Easy Escapes: Sani Resort, Halkidiki, Greece

White beaches, welcoming rooms and nineteen restaurants, this mega complex is everything you need for a five-star Greek holiday

Sani Resort Greece
Sani Resort Greece

White beaches, welcoming rooms and nineteen restaurants, this mega complex is everything you need for a five-star Greek holiday

White beaches, welcoming rooms and nineteen restaurants - this mega complex is everything you need for a five-star Greek holiday

Why go? Want a traditional family holiday in Greece with a bit of class? Then the Sani Resort is the place for you, a 1,000 acre resort built in four parts immersed in pine forests and situated on the picturesque Kassandra peninsula in Halkidiki. There's the option of staying at one of two upmarket hotels, the pristine Sani Asterias Suites or Porto Sani Village, which are only a short walk from the lavish marina - the central area, dubbed the ‘mini Monaco’ of Greece. Or, taking things to an even higher level, the newest offer at the resort is the Sani Club which has a selection of private villas including family suites with private pools and gardens. They’re slightly further away from the marina but an exclusive escape with stunning sea views and in my opinion the best restaurants.

Take advantage of the cheap flights from the UK to Thessaloniki. With only a 40-minute transfer to the resort, it's perfect for a long weekend break or even better a ten-day holiday, there’s that much to do: a well-equipped gym, tennis, affordable water-sports, hiking in the forests, yoga, a PADI diving school, nearly five miles of beaches (with sand that looks like it's been sieved) and great entertainment with an open-air theatre and live music.

When? Sani Resort is open from 15 April to November. Spring is lovely, summers are hot and the sea is warmest in early autumn when it can still be balmy but blissfully free of crowds (and mosquitos).

You really must… Take advantage of the complimentary kid-watching service, with someone to monitor your little angels for half-an-hour while you take a dip in the sea. You should also nip over to the theatre after supper. Anyone with a good sense of humour will find this very entertaining and it’s something to look forward to in the evenings. Mamma Mia! and Mad Men were on when we were there (there’s a different show every night) and you’ll get the West End fireworks but without shelling out for the expensive tickets. They may not boast celebrity-studded casts but the space is intimate and there’s lots of singing along, dancing and happy clapping.

For some local experiences board a helicopter to see Mount Athos, visit the nearby Petralona cave – where archaeologists have found some of the first signs of civilisation in Europe – or have a tour of the local vineyards. If you're on a tight budget there’s a free boat trip to see the sunset and dolphins, or rent a car and explore the peninsula on your own terms.

Spa moment: Head underground to the adult-only spa for every Anne Semonin beauty treatment under the sun. Opt for the Anne Semonin Cryo Time Freeze Face Treatment (£98), which literally puts wrinkles on ice, or try a no-messing full body massage - the Relax and Renew Full Body Massage using Anne Semonin body oils is £98 for 50 minutes. I went for the Anne Semonin Cryo-Lipoliss Body Treatment (£106 for 55 minutes) and the therapist concentrated on my legs, hips and tummy - then I floated out to the relaxation area feeling half a stone lighter. Result! One of my favourite moments of the trip was a couple session in the hammam with my fiancé, Mr Jones. We rubbed exfoliating salts and mud masks onto our faces and bodies, giggled a lot, then emerged with silky-smooth skin. It’s a smart spa with genuinely friendly therapists - I gave them all a hug when I left. Take home Lipoliss Anti Cellulite Gel with Sea Lotus Extract (£59) that helps break down stubborn cellulite.

Dine at: Out of over a dozen restaurants we had a favourite - Psaroyannos Ouzerie - with a delicious traditional Greek set menu. After a while you’ll fancy a bit of variety, so it’s worth taking the Sani “Dine Around” scheme on half-board. You can use your meal allowance to select one of several tailored menus or order à la carte with a £20 per person discount. There are all styles of cuisine from classic Mediterranean to very good sushi. But - shock horror - on the last night we found our real favourite – an even better traditional Greek called Ouzerie at the Sani Club.

Bring home: There are lots of shopping facilities within the resort so you can buy anything from designer bikinis to beach bats and balls. The Greek olive oil is exquisite and great for gifts, as is the local honey. 

Book now: Book direct with Sani Resort (0800 949 6809; saniresort.gr) and you'll benefit from free transfers to and from the international airport of Thessaloniki - worth over £150. For flight options see skyscanner.net. Prices start at £495 per room for seven nights half-board, valid for stays during 15-28 April and 10-31 October for all double rooms with a sea view at Sani Beach Resort.

Info: Greece (£16.99; Lonely Planet) covers the country, and see visitgreece.gr


Lisa Oxenham

An award-winning health and beauty writer, stylist and creative director, Lisa Oxenham is one of the UK’s top beauty editors and the Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire UK. With 20 years of editorial experience Lisa is a brand partnership expert, and a popular speaker, panelist and interviewer on a range of topics from sustainability to the future of beauty in the digital world. She recently spoke at Cognition X and Beauty Tech Live and is on the Advisory Board for the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition.

A well-respected creative director she works on celebrity, model and influencer shoots with the highest calibre of photographers, filmmakers, make-up artists and hairstylists to create timeless images, attention-grabbing videos, digital events and masterclasses. Most recently Lisa has directed covers such as Lily Cole and Jameela Jamil, films such as Save The Arts featuring Francesca Hayward and sustainable fashion shoots such as Be The Change. Supporting the beauty industry over the pandemic has been a top focus, directing the British Beauty Council’s six inspirational short biographical films for their Bring Back Beauty campaign.

Lisa is a wellbeing and beauty influencer with a focus on mental health and a large and engaged audience on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.