Now this resort has been the most talked about new opening of the year. Every Facebook group from travel specific to local family has someone recommending or asking about it. No wonder that you will find it almost impossible to book for this year.
So, bags packed full of my summer maternity wardrobe – Seraphine, Isabella Oliver, Heavenly Bump, New Look and Havainas, we head off! Valet parked at Stansted for truly easy and quick access and we fly out to Thessaloniki.
Kratinos Socratous, the charming Head of Marketing for Ikos Resorts tells me that they want to be the ‘Four Seasons of all-inclusive’.
A small holding by the Sani Group ( a shining example!) and the rest by a U.S. Investment fund – they are looking to expand the concept further afield; I’m sure with much applause if they pull it off. They have created a new niche which had just been crying out to be filled.
Ikos Olivia opened this May. I’m a huge fan of Sani and always on the lookout for the next greatest thing, add value for money into the equation and I’m sold. So here we are a month in, to experience this exciting new resort.
Picked up at the airport by the hotel Mercedes we are sped some 45 minutes to our destination. I won’t bore you with comparisons but given the shareholding and the geographical proximity it’s a natural one: Sani and Ikos Okivia are about 30 minutes apart on the same peninsula. Both on gorgeous sandy beaches, both with outstanding facilities but this is where the similarities end. At Ikos, once you arrive, you can truly relax in the knowledge that you will not be leaving with a hefty bill.
Everything is included; 4 à la carte restaurants, 5 bars, non-motorised watersports and kids club for the over fours ( extra cost for under 4’s). I don’t want to give an exhaustive list because it will start to sound like the usual all-inclusive patter which Ikos Olivia certainly isn’t.
We were greeted upon arrival by a gorgeous new modern but understated complex, set in lush, green, perfectly-manicured gardens. Lots of thought has gone into the planning of this place. There’s one large bright modern sympathetically-designed hotel building housing reception, the Spa and one bar and restaurant, also the hotel’s main pool and then in the grounds down to and surrounding the beach are two storey bungalows, some with private pools, others with sizeable balconies or gardens – all big enough for a table, four chairs and two sunloungers.
That’s the real draw here- the accommodation is just fabulous. Whether you are in the grounds, directly on the beach or set around the pool as many of the deluxe rooms are, the standard is high even for luxury.
The great appeal is for families although we saw a good mix of people, so it certainly shouldn’t put off couples or singles. The bungalows are easily big enough and suited to families. The sitting room has a sliding door connecting it to the bedroom so parents don’t wake sleeping children, plus there are even two separate doors to the bathrooms; one from each room.
Of course everything you would expect from a five star hotel is provided, luxury toiletries, rain shower, slippers, bathrobes, huge fluffy towels, a Nespresso machine, flat screen TVs in both rooms and a well-stocked mini-bar replenished daily. It really is the luxury hotel without the extras bill! A special mention also goes to the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in in a long time!
Room service is also included, not an exhaustive menu but the usual favourites and a good choice, including breakfast if you can’t drag yourself to the huge American buffet or one of the more sedate and relaxed breakfast offerings at the à la carte restaurants – my favourite being at Ouzo, the Greek restaurant, out on the terrace watching the sea.
This is a place to truly relax. There is infinite space to do so,mostly outside. Four beautifully designed free-form pools; (one indoor to outdoor in the spa, one at the beach, the other in the ‘deluxe’ area and the last by the main building) and a long stretch of wide sandy beach. It’s truly civilised.
Our bag choc full of our choices of sunscreen was emptied; from Nivea Protect and Refresh Sun Spray for late afternoon to 6 Hour protection The Sun Mouse for first thing to Eucerin Kids for kids club. I also got great wear out of my latest Melissa Odabash bikini and kaftan – yes, us pregnant ladies can also look good! So, I lounged on the beach, Philips headphones in, listening to my favourite chill-out tracks!
They have teamed-up with the Worldwide Kids Company for the kids club – taking babies through to teens with Ofsted standard care.
Anywhere there is a WWKC I’m a happy mummy! A massive space has been dedicated to kids club with a huge shaded playground. It didn’t take long for my hesitant little boy to settle in with morning excursions in his Sun San sandals and hat – we are still hunting for the Gruffalo today! They get snacks, plus if you book, they go to lunch together which means one less meal to worry about feeding them!
Apart from a lovely ride on a pedalo we really did take it easy but there are tennis courts and classes run throughout the day including access to a personal trainer – I really meant to go to pilates but the days just went too fast! Lazing on the beach reading my book or by the pool was enough.
One thing that I really love is the beach service – with wonderful drinks and food served all day, we just kicked back and ordered whatever we felt like , whenever we felt like it – a huge perk on a holiday; not to have to worry about extras.
The choice and quality on the beach was exemplary – iced drinks of every kind, milkshakes, ice-cream, burgers, salads, sandwiches , ice cold fruit – all served quickly by the beach staff, always there on hand to take orders or bring towels. A big thank-you especially to Adam who was so utterly professional and bent over backwards to help.
The Anne Semonin spa costs extra but is well worth a visit. A good choice of treatments – I tried the very relaxing Cryo-Time Freeze facial whilst Mr PCG enjoyed 50 minutes of bliss having a Back, Face and Scalp Revitalizer.
It’s hard to fault as it’s spanking new, tranquil, light and equipped with a gorgeous indoor to outdoor pool, gym and state of the art spa equipment.
I imagine that most all-inclusive resorts offer buffet, buffet and more buffet. I’m afraid I’m no authority as I have to admit I’m a huge hotel snob. Ikos Olivia breaks far from that with four à la carte restaurants all with menus designed by Michelin starred chefs!
They aren’t vast but then what restaurant manages to turn out food from a five page menu. That said, there’s plenty because you can have pizza or something more sophisticated at Fusco- the Italian, a gorgeous mezze followed by some wonderful Greek dishes at Ouzo (both on the beach), or head over to Provence for French or Anaya for some super-crunchy lemon chicken or a crispy duck salad followed by banana fritters. Of course kids menus are on offer too.
From breakfast with everything imaginable – from olives to pancakes and chorizo, an egg station, a gluten free station, all fresh and appetising, through to lunch and dinner with just so much choice including lots of salads and simpler options.
There’s a huge amount going for Ikos Olivia. So far they really are carving that niche; luxury -all inclusive. In terms of service, staff are keen and all looking to help. Bar a few teething problems, we were happy.
It’s not easy to keep standards high, let alone exceed them but guest after guest is raving. The key here is to see whether standards can be improved and kept consistent in a year’s time. My bet is that things will go from strength to strength and that is based upon my contact with a strong and experienced management.
Has Ikos Resorts succeeded in creating a true luxury all-inclusive experience? Time will tell. Ask me again next year, but in the meantime get booking or you will find that they will be full!
Watch my video here
Parking courtesy of Stansted Airport – Valet Parking
• Access to the terminal directly from the forecourt, our closest vehicle drop-off point
• Add the finishing touch to a special trip or use for any trip when looking for the convenience of pulling up next to the terminal
• Fully insured and your vehicle will remain in secure storage at all times
• Your car will be waiting for you in our premium collection zone upon your return, a short walk from arrivals
• Includes FastTrack through security for up to 6 members of your travelling party
• Official airport parking