It is virtually impossible to tire of Greece. With 16,000 km of glistening Mediterranean coast, the opportunities to uncover new pockets of holiday perfection are neverending. Maybe it’s the ancient splendour seeping from the stone, or the smell of pine and cyprus trees, or the rich flavours of food as fresh as it gets. Whatever it is, Greece feels good for the soul. Add to the mix a luxury resort, tastefully designed with privacy and tradition in mind, and you’ve found yourself a rather restorative break.
Danai Beach Resort is nestled into a cliff on the edge of the lesser-explored, spindly peninsula of Sithonia in Halkidiki. Between lively Kassandra and the reclusive monastery of Mount Athos, Sithonia is a perfect mix of the two locations – just an hour from Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, but a world away. Here pine forests, bustling harbours and ancient hillside villages dip down to some of Greece’s finest beaches. And it’s all up for grabs – if you can tear yourself away from Danai, that is…
Security guard Spiros and his over-enthusiastic pug waved us into Danai through large white gates, which open from scrubland into the splendour of an immaculately run five-star beach resort. Paths were lined with pomegranate trees and buildings encased with the vibrant pinks of creeping bougainvillea. The large marble atrium of reception led us onto an even bigger terrace, looking out over the resort, which is just a stone’s throw from a 180-degree panorama of Mediterranean sea.
Onto the suites and the views only got better. Our two-bedroom pool suite offered all the indulgence of a hotel with the privacy and independence of a villa. Interiors and artwork were refreshingly eclectic – especially given the vast size of the resort. An antique drinks cabinet sat comfortably alongside modernist leather chairs whilst pretty wrought iron sun loungers looked out over a slick infinity pool. The bathrooms were chambers of dark, traditional marble whilst the master bedroom was filled with light from a glass wall of uninterrupted sea and sky. The terrace, perched on a cliff above Danai’s private beach, offered a view and slice of privacy it was hard to drag ourselves away from.
Since the resort is family-run, nothing was standardised, personal touches were paramount and service was genuine. The resort’s indoor and outdoor pool, gym and spa have everything we needed in a refreshingly moderate manner (no excessive free form pools here). The beach, on the other hand was as luxurious as you like. The large sandy cove was lined with perfectly-positioned sun loungers made up with the softest white linen and bold orange parasols, reflecting the colour of the crumbling cliffs behind. Vast beach beds were surrounded by white canopies floating in the breeze and waiters dressed in pressed white shorts tended to our every need. 1950s beach glamour flashed to mind and quickly Danai resembled something of a film set.
This theme continued on through to breakfast. A pianist graced our buffet of fruits, yoghurt, honey, eggs, fresh bread and pastries, which were served up on fine china in a conservatory filled with orchids and palms. Dining options were plentiful with everything on offer from The Squirrel’s award winning A La Carte menu to the Seaside Grill’s seafood BBQs and Greek feasts. The Seaside Bar dished out gourmet salads and burgers, cocktails made to order and an unashamedly ‘Ibiza’ vibe. Dining ‘experiences’ available included wine tasting in the resort’s 750 bottle strong wine cellar, dining under the stars on the beach or in Danai’s vegetable and herb garden. With a terrace like ours, room service was an experience in itself.
If you are looking for a slice of luxury with warm Greek hospitality and impeccable service, look no further. What this traditional, family-run resort may lack in ‘boutique’ cool, it makes up for by oozing timeless class.
IN THE AREA…
For culture vultures and shopping enthusiasts Thessaloniki is worth a day at least – Greece’s second largest, the city is bustling with life and not at all touristy. Halkidiki’s three peninsulas each have a character of their own and Sithonia, where Danai is situated was the winner for us. Nikiti old village sits below Mount Itamos and is home to some of the region’s oldest houses. If a spot of history is on the agenda, this is the best place to do it; ideally accompanied with Greek yoghurt, honey and coffee on the terrace of an 18th century cafe.
For seafood, head to Maramas where the fishing boats coming and going from the pretty harbour ensure the calamari is as fresh as can be. Nikiti’s more modern seafront is also worth a visit and is just a short walk from Danai. When it comes to beaches there’s everything from the wild and remote south to sheltered Vourvourou on the East, but our favourite was Karidi. No buildings or hotels, this beach has it all—soft, gently shelving white sand, crystal clear waters, rock pools, forest, dunes and just a couple of ice cream vans for sustenance.
NEED TO KNOW…
We travelled to Danai Beach Resort & Villas with Elegant Resorts, with a seven-night stay costing from £1,565 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing a Junior Suite on a bed and breakfast basis, including economy flights from London Gatwick, private car transfers and UK Airport Lounge passes, calid until 10 October 2015. For further information please contact Elegant Resorts Reservations on 01244 897515 or visit the Elegant Resorts website. EasyJet flies from Gatwick to Thessaloniki up to six times a week with prices starting from £32.99 per person (one way including taxes). See the website for more details.