Travelling with kids (and babies)
Once upon a time on our holidays we used to climb erupting volcanoes, dive with sharks, cross borders on dodgy buses, discover the local cuisine, party with the locals, club til noon next day and cure hangovers with the next party, travel with 20+ friends in cool beach villas or hip hotels. Nowadays travelling with two little monkeys entails very different distractions. And openly speaking I am much more keen to have an hour in peace with a couple of cocktails and a nice view. So here is Greece for kids – take your pick and /or budget Sani Beach, Sani Club, Porto Sani, Dunes or Asterias.
Convenience, facilities and options rather than the old days authentic travelling, when it comes to taking our 2 months old baby and nearly 3 years cheeky monkey. At least for the time being – I am telling myself. Whilst our little zoo is very little.
Raving reviews about Sani from friends and Tripadvisor, so we booked early January as a look forward consolation for the grey skies. And I am pleased to confirm most positives we read about and have been told by friends.
The beaches around are many and gorgeous, my personal favourite being the one in front of Bousoulas beach bar, almost white sand.
The sea crystal clear, shallow for a kilometre or so, friendly fish and gentle waves. The views on mount Olympus – stunning.
Sani facilities are very nice and with many options: swimming pools @Sani beach: main one – nice for little ones, couple of bridges and gentle slopes; little pool for very little kids; on the other side of block B an infinity pool with a jacuzzi area next to it. Sani Club just two swimming pools, on the day we went slightly calmer/ less busy.
Babewatch service on the beach for the little ones so you could enjoy a cocktail or two in peace or simply dip in the sea by yourself. And here is a toddler vision:
And here is a grown up vision of Sani Babewatch:
Cocktails @Sani are gorgeous, have explored the menus and options in different places at length 😉 Passion fruit martinis, spicy mango, aperol spritz, lots of options of bubbles – all great. And especially with a 100% occupancy and each family having at least 2 small kids, not a single minute goes by public areas without tantrum or screaming. So cocktails and beach bars less popular with little ones have been very therapeutic – sadly though not phonically isolated 😉
Restaurants wise lots of options, 14 I reckon at least. Book in advance, if it’s as busy as when we’ve been mid June you struggle to get tables between 6:30-9:30pm without 3 days notice.
Sani beach buffet restaurant/ Poseidon proved far too big and far too noisy for our taste; we’ve only managed one evening, the first one when we arrived. Even for breakfast we found Poseidon buffet lacking nice vibes and we preferred the Grill most of the mornings.
Lunches were mainly by the beach or swimming pool, okish. Dinners we dined around part of the Dine Around programme (€20 per adult and €10 per child deducted from the total bill); with the mention that the allowance is minuscule compared to the prices, especially if you go for a 3 course nice meal.
We loved most Ammos – Ibiza style, by the beach, great seafood options, DJ and cool vibes.
Great food as well @ Ammos : the scallops, octopus and seabass were memorable.
Breakfast @ Ammos also very nice, same food choices as in the other places including buffet but cooler, calmer and always nicer by the beach. Booking early Ammos for both dinner & breakfast – strongly recommended.
Oour next favourite dinner option was Vosporos Grill in the Marina: we had some nice gyros, seabass & salads and our toddler must have had a record 5 courses child meal (soup, Greek salad, Greek meatballs, seabass & iceacream !) that he really loved. This must have also been the food he liked the most, the rest he ate but mentioned he did not like (it takes a lot for him to say that -even the nursery food is very nice !).
Ergon / modern Greek deli (also in the Marina) was our next favourite, we had some interesting & delicious aubergine salads with nuts, seabass and prawns. The Grill at Sani Beach rather average food but then very convenient location and nice music every evening. Our least favourite must have been the Asian – in the Marina and nothing to write home about; for sure we had better curries & prawns.
We also almost made it to Byblos/ adults only that we have been promised it will be fabulous. One beautiful evening when kids went to bed 8pm Greece time and we had a booking for 8:30pm, the babysitter late almost 30 minutes late !!?? (must be the easiest job in the world to sit on the terrace with 2 kids asleep in the room !) and thereafter nobody could tell us where Byblos was. The buggy driver and very ‘helpful’ personnel was under the impression that Byblos was at Sani Club and being late and far we did not double check their saying and given up. So one romantic evening gracefully allowed by kids, spoilt by Sani personnel. We ended up with a very average and late Asian – our only tete a tete grown up dinner.
On a happier note, the beach bars – lovely. Apart from Bousoulas where I spent religiously an hour most afternoons,
have also tried a couple of times Sea You in the Marina – lovely. No booking needed, perfect place to grab an aperitive and watch the sunset before dinner in the Marina.
Melissa creche/ kidsclub – nice, just book well in advance. We wrote 2 weeks before we went and managed to secure 2 afternoon sessions and be on the waiting list for the others. As a tip, if your child is as keen as ours, you could go 15 minutes into the session and to the extent they have no shows, they will take them. €28 for a 3 hours session, same personnel could babysit in the evening (€10 per hour).
Room wise, we booked a junior suite at Sani Beach and have been very disappointed. At 35sqm shown on website but a bit smaller in reality, the junior suite does not fit a family of 4, even with two very little kids. The furniture is nice but far too many objects in such a tiny space. With 2 big cots the room felt very cluttered. So we have asked the personnel to take some furniture out to be able to move around. We were ground floor and had a nice terrace/ sitting space outside – unfortunately no privacy as that our suite faced an alley. Also walls are very thin and given that this is a family hotel, you will hear pretty much everything in the hall – cries of joy, screaming, tantrums from 7am onwards Greek time (pretty much 5am UK time!). So accommodation wise, the junior suite Sani Beach spoilt our break. Probably that has something to do with our last holiday @Ritz in Tenerife where the suite was 80sqm and very spacious. The kids did not seem to mind much though to be so cosy or so noisy in the morning – it is more of a parents complaint. We also tried upgrading to a bigger room at Sani Beach or moving to the Club – everything was fully booked. So quite unlucky. Our friends managed to upgrade for 4 nights at Sani Club – they were truly pleased with the size of the room & privacy. Something to consider for the future.
On a positive note, lots of distractions again for kids: bikes to rent all ages, boats to admire & fish to feed in the marina, very friendly cats to cuddle, hills to climb on and overall lots of venues and restaurants where running around is tolerated gracefully by very friendly personnel.
So all in all Sani is brilliant from many perspectives but to me felt more of a great holiday for little ones rather than parents. And probably we’d love it more the other way around. This is truly Greece for kids – a bit of a large chaotic kindergarden with stunning premises and very keen personnel.