Our Ethical 5* All Inclusive Holiday to Greece

Environmental issues at all-inclusive hotels, and what Ikos Olivia is doing about it

A while ago we posted about our amazing 5* ultra-all-inclusive trip to Halkidiki that we took for Patrick’s 30th birthday. Although between us we have experienced plenty of luxury travel, neither of us had stayed at an all-inclusive resort before.

There were several reasons for this: I don’t really drink alcohol so I never saw the value in an all-you-can-drink package, (nor did I want to be around the behaviour of people who wanted to max out their value on this front!). We also find the best bits of travel to be exploring local areas, hopping on local transport and trying new eateries on the hoof, all of which we thought was discouraged by the all inclusive concept. We were put off all-inclusive resorts by the thought of huge companies monopolising the tourist trade, creating an artificial bubble and cultural void; the thought of people necking on-tap alcohol 24/7 and the inevitable food waste that comes from continuous buffets.

That was until I had to research ethical hotel practices for a luxury travel magazine article, and came across Ikos Olivia as an example of an ethical all-inclusive hotel. The information I gathered online before booking encouraged guests to go out into the surrounding area to soak up the incredible area of Halkidiki with daily trips, and the resort has even partnered with two local tavernas so that guests of Ikos can eat there as part of their all-inclusive package, instead of staying in-house.

A local taxi driver told me that since Ikos opened business has increased for the local area, something I was really impressed by. Greece has been hit hard economically in the last few years and it was good to hear that a luxury hotel could play its part in bringing some life back into a damaged area.

A couple of things that we particularly appreciated about Ikos were the following :

  1. At mealtimes they brought out smaller portions of each dish and kept replenishing them as soon as they were empty to cut down on waste; this also meant the food was always extra fresh and delicious and you often had it cooked in front of you.
  2. They source ingredients and amenities locally, feeding back into the local economy
  3. The in-room minibar was included in the ultra-all-inclusive programme, which was perfect for parents who wanted to be in the room with their kids in the evening. It also meant that there were no drunk guests in the bars (although to be honest even in the several plush cocktail bars around the resort, I didn’t see one person who had had too many- the clientele all behaved very well). Whilst this isn’t technically an eco issue I felt that it promoted responsible behaviour and a more pleasant environment for everyone.
  4. The were signs in the suites that informed guests that the maids took the glass minibar bottles and cans to be recycled once they were empty; we liked this as not only was it obviously a hotel that took their environmental footprint seriously, but it made guests think twice about their own actions.

It was interesting to have a different perspective on an all-inclusive hotel; although we would still be wary of hotels that suck the business out of local areas, it is nice to know that there are some who do care about their environmental impact and who make this part and parcel of their concept.

We booked and paid for our holiday to Ikos Olivia ourselves via Going Luxury and were not paid or swayed in any way. We aren’t surprised that it won Family Traveller Award for Best All Inclusive Resort for Families; it made a potentially intense trip with three kids under 5 a really dreamy, relaxing holiday and we would recommend it to anyone.

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Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.

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