We have just come back from a week’s long family holiday at Ikos Oceania in Halkidiki, Greece, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. So much so that I’m starting to write this post on the plane home!
We basically had some very set dates (due to the husband’s navy ship’s leave dates, and his deployment date) to try and squeeze in a week’s long family break abroad. I’m super fussy when it comes to booking holidays and it takes me ages to finally decide on somewhere!
We narrowed it down to Greece, Italy and Ibiza in the end, and then down to a few hotels at each location too – I’ll do a separate post on them if you fancy.
In the end what made Ikos Oceania stand out above the rest was the positive reviews. I literally couldn’t find one properly negative review about the place. Sure there were some comments on Trip Advisor about the fact it is set on a hill but from what I could see these were all by slightly elder travellers and not families. Every family that had been seemed to rave about it, especially about the staff and the kids club.
And MY GOODNESS they were right. From the minute we stepped foot in the place we were treated to exceptional service. I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like it.
We went with Jet2 holidays, mainly because they were the only ones showing availability at Ikos Oceania for our dates. It was a bit of a pain going from Stansted instead of Gatwick (we’re based on the south coast) but our meet and greet parking and check in went smoothly. The walk to the gate, not so much! Their transit train had broken down so we were left hiking up and down loads of stairs with a double buggy and getting on a bus to the plane. The Stansted staff were quite rude in general as well and it was a bit chaotic but hey, maybe we were just caught them on a bad day.
We arrived into Greece in the middle of a CRAZY storm!!! It was just slightly raining when we arrived but by the time we went for lunch it had kicked off massively and the restaurant we were in started flooding! The staff were great though and quickly spring into action trying to stop the water as much as they could, whilst making sure we had enough drinks etc.
Our first couple days were (literally) dampened by the weather and we couldn’t do much other than eat, go to the gym, pop the kids in kids club and grab some drinks in the bar. There was an indoor pool but it was packed with people because of the weather and I wasn’t in the mood for the spa this holiday, as great as it looked!
Anyway, enough about the weather for now – onto the rooms.
We were in a Panorama Junior Suite with a Sea View. I loved the decor. They were lovely and bright, very modern and a great size. I especially loved the bedside light fixtures. There was plenty of storage space with a double wardrobe and lots of drawers for all your clothes and bits and bobs.
The bed was really comfy but I can’t stand pillows abroad haha. They always seem to be SO soft and I’m a pretty firm pillow kinda gal. To be fair, I’m sure if I’d asked I would have been able to get a different one, but were just so busy and it wasn’t a big deal at all!
The kids’ beds were great. L had a proper cot, not a travel cot, and Little I had a comfy single bed which she slept well in. We had to push the coffee table with some pillows on it up against her to stop her rolling out because her bed at home has a high side and she’s not used to anything else.
The bathroom was everything we needed. It was really clean and it was great to have a bath and double sinks.
Our balcony was a good size and we faced out towards the sea, which was lovely. Such a nice view. There was a washing line for wet swimsuits etc too.
What shall we talk about next? The food? Ok!
FOOD AND DRINK
I have never stayed somewhere that’s all inclusive where the food is SO good before. A lot of the time all inclusive means that you’re met with cheap and easy type buffet food and a whole lotta chips and nuggets for the kids. Not at Ikos Oceania! I think the kids only had chips once or twice which for a holiday I though was pretty good going! Little I even became a bit of a fan of squid, especially in the Asian style restaurant Amarya.
There were 6 restaurants to choose from:
The food was incredible. I cannot stress this enough! Our particular favourites were Provence for breakfast and Anaya for dinner, but they were all absolutely wonderful. There were a lot of local dishes and ingredients being used, which I think is really important and great to see.
Flavours, the main buffet restaurant, had a great set up and never seemed overly busy, even when full. There was plenty of food and lots of space to move around all the different dishes on offer. On a side note, there was also a little area for people who wanted a slightly quieter dining experience and only over 12’s were allowed in. Great idea if you ask me!
Fresco had a lovely bright vibe about it.
Anaya was in a nice setting, with a great view and a very authentic Asian service and decor.
The buffets at Provence and Ouzo were great too.
Service at each restaurant was perfect and there were plenty of staff on hand to make sure you always had a drink and anything else you needed. They were also more than happy to help you choose wines and talk about dishes with you. Oh, and they all seemed to LOVE children and entertained them constantly – winner.
In terms of lunch and snacks, you could have a choice of either going to one of the three restaurants, a beach cafe if you were down the beach, or to get something brought to your sunbed, next to the pool, from the poolside menu. We mixed it up and did something different nearly every day. We did the buffet at Flavours a couple times, a la carte at Provence and Ouzo, the beach cafe and lunch at our sun beds. The beach cafe and poolside menus were like normal poolside menus, but better. Super fresh wraps, salads, burritos, hot dogs etc. Brought to you in little wooden bowls usually with a side of crisps. Yum.
We also did the dine out experience, where Ikos Oceania had partnered with a local restaurant by the marina. They shuttled you down in one of their mini buses and you got to experience a full blown Greek dining experience. Oh my goodness me the local baked cheese with honey and nuts as a starter was GORGEOUS. The kids loved getting out and about and we loved getting an authentic Greek dining experience.
I just have to shout out the local Greek cheeses as I finish off talking about food. DELICIOUS! Especially kefalotyri and manouri.
Oh, and the room service breakfast.
Now, the drinks!
