There are accommodations in every price range, offering every level of inclusion or abandon, at nearly every destination around the world. What makes a hotel stay outstanding instead of just good and fine is the level of attention to detail. At a macro level, these standout details are things like over-sized towels, spacious and uncluttered rooms, great wine and food, a multitude of amenities and, of course, an unbeatable location.
On a micro level, these details are all of the behind-the-scenes efforts and strategies that create an overall experience: immaculate attention to detail, personal touches, the highest quality products and a relentless consideration of brand knowledge, awareness and customer care.
All of the hotels outlined below are located in the three arm peninsulas of Halkidiki in northeastern Greece and neighboring Thessaloniki. At any of them you will find superb accommodations, traditional Greek dishes spun into culinary art, wine made from grapes discovered by the gods, a setting sun becoming a pink sky, and at any of these luxury hotels you will find an experience.
Kassandra Peninsula &mdash Blue Bay& Hotel
Unfussy and Discreet Four-Star Boutique Luxury
Blue Bay Hotel was my first stay in Halkidiki. I was exhausted after 20 hours of travel and, although I was eager to start exploring Greece, all I really wanted and needed was a satisfying meal, a shower and a pillow to plunge my face into. I didn’t go to sleep until 2 a.m. my first night at Blue Bay—a testament to the warm, welcoming experience offered to me from the moment that I arrived.
I didn’t know if it was the natural surroundings, the serene swimming pool, the family-style buffet of orzo, seafood, salads and pastas that won me over; or if it was the local wine from the nearby village of Afitos and easy conversation with friends, other guests, and the hotel staff. Sitting upon the blue sky atop the blue of the sea, it was one indulgently relaxing moment after the next.
What I loved:
The uncluttered stone-made rooms lined with bamboo floors
The ivory sheath curtains that danced in the Mediterranean breeze against a balcony opening to the beautiful sea
The story of the evolution of the hotel illustrated by the owner over a glass of wine. Sharing in the guest experience is as much a part of the marketing plan as any website or promotion—not a rarity in a family-owned operation.
The location: Blue Bay is approximately 600M (about 3/4 mile) from the village of Afitos where you can shop for artisan crafts at small boutiques, walk the carless streets, explore ruins, or sit on a taverna terrace while watching the sun set. A relaxed atmosphere; quiet, calm, romantic and totally peaceful
Halkidiki — Sani Resort
Everything For Everyone and Thoughtfully Done
Sani is one of Halkidiki’s leading luxury hoteliers. They’ve covered absolutely everything and have put extreme care into elevating the experience had by each guest—that’s hard to find in a resort that spans 1,000 acres. Sani is run by three companies owned by three different families. Over the years, they have collectively surveyed hotel guests to find out what can be improved upon and woven those adjustments into the fabric of the resort.
They really have addressed the possible needs of everyone who could come there—the famous, the wealthy, the foodies, the families who know that their children will be occupied and well cared for—from Russia, Germany, the UK, the Balkans and everywhere else in the world.
What I loved:
Value: When you factor in all of the activities and amenities that come with a booking, the cost evens out.
Dining at New Greek Cuisine 3, the third installment of the annual gourmet food festival hosted by Sani.
Choices: 17 restaurants, some with live music; 16 bars.
Kid-less time for the grownups; a restaurant with an age requirement of above 12 years (exciting for young adults too to get past those velvet ropes); ‘babe watch’ babysitting services and a kids club.
Activities: paintball, archery, day trips to ‘vegetable markets’ (“half vegetables, half everything else”) or the water park in Thessaloniki.
Everything for everyone: Yacht-rental, two to six hours or the full day (including gas). Seven kilometers of pristine white sandy beaches just north of the hotel. The Sani wetlands and magnificent pine forests of the Kassandra peninsula.
You will find that when traveling to other luxury hotels in the region, seemingly all of them have a member on staff who learned the trade at Sani. Not only is there everything for everyone, but they’re doing something really, very right.