A sun-drenched beach, palm-fringed pool, eco spa and wet bar falling into the Aegean, Halkidiki’s family-friendly Ekies All Senses Resort is about all-natural, barefoot luxury. Once the little Smiths are dispatched to the kids club, you're free to sip ouzo in a hammock stretched over aqua seas, crash out with the iPad on bleach-white sands then set sail to a desert island a million miles from the inbox…
Get this when you book through us:
A relaxing 20-to-25-minute Detox Foot Bath for each guest, including a soak with Epsom salts and a reflexology massage
Noon; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both times are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £104.28 (€123), including tax at 13 per cent.
Rates usually include a buffet breakfast featuring fruit, cereals and eggs cooked to order.
The Ekies Spa is pint-sized and perfect, nestled outdoors among lush green, pine-scented gardens. There are two open-sided treatment cabanas set under white wooden rafters, and one is roomy enough for couples. Book a deep-tissue or hot stone massage using natural Apivita products and sink into the comfiest of Coco-Mat mattresses before rejuvenating with a blast under the pebble-walled al fresco shower (open May to September). Below the pool and hidden behind a little white fence is a basic outdoor gym with treadmills and exercise bikes – you can join a poolside yoga session too (€70 an hour; book on arrival), to complete your all-natural detox.
The resort is closed annually from 9 October until the end of April.
At the hotel
Beach, open-air spa and gym, mountain bikes, gardens, library of books and DVDs, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar, CD/DVD player, tea and coffee-making facilities, all-natural Coco-Mat mattresses and down-filled pillows, Apivita toiletries, bathrobes and flip-flops.
Our favourite rooms
All are clean, crisp and mostly white, with lots of wood, pebbles and other natural materials, plus quirky contemporary details such as hip recycled bedside lamps, geometric tiling or pops of colour on a feature wall. Superior Doubles and Junior Suites can offer great value for money. All have an outdoor space in the form of either a terrace or balcony.
The crisp outdoor pool is all painted white concrete and crisp white loungers. There’s a separate Jacuzzi and a small raised pool. A sleepy little bar, shaded by a white straw pergola, serves ouzo, orange juice and nibbles. All that’s missing is a deep tan, accentuated by some with-white swimwear.
Crisp cottons to fit in with all that white and show off your tan; House of Hackney print pieces to blend perfectly with the palm-lined pool and eco ethos; something more robust than Havaianas to cycle in; scarves and sarongs to ward off sea breezes on a sailboat; mark and snorkel for coasting along in the water.
The hotel has two mountain bikes to borrow free for a lazy circuit among the pine trees. Rent a traditional fishing boat (with a driver if you prefer); a picnic lunch is included in the cost (€350/five hours) for day trips to uninhabited islands nearby.
Very welcome, especially the tiny ones (there's less to do for older teens). Cots and extra beds (rates vary depending on the season) can be added to rooms. There's an adventure club for under-14s and English-speaking babysitters (€20 an hour).
Dine privately on the beach with the stars above you and the sand between your toes, or opt for the treehouse where you can whisper sweet nothings in total seclusion.
It’s swimwear and sarongs in Bubo; laid-back luxe in the Treehouse.
The main restaurant, Bubo, is helmed by Dimitris Pamporis and serves an à la carte menu of Greek classics and fresh seafood. It’s under cover but makes the most of the scenery – floor-to-ceiling glass windows bring the beach views in, and the canopy of trees overhead is visible via the glass roof. A modern airy space, it mixes white metro tiles with Tom Dixon pendant lights, pantry-style side tables, marble worktops and all that glass. In the same area is Kuko, a diner-style restaurant inspired by traditional Greek 'mageirio'. The menu is slightly more selective, and is available for breakfast and those on half-board rates. Outside, and falling onto the sands from a whitewashed decked terrace, is the Treehouse: a gourmet restaurant with limited seating of up to 10 people, this private spot serves tasting menus, which are mostly a modern take on Greek food (think ravioli with manouri cheese, or risotto with grilled calamari). The fixtures and fittings mix pops of colour in bright blue and yellow metal chairs with white tablecloths.
The Loligo beach bar stares out to sea, lost in a chill-out soundtrack (there’s live jazz every Saturday in summer). Prop up the bar and watch the barman mix something zesty involving citrus and rosemary, or take your drinks to the large whitewashed decked terrace and slump into squashy sofas and mismatched chairs. But the jewel in the crown is the ‘wet bar’ area – a little line of bar stools set into the sand right at the water’s edge, providing proper barefoot bar luxury (or ice-cream-eating fun, if you're travelling en famille). There’s even a hammock stretched out over the water, big enough for the two of you (and your drinks). Grab coffee, fresh juices and small snacks at the Lagus pool bar, in stretching distance of your poolside sunlounger.
