Our Amazing Summer Holiday at Sani Beach Hotel, Greece
Oh Sani, I’ve fallen for you hook, line and sinker. I knew I would even before we arrived. I’d read practically every Trip Advisor review going (almost all are five star) and had rave reviews from people I know who had been before and who were serial returners.
So where on earth do I start? Perhaps with our very initial dilemma when we were booking at Sani – we were a bit stumped as to which part of the resort to go for. After huge amounts of consideration, we chose the Beach Hotel (over the Club which was similarly priced), mainly because of its location. I’m really glad we went for this one for a few reasons:
Why We Loved Sani Beach Hotel
- The Beach Hotel is right in the heart of the action – it’s easily walking distance to the marina with the vast choice of restaurants, the Garden Theatre with the evening entertainment and the sports centre with tennis courts, basketball courts and the like. Sani Club has great facilities too but you need to take a shuttle bus which comes every 20 minutes and takes about 10 minutes to get to the Marina. We spent most of our evenings in the Marina and at the Garden Theatre and we felt it would have been a bit of a bugbear to have to travel by bus every day/evening
- We ended up ‘downgrading’ our room due to booking our GFA after booking Sani. We’d originally intended to stay in a two bed family suite with interconnecting rooms but we decided to put the extra £600 towards our Asia plans next year instead. Instead, we opted for a Junior Suite at the Beach Hotel which Is a large room with a slight divide and a smaller balcony. I don’t think this option exists for Sani Club (I think there are only two bed options at Sani Club).
- When we walked down the corridor to our room at the Beach Hotel, we giggled – it was lined with Maclaren prams from beginning to end. At the breakfast buffet, there were pre-schoolers everywhere. We liked this as the kids mingled with other kids – mostly English, Russian, German and French – and we were amongst like-minded people who didn’t tut or sigh if the kids were on the more excitable side.
- The Beach Hotel is the most affordable option of all the Sani resorts. The Sani Asterias, next to the Beach Hotel, is mostly but not exclusively targeted at couples. We were told that it’s popular with honeymooners and a childless couple we met were staying there and enjoyed the fact that there were fewer children there. It also has its own private beach and an adults only restaurant – Over the Water (more on that later). Porto Sani was also on the more expensive side for us. The smallest room they offered was not appropriate for us – a one bedroom suite with a smallish bedroom which would have struggled to fit a cot and a single bed. The other options were two and three bedroom suites which were beyond our budget. However it is another great option for families as it’s also in the heart of the action and walkable to the facilities I’ve mentioned above
- There are more beach options at the Sani Beach end whereas Sani Club has a smaller stretch of sand available.
I simply can’t go any further without mentioning the service at Sani. Outstanding is an understatement. And this comes from someone who is a total fusspot when it comes to service (mostly a by-product of moonlighting as a mystery shopper in upmarket London restaurants, spas and shops) so this was one of the aspects that I was particularly looking forward to about the Sani experience. I wasn’t disappointed – discreet, personal, always anticipating requirements, nothing was too much to ask. It was practically flawless and emanated from everyone from the friendly and polite cleaners we interrupted by coming back to our room mid-morning (happy smiles, good morning, cooing at the kids) to the manager, Athina, who went out of her way to ensure that my bad start with the bag fiasco was quickly put to the back of my mind on arrival to Gianni, one of the cart drivers – who let Romilly and Jasper squeeze into the front of the cart with him and spoke to them as he would an adult and gave them high fives as a goodbye.
A couple of particularly memorable customer service genius moments – I had let Sani know in advance that Romilly had a dairy intolerance and without having to mention this again at reception, someone came to chat to me about the vast array of alternatives that all the restaurants would be able to offer; after speaking with Athina, the front of house Manager, about my undelivered bag, not only did she offer to track it and keep me updated so I didn’t need to think about it anymore, she so kindly and unexpectedly offered me a generous allowance as a gesture of goodwill to pick up a few items that I hadn’t managed to find at the supermarket; Vivi at the pool catered to every food or beverage requirement we could ever think of – proactively but not intrusively checking in regularly to see if we needed anything. The kids adored her from the word go. Jasper regularly announced ‘I want to see Vivi mummy’ despite coyly hiding in my shoulder when she came over for a coo.
Sani had one major downside in that it brought out the inner lazy arse in me. Bearing in mind I spend my life in London living to a tightly planned schedule and, true to this, in advance of our break, I had planned out an array of activities that I would enjoy ranging from the daily guided running tour to yoga with children to pilates, stretching, boules (the list goes on). I managed two activities. TWO in eight days. I feel a bit ashamed of myself. I did the Monday morning running tour which was a 5k route through the forest (beats the commute and a desk) and an aqua fit class just because it happened to be on at the same time I was frolicking around in the pool with the kids. Something in me just switched off – pretty rapidly really and I felt an intense desire NOT to be bound by timings/needing to be anywhere at any point in the day. Whilst it left me seriously relaxed, I had a few mental issues dealing with the fact that I ate and drank my body weight in delicious food and booze but didn’t do anywhere close to what I should have done in terms of exercise. But that’s what holidays are for, right?!
