The Ultimate All-Inclusive 5* Luxury Family Holiday in Halkidiki
LTF Dad’s last birthday was the ‘big 30’. I didn’t think it was going to be a huge deal until he had some kind of existential crisis, when he realised that technically I would be able to go on an 18-30s holiday and leave him behind. Not that I would do that of course
apart from that one time I left him with the kids for a week and went on a girls’ holiday to Spain.
So, obviously he had nothing to worry about in the abandonment department and quite frankly if I was offered the choice of of Ibiza or say, bed, I would be asleep before you could say ‘hey you were cool once’. I decided to surprise him with a really lovely holiday as his birthday present. He’d been hinting at something along the lines of a weekend in the Alps with his cycling buddies, so naturally I went ahead and booked us a family week all together at the gorgeous-looking Ikos Olivia in Halkidiki, Greece.
To say I was excited is an understatement. I had told Mr. LTF that I was arranging a surprise, but anyone who knows me will know that I can’t ‘do’ surprises. I lasted a few days after I’d booked it before spilling the beans- after all, looking forward to holiday is the best bit, right? We had never been to an all-inclusive hotel as a family, mainly (and this is another post entirely) for ethical reasons.
Well, I am so glad we went. Ikos Olivia is situated on the beautiful Greek coastline; on arrival we were handed champagne and a cool towel and the kids were brought fresh orange juice. We didn’t have to touch our luggage as it was taken to our room by golf buggy, which then came back to drive us to our bungalow (the kids went absolutely wild for this!) . On the way our driver helpfully pointed out the various facilities and restaurants and left us to relax in our gorgeous suite, which was breathtaking. The room was immaculate, with a clean colour palette of white, blue and silver. In the living area was a comfortable sofa, large TV and a dining table. 24/7 room service is part of Ikos Ultra-All-Inclusive concept, so we made very good use of the dining area; I can’t tell you how good this is for families with small kids who may not want to eat at a restaurant for every meal, or who have the kind of kids who waste away if they don’t eat every half-hour (ours got their Dad’s genes!) The girls quickly got the hang of picking up the phone and ordering room service for themselves!
Our king-sized bed was behind sliding wooden doors so we had a separate area from the kids in the evening, and the bathroom with its lovely rain shower and Anne Semonin amenities was gorgeous.
We had booked a one-bedroom bungalow suite with a private garden, but had been upgraded to one with a private pool. Major win. The kids were in their element, as were we – it meant that we didn’t have to lug swimwear or towels to the larger pools if we didn’t want to, and they could stay in as long as they liked as we chilled on the sun loungers!
When we eventually peeled ourselves away from the room, there was a ton to do and see around the resort. It’s not a massive resort which was great for us as we liked the more intimate vibe and it meant that wherever we were, we could stroll back to our suite if one of the kids needed a nap or if we had forgotten the suncream, (or goggles, sunhat, towels, sunglasses… !) However it was large enough to fit in a gorgeous spa, several large pools, tennis courts, a fitness centre, lots of restaurants headed up by Michelin-starred chefs, an amazing kids’ playground and kids’ club, a few bars and of course the private beach with water sports facilities. The kids had a private tennis lesson and enjoyed the kids’ club, which is included for children 4 years of age and older (say what?!)
The staff at Ikos were absolutely amazing; I think that generally this is one of the most important aspects of any resort. They were friendly and couldn’t do enough for us; once when I interrupted the lady cleaning our room, she tried to clean the floor again after I’d walked on it! I had to beg her not to; being waited on like that is not something I ever want to get used to. The restaurant staff knew us by name on day two and as soon as they saw us walk in, would grab a highchair and pick the most convenient table for us. Something we really loved about the main restaurant was the low-screened kids’ play-and-art area right in the middle; it meant that as soon as they had eaten they could get up and enjoy themselves, in peace and without disturbing other guests.
Which brings us on to the food. There are no words. As well as the ‘Flavours’ main buffet restaurant, there were five geographical restaurants with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Guests need to book for these a la carte experiences but amazingly, they are also included in the ultra-all-inclusive concept. We booked to eat at a few on different nights of our stay, with the kids. On arrival at the French restaurant, I took in the sharpened steak knives, pristine white tablecloths and sophisticated atmosphere, and announced to LTF Dad that I would be gifting him a child-free evening, as I was taking the kids straight back to the buffet. Our behinds did not even touch the silken seats. Some things are just not worth the stress (but are worth 100 Wife Points if you time it right; LTF Dad was ecstatic, and I got to enjoy a comfortable evening with happy kids).
The food at the buffet was absolutely gorgeous, with loads to choose from and plenty for the kids to eat. They even had a baby puree bar, with freshly pureed vegetables and meals for teeny tots! It was the thoughtful gestures like this throughout our stay that made Ikos really stand out from other all-inclusive hotels. Room service was also good, (although not as good as the restaurant, which I imagine are impossible to top!); we really enjoyed fresh falafel and chocolate brownies on our terrace after a swim in our pool.
All in all, Ikos was a dream come true. I recently priced up a week in the Summer and it came to over £8500, which is eye-wateringly pricey. Thanks to my travel background and our flexibility with dates (home education for the win!) we got an absolute bargain for our family; flights with transfers and a week at Ikos Ultra-all-inclusive came to £1900 with Going Luxury.
If you have any questions, let us know- we recently helped a few families book their dream holiday and would love to help you too!
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<p>Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.</p>