ASTERIAS SUITES, HALKIDIKI by Maggie O'Sullivan
If you’re quick you might just make the music, theatre and cinema festival held every year at Sani Resort, on Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula. Featuring, among others, Terri Lyne Carrington’s ‘Mosaic Project’, a Jazz Symphony Project with Terence Blanchard and the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stefanos Tsialis, and the Kinetic Theatre of Moscow, the festival runs from now until August 2. But if you miss it, don’t worry: the festival is only one reason for visiting this lovely, family-owned ‘holiday village’ on an ecological reserve on the Aegean.
I know. ‘Holiday village’ doesn’t sound very luxurious. But this one is in the same mold as, say, Portmeirion in North Wales or Forte Village in Sardinia, with four luxury beachfront hotels and more than half a dozen restaurants and bars clustered around a stylish marina. It’s gated, so it’s wonderfully secure for young families, but it’s so sympathetically designed that it really does feel like an authentic Greek fishing village, albeit one with designer shopping.
The cherry on the cake at Sani is Asterias Suites. This is the resort’s boutique property, set slightly apart from the other hotels, in its own little haven of glamour. It offers 48 contemporary and airy suites, each with a large balcony or terrace. Guests have their own private section of the beach, plus a gourmet restaurant, a pretty pool and a chic waterside lounge-bar. It reminds me a bit of those hip hotels on Miami’s South Beach though, of course, Asterias Suites is bathed in that lucid light you don’t find anywhere but Greece.
You could just spend your time wafting from pool to beach to restaurant and back again. But it would be a shame not to explore the rest of the resort, either by foot or – as we did – by rented bicycle. We soon got into the routine of cycling to one of the village bars at sunset for an apéritif then back to Asterias Suites for dinner. We had lunch in several of the village restaurants but preferred our own breeze-cooled restaurant in the evening. Once we ate on our balcony, lit by flickering candles and with views out over the darkening sea. What luxury.
We weren’t completely idle: we played tennis, took a boat trip along the coastline, and swam in the clear, shallow waters. Every day we promised ourselves we would walk up the hill to explore the medieval tower, but somehow we never did. We didn’t make it to the open-air cinema either. But we did find time to visit the Anne Sémonin spa, located in one of the resort’s other hotels. You can have a treatment in your suite, but then you miss out on all the spoiling elements of the spa.
The three other hotels in the resort do have more to offer families and would be a better bet if you have young children. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something grown-up, luxurious and terribly chic, Asterias Suites is perfect.
Sani Asterias Suites, 630 77 Kassandra, Halkidiki, Greece; 0030 237 4099400; www.sani-resort.com; from £324 per night, based on two adults sharing a double room, including breakfast