Everywhere you went there was an extensive drinks menu, whether it was one of the bars, or restaurants. Plenty of beers, wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks, teas, coffees etc.
The wine selection was great and slightly different in each bar and restaurant. There were also plenty of staff happy to confidently talk you through wine choices which was a nice touch. There was a lovely pale rose that I liked. R like the fact they had Heineken on draft.
We really liked the cocktails too. They were proper cocktails, not just your usual holiday ones which can often be watered down with lots of juice. R was pretty partial to a Strawberry Collins and I was quite happy whenever a Mojito, Cosmopolitan or Passion Fruit Martini came my way.
There didn’t seem to be any house spirits, they were all big name brands and a pretty extensive collection at that. Anytime we asked for a gin and tonic, we had a choice of four different gins and it was the same with vodka.
Also included in your all inclusive package was room service and a mini bar that got restocked every day. You should have seen R’s eyes light up when he found out about the room service! He ended up ordering a late night cheesecake on more than one occasion and we got a continental breakfast one morning too.
It might sound REALLY silly and such a petty little thing, but I really liked the fact we got proper glasses for our drinks wherever we went. Different glasses for different wines, different cocktail glasses for all the different types of cocktails and different glasses for different beers and soft drinks. The glasses by the pool and beach were plastic, but not disposable plastic. More like that melamine type material which made such a difference! I really don’t like disposable glasses and cups. From a functional and environmental perspective.
The kids club is run by a company called Worldwide Kids and they were really good. The facilities themselves were great. A well sized soft play area, three separate rooms for different ages, a main, big communal bit and a little kitchen and toilets. All air conditioned and super clean. There were SO many toys and activities for them to play with and do and they never wanted to leave when we came to pick them up!
The booking process was really easy if you used the app in advance. Otherwise you could book directly from their desk on the second floor, or from reception, or you could just turn up and hope there was space! We managed to fit L into a couple extra sessions with Little I when there were cancellations.
The staff were fab. So friendly and the kids loved them. The whole place is OFSTED regulated and we felt completely happy and confident putting the kids in there to have a fun time.
I didn’t manage to get many photos (they didn’t really allow cameras etc in) but I asked to film one day when it was empty so check out the vlog for that!
Oh and there was also a little mini creche down the beach as well for short sessions.
And a kids’ play park.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to pools. There was the main pool which was a great size, had an infinity edge in the deep end, a shallow area for kids and a little island with an ice cream stand on it. Two smaller pools one level up from the main pool which were perfect depths for the kids. L could stand up in both of them. It was a good set up because it meant one pool was mainly for the babies and one was for the slightly older kids, which meant that the bigger kids could act a little crazier without annoying the babies. One level up from that was another infinity pool which was almost like an unofficial adults pool. It was always lovely and quiet.
There was also an official adults only pool next to the French restaurant which we went to a couple times when the kids were in kids club. You seemed to need to be there super early for a hope of getting a sun bed so we just sat at the edge of the pool to have our drinks and a swim. One day we went along later in the day and managed to grab some sun beds with a gorgeous view. It was very peaceful but the drinks service was slower due to there being less staff.
One more pool was up on another level tucked away. To be honest we never managed to venture round to it because there were so many other great options, but we did walk past it on our first night and it looked lovely!
At each pool you had staff ready to help you set up your sunbeds and umbrellas, and who would put your towels out for you. They were so friendly and we even watched them lining up the sun beds perfectly at night using a plub line. OCD heaven! Staff would also come round every 20 minutes of so (sooner if they saw you were finished) asking if you needed another drink or anything.
Going down to Ikos’ Oceania’s beach was probably the least stressful beach experience I’ve ever had with kids!! Everything was so easy. It is literally just across the road. There’s a ramp down if you have a buggy. The beach buddy staff greet you pretty much straight away, get you towels and help you find a sun bed. They then bring over still or sparkling water and any other drinks or snacks you would like. They also came round and cleaned your sunglasses for you if you wanted. Say what now!
The beach isn’t quite as pretty as some of the other local beaches along the coast but it’s still really nice. I think the storm had affected the sand and sea a bit. If you swim out slightly you get to another shallower bit where the water is much clearer and the sand is super soft compared to the shore.
There are also various water sports and activities to try out – some of which are included within your all inclusive package. Such as paddle boarding and the pedelos.
The beach café and toilets were really close by and we had a nice lunch there.
They also host parties on the beach some nights (keep an eye out on the daily activity sheets) and if you are on a deluxe package (we weren’t!), a dinner on the beach experience – looked gorgeous.
The hotel is set on a hill, especially down to the beach, so there are quite a lot of steps and hills about but we didn’t struggle at all, even with two kids under five and a double buggy. If you did need assistance you could call for a golf buggy to collect you and take you around.
There were plenty of other things to do and see which you can find out about if you check out Ikos’ website here, or Jet2holidays here.
We hired a car and went out exploring but had to cut it short because the kids were incredibly emotional. I’ll do a separate blog post on areas to explore, and where we went, if you’re interested.
My only complaint (other than Stansted airport!) is that I wish we had booked ten days instead of seven…
All in all, I would say this is one of the best holidays we have ever been on and even though it was quite pricey, it was worth every penny. I’m not one for going back to the same hotel or area more than once, but I’ll definitely be heading back to Ikos at one of their three locations in the future!
*This post is not sponsored or gifted. We paid for everything ourselves, had a wonderful holiday and just wanted to share our experience to help others who are family holiday hunting!