Does Sani Resort on the Halkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece really have the power to tear teens off screens? Maria Boyle put it to the the test recently with her two teenage daughters, with outstanding results.
Many of Europe’s holiday resorts are great for toddlers and under 12s, but teens can often feel forgotten: too ‘old’ for planned kids’ activities, and too ‘young’ for the adult ones.
As a parent of three daughters aged 14, 18 and 19, I’ve had first hand experience of this, often in the most beautiful of settings, finding said teen with their head under a towel, glued to screens.
However, this year, I found the holy grail when it comes to teen holidays and decided to put it to the ultimate teen test in the form of my two daughters: Ruby, 14, and Daisy, 19.
Sani Resort features five award-winning hotels
Located on the Halkidiki Peninsula in northeast coast Greece, just under an hour from Thessaloniki airport, Sani Resort features five award-winning hotels: Sani Beach, Sani Club, Porto Sani, Sani Asteria and Sani Dunes, all conveniently located within walking distance of each other. With a total of 996 rooms in the resort, accommodation ranges from doubles to junior, one, two and three bedroom suites. We opted to stay in one of its spacious and extremely comfortable one-bedroom suites at Porto Sani, located in the heart of Sani Resort, just a short walk away from the seven kilometre long Blue Flag golden beach.
Set up for families of all ages and sizes, Porto Sani has an impressive number of bars, restaurants, lagoon-style pools and sumptuous loungers. It also features a new spa, well-equipped gym, and sits surrounded by manicured gardens and mature trees. Plus, it’s next to the glamorous Sani Resort yacht marina with its chic shops, pavement cafes, restaurants and handy little supermarket.
‘Dine Around’ at over 26 outstanding family restaurants
Sani Resort food is really excellent, with a total of 26 restaurants, 12 of which participate in the Sani Resort ‘Dine Around’ programme: half or full-board basis, including a three course lunch or dinner menus. If you want, you can even convert your allowance and use it in the resort’s superb Spanish restaurant, El Puerto whose menu has been designed by Michelin star chef David Ibarboure, or at Lima for a taste of Peru and Elia for the most delicious modern Greek cuisine. This is a great way for teens to explore new tastes.
Then after dinner, there’s entertainment which includes the Sani Resort weekly White Night beach party: think cool Ibiza vibes, perfect for both teens and parents. Plus, almost every night you can find live music and DJs in various bars and restaurants around the resort, as well as entertainment in the open air theatre. Older children are best to opt for the later show which kicks off just after 9pm.
Safety is another comforting feature at Sani Resort which is both gated and patrolled day and night by security teams on bikes. So you really can give teens a bit more of the freedom they crave.
What to see and do with teens at Sani Resort
Of course my teen daughters downloaded Sani’s bespoke app and got very excited when they saw the huge selection of activities and experiences they could try. After sweet-talking me, they booked in to the spa for a treatment designed by Parisian brand Anne Semonin and part of the Junior Spa Menu for guests aged 12 and over.
Ruby wanted to hire bikes so we reserved these, while Daisy was keen to improve her tennis and booked in for a 1-2-1 lesson with a coach at the resort’s Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre. However, both wanted to try the Tree Top Adventure, featuring zip lines and bridges taking in Sani’s natural surrounding. So far, so good, and not a head in a towel in sight!
Naturally we all wanted some down time by the pool and the beach, but I also wanted us all to do something together and asked Sani’s WhatsApp e-concierge for advice. Options included sailing, snorkelling and diving, windsurfing and synchronised swimming a step too far maybe, but sounded fun. Local hikes were also available, as well as the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, and an eco trip to Sani Wetlands and the Sani Forest. Alternatively, we could book into the new BMX Bike Pump Track or Sparta gym obstacle course in the forest. In fact the list went on and on and on.
Although, after much deliberation, we booked Sunrise Yoga – me to teens: “you will get up won’t you?” – and a family archery lesson.
Sani Resort as recommended by teen critics, Ruby and Daisy
The range of activities was something I really liked about Sani Resort. There were plenty I’d never tried before including archery and sunrise yoga right on the beach – the yoga instructor Sophia was really kind and showed me how to do certain positions.
It was also good to find activities both my sister and I could enjoy together.
Sani Resort is such a cool place to explore and I loved the electric bike ride I did with my mum as I’d never been on one and it was quite fast and great for going up hills. We went into the pine forest and all around the resort.
We had so much fun trying out archery. Though we weren’t very good, as it’s harder than it looks.
I loved our time in the spa. I had a sauna and steam and felt very pampered. The staff made me feel welcome, always had a smile on their face and chatted to us.
The food was really delicious too and it was fun using the app, looking at the menus and working out where to eat.
Sunsets, swimming and browsing the yachts in Sani Marina
Sani Marina is very pretty. Each night, we’d choose which yacht we would have if we won the lottery! I saw lots of large fishes swimming right next to the boats and then we walked on to the beach and see an amazing sunset. It was really good to feel so close to nature and there are lots of messages and tips on caring for the environment all around the resort.
On the last day, it rained a little, but that didn’t matter, we went to the Sports Centre and I played basketball, Ping-Pong and went swimming in the indoor pool.
Overall, I would give my holiday a 10/10, there is so much to do for teens and I really recommend it. If we go back again I would sign up for the painting class, the eco trip to see the flamingos in Sani’s wetlands, and perhaps a cooking class. Ruby, age 14.
19 year old Daisy discovers a taste for luxurious spas
As soon as we arrived, we had the quickest check-in and were taken to our room in style in one of the resort’s many golf buggies. It didn’t take us long to get in to our swimmers and plunge into the crystal-clear water at the beach and relax on the sun loungers.
The pools were equally lovely and because there are so many of them, they are never overcrowded. We quickly found our favourite one where we could walk from our room to poolside in five seconds! The staff were really lovely and gave us complimentary fresh watermelon each day.
I really liked doing the sunrise yoga, which was challenging as it focused on connecting with your body and nature, while you were also encouraged to push yourself to reach the harder positions.
Long lunches, scented massages and lots of laughs
I was surprised I enjoyed archery so much. After a quick demo and safety lowdown from the instructor we took our shot at the targets in a hedged off corner of the sports centre. It was so fun even though we hardly hit the target!
It was a good job we stayed active during our stay, as we were eating the most delicious buffet breakfasts, plus three-course meals at lunch and dinner. So I enjoyed sweating some of this off in the gym. Unfortunately rain cancelled my tennis lesson, though I ended up having a really long lunch with my mum, Ruby and lots of laughs.
Probably one of my favourite relaxing activities was a 55-minute massage that I had in a spa suite designed for two so Ruby had hers alongside me – we giggled at first and then relaxed. It was so luxurious – from choosing the oil scent for the massage to the herbal tea and healthy snacks in the post-treatment room.
We loved all the experiences we had at Sani, were really pampered and had such a brilliant time.
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