by Geo (@geoellenjames)
If you’ve been looking for an all-singing, all-dancing family holiday destination where you can truly relax with the kids, then our Sani Resort Greece review is about to give you a serious case of wanderlust. Mum-of-one, Geo, travelled to the Sani Resort in Halkidiki with her young toddler. Here, she tells Motherhood Edit readers everything they need to know!
We have just returned from our first trip abroad as a family to the gorgeous Sani Resort in the Halkidiki region of Greece. As a couple (pre-baby) our holidays involved large backpacks, lots of cultural immersion and off-the-beaten-track experiences. However, after three years stuck in the UK, and an 11-month-old-travelling-newbie in tow, our priorities for this trip were convenience and relaxation. This was our first ever resort experience and I’m not sure we could have picked somewhere better for young families.
Sani Resort Greece Review
We chose to book a package through TUI as they had a discount code at the time of booking, and in the new and still slightly uncertain post-pandemic world we wanted all of our reservations to be with one supplier. Our flight was through Easyjet who have very reasonable baggage and boarding allowances for young families, and TUI kept us informed of any changes and updates throughout our trip.
It’s a 2hr50m flight from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki which was perfect for a strategically-timed nap and some snacks, and as there’s not much tourism beyond family resorts in that region of Greece there were dozens of small children on our flight, removing any pressure for first time tiny fliers to behave “conveniently” for less patient passengers.
Our private minibus transfer was included with TUI and as we’d brought our car seat there were no issues getting our sleeping baby on board. The journey is about 45 minutes through the rolling vineyards and olive groves of Halkidiki, and the minibus was fine, however if you’d prefer, for a fairly high fee Sani offer their own (very lux) transfer service which includes a car seat so you don’t need to bring yours.
An introduction to Sani Resort Greece
The moment you arrive at the resort you’re treated like royalty. We were given cool towels to refresh and a glass of fizz each whilst they checked us in. They then took us in one of their “groom” golf buggies on a quick tour around Sani Club before dropping us off at our room with our luggage already waiting for us.
There are five hotels within the resort. Sani Beach is the livelier area better suited to families with school-aged children due to the large pools, nighttime shows and closer location to the childrens’ sports areas. Sani Asterias is smaller, more private and we didn’t see any children in that area of the resort. Sani Dunes and brand new Porto Sani are quieter than Beach and surround the Marina – we saw a mix of families here. We stayed in Sani Club in the hills on the other end of the bay. The majority of guests here had preschool aged children and small babies and it was a much quieter and slower pace than the rest of the resort which suited us perfectly. Where you choose to stay only really impacts which pools and breakfast buffets you have access to as the walk across the beach to the other side of the resort takes less than ten minutes, and there’s also a free shuttle which takes no more than two minutes.
Under 12s stay free at Club, Porto and Beach, and at a very reduced rate at Dunes and Asterias.
Sani Resort Greece Review: The Rooms
Across the resort you have the choice of beach front, pool front, private pool, private garden and private terrace suites. We chose a sea view family suite with private terrace and it was perfect for us, as we could hang out on the terrace whilst baby napped/slept. The rooms are really beautiful with a modern beachy vibe, huge freestanding bath and comfy outdoor furniture. There was a Nespresso machine which was restocked every day, a large tv, wifi, good air con, everything you’d expect from a luxury hotel room.
What really blew us away was the offering for little ones. Waiting when we arrived was a full sized white wooden cot (with really comfy mattress and bedding), high chair, changing mat, bottle steriliser and warmer, white noise machine, night light and a tiny little toddler spa robe to match ours. They even included a couple of extra spare cot sheets in case of any night time accidents. Also available on request are tiny clothes hangers, Gro clocks, baby monitors, pushchairs, potties/little toilet seats, and BabyBjorn Relax bouncers.
Sani Resort Greece
The best way I can describe our experience is that this felt like an adults-only resort, but with all of your baby’s needs catered for. As I mentioned the vibe at Sani Beach is much more similar to what I imagine a typical family package resort is like, but the rest of Sani felt calm, quiet and super lux. We took a bit of a punt and booked for the beginning of the season (first week of May) as the prices were reduced, and we lucked out with gorgeous sunny weather ranging from 18-22 degrees which was perfect for us. The evenings were a little cooler (jacket weather) but all outside spaces offered heaters and blankets and we didn’t need these every evening.
