7km of white sandy beaches, a private yacht marina, 27 restaurants and mind-blowing facilities – is Sani Resort Europe’s best family resort?
Trying to find a luxury hotel that caters equally for adults and children can be a challenge. I’m tired of hearing the old cliché – ‘if kids are happy then parents are happy’. I know I have used it myself many times, but let’s face it, most kids are happy with a swimming pool and water slides! If I am going to spend a large chunk of my well-earned salary on a holiday, I want the wow factor. Sani Resort certainly has that.
At the World Travel Awards last year Sani Resort won several awards, including the World’s Leading Family & Beach Resort and Europe’s Leading Family Resort – these are some achievements, although I can’t say I am that surprised.
Read: My post on the best family resorts in Europe here.
You can expect world class activity camps that are not available anywhere else, and children’s menus curated by children’s food expert Annabel Karmel. There are splash pools for younger children, and abundance of water sports at the beach, adult-only pools, indoor pools, and Spa and wellness facilities.
And let’s not forget the white sandy beaches, where getting a sun lounger by the shore is not an olympic sport. And if all of that is not enough, you can round off your day with pre-dinner drinks at the marina, before dining in one of Sani Resort’s 27 restaurants.
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I heard of Sani Resort’s superb reputation when I was a travel agent, and wanted to visit for many years. However, there were no direct flights from Ireland to Halkidiki until 2019 – now Ryanair fly directly to Thessaloniki from Dublin Airport.
Best4Travel were one of the top sellers of Sani Resort in Ireland and invited me to see the resort, along with some of their staff in 2019. It wasn’t long before I realised why it was one of the world’s best family resorts, and I vowed to return to enjoy a family holiday here. Luckily for me that opportunity came this year, and we set off on a seven-night holiday at the end of June 2022.
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What sets Sani Resort apart from other 5-star hotels
There are five different hotels within Sani Resort. It is possible to use the facilities in all hotels, (with one exception), as they are located close together on the Sani Peninsula – see my full guide to Sani Resort hotels below.
I have been to Greece many times and love holidaying there, but being in Sani Resort doesn’t feel like you are in Greece. In fact this could be seen as a negative if you are specifically looking for a Greek-style holiday.
Sani Resort feels more like the Caribbean than the Greece I know. With the exception of hearing ‘Kalimera’ every morning, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a small paradise island like Tobago the Grenadines. The combination of the lush green pine forests and the turquoise sea is stunning – Sani Peninsula is a piece of paradise.
The sense of wonder never left me throughout either visit, and my husband and children felt the same. Everywhere we went the service was impeccable. There was someone standing at the beach handing you a fresh towel every day – no fumbling for towel tokens, and I tried very hard to contain my surprise when staff approached me to clean my sunglasses at the pool and beach – we had reached ‘peak notions’!
I love the complimentary Babywatch system, where you can leave your child with qualified staff at the beach, while you and your partner pop in for a quick swim, or enjoy a walk on the beach – without having to book a crèche session.
The Dine Around system (more below) is the best I have seen, and the restaurants have separate toddlers and kids menus. Everywhere I looked there was a stylish bar with sea views – probably because there are 19 of them! There is even an ice-cream van touring the resort offering children free ice creams. Sani Resort anticipates your every whim.
Sani Resort has various options for boat trips. You can choose to hire one of the super yachts for a handsome price, but a complimentary morning and sunset cruise is included in the price of your stay.
Needless to say we didn’t let this opportunity pass us by, and set off early morning for a cruise around the Sani Peninsula. We didn’t have the luxury of sailing on one of the modern yachts, but the views were spectacular and the Aegean Sea was crystal clear. The boat docked for an hour to allow us to time to swim and take in the views – we loved it.
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One of my favourite parts of Sani resort is Bousoulas Beach, a 5km stretch of white sand – it must be one of the best beaches in Greece. I found it hard to believe that no matter what time we arrived, there were sun beds available at the waters edge – this while the resort was fully booked during the peak summer season.
The White Party at Sani Resort
The all-white Bousoulas bar is the picture perfect beach bar too. I recall enjoying sundowners here during my first visit, and this time we were able to attend the weekly White Party here. This is an unmissable event in the Sani entertainment calendar. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it really was, in fact I know my words will not do it justice.
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I ordered two cheap white dresses before we left, just in case we decided to go to the White Party. Myself and Alex (11) put them on and felt like celebrities. The boys had white shirts and shorts and fitted in perfectly. Although most people did wear white attire, it wasn’t compulsory. You could spot the few that came along to see what all the fuss was about, and decided to stay as the set up was spectacular.
Bousoulos bar and the beach were filled with fairy lights, the DJ played tunes until the small hours, and there were two musicians walking through the crowd playing the latest dance tunes on the saxophone. You can see more on my Instagram highlights called Sani.
