By: Aurelia

“Sing Apollo, with your golden lyre, of the radiant light of Greece.
Anonymous poet, 5th Century

Possibly Sappho or Alcaeus

In the early 1960’s when the men who gave birth to the Sani Resort arrived at Kassandra Peninsula, the undeveloped land stretching over 1,000 acres was owned by monks.  Black and white photos of the area at that time reveal a single tower, a few low-level buildings, local children playing in the sand, and a solitary man fishing peacefully in a small rowboat. In the background, one can see a pine forest and olive trees.  Because the photos are black and white, it is not possible to know that the waters are a breath-taking, beautiful azure and the forest a verdant, lush green. And if it were possible to look at the photos and describe the scents, we would learn that then, as now, the fragrance of the pine trees, flowers, herbs, and citrus filled the air.

For Anastasios Andreadis and Leonidas Zisiadis who arrived by boat, it must have seemed that they were entering paradise.  Before their eyes unfolded one of the most beautiful natural settings in all of Greece. To their credit, when these visionaries purchased the land and began the development that is today the magnificent Sani Resort, one of the largest luxury hotels of its kind in Greece, they maintained a great respect for nature. This reverence resulted in a stunning ecological reserve where nature and man exist in harmony.  The peninsula is now graced with four hotels with distinctive, welcoming personalities and a marina so splendid it rivals any in Monaco.  Yacht owners from all over the world vie for spaces to dock there for the entire season.  The pine forest blends with the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea, the golden beaches remain unspoiled, and lush gardens of mint, basil, and rosemary are meticulously maintained.

The Sani Resort is described as “A Mediterranean Destination,” and, to my eyes,  is an apt description. It remains family-owned and it is truly a serene reserve, in an unspoiled, natural environment where one can find a secluded beach or wander in a pine forest.  The discriminating tourist who chooses Sani as a destination will be rewarded with pampering and indulgence; Sani’s stated goal is “to exceed your expectations.” It certainly exceeded mine.

Last October, I was a guest at Sani Resort and had the most pleasurable day as I was introduced to key areas of the spectacular, 1,000-acre property.  The highlights were a delicious lunch by the crystal-watered pool and a rejuvenating spa treatment.  My guide and luncheon companion was the lovely Mariza Giorgou, Marketing Assistant. Her love of Sani was infectious as she enthusiastically enumerated all of the pleasures to be found at this luxurious hideaway.  At Ms. Giorgou’s suggestion, we asked the chef to chose entrees for our lunch and he indulged us with a platter of perfectly grilled fish, a Greek salad with tangy feta cheese, and fresh vegetables, expertly seasoned. The setting for our meal was one of sublime splendor defined by the clean, contemporary lines of the soft and neutral furnishings on the patio surrounding the pool with its deep blue waters.   It was the most tranquil of habitats.

Four hotels and eighteen restaurants are spread over the resort and each has a distinctive personality serving discriminating guests and families with different needs.  As we walked the grounds, the phrase “understated elegance” came to mind and stayed with me.

The most luxurious hotels are the Sani Asterias Suites and Porto Sani Village and it is here where I am guessing the owners of the yachts stay if they want to leave their own floating hotels and come on shore.

The Sani Asterias Suites are in a discrete boutique hotel in a private beach setting. A Spa Suite, with its vast array of services, is in Porto Sani Village, an expansive complex which hotel management says is “the perfect place to restore your karma.”  This is where I had my spa treatment—a relaxation massage—and I can attest to the fact that my karma was restored.

The Sani Beach Club and Sani Beach Hotel offer very private bungalows with stunning views of Mt. Olympus and the Aegean Sea.  Spa services are offered in both and include traditional therapies inspired from around the world as well as modern European treatments from the renowned Parisian skin expert Anne Semonin.

The Sani Beach Hotel is set directly on Cape Sani and is circled by three picture-perfect beaches.  One nice feature of staying at the Beach Hotel is that you can walk with ease anywhere in the resort, including the marina where many of the yachts anchored in the harbor were owned by Russians.  Ms. Giorgou explained that the largest number of guests—thirty-eight percent—are usually from the UK, thirty percent come from Russia, and about fifteen percent are Germans.  The remaining are Greeks, French, Italians, and residents of various Balkan countries which have direct flights to the airport in Thessaloniki.

A “dine around” feature enables you to make lunch and dinner reservations at any of the eighteen restaurants on the complex.

The Sani Resort is the ultimate “Mediterranean Destination.”  Indulge yourself.  For more detailed information on accommodations, services, rates, and availability, please visit the Sani Resort website at www.sani-resort.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Aurelia is a free-lance writer and the author of A Lone Red Apple, a novel set on Mykonos, Delos, and Rhinia.  Her second novel, Labyrinthine Ways, is set on Mykonos and Crete.  She writes for The Hellenic  News of America and for a variety of travel publications.  Her articles can be found on www.sweetspotsofgreece.blogspot.com