Sani Resort, Halkidiki, Greece – Where 5 Stars exceed your expectations

I’ve travelled to many places in my lifetime and confess often to feeling slightly underwhelmed.

Generally the staff look harassed and overworked, stressed and more than happy to pass your questions and complaints to someone senior rather than handling them themselves… after all, they’re not paid enough to make a decision.

Most resorts look worn, whilst litter, dirty cups and plates are left unattended until the end of the day when reluctant staff have to clean up, stack chairs and try to restore some order.

No matter what friends or online reviews say, often you’re all too easily able to find a negative. It could be the rust that shows through untreated metal posts, the weathered sun umbrellas, blistered paint or cracks in the surrounding grounds.

So the thought of a family holiday anywhere was all that mattered.. my personal expectations were not high, despite the thousands of positive online reviews for this chosen Greek resort, being with my family was all that I wanted.

We took an early flight from Manchester with Jet2 to Thessaloniki, Greece.

The efficiency, speed and boarding of our flight were a credit to Jet2 and that includes the return flight.

Thanks NOT, to French air traffic controllers our flight was delayed on the stand for takeoff by 20 minutes going and by an hour on our return, but our Captain made up the time and arrival was almost as scheduled.

After collecting our luggage on arrival in Greece we made our way to a coach pointed out by friendly welcoming Jet2 staff.

The journey to our resort was broken by our arrival at a small establishment and the need to change to a small shuttle bus. I heard someone comment as we left the bus “is that Sani?” Clearly unimpressed, and unaware of where we would eventually end up.

We travelled for another 10 minutes before arriving at Sani resort.

The arrival at Sani with welcoming smiles and an eagerness to take our luggage gave rise to the usual suspicions of tips, but as we entered the huge, calming reception area we were offered fresh towels and prosecco.

The reception staff here are really well trained, they welcomed us, offered clear advice about Sani, how it works, where everything is and you know, they actually make you feel welcome.

The staff dress code matches the resort decor of warm pastels, shades of beige, textures and furnishings that create a tranquil location. Over the course of our stay, I was to secretly admire the simple, practical and flattering variety of uniforms in different styles and parts of the resort.

As a resort, Sani is made up of a number of different standards of accommodation.

There are five locations around a marina. Porto Sani, Sani Dunes, Sani Club, Sani Asterias and Sani Beach where we were staying. Our location was on the Western edge of a peninsula, surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of forests, natural ecosystems and wetlands, a pit stop for many migrating species of birds.

It is difficult to grasp that Sani started in the 1970’s and has grown to what it is today.

This place is designed with passion, skill, careful consideration to every detail ensuring that everything is perfectly balanced.

Unlike so many locations around the world, planning, layout and careful consideration of every fine detail are evident here.

I’ve never visited anywhere where there is not the smallest amount of litter.. somewhere!

So let’s take an honest look at the resort starting with our room and balcony located on the third floor of Sani Beach, overlooking the sea and pool area.

Our room is beautifully appointed in the corporate tranquil colours, but it’s not the largest room I’ve stayed in, but adequate.

The bathroom consists of a shower, toilet and sink area.

The shower head lets the shower cubicle down for me as it’s positioned to one side, or is it thoughtfully placed there.. debatable.

I just love the fact that they provide a highly magnified shaving mirror by the sink.

The room has a Nespresso machine with a drawer delightfully laid out with cups, capsules and spoons.

There is a well-stocked fridge (chargeable), a safe and toiletries. Surprisingly, they provide a complimentary bottle of red wine, water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers.

When we arrived the bed was two singles, but housekeeping gladly accommodated us by using a double topper to create an incredibly comfortable double king size bed. Bravo too for providing top quality pillows and bed linen.

One of our first evenings at Sani Resort was enhanced by their white night theme. The setting overlooking the sea was set out

Everywhere in the resort staff greet you with a smile and a greeting in Greek. In fact, the staff are more than a credit to Sani .. they are Sani, they interact with guests showing genuine care, all the time, you would think they own the place personally and go out of their way to make your holiday exceptional.. they want you back.

Sani values its guests as you would care for your most precious items.

Every member of staff we spoke with told us how much they enjoyed working at Sani, how well they are treated by the company and how the resort closes out of season from the beginning of November to March when everywhere is refreshed.

I was curious how all the sun umbrellas could be so perfect as if they were new. Georgia, whose personal attention to every guest around the pool was to her credit, told me how they were cleaned weekly and then removed out of season to be laundered.

Breakfast here takes place in the Poseidon restaurant, split in two for adults only or families. In fact, this is a constant theme at the resort which accommodates those with and without children.

That said you can have breakfast in most of the culinary sites in the resort.

But let’s be clear this is a family resort, it loves children and accommodates for families every need.

Secluded, quiet, exclusive, do exist here at Sani but perhaps Sani Beach is not for you. But one of the other four sites may be. As I’ve not stayed at these, I can’t say for sure.

I’d like to tell you that I’ve found faults in the catering, after all, we’re all human and we tend to look for things that are wrong first… but I can’t. The food is full of variety to suit every palate. In fact, they over deliver in so many ways, such as allowing us to take our bottle of wine from the room and drinking it in any of the many restaurants.

I saw the head chef, from our first day casting a hawk-like eye over the food, at every meal during our time here at Sani Beach. Along with his senior team members they actively engaged with guests to ensure they were providing exactly what guests wanted.

One evening we wandered down to the mini disco with our grandson, to be greeted with a chilled glass of Prosecco whilst we watched the children dancing, nice surprise.

Sometimes a resort tries too hard to impress .. not so here… it’s just naturally impressive.

The resort is large and requires 10-minute strolls to the marina, but everywhere there are electric golf buggies willing to stop and provide a door to door service around the resort.

