So I'm back from my travels with the family. Our summer getaway is just a day behind us with our newfound friends still lounging by the pool in Greece. It seems such a long time ago that the two hotels caught my eye on the Greek Experts website. They cover the luxury bases well with amazing prices! My imagination was sparked and my research was done. Flights booked with Easyjet for the best travelling times and away we went. And not just away we went in any old way, no, away we went in the height of luxury and comfort. Well, as much comfort as you can have at 3am but hey, it does mean that you don't spend the whole day travelling and you can look forward to lunch by the pool!
'Good morning this is Spencer your driver. I'm parked outside...I am early so come out when you are ready.' Our Chrysler 300c is awaits. Plenty of room for our new feather-light, Samsonite Cosmolite cases packed full of Huggies Little Swimmers, perfect for the luggage allowance! I felt like a rock star and why not, because Rihanna had sat exactly where I was sitting, not to mention plenty of others. We went with Vanquish Travel. A London based company that are just a cut above the rest and who I would thoroughly recommend.
We arrived at Gatwick relaxed and in good time, already checked-in, it was a breeze. One of the best things about traveling with a child is that you get special treatment, a bit like fast track, so within minutes we were eating a yummy Pret breakfast and buying a few last-minute necessities. Soon after we were on the plane, Alexander sitting between us and us praying that he would behave ( he did, at least most of the flight!). One thing I have to say about Easyjet is that we took of on time, everything ran like clockwork. We arrived 30 minutes early too. So 2.5 hours of flying was bearable with a toddler - that said, if you have read my previous posts you will see that we have done 14 hours with Alexander- even in business class it was a nightmare! ('serves her right', I hear you say!).We hadn't been to Greece together before, I had been as a child but not since and it had been on my radar for a while. Island hopping is next on the list but this time, with a toddler, we wanted something easy, yet relaxing and luxurious. Quick transfers, good weather and child-friendly and that is exactly what we got!
Arriving at Sani Resort, we were met with clear blue skies and even clearer blue sea. A quick tour of the resort and we were transferred to a buggy to take us to our suite. Now, Sani is a very special place. Set within a family owned, 1000 acre eco-reserve of pine forests and olive groves, this is somewhere that well-heeled families rave about. It is no shrinking violet either as it comprises four gorgeous but very different hotels, all set on the Aegean sea with golden sandy beaches and around the Sani Marina - a port for luxury yachts, a home to eleven restaurants and bars all under the Sani umbrella, as well as a supermarket and some lovely upmarket shops where you can buy those much needed twentieth pair of sandals or the gorgeous kaftan in turquoise ('I lost my other one so I must have it!').Sani, really is a resort of its own. Everything you need is there, no need to leave and this is why it works so brilliantly with children.
The four hotels at Sani are all relatively close to one another. Walking distance or a buggy is all that is needed and with the amount of delicious food on offer all around you, the walking option is sometimes preferable! Each hotel is marketed to a different group of people but having experienced three of the four, I would say can be interchangeable. Sani Beach Club is known as the family option. It is situated in the hills overlooking that stunning Kassandra coastline. Low rise buildings housing one or two luxurious suites with easy access and 'parking' outside for buggies, opening directly on to private gardens and even small pools for the little ones to play, two spectacular playgrounds, a vast outdoor pool and separate children's pool and of course its own kids club.
The facilities are all encompassing and the staff and service are second to none. It is the family favourite so you see strollers everywhere and highchairs beside many of the tables at dinner and lunch in the main restaurant which is huge and has seating outside on a veranda with views out to sea, where you can eat at night from a buffet fit for a king, everything and anything you could want or need and the quality of the offering, first class. They have a section of the buffet set aside for children and a menu for babies too. This place leaves nothing undone.
Whatever you need as a parent is here and alongside that, with the Melissa kids club run by the UK company, Worldwide Kids Company, to Ofsted standards, parents of children of 4 months to 3 years also get to relax, go to the spa, enjoy the beautiful beach or for the more energetic perhaps a walk along one of the nature trails or some watersports. The options are endless here but we took a much-needed rest and lazed on the beach or pottered around in our Havainas and swimwear, whilst Alexander painted, went to the park, relaxed to storytime, went to lunch and generally had a good time of his own. It's not often that a kid's club is run to UK standards and it's a welcome relief for parents that also need a holiday. Needless to say that if you don't use it, on every beach you will find a Babewatch service where, in a shaded area filled with toys, staff will watch children whilst parents relax- how cool is that!?
Sani Beach Hotel, is the 'classic', as they call it. Set on the Cape Sani with outstanding views to two beaches, it has recently been renovated and reminds me of a cool and contemporary Ian Schrager hotel. It wouldn't be out of place in Miami. It is a big hotel and not for those looking for the boutique. It has eleven restaurants/bars in total so there is no end of choice; Mediterranean buffet breakfast in one, American buffet breakfast in another (not all within the hotel, some on the beaches), a stunning spa and indoor pool - I had a wonderful Anne Semonin facial one day and our bedroom with a balcony large enough for our little one to take his rented scooter out on to was truly luxurious; very pleasing on the eye with a bathroom to match.
Behind the Beach Hotel is the tennis club, another park shaded by huge pine trees with facilities for the younger and the older children, an outdoor cinema, cycle, scooter and even stroller rental along with an open air arena where shows are put on each day (we took Alexander to see Blues Brothers and although this would never be my sort of thing, too much like a cruise ship, I was actually really surprised by such a wonderful performance). The music, lights and maybe a G&T or two from the bar made for an experience that we wanted to repeat. Alexander also loved the music. Little children always do! Also near the Beach Hotel, you will find the second Melissa club that hosts children from 4 months up to the teenagers; everyone is catered for.
There are many, many facilities that I haven't mentioned from bird-watching to wine tasting but I can promise you that everything is taken seriously and is offered to a world-class standard and the place is set in lush gardens with the most amazing hi-tech watering system that I have ever seen. This truly is a paradise and not a theme park, so don't be put off.
Returning to the Marina you come to the two most luxurious of the four hotels; Sani Asterias Suites and Porto Sani Village. The Asterias Suites, if you want peace and exclusivity and want a stunning suite opening directly on to the widest and least populated beach or the quietest and most exclusive pool, is the one for you. The beach, where your sunglasses are offered a daily clean and I wore my Heidi Klein bikinis with pride, showed off my Sisley suncream and Mr PCG and Toddler PCG posed in their father and son Vilbrequins (kindly sent by the people at Melijoe; an amazing online boutique for kids and their parents alike!) is heavenly. You know that you have arrived! However my firm favourite and the one that I will return to next year (fingers crossed) is the Porto Sani Village. Low rise, two storey buildings containing suites with gardens or balconies, set around a huge pool that never gets busy (despite 100% occupancy!), an indoor pool, an adults pool (oh joy, peace, peace, peace) a spa of its own- I had a blissful massage and eye treatment and all steps away from the marina and all its dining and shopping options. I love , love, loved it here: Families like ours, lovely people, lovely atmosphere, gorgeous setting, delicious food. We made good friends here and that is priceless!
The thing about Sani is, that wherever you go, whichever hotel you choose, the attention to detail, the level of service, the standards, never slip an inch. The food is consistently delicious, whether you are dining at Tomata, the Mediterranean restaurant in the Marina ( our best meal of all was had here!), or from the buffet at the Sani Beach hotel, the rooms are consistently spotless and perfectly maintained and luxurious and the staff are just a credit to the hotel and what must be their training. All of this in an idyllic, nature reserve that is also safe and within 45 minutes of the airport and three hours from the UK. I'm definitely earning my gold card next year! *
*Discount for returning guests!