The timing of our stay also meant that the whole resort was so wonderfully quiet! At times it felt like we had the beach to ourselves, we managed to get the best seats in most restaurants and it made the whole experience even more relaxing for us. If you did prefer a livelier atmosphere then I’m sure that going later into the season would offer this, although all of the restaurants and beach areas were small enough that I imagine even if the resort were fully booked you would still feel like you had a lot of privacy.
Each area had a different feel to it. The Marina was like a mini Monaco with boutique shops and gorgeous terrace seafood restaurants, whilst Dunes felt more like a boujie beach club and Club was surrounded by quiet forest with panoramic sea views. We liked starting our days slow at Club then mooching over the Marina for lunch, then playing in the pool/at the beach, and then finding somewhere to chill in the evening like the Beach House at Dunes. Each hotel has multiple pools and the beaches stretch from one end of the resort to the other. The pools at Club were the smallest and were often very busy, but heated to 29 degrees which was perfect for little ones, and all areas were serviced by extensive bar and hot food menus. We never struggled to find available beach loungers.
Each hotel has a gym and spa, and all resort guests also have access to the sunrise and sunset yoga deck, outdoor gym, watersports and diving, the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, Chelsea Football Academy and Bear Grylls Survival Academy. Sani is also a carbon neutral resort which we thought was very cool.
All staff were unbelievably friendly, with a cheery “kalimera”/ “kalispera” from every person we passed throughout our stay. We found the grooms to be invaluable, with a free ride from any A to any B at any time we needed, which was perfect for a little man who had just started walking but got tired easily! There’s a free WhatsApp concierge service, too so any questions from restaurant bookings, to entertainment timings, and room requests were all answered fairly quickly through chat. There was a morning maid service, as well as a minibar/coffee refresh service and a turn down service so our chaotic and messy living (thanks to toddler-hood) was put back into order very often!
Also, there was a small convenience store in Club and a larger one in the Marina which had everything you’d need but were quite expensive (our usual £9 baby formula was €30!), but we did pick up a bottle of local wine from there one evening and also grabbed an ice cream every time we passed! There is also a laundry service which we found to be very expensive – it would have been cheaper to pay for an extra suitcase full of clothes!
You get a membership card when you arrive and you can use this in all restaurants, experiences and shops during your stay so you don’t need any cash or card with you, and then you settle your bill at the end of your stay which we found super convenient (the less daily clutter the better when you’ve got a little one!).
Sani Resort Greece Review: Dining
I saw in a review before we booked that most people stay at Sani for the food alone and I assumed they had been exaggerating. They hadn’t. The food was unreal and the resort genuinely had an offering for every type of guest. From michelin-star menus to beach grills and family buffets, there are 26 restaurants and 13 bars at Sani. You can make reservations for 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners in advance of your stay, and any others once you arrive and I definitely recommend doing this as you don’t want to miss out on your favourite choices!
There is a Dine Around system which we found a little complicated and depends on your board. We booked half board but due to an error with our room (which was resolved without much fuss) we were upgraded to full board. Breakfast is included for both, and 11 of the restaurants offer set menus which are also included (no extra charge) for either lunch or dinner for half board, and both for full board. When ordering a la carte your board gets you money off your food bill and this amount depends on the hotel you’re staying in – for Club it’s €25 per adult and €12.50 per child so a lot of the meals we ate ended up costing us nothing. Drinks aren’t included and that’s also including water which we thought was a bit cheeky as tap wasn’t available, so every meal we were paying for a big bottle of the clear stuff!
The breakfast buffet at Club was brilliant, with tonnes of fresh-to-order options like omelettes and pancakes, lots of fruit and baked goods options and a deli counter as well as a more traditional “cooked breakfast” selection. The Olympus restaurant (where this buffet is situated) is the largest restaurant in the hotel and breakfast was a sort of cosy chaos of dozens of sleepy families loading up plates and babies in highchairs stuffing their faces. Unfortunately we found the buffet dinner there very disappointing – the food just wasn’t up to scratch and I think we’d been spoiled so much with incredible food that by the time we tried the Olympus buffet for dinner it was pretty pants. If you did just want a quick in and out dinner (if little one isn’t in the mood for a full sit down meal) then it probably would do, but we personally felt we’d wasted a meal by eating there.