Those that appreciate fine things in life would clearly love this Aegean jewel for its classy marina, shops, restaurants and accommodation. There is something for everyone here.

Yes, the Brit’s find the cost of the à la carte menu choices expensive, but then if you’re full board you don’t have to spend on anything other than drinks and some activities. If you’re half board like us then there are options for your third meal that won’t break the bank. Full or half boarders can swap from a set menu to à la carte and get a €20 allowance. Not much, but it helps.

Presentation and flavours of the food are important here wherever you eat. Portion sizes are generous.

I tried the spa in Sani Beach .. a revitalising back neck and facial massage in the talented hands of Christina .. it was wonderful. The only challenge I had was on putting on the thing like pants under the dressing gown before being shown to the treatment room.

The Spa is just beautiful and embodies the resorts tranquillity.

There are a number of outdoor pools plus an indoor one.

There’s a beautiful church in the resort too, making this a stunning wedding venue.

They have so many activities here that everyone is covered. Pilates, yoga, activity studios, football, tennis, scuba diving, water sports and the list goes on and on.

One morning we attended the olive tasting and tree planting experience. We followed George our guide with a small group into the nearby forest to a small clearing where we found one of the chefs and lovely display of everything olives.

The talk explained to us all about olives and the differences between the various oils. We were invited to taste everything on display. But that wasn’t everything, Sani is trying to grow its own olive grove and this year has begun planting olive trees with the help of Sani guests.

We were lead on a little further to an open field where Sani gardeners had prepared ground ready for us to plant our own olive tree. They have plans for 200 in total and this was week two.

Within 4 years they expect that olives will be picked from our trees.

On one of our first nights of the holiday the resort through a ‘White Party Night’. It is the simplicity of what they do and how they do it that makes everyone make their way to the Bousoulas Beach Bar.

Lining all the footpaths, tables and furniture are hundreds of candles, most in small glass jars and then placed in paper bags. They glow in the dark lining the route down to the beach bar where music drinks and lights create the atmosphere.

We spent a couple of evenings at the Garden Theatre where productions of Michael Jackson and the Blues Brothers took place. The dancing was excellent, as were costumes, but the stage set on both occasions was minimal, and the sound was bordering on excessive for someone like me! But then I’m not a teenager anymore!

It really is those little things that make a holiday memorable and special. Take the chairs by the pool for instance.. all of them have thick comfortable mattresses. The staff are so willing and offer to move them as you wish, erect or take down umbrellas, offer buckets of ice to cool drinks, theirs or your own. You have no need to pack towels either because everything is provided.

As I came from the pool I went over to get an extra towel and was greeted by Yannis who offered me a choice of flavoured water.. it was really refreshing as we stood and chatted about what I felt about Sani.

I discovered that he is now the food and beverage manager and has worked here some 16 years.

Senior staff are front of house everywhere at Sani and readily make themselves available and approachable to everyone. Interestingly you feel that they get to know you and you likewise get to know them.

Sani Resort is Greece at its best. It offers something and everything for everyone.

One night there was heavy rain, but like true hero’s, umbrellas were provided along with a shuttle service to the marina.

On one morning we had booked to do the Wetlands walk which required that we got up early, so went to the pool first to get chairs for the family. Once again our expectations were exceeded when Georgia who attends to everyone’s needs by the pool suddenly arrived with fresh coffee for us.

Talking of chairs, they try to enforce rules of no seat reservations before 9 am and if seats are left unattended for more than an hour towels and possessions are carefully removed to the towel hut.

The food in Sani is carefully considered. The catering department clearly considers every element when putting menus together. Presentation, textures, colours, blends of flavours, dietary requirements and themes all play their part in producing well balanced and thoughtful dishes.

Food choices need to be simple, the best that they can be and that ethos appears everywhere in the resort. When you order food it is 99% of the time fantastic.. an amazing mix of flavours .. sadly all with too many calories, but then this is a holiday and I can go back to dieting when I get home.

We ate at Artemis twice, the restaurant at Porto Sani. Bookings are essential if you want to eat at any of the many restaurants, but more so here in this quiet idyllic setting.

The starters here are original, colourful and sensational. We all agreed this was where we experienced one of our finest meals.

My starter was a clever blend of chopped apple, beetroot, avocado and honey.

If I could stay at Sani with my family every moment I had free time I would. It’s perfect in every way with such an extensive sandy coastline, stunning vessels in the marina and landscape to make even the Royal Horticultural Society give it their highest award.

Free Wi-fi is provided across the entire resort, with open access and no need for passwords and more than adequate.

As I laid there on the private beach in my final days of this amazing holiday I reflected on past vacations, locations and experiences. Whilst I have had many adventures and seen wonderful sights Sani is, without doubt, the most perfect restful holiday I have ever had.

We have been so well looked after by All the Sani staff… without exception. They make this resort what it is.. par excellence.

On our last day here special arrangements were made for us to spend time by the pool of Sani Dunes… Wow! This is on another level.

Despite really comfy sun loungers at Sani Beach, Sani Dunes seating by the pool is more spacious, wider and more comfortable still.

The ambience, decor, layout and furnishings at Sani Dunes, take this already five-star location up a notch or two .. which is amazing given that we have found everything about Sani Resort to be perfect.

At the opposite end of the resort, you’ll find Sani Club. Its perched on hill and can be reached easily by the free shuttle bus.

It was here that we spent our last evening at Cabana, a lovely Provencal restaurant and has been inspired by La Petite Maison in Nice and London with a stunning location of the sunset.

When I come back, which I will, I will have no trepidation’s, just high expectations that I know will be exceeded.

But don’t just take my word for it take a look at their site here