I loved how the night was equally as enjoyable for adults and children – it was a fabulous family experience and one that will provide life long memories – this photo is currently the wallpaper on my phone ❤️.
Dining at Sani Resort:
With a staggering 27 restaurants to choose from, it is easy to see why people rarely leave Sani Resort during their stay. Not only are the choice of dining options so vast, but the quality of food is superb.
Many menus were curated by Michelin star chefs and many restaurants hold international and national awards. Sani Resort’s gastronomy flagship Water Restaurant, had its menu curated by three-Michelin-star chef Mauro Colagreco, while the menu at Japanese restaurant Katsu was curated by Katsuhiko Hanamure, of Nobu fame.
There are restaurants in each of the five hotels as well as a great selection at Sani Marina. These feel more like independent restaurants, rather than being part of a hotel. There are Mediterranean, Italian, French, Asian and Greek restaurants, all beautifully furnished in their own unique style, and most with stunning sea views.
The Sani Dine Around programme allows you to dine in 26 restaurants throughout the resort as part of the half-board or full-board arrangement.
Each restaurant has a set-menu that is part of this dine-around arrangement, but if you wish to choose from the à la carte menu, a meal allowance of €20 – €40 per person, depending on which hotel you are staying in, will be deducted from your bill. We had a meal allowance of €25 per adult and €12.50 per child when staying at Porto Sani, versus €20 and €10 at Sani Beach Hotel.
I couldn’t find fault with any meal at Sani Resort. We had delicious buffets, tasty food by the pool, and too many impressive dinners to mention!
I still recall the gastronomic feast we had at The Grill by the Pool Restaurant in Sani Beach Hotel on my first visit – it brought the meaning of ‘surf and turf’ to a whole new level! I enjoyed a massive tomahawk steak with juicy lobster and the largest king prawns I have ever seen – note this was from the à la carte menu.
Make sure you ask for their signature dessert if it is not on the menu – Armenoville. This ice-cream-type-cake with nougat and chocolate reminded me of a white chocolate Toblerone – shout out to Jeff Collins from Best4Travel for this tip.
Another favourite was the traditional Greek Restaurant Psaroyannos, the Prawn Saganaki was the stand out for me here.
My favourite restaurant was The Beach House at Sani Dunes. As well as stunning sea views, the Grilled Tiger Prawns starter and Meat on the Flame main are absolute must-haves – the latter being a sharing dish of baby chicken, U.S prime rib eye tagliata, and meatballs with tzatziki. These are also on the à la carte menu, but worth the extra cost in my opinion.
We did enjoy plenty of nights using the set-menu. Cabana Restaurant in Sani Club was one of our favourites. The sunset views are enough to warrant a visit, but the salmon tartare starter and pork fillet on celeriac were delicious.
We also dined in the Italian Restaurant Marconi on a couple of occasions, the pizzas were light and full of flavour. It is located right on the marina, and is a handy option for lunch or dinner.
Lunch by the pool in Porto Sani was also a big hit. The Greek Salads were delicious and Luke still says the burger there was the best burger he ever had – we had to go back a second time to make sure!
The kids menus were extensive throughout but varied in size. I would suggest checking portion size with your server if you have older children. Alex enjoyed home made bolognese, chicken curry, steamed fresh fish with vegetables, and steak – most restaurants had a different children’s menu.
I am genuinely struggling to find fault with Sani Resorts dining options, however, I would like to see a larger choice on some of the set menus. It didn’t impact us too much, but if you have fussy teenagers who are too old to dine from the kids menu, it might be difficult for them to choose from the set-menu every night.
We were fortunate to have lunch included in our stay – we booked Porto Sani on full-board basis. We had generous lunches each day, so on the rare occasion that one of us didn’t fancy a starter on the set menu, we didn’t go to bed hungry.
However, although it is more cost effective to dine from the set menu, I recommend using your allowance and choosing à la carte on a few occasions if your budget allows. The food while expensive, is exceptional, and it is all part of the experience at Sani Resort.
Activities and entertainment at Sani Resort:
As well as the sports facilities listed below, there are group activities organised during the day, such as bird watching in the Sani Wetlands, morning cruises, and wine tasting trips. Each hotel has its own Spa too with various treatment offerings, and fitness classes or outdoor morning yoga sessions are a fabulous way to start your day.
There are plenty of evening entertainment options too. The open-air Garden Theatre shows West End-style productions six nights a week. Myself and Alex enjoyed the Musical night, while we enjoyed a family night together at the Legends night. You will also find International DJs and live music in many of the bars and restaurants throughout the resort.
The choice of 19 bars ensures you can try a different one each night, and still not visit them all! Prices vary with cocktails ranging from €10 – €15 depending on the location – bars on the marina are usually more expensive. There is also a supermarket on-site if you want to pick up a bottle of wine or snacks to enjoy on your balcony.