Drinks are served all day long and until the fat lady sings. Breakfast is 7.30am–11am; the all-day-dining menu is served from noon until 11.30pm.
Dishes from the restaurant menus can be brought to your room (or any other spot within the resort that takes your fancy) between noon and 11.30pm. There’s a 20 per cent mark-up on prices if you order to eat in your room or on your balcony.
Surrounded by sandy beaches and coral waters, the hotel sits on pine forest-backed Vourvourou Bay in Sithonia, Halkidiki (a peninsula on the northern Greek mainland). Sithonia’s main town of Nikiti is 15 minutes by car.
Thessaloniki 'Macedonia' International Airport (www.thessalonikiairport.com) is a 70-minute drive away; there are plenty of budget options from all of London's major airports, as well as direct flights with British Airways and Turkish Airlines.
If you want to do some exploring independently, you'll want a hire car. From the airport, follow the signs for Halkidiki, after about half an hour you’ll come to Nea Moudania; take the right turn signposted to Sithonia. Stay on that road for another 30 minutes until you hit the village of Nikiti. Drive straight through the village, following the signs for Vourvourou. After a further 10 minutes you’ll see a turning to the left with a green sign for Ekies Resort. There’s free parking at the (shaded) carpark right outside the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Piercing blue skies, pure white sands, deep blue seas and lush green forests: Halkidi is a strikingly colourful, all-natural playground and the Ekies All Senses Resort is perfectly placed to explore it. Get out on the water together at nearby Vourvourou Bay, for a morning’s snorkelling over captivating coral beds or, for the energetic, surfing, windsurfing or jetskiing. Fancy really getting away from it all? Book a day in advance and Ekies staff will pack you a little picnic of, say, sandwiches, fruit, juice and water (€5 a person; booze is extra) to take off on a day’s outing – be that on your own Owl-and-Pussycat sail boat, on bicycle or on foot. A simple fisherman’s boat will take the two of you to picture-postcard beaches or uninhabited islands, while chartered cruises depart to holy mountain and Unesco World Heritage Site, Mount Athos.
Skim across the passage between the islands of Diaporos and Agios Isidoros (20 minutes on a boat from Vourvourou; hire your own from Circuit Rent). Drop anchor at a deserted cove and dive in: the Aegean here, nicknamed the Blue Lagoon, is so calm and clear it’s a deep turquoisey green, and on Diaporos’ eastern side, Mirsini Beach, known locally as Hawaii Beach, is among the area’s most Instagram-worthy.
Just over 5km down the road from Vourvourou is Ormos Panagias, from where daily cruises depart to the holy Mount Athos, set on a promontory in the middle of the Aegean. An Orthodox spiritual centre dotted with monasteries, the Mount is currently home to some 1,400 monks. Women and children are forbidden on the mount itself (and Mr Smiths need to jump through inordinate hoops and paperwork to gain access to the walking trails) but Mount Athos cruises pass by several monasteries from the water and many stop afterwards at villages on the mainland, where you can step onto dry soil for a traditional Greek salad and to pick up postcards. The round trip runs from 9am–4pm.
The Aristos Fish Tavern (+30 (0)2375 031420), down the road from the resort in the little port of Ormos Panagias, is bustling, informal and turns out generous portions of market-fresh fish.
It may have a slightly unpromising name but The Squirrel (+30 (0)2375 020400), at the heart of the opulent Danai Beach Resort in Nikiti, is very elegant, and one of the best restaurants in Greece. Herve Pronzato’s modern Mediterranean degustation menu has won Michelin stars, and a night on the terrace here, perched above the sea, under inky starred skies, is made for lingering looks and chinking champagne flutes together.
Set right on Nikiti beach, Arsanas restaurant (+30 (0)2375 023235) has a crisp contemporary feel and a sun-soaked wooden terrace falling directly onto the sand. Its menus focus on modern Mediterranean/Greek fusion (think crab salad with cucumber and sesame, or stuffed aubergine).
‘Tomorrow morning and we will dance’, Voula whispered as her olive-skinned face broke into a knowing smile. Little did I know that to ‘dance’ meant embarking on an intense and passionate affair. 60 minutes of physical embrace and 15 minutes of quiet contemplation. Just enough time to be swept off my feet and fall head over heels. Move over Mr Smith – if there’s one thing I can recall most vividly from our 48 hours at Ekies All Senses, it’s Voula’s warm face leaning over mine against a backdrop of white linen wafting in a warm breeze.
