Sani Resort’s secluded setting and expansive space certainly makes it a safe sanctuary for families, surrounded by nature including a 1,000-acre ecological reserve, 7km of Blue-flagged sandy beaches, over 20km of forest trails and 270-acres of wetlands to explore. The resort also has some world-class academies, including the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, Chelsea Football Academy and Bear Grylls Survival Academy.
When you arrive at this pristinely presented resort, you soon understand why they promise guests that the possibilities are endless when you stay at Sani.
Sani Resort is extraordinary! Covering 1,000 acres, and boasting over 35 exquisite bars and restaurants, serving a choice of menus from fresh local fare to Michelin starred gastronomy, as well as multiple pools, spas at each of the hotels and an exciting array of guest experiences and Academies, as well as designer stores, including Missoni and Melissa Odabash, all guests have to do is choose the resort hotel that suits their style.
Sani Resort also annual festivals for the music and also gastronomy, bring together artists and chefs from across the world.
Spring is already bursting into bloom across the Halkidiki peninsulas, one of the most sought-after holiday destinations on the mainland of Greece. As most of northern Europe and eastern USA battle with storms, this verdant region is full of the sunny, verdant promises of the new season.
Like many people, my experience of Greece is defined by city breaks to Athens and summer island hopping. The beaches and forests of the mainland had remained relatively unknown. Yet that all changed when I flew to Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece, to visit the Sani Resort.
Arriving in Thessaloniki
Despite its long history, this booming city looks relative new. Much if the historic centre was destroyed in the great fire of 1917. Yet the city is still a wonderful destination – it is absolutely buzzing! It has a wonderful cocktail and dining scene and lots of beautiful independent stores and boutiques.
Sani Resort is only a 40 minute transfer from Thessaloniki airport, which are is usually included in your holiday at Sani. I decided to extend my visit with a night in the city of Thessaloniki as I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to discover more of the city.
The drive to Sani is pretty straight forward on highways that whisk you to the first of Halkidiki’s smaller peninsulas, called Kassandra. The other two peninsulas, like fingers dipping into the sea, are Sithonia and also Athos (the last is actually a closed community of monks and is considered an independent state).
Five Hotels in One Resort
Surrounded by nature, including protected wetlands, pine forests and beautiful beaches, the Sani property has 5 resort hotels. Once checked in you can use all the facilities of the entire property. Each hotel has its own dedicated beach and spa facilities.
Sani Resort’s largest hotel looks out upon the azure waters of Cape Sani from its beachfront location, surrounded by 7km white-sand beaches. From water sports and mountain biking to being pampered in the spa, Sani Beach’s lavish environment ensures exceptional experiences for all the family. This is one of the first hotels to have been built, and has been completely remodelled.
A secluded hideaway located at the far end of the resort, surrounded by lush nature and nestled in ancient olive groves. The panoramic views of the Aegean Sea make the Sani Club a private retreat, where you can immerse yourself in the natural environment and discover the local wildlife.
This for me was a real favourite. It felt really secluded, and I loved how the different buildings were found amongst pine trees on the hillside. It’s further away from the marina and main dining areas, but the advantage is you are close to nature, and the wondering biking and hiking routes, and is great for bird watching too. The restaurants here are a delight.
Elegance is everything at Sani Dunes, with its contemporary architectural style that compliments the grown-up atmosphere of this hotel suited to older couples and families with older children. Sani Dunes will enchant you with its Michelin-starred menus and modern, sophisticated style, whilst its proximity to Sani Marina, a cosmopolitan hub of boutiques and nightlife, will undoubtedly delight. The lobby here really sets the tone with an amazing art installation of crystals. The design of the pool and the way the bars and restaurants make the most of the views was impressive.
Moments away from the vibrant Sani Marina, Porto Sani captures Mediterranean living at its relaxed and indulgent best. Lagoon-style pools and mouth-watering restaurant menus, as well as new and refurbished suites, this hotel is perfectly tailored to young families. The all-suite accommodation is so beautifully designed, and the layout of the different accommodation blocks amongst the landscaped grounds gave a feeling of privacy. As a couple without children this would be a lovely place to stay.
A world of refined luxury awaits you at this intimate hotel with its elegant setting, bespoke services and ambiance of total ease. The light-filled suites capture the Mediterranean spirit, and with the terrace doors opening directly onto the soft white sand of Sani Asterias’ exclusively serviced beach, guests have immediate access to the sea. There are also the indulgences of in-room beauty treatments, champagne on arrival and Michelin-starred food to make this a perfect paradise for the luxury lover.
The vibrant Sani Marina is one of the best kept secrets of the Aegean. Set in the heart of Sani Resort, it is a luxurious haven for yachts and the perfect place for some retail therapy or sophisticated dining. With its stunning array of chic boutiques offering an exclusive selection of top international brands such as Missoni and Melissa Odabash and pop-up stores and mouth-watering menus across its restaurants and bars ranging from inspired sushi to traditional Greek, a stroll around the Piazza of Sani Marina is a must.
With 27 restaurants, 13 bars, 11 dine around set menus and 19 child-friendly menus, Sani resort offers international cuisine for the most discerning palate, as well as catering to children’s tastes.
Sani believed in a farm to table approach, with over 60% of Sani’s produce coming from within 100 miles of the resort. There are herb and vegetable gardens on the sort too, which the chefs use on a daily basis.
From Modern and Traditional Greek to Spanish, Italian, Peruvian and Japanese, plus Mediterranean and International menus, as well as beachside and poolside dining, and an array of cocktail bars, wine bars and coffee bars, there is a world of high quality food to explore across the resort. Special baby & children’s menus are available, designed by Annabel Karmel, as well as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and well-being menus.