Sports facilities and camps at Sani Resort:
Sani Resort is one of the world’s top family resorts, so kids clubs, entertainment and sports activities are a given. What sets Sani Resort apart is the quality of these facilities.
Sani Resort doesn’t just have tennis courts and football pitches. Sani has a tennis academy in collaboration with Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, and a UEFA-approved soccer pitch with football coaching sessions, in association with Chelsea Football Club.
Children can enjoy a football camp with qualified coaches in various camps ranging from age four to sixteen years, and a Chelsea FC Foundation kit is given to all attendees. Luke (14) joined the Football camp for a day, which consisted of two separate two hour sessions in the morning and evening time.
Despite being more interested in rugby and gaelic football, Luke really enjoyed the soccer camp. Ashley Cole visited that day and played football with the kids, although I think I was more excited than Luke when I heard about it! Incidentally Sani often have guest coaches at their camps.
The price of €95 for the day included a top quality football kit with a full-size back pack. Reduced prices are available for longer sessions, price for 5 day camp is €275 including full kit.
I spoke to the coaches at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre and learned that they were flown to Spain where they trained for a month with Rafa Nadal’s coaches, before opening the centre in Sani Resort. They use many of the same techniques when coaching, and lessons are available to adults and children, both private or group lessons.
We loved the family adventure at the Bear Grylls Camp – the course was designed by Bear Grylls and is the only one of its kind in a holiday resort. There are many different courses you can take including teen camps and night courses, and bespoke arrangements can also be arranged for groups or families.
We learned how to navigate from the sun and how to start a fire in the forest, as well as lots of other survival skills. Kostos and George were expert guides and we found it amazing value at just €20 per person.
Sani Resort also has a KTM bike club, using the Fat Bike and Go-Pro cameras, and a PADI Scuba Diving Centre offering many diving opportunities, including shipwreck diving. There are also lots of water sports available at the beach including waterskiing, catamaran, canoeing, parasailing – these incur extra charges. Luke and Alex loved being pulled along the water on the Crazy Couch, cost €20 per person.
Many activities including archery, aerobics, and paddle board yoga are free of charge, but some need to be pre-booked. This can be done easily on the Sani App, which outlines all the daily activities available during the week of your stay.
Myself and Alex tried the family course on Sani’s Tree Top Adventure – this is also free of charge. I assumed the family course would be easier than the youth course, but boy was I mistaken!
If, like me, you prefer to zipline rather than step out aimlessly onto wooden obstacles, then I suggest you opt for Youth Course 1 – this has three obstacles and five ziplines, the family course was the opposite…
While I spent most of the hour being terrified, Alex loved it, and it is a must do for children. The back drop is pretty spectacular too!
TOP TIP: Pre book all kids clubs, soccer and tennis camps before you arrive, and download the app to book some of the free activities the week before you travel.
Kids Clubs at Sani Resort:
Sani Resort has kids clubs for children aged 4-11 years and a separate teen club for 12-17 year olds. There is no extra charge for the kids club, but it MUST be pre-booked. I have heard of families who came to Sani Resort, but couldn’t use the kids clubs because they were booked out.
In typical Sani style, the Kids Clubs are not just about arts and crafts and mini discos, you can expect Olympic games, kids aerobics, banana boats, gymnastics and organised excursions.
Despite many years of trying, my children don’t go to kids clubs, but I did speak to many parents in Sani Resort who spoke highly about the kids activities – they were particularly pleased with all the outdoor activities that were arranged.
Baby & Toddler Facilities at Sani Resort:
Babies and toddles are also catered for at Sani Resort. The Sani Crèche Club is available for children aged 4 months – 4 years. This must also be booked in advance and an extra charge applies.
The Babywatch babysitting programme is complimentary on all beaches for 30 minutes each day. There are also baby swimming lessons from age 6 months – 4 years (extra charge) available at the indoor pool in Sani Club.
Bottle warmers, sterilisers and baby phones are supplied free of charge to your room, just advise your travel agent or contact Sani Resort at the time of booking to tell them you require them.
There are special baby, toddler and children’s menus at most restaurants, curated by child food expert Annabel Karmel. Buggies, bikes and trikes are available for hire as are private nannies if required. Baby sitting is also available during the evening time – extra charge applies.
Which hotel should I choose? What are the differences between Sani hotels?
There are five different hotels: Sani Beach, Sani Club, Sani Dunes, Porto Sani, and the top of the range Sani Asterias. All hotels are 5-star but furnished in their own unique style, with indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, Spas, and a choice of dining options. I am often asked which Sani hotel is best – hopefully this handy guide to Sani Resort hotels will help.
It is possible to use the facilities in all hotels, (with the exception of Asterias), as they are located close together on the Sani Peninsula. You can walk between all hotels and the various beaches, and there are always buggies on hand to transport you if you wish.