The children’s menus were outstanding across the resort. Our son ate like a king with fresh cod fillets, caprese salads, mini burgers, steamed blue potato, and all manner of other genuinely delicious and nutritious meals all included in our stay. There were also more classic beige food offerings like nuggets and chips, and lots of freshly made puree options for littler guests, so really something for everyone. Every restaurant we took our baby to had lots of high chairs and plastic cutlery, and even in the Michelin star spots we felt more than welcome and looked after with an 11 month old in our party.
Our favourite meals were at Water (the lamb!) and Fresco (the truffle pasta!) which were both genuinely some of the nicest meals we’ve ever eaten. Tomata and Ouzerie both have gorgeous local seafood options and Cabana’s burger was outrageously good. Katsu was great, too, and so was Beach House, especially at sunset. We loved the pizzas at Macaroni but the pasta was really disappointing. Vosporos was pretty basic but in a nice setting. There were also lots of very classic grill and deli style spots which we didn’t get a chance to try, but if we return we’d definitely check out more of the less fancy restaurants.
Not all restaurants are child friendly (but the large majority are) so double check with concierge when you’re booking so you aren’t disappointed!
Sani Resort Greece Review: Créche & Babysitting
Childcare on holiday definitely isn’t for everyone, but for us it was a must for multiple reasons. Our son adores nursery and being surrounded by lots of activities and other children so we knew his favourite moments on this trip would likely be in the créche. Also during the hottest hours of the day (12-4) it wouldn’t have been safe/fair to have him out and about and being stuck in our room all together for half of each day does not a jolly holiday make! Lastly all parents deserve a bit of relaxation and time together as a couple, and when you’re staying somewhere with amazing childcare options you should definitely take advantage of them!
The beaches have a small fenced off area with messy play trays, wendy house and toys and have staff in them who will watch your little ones for free for 45 minutes each day whilst you swim in the sea, have a little lounger nap, or whatever else you’d want to use that time for.
In Club (Porto and Beach have separate ones) the OFSTED standard créche has lots of toys and music, and a large covered outdoor area with soft play items and cars. Our son fell in love with Eleni, Christina and the rest of the girls working there and he’d get so excited on our walk there each day, and sad when he had to leave. They gave him so much fuss and love, he had a cooked lunch each day and a lovely long nap, too. On a couple of occasions he was still napping when his session was over but they WhatsApped us to let us know we could carry on reading in the sun and they’d let us know when he woke up so we could collect him without disturbing him which we thought was a really nice touch.
We also had a babysitter for two of the evenings (Violet, part of the little guests team) who was incredible, and there is a nanny service -which we didn’t use- if that is something you’re interested in. For primary aged children there’s a kids club and we often saw them exploring the kitchen gardens or watching the wildlife which looked really fun. There are tons of sport clubs and activities for older children, too, and a video game area for teens.
In the evenings we found some of the areas (like Cabana in Club and Beach House in Dunes) were perfect for little ones because the parents could chill with a drink and watch the live music whilst the kids could run around on the beach just a foot or two away. Our toddler loved mingling with the other families and was a great icebreaker for us getting to know families from across Europe with similar-aged children.
Sani Resort Greece Review: The Location
If you’re looking for history and culture then this probably isn’t the holiday for you. The hiking trails and nature around Sani are beautiful, and there are a couple of sweet nearby villages but it’s not the sort of trip where you’ll struggle to choose between the many excursions and “old town” dinners.
Saying that, as people who always thought we’d hate a resort holiday, Sani really did have everything we needed for the week and there was enough variation across the resort to make it feel like we hadn’t spent the whole trip in one hotel.
Conclusion: Sani Resort Greece Review
The resort is just absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous beaches and sparkling sea, modern, “instagrammable” interiors and a lot of variety across the different hotels and restaurants. It’s perfect for families who want the VIP paradise experience of the Maldives without the price tag (or the hefty plane journey!). The food was on the whole outstanding, the service was wonderful and I couldn’t think of a single thing we needed for the baby which wasn’t provided.
Whilst some of the restaurants and services are really quite expensive, it’s also definitely possible to enjoy Sani on a much smaller budget because of all that is included in the board, and the variety of restaurants and activities available.
All three of us had a genuinely brilliant time which is all I could have hoped for, and whilst we have babies in our family we can’t think of anywhere else more convenient which would still give us that five star holiday feel.
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