some serious pampering and immediately booked ourselves in to the spa, located in the main Porto Sani building. This offers a huge variety of treatments that have been designed by famous Parisian brand Anne Semonin. I opted for a Radiance Express facial to refresh, firm and boost tired skin while Mars enjoyed a Relax and Renew massage. We were given the option of having it in a joint treatment suite so we could lie side by side and share the experience which was fun.
Accommodation at Porto Sani is ideally positioned, central in the resort and next to Sani’s glamorous yacht marina with 215 berths. Surrounded by chic shops, including Missoni, Melissa Odabash and Vilebrequin, pavement cafés, restaurants ranging from traditional Greek to French, Italian and Japanese, it is the perfect spot to grab a coffee, check out the amazing boats and yachts, and indulge in some holiday shopping.
Another reason why I, and many others, return is the cuisine. As well as its outstanding Sani Gourmet festival which is held each year in May and which sees the world’s best chefs creating innovative menus for guests to experience, there is a wealth of dining choices available.
Guests have the option of half- or full-board, with restaurants offering simple Greek cuisine to the finest Michelin Star dining, baby & kids’ menus, vegetarian and vegan.
The standard is consistently superb with the likes of two-Michelin star chef Stéphanie Le Quellec designing the menus for this year at Water, the resort’s Mediterranean restaurant, Michelin star chef David Ibarboure creating the menu at Spanish restaurant El Puerto and Ettore Botrini (one Michelin Star) at Italian Fresco.
A personal favourite of mine has to be Ouzerie to see the charming and welcoming manager, Maria, who has seen our girls grow up, and is always so friendly and kind. Its fried zucchini balls with tzatziki are a must.
At Porto Sani itself, there are plenty of places to eat. Elia is one of its two new restaurants, run by its friendly manager Tasos and assistant manager Elena, both greet guests with infectious smiles and share their recommendations. Chef Panagiotis Togias has created an innovative menu that offers delicious Greek food, elevated for a discerning palette.
Elia is the perfect spot for a relaxing breakfast, a lazy poolside lunch where the rosé can flow, or chilled sunset dinner. Lima is the second new restaurant on the complex, located on the veranda above Elia with views overlooking Sani Marina. Headed by chef George Matziaras, the restaurant serves authentic Peruvian cuisine with dishes including Chilean sea bass croquettes with miso and spicy mayonnaise; spicy beef fillet with crispy shallots, aji limo and star anise; fire-roasted octopus with chorizo, potato and green olives and a wide selection of salads.
Read Mark Bibby Jackson’s interview with Eleni Andreadis, Group Director of Sustainability and CSR for Sani Resort and Ikos Resorts, about its Sani Green Programme and journey towards zero carbon.
Wellness at Sani
Wellbeing is at the heart of Sani Resort in Greece and you name it, they have it. To balance the gourmet foods, artisan cocktails and wines we were enjoying to the full, we downloaded the Sani app and were presented with a huge choice of sports and fitness activities. Guided jogging, mountain biking, HIIT, tennis, football, TRK, aqua aerobics were all available to book.
Without fail, every visit to the resort I’ve always found an interesting new class or experience to try.
This year, a new Breathwork and Meditation has just launched. I had read about the art of conscious breathing and its therapeutic effect on the body, emotions and wellbeing so we were keen to try. Led by Sophia, a former classical singer and now sports instructor, we donned on headphones and tuned in to her soporific voice and spent an hour of pure mindfulness. The class involved us using yoga techniques and meditation to focus on the breath and took advantage of its beachside location and the sound of waves to help us leave all thoughts behind. A completely new experience and something we never get the chance to do at home, it was so relaxing, Mars fell asleep towards the end and we both left with a cleared mind and feeling calm.
We also enjoyed sunset yoga under the careful guidance of instructor Maria and morning pilates with Raphaelle, both located on a shaded deck with views out to the Aegean Sea and Mount Olympus.
Sitting on the beach on our last day, I watched a young family building sandcastles with their baby and toddler-aged children, together with grandparents looking on. It instantly brought back such happy memories and I charted all the special milestones I’ve enjoyed at Sani and the magic it brings each time I return. It is a resort which stays with you for life, continually evolving, providing space to relax and breathe. I can imagine being the grandmother – in a few decades time – doing the same, and I know I would be in my happy place, again and again and again.
Caring for the Environment at Sani Resort Greece
Sani resort was the first certified carbon neutral resort in Greece and has been awarded World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort in 2021. Its location in the heart of a 1,000-acre ecological reserve and 270-acres of wetlands means that sustainability is front of mind. New for this year is the launch of the largest Bee Spot in Greece in collaboration with non-profit organization Bee Camp. This gives shelter to the pollinators and provides guests with an opportunity to learn first hand about the role of the pollinator in the local eco-system.
It has also just teamed up with ISea to monitor the resident dolphin population and create the first catalogue of cetaceans in Halkidiki. For those who want to further explore the area, it has a new fleet of hybrid plug in cars for transportation.
There are also new solar tree panels at Sani Marina for charging ‘phones, and the resort has announced its zero waste ambition by 2024.
To book a stay at Sani Resort in Greece
British Airways Holidays offers seven nights, at the 5* Porto Sani, from £1519pp, travelling on selected dates between 1 September – 30 September 2022 inclusive. Includes economy (Euro Traveller) return flights from London Gatwick Airport, 23kg luggage allowance and accommodation on Full Board basis. Book by 15 June 2022 at www.britishairways.com/sani