Sani Resort is not all-inclusive. But you can choose a full-board option, which means all means are included, but the choice of restaurants that offered the full-board menus was more limited. I would recommend the flexibility of dining where you wanted, but of course this is more expensive. Alcohol was particularly expensive compared to non-resort properties in Greece.
There were some real standout, destination restaurants including Lima for contemporary Peruvian cuisine. There is Katsu for Japanese dining, including superb sushi, and the remarkable Over Water restaurant by 2 Michelin-starred chef Stephanie Le Quellec. The other Michelin star chefs are David Ibarboure (1 Michelin star) for ‘El Puerto’ and Ettore Botrini (1 Michelin star) for ‘Fresco’.
Each hotel offers a choice for a la carte or more family-friendly buffer breakfasts – and the quality was notable.
Lunch can be light bites in the marina, or at any of the all-day dining restaurants.
At first the enormous amount of choice can seem overwhelming, but Sani has created a very easy-to-use smart phone app that allows you to log in with your booking reservation details and browse all the restaurant’s and make reservations before you arrive. The app also allows you to do the same with all the sporting activities.
Families are at the heart of Sani Resort’s luxurious offerings, with free stays for kids at Porto Sani, Sani Beach and Sani Club. And while families come for time together, the resort also ensures parents and children can enjoy time apart, with private nanny services, crèches, kids club and beachside babysitting, as well as complimentary premium products and adventurous activities for those aged 0-12. Older kids aged 12-17 have their own dedicated space at Sani Marina where they can make friends, try new activities and have some independent fun.
I thought it was particularly creative that Sani offered a complimentary ‘Babewatch team’ that would mind guests little ones in the shallows, so parents could have 30 minutes to themselves to enjoy the beaches.
Another very smart service is the free supply of baby equipment, in-room amenities, strollers etc. so parents can really pack light.
Scuba diving, canoeing, cooking or dancing are on the menu, as well as programmes at the Academies, such as learning survival techniques at the Bear Grylls Academy. Parents can also be reassured about child safety, as the resort has a dedicated Little Guests team, as well as doctors and emergency healthcare.
With a diverse array of water sports available, and yacht cruises on the Aegean, Sani Resort makes the most of its beachside location. There are also 10km of forest trails for walkers and cyclists, and five spas for indulging in relaxing and reinvigorating treatments.
Added to these, Sani Resort has a dedicated VIP Services Team that will organize bespoke excursions that cater to your family’s individual needs, whether it is a yacht cruise or private dining.
The Academy experiences are without doubt the big attraction, from the general sports academies, to the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, Chelsea Football Club Academy, and Bear Grylls Survival Academy, as well as a fitness centre, yoga on the beach and mountain biking through the forest.
This summer some VIP athletes will be visiting the academies:
Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy
Toni Nadal (Former coach of Rafa Nadal and Head Coach at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca) is visiting Sani Resort during 01/07-05/07. He will be at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre everyday supervising all the courts, sharing his valuable knowledge and experience with guests and being around as well for autographs and talking to guests.
Carlos Moya (current coach of Rafa Nadal and Tennis Director at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca) is also visiting Sani Resort during 07/08-15/08 and will act as the head coach at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, sharing the skills and tips that have awarded Rafa with a record-breaking 22 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.
Chelsea Football Academy
Ashley Cole is visiting Sani Resort during 21/07-30/07. He will be making special appearances the Chelsea Football Academy, supervising the football courts, sharing his advice and signing t-shirts for our guests.
The company’s approach to sustainability is worthy of a dedicated article. To give you a indication of the Sani’s commitment to sustainability, here are a few facts.
Sani Resort is Greece’s first carbon neutral resort, which is powered 100% by renewal energy. Sustainability is at the heart of the company’s ethos and the, “Sani Green” programme focuses on improving sustainability performance, from energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources to water conservation and sustainable procurement.
Sani Resort also actively encourages families to connect with nature with a number of activities including:
- Sani Wetlands trip
- Forest guided tours
- Bee spot trip
- Special eco-activities for kids and teenagers
In addition Sani Resort is proactively working with charities and organisations to be responsible custodians of their environment.
The Sani Environmental Observatory project in collaboration with the non-profit Forest Research Institute is aiming to protect and preserve the Sani Forest -a protected area of unique natural beauty-, its wildlife and the surrounding natural area, such as the Sani Wetlands, in conjunction with the Hellenic Ornithological Society. Sani has partnered with LTER-Greece, in implementing a monitoring programme for the Sani Forest, and its long-term response to the local environmental, and society. A dedicated Sani Forest team ensures the Sani Forest and its wildlife is protected, maintaining as well kilometres of sign-posted forest trails to be experienced and enjoyed by guests and the local community. Guests can also contribute to the project upon checkout with a 1€ donation to the Forest Research Institute which Sani pledges to double.
In response to the need to protect marine life, Sani Resort has teamed up with Thermaikos Dolphin Project, iSea, to monitor the resident dolphin population, with the aim to create the first catalogue of cetaceans in Halkidiki. Guests are encouraged to learn more about the biodiversity in the Greek sea and the importance of a healthy ocean. Meanwhile the Sani Animal Rescue Programme, in partnership with the Halkidiki Animal Rescue Centre, is dedicated to rehoming stray animals post-vaccinations and documentation and providing maximum support to animals in need, and being home to over 225 bird species guests can embark on an educational birdwatching tour at the Wetlands led by Sani’s expert eco-guides.
Recognition and awards
Sani has without doubt set the standard for luxury family holidays and this has been recognised with a wealth of awards including:
- World’s Leading Family and Beach Resort 2022– World Travel Awards
- World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort 2022- World Travel Awards
- Sustainability Hero of the Year 2022- TTG Luxury Travel Awards
Address: Sani Resort, Kassandra, Halkidiki 630 77, Greece