Sani Beach Hotel:
This was the first Sani hotel to open and is the largest of all Sani Hotels (392 rooms). It is more traditional in style and one of the lowest in price. I loved its proximity to Sani Resort’s best beach – Bousoulas Beach. There are also two other beaches, four restaurants, six bars, plenty of entertainment options, and a Spa on-site.
During my first visit I stayed in a standard room in Sani Beach Hotel. The room was adequate, although I expected it to be more luxurious – like the rest of the resort. It did, however, have a fabulous sea view. I loved listening to the sound of the waves and admiring the sea and lush green mountains from my balcony – something that was missing during our family stay.
As well as standard double rooms, there are junior suites and one- and two-bedroom family suites, with various views and locations throughout the resort.
Sani Club is a little more discrete than Sani Beach. It is still a large hotel, with 253 rooms, although it is located on a hillside, a little further away from the other hotels. You can walk from the hotel along the beach to the marina in about 10 minutes, but at night time, when you are not in your beach attire, you will need to take a complimentary car to the other hotels.
Rooms are more spacious here and there is a great selection of garden bungalows too. There are three bars, four restaurants, and a superb fitness studio with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea.
During our recent family visit we stayed in Porto Sani. This is an all-suite hotel, located right beside Sani Marina. New suites have been added recently, while existing suites were refurbished with families in mind. I preferred Porto Sani overall. It had a quieter, more relaxed feel and the rooms were very high standard.
We stayed in a luxurious one-bedroom suite, however, I did miss having a sea view… There was an option for a marina view – Porto Sani overlooks the marina, but the supplement was over €1000 just for the view, so we settled for a garden view.
You can see a full room tour on my Instagram highlights called Sani. There are many hotel and room choices available, and I would choose to stay here again, but hopefully with a view next time!
There are two large pools as well as two children’s pools and a splash pool, so we never found the pool to be busy – there were always plenty of quiet areas with comfy loungers to relax in, despite the hotel being fully booked.
Porto Sani would suit a couple or family looking for more relaxed vibe than Sani Beach Hotel and a more central location than Sani Club.
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We found it better value than some of the other hotels, as a free upgrade to Full Board was offered at the time of booking – this happens regularly for early bookers. The dine-around allowance is also slightly higher than at Sani Beach Hotel, and you also have access to a personal concierge.
Sani Dunes is Sani Resort’s newest hotel. It was built in 2017 and has 146 rooms. It actually felt brand new when I walked inside, with contemporary and stylish decor. Although this was my personal favourite, it felt almost felt like an adult-only resort – I didn’t see many children splashing about in the pool area.
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It has the largest heated swimming pool in Greece that comes with luxurious mattresses and king-size umbrellas. There are three restaurants, three bars and a state-of-the-art spa. It is also located beside the fabulous Sea U Bar, which is the perfect place to watch the yachts return, or for pre or post dinner drinks.
Sani Asterias is the most exclusive of all Sani Hotels. With just 57 private suites, a private beach and home to the famous Water Restaurant – this is the place to go if money is no object. We saw the three-bedroom deluxe suite with private pool and all I could say is can I sell my house tomorrow and move in?
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The furnishings are exquisite, there is a walk-in-wardrobe, a TV that pops out of a table at the end of the master bed, the private swimming pool is enormous, and as for the bath…
Sani Resort only opens from April – October each year, so all refurbishments and new amenities are added during the winter. Everywhere is freshly painted and gardens are fully maintained, so you will never see work being carried out during your stay.
Is Sani Resort worth the expensive price-tag?
Sani Resort is one of best family resorts I have ever been to. There is a reason it has been voted one of the top hotels for families in the world – it really is that good!
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If I had the means, it would, without a shadow of a doubt, be my go-to place for a week in the sun every summer. I felt like I was somewhere exotic, yet was only a short flight away. However, it is the way Sani Resort has an atmosphere of pure luxury and dare I say even adult-focused at times, within a family resort, that makes it stand out for me.
Yes it is expensive, and it is not the type of place you visit if you are price conscious. It is one of the best family resorts in Europe – if not THE best, and has amazing facilities and superb dining options for both adults and children. If this is what you seek, then book it, you won’t be disappointed.
How to get to Sani Resort and where to book
Ryanair fly directly to Thessaloniki airport and the transfer time is 45 minutes to Sani Resort. You can choose to book flights directly with Ryanair, and Sani Resort through my affiliate links which are provided above. Alternatively contact a travel agency that has staff who have visited the resort for the best advice.
July and August are the most expensive times to travel. We went at the end of June and it was less expensive, but for the best value, travel off peak – May, September or October. Remember to check the early booking offers with free upgrade to full-board too. Sunway Holidays regularly post offers to Sani Resort, including the one below.