Sani Resort is a luxurious 5* multi-hotel resort renowned as being within a handful of the world’s best beach destinations. Located in the northern Aegean, a short hop from Thessaloniki airport, the luxury complex stretches along two wide sandy bays and is backed by the pine-clad hills of the Kassandra peninsula.
Sani was actually one of Greece’s original resort hotels. Founder Anastasios Andreadis came across the bay by boat in the 1960s, purchasing it from a sect of Mount Athos monks before presiding over careful and sensitive development of the area. The family still own and run Sani today and maintain the very highest eco-friendly levels.
The resort’s five hotels – Sani Beach, Sani Club, Sani Asterias, Sani Dunes and Porto Sani – are generously spaced over a 1,000-acre private estate. Looking west over crystal clear Aegean blue waters, there are panoramic views – especially spectacular at sunset – of the Greek mainland and the Mt Olympus massif, legendary home of the Greek Gods.
If the Sani Resort arrangement and layout sounds complicated when booking, on the ground it is much more user friendly. Sani Beach is the busier family high-ish rise hotel closest to most of the major activity centres. At the farthest end of the resort Sani Club is the calmer spot for more laid-back families. In between Dunes is peaceful and secluded for couples, with Asterias for luxury beachside villas. Sani Marina will appeal to boat lovers around the atmospheric harbour with lots of cafes, restaurants and luxury shops. Porto Sani is also close to the Marina, central and handy for the beaches.
Once you have picked your base you will find that all parts of the resort are interlinked and relatively close to each other. On any given day you can use the beaches, pools and restaurants of whichever hotel takes your fancy. A fleet of electric buggies shuttle you around within sections of the resort whilst for longer journeys eg: Sani Club to Sani Beach one of the dozen or so hybrid Volvos are required, although longer journeys can involve linking via a hub and can be more time-consuming.
All arrivals at the airport receive luxury private taxi transfers and our journey was smooth and efficient (50 minutes from Thessaloniki). We were were welcomed with iced drinks in a cool lobby, with stone tiles and big sofas in calming shades of cream and grey, before being shuttled up to our suite.
Probably the resorts biggest attraction are the wonderful blue flag beaches, stretching endless sandy kilometres and accessing shallow, crystal clear waters. These shelve so gradually that in places one can have the strange experience of standing waist deep in the azure waters over 50 metres from shore. The Resort ends at a nature reserve where the sand still stretches far in to the distance.
On the beach there is a plentiful supply of tasteful and very comfortable loungers with their oversized square parasols. Zipping up and down the resort beach assistants efficiently attend to food and drink requests.
Sympathetically set in to the hillside the accommodation is set in small multi-unit blocks, with double, junior, plus one and two-bedroom suites. Most rooftops are cleverly softened and cultivated with plants, each room offering a terrace, balcony or private garden. Select from room categories with private gardens or sea-view balconies. One to two-bedroom suites have options with private heated pools.
Fairly simple but stylish, the rooms are dressed in a calm palette of pale blues, cream and white with some marine oriented art. A giant picture window occupied one wall of our room and, along with the raised location, meant that we enjoyed a spectacular views at all times of day.
Our queen bed was very comfortable with quality bedding and crisp white sheets. There was a fridge, kettle and mini bar alongside limited storage and surface space for general use.
Bathrooms are excellent and functional with double sinks backed by stylish taupe and grey honeycomb tiles, a free-standing bath, separate rainforest shower and a private wc. They are stocked with nice Anne Semonin products, robes and slippers.
Dining is a highlight with almost every cuisine imaginable available in the twenty or so different restaurants on the Resort Dine-Around programme. Local hubs are the three buffet restaurants at Beach, Sani & Porto, where depending on your package, dining may be inclusive.
At a further selection of restaurants there is a ‘Dine Around’ three course menu with a limited, but very adequate choice. At the smartest restaurants this option is limited to a 20/25 Euro credit per person. This looks reasonable until you realise most main courses start at around 30 Euro and a full 3 course meal could easily cost double or triple your allowance. Could Sani consider an increase?
At Sani Club where we were based there are four restaurants, including Greek, French and Mediterranean cuisine, all of which were excellent and we found little need to travel farther afield.
The Ouzerie was an authentic white-washed taverna set under twisted olives and and a perfect place for a lunch of Greek salad, Tsatsiki and Tarama washed down with Orange juice and local Retsina. There were some evening mosquitos and management explain that the nature reserve limits their insecticide options but its worth bringing repellant.
A generous and varied buffet breakfast is served at the bustling Olympos restaurant. Locally the Pines, Club Lounge and Cabana all serve smaller buffets with cooked options and are good for a rather more peaceful atmosphere. Evenings each comes with intoxicating flaming sunsets over the sea and towards Mount Olympus.
In resort there are a multitude of complimentary daily activities like yoga, bird walks, guided runs, Pilates and so on, publicised via printed leaflets at breakfast or the handy resort app.
Nearby attractions are modest in number but include the coastal village of Siviri (20-minute drive), Nea Fokaia, where there’s an old Byzantine fortress, and the traditional stone village of Afytos (16 minutes), all worth a visit. The hotel is happy to arrange a two-hour tour where you’ll be driven around these spots and there are a good choice of complimentary trips and cruises available.
A fabulous cruise along the Athos peninsula and a very long day trip to the monasteries at Meteora are the two best longer excursions. You can book these at the hotel reception – but you can also d.i.y. using a local rental car which can drop off at the hotel.
Service everywhere is immaculate, cheerful and helpful. You can much of the day exchanging ‘kalimera’ greetings and pleasantries with staff as they burble over your young ones, whilst gardeners stop work on the absolutely perfect flowering gardens and lawns to allow you to pass in peace.
Those seeking any of the charm and imperfections of a local Greek village or the atmosphere of a Greek island may find Sani too ‘resort-like’ but many — particularly families perhaps – will revel in the stylish accommodation, friendly and efficient service and wide-ranging facilities offered throughout Sani Resort.
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Sani Club
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