For those that haven’t had a Thai massage, or have had a bad one, I suggest hopping on a plane to the Greek peninsula of Sithonia and spending some time with Voula. Not knowing what I had signed up for, the idea of an ‘active’ massage was initially alarming: an hour of semi-sleep is more what I had in mind. Voula stayed true to her word and we danced. Knees over thighs, feet over shoulders, head touching toes, I was stretched, pushed and pummelled into almost catatonic nirvana. Encouraging words uttered throughout made any English inhibitions drift away and on the declaration ‘I’ll just put my next appointment back a bit’, I thought we might actually be in love
On bounding back into the arms of Mr Smith my enthusiasm was met with a slightly blank (jealous) face. After a passionate monologue about retraining as a Thai masseuse I promised to book a couples treatment next time. For now though, we had our own mini Greek playground to explore. Finding Ekies involved winding through a maze of scruffy little roads, seemingly designed for our bashed up late-90s Fiat Panda. On entering the ‘boutique’ grey of the resort gates, the car became a little more conspicuous. Handsome Greek 20-somethings came to fetch our bags and the sophisticated vibes of Ekies quickly drew us in.
Ekies is an eco-enthusiastic design-lovers’ dream: it’s every bit the aquamarine-sky, turquoise-water, brilliant-white-sand fantasy you want from Greece, without a hint of the nasty neon – this place is properly hip, with crisply designed suites and a super-cool ‘wet bar’ with a line of stools facing the waves. It likes to tread lightly, too, which means a kitchen garden, organic products and tree trunks sprouting through floors (architects worked around the pine forest, and not a single tree was felled during renovations).
The fabrics, furniture and design all murmur a playfulness. Reception alone is an eclectic whirlwind of open fireplace, antique chairs, hot-pink billiard table, vintage glassware and huge driftwood sculptures. The Fiat Panda now a distant memory, we meandered through gardens and around the pool, dotted with funky installations – hammocks, futons, chintzy parasols, hanging chairs – all splashed with colour and designed for drifting off under the Mediterranean sun. In contrast, our room was all muted urban tones and understated furnishings. Any initial disappointment at the lack of flair evaporated the moment we sunk into that bed. Then muted became restful and restful became just what we needed.
From the main road we could see a vast expanse of turquoise below, but Ekies’ own beach on Vourvourou Bay feels more like a lake. Pretty and tranquil, the beach, bar and restaurant all look out across clear waters surrounded by gentle hills peppered with olive and pine trees. From the beach itself you can see fish darting about, and you can wade out a good 50 metres before contemplating swimming. We even spotted an octopus from the hotel jetty.
For kids, it’s a dream come true – which does mean there is quite a lot of them in holiday time. The bartender must have caught the expressions of this pair after a romantic escape; he was quick to inform us that next year the beach will be split into separate areas for families and couples. Although the Ekies beach is alluring in its own right – aided by the sink-into sun loungers, Balearic beats and cold beers – I craved that turquoise expanse and clear horizon.
I wasn’t left hanging. A five-minute stroll from the hotel brought us to Karidi, one of the most perfect beaches we have ever stepped foot on. Soft, white sand shelving gently into a vivid gemstone-coloured sea alive with welcoming waves, surrounded by sun-drenched rocks, pine-shaded spots and just a few bronzed humans. After a good 15 minutes of puppy-like squealing, stripping off and running in and out of the sea, Mr Smith finally got his wife back. We swam and slept, slept and swam, drenching our bodies in sun and emptying our minds. When back home is grey and lives are busy, this is exactly what I crave.
Back to Ekies and another evening of sunset gazing, ouzo and seafood unfolded. The beachfront bar is a textbook spot for maxing out on sundowners while a lingering sunset drifts unnoticeably into night. Where the Ekies nightly buffet is all about volume, the à la carte menu is more about taste. Feta-stacked salads, chilli-soaked octopus and rich moussaka are the perfect complement to the many Greek wines on offer. As darkness fell, candles lit up a couple having a romantic dinner on the beach and others snuggling up on those sink-in sun loungers. Gradually children filed off to bed and all that was left to contemplate were the stars in the sky and another day of salty breezes, cold beers and sand between the toes.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Ekies All Senses Resort’s Guestbook below.
It's all about the setting and the wonderful sunsets.
Stayed on 31 Jