Jo Humphries heads to the Greek Island of Kos to review what makes its latest luxury resort stand out from the crowd for families.
The landscape of the Greek islands is well known for the multitude of tiny chapels dotted along its coastline, but there aren’t many as charming as St Nicholas Chapel, which sits atop the tiny islet of Kastria. For residents of the new Ikos Aria, the expansive new luxury resort set on the beautiful beachfront of Kefalos, it’s a delightful sight to behold and this serene scene is reflective of the ambiance that this hotel is big on. A world away from the mass tourism that the island was once synonymous with, the Ikos Aria is drawing attention to the island once again for families looking for a more refined, all-inclusive Greek holiday.
Full of first-day excitement, we couldn’t resist heading out for a swim in Kastria to shake off our journey and set ourselves up for a leisurely lunch. There are eight restaurants to choose from – the menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs – and we head to Kos restaurant where the menu, as the name suggests, is a celebration of local gastronomy. It was one of the nicest inaugural lunches of any holiday I’ve had, and it set the bar high for the rest of our stay.
Alongside restaurants dedicated to French, Asian and Italian cuisine, the hotel’s Infinite Lifestyle programme also offers a Dine Out option, which encourages residents to explore local delicacies at some of the best restaurants on the island at no extra cost. It’s a refreshing addition to the all-inclusive holiday offering, encouraging you to get out and explore a more authentic slice of local life.
We were delighted to have the opportunity to whizz around the island in one of the brand-new Minis available to guests who are keen to explore. The car was surprisingly spacious for all our beach gear and we drove across the island for a natural spa experience at Therma Beach, where the hot springs reach 50 degrees. This is one of Kos’ main attractions – and the panoramic views alone, across the Aegean towards Turkey, make it well worth the drive.
It was the hot water of these therapeutic springs we had come to visit, said to contain a variety of minerals including potassium, sodium, sulphur, chloride and calcium. It was hot and smelly but, wow, was it worth it. We stayed submerged for as long as we could stand before hopping out to cool our skin in the sea. Under the gaze of the mountain goats who perch tenuously from the craggy cliffs above, we emerged feeling energised and glorious.
Of course, the Ikos Aria offers plenty of action in the resort itself and the Infinite Lifestyle concept also provides families with an array of wellness activities and VIP services, from paddle-boarding and Pilates to pedaloes. You can even take a class in Greek cooking or mythology.
With so much to do, you could struggle to timetable some sunbathing but thanks to the beachside babysitting service, a football academy and three clubs tailored for tots, kids and teens, we stretched out on the seafront sun-loungers while the children got stuck in and made new friends under the watchful eye of the fantastic Worldwide Kids team.
Dotted around the hotel, you’ll find plenty of snug seating areas, which will tempt you to escape with a book or to enjoy a sundowner with a glittering view of the Aegean. The warm tones of the décor are matched by the friendliness of the staff team, who seem as genuinely happy to be there as all the guests. By the end of our stay, we are all chirruping ‘Kalimera’ and ‘Kalispera’, the warm greeting you receive everywhere and that we have soon adopted for ourselves.
Ikos Resorts opens its first hotel outside of Greece next May on the tranquil shores of Playa de Guadalmansa in southern Spain. The 400-room Ikos Andalusia will follow the group’s all-inclusive concept, including à la carte menus curated by Michelin-starred chefs, 24-hour room service, complimentary kids’ clubs and an innovative ‘Dine Out’ offering allowing guests to dine at local restaurants as part of their stay. Guests will also have complimentary use of a MINI Cooper to explore the area and will receive complimentary green fee passes, granting them access to the top golf courses in the area, including Valderrama Golf Course in Sotogrande. Doubles from £330 per night.
Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven-night holiday to the five-star Ikos Aria, on an all-inclusive basis from £4,945 per family (based on two adults and one child), a saving of up to £308 per family. The price includes UK airport security fast passes, access to N°1 Lounges, private resort transfers and return flights from London Gatwick with TUI.