Our Favourite Things To Do at Sani
- We were in the pool or on the beach every day. On the sunny days, we were outdoors (the pools were heated, so the water was around 27 degrees). On the wet days (there were a few – boo), we went to the indoor pool which was nice and warm too. Our pool area was kind of divided into three – there was a very shallow pool for young kids and two other pools slightly separated by a bridge. Families gravitated towards the pool with the graduated depth which was perfect for Jasper (2) who preferred splashing at the sides and filling his bucket whilst Romilly and I were swimming a few metres away
- We also made quite a few visits to the outdoor playground. It has swings, a slide, a wooden car and wobbly aeroplane thingys. For older kids, there’s a group swing and a climbing frame.
- There are loads of fish in the marina and they love to be fed. Keep some leftover bread at breakfast time and walk down to the Marina to feed them. The kids loved watching them wrestle each other to get the crumbs.
- We went to lots of the evening shows. Greece is two hours ahead of UK and given that we stayed on UK time, the kids were fine to stay up for the performances which started at 9/930 and lasted no longer than an hour. We went to the kids show on the Sunday night which comprised of Disney songs (including Frozen – our kids were practically shaking with excitement!, the Michael Jackson tribute which we had to abandon after half an hour as the kids were falling asleep (note the Thriller bit can be a bit scary as the actors are dressed up and stalk around the audience), the Tributes and the Musicals.
- There was a large kids play area in our hotel with a ballpit, colouring in, chalk board and an array of other toys. It was set up much like a playgroup setting in the UK. We visited it a couple of times on the wet days and it was a great option to give the kids a change of scenery.
- We had a great time hiring bikes and cycling around the resort with the kids on the back. Somewhat naively – although we had been warned by the guy at the bike hire – we decided to cycle to Sani Beach Club but be warned – it’s up a big hill which I didn’t manage at all and ended up pushing the bike with Jasper in it up the hill most of the way. The downhill was fun though! Back at the Beach Club, the pathways are flat and perfect for family cycling. You can also hire scooters, trikes and kids’ bikes there too.
Our Favourite Restaurants at Sani
- We are big breakfast fans so we loved exploring the options at Sani as part of the Dine Around experience. Our favourite was Artemis at Porto Sani. It was the only restaurant where we could order a la carte as well and while the buffet was smaller, it had a more luxurious selection – almond croissants (my guilty pleasure), a range of different flavoured honey – that type of thing. It also had a children’s play area with a supervisor. I’m not sure if this was for Porto guests only but on one occasion, Romilly and Jasper went over to do some colouring in and were watched by the lady who was chatting away to them whilst we enjoyed 10 minutes of peace and quiet! We also really liked Olympos at Sani Club which was worth the shuttle bus journey. It had a large buffet on offer but also had a superfood section which I really liked and it had the best soya lattes of all the restaurants.
- We had the most wonderful date night at the new Over the Water restaurant. Over the Water is a new indoor adults only restaurant situated above the Water restaurant in Sani Asterias, just over five minutes from our room in Sani Beach Club. The fact that there were no kids and that the menu is designed by a two Michelin starred Grand chef made it top of the list to try when we had the opportunity to have some ‘us’ time. It’s a small restaurant – I don’t think there would have been more than 20 tables – and it was quiet when we were there – there were just two other couples there – which meant we had our choice of tables. Of course we chose a table by the window with the beautiful views over the marina. The service matched what we had come to know and expect at Sani – friendly, incredibly helpful whilst un-intrusive. We splurged and went for the tasting menu. Our fantastic waiter, who spoke passionately and proudly about Greek wines, was delighted to choose matching wines which ended up being – unsurprisingly – Greek. I’m no wine connoisseur but my god the wines all went down so easily… Scallops to start, ravioli, cod, lamb and the most amazing chocolate surprise at the end – every mouthful was a taste sensation and flavour journey. It was pricey but worth every penny.
- For family meals, one of our favourite restaurants ended up being Macaroni, an Italian restaurant which serves huge and delicious pizzas. It’s right on the Marina so the views are stunning. I found it to offer one of the best Dine Around menus – there were tasty choices that I would have gone for off the a la carte (I really recommend the raddiccio salad for starter and for mains, the pizza is a must). The vibe was relaxed and informal and the food was really good. Our kids were pretty well behaved but when they got bored of sitting too long, there were areas they could play, steps they could jump off, a fountain nearby that they could watch – all under our watchful eyes but without disturbing other diners.
- On our last night, we ate at Dunes restaurant at Sani Club. It had been recommended to me by someone I know who had been to Sani before and also another family who we met whilst we were there. We arrived at sunset and walking into Dunes, I stopped in my tracks at the stunning views of the Aegean ocean. We’d become accustomed to beautiful views over dinner at most of the restaurants at Sani but Oh. My. God this was really something else. We were practically on the sand but in an elevated position so the sea was right there. It was very special. The food was fine – a selection of different options from pizza to Greek – it wasn’t wow factor and we had a disappointing flat chocolate soufflé for pudding (the waiter did offer to bring us another but we were in a hurry to get back to watch the show back at the main resort) but we would absolutely return for the setting alone.
So thank you Sani, for an amazingly relaxing holiday. We will definitely return – there is so much more we’d like to do. We didn’t get around to going on a boat trip, we’d love to do the trip to a local village, we’d like to take the kids to the bird sanctuary to name but a few. A resort holiday is a change from the norm for us and I found our eight night stay the perfect time in which to relax. Two weeks in the same place eating at the same restaurants would probably get my feet itching but I’ll be eyeing up Sani for half terms and Easter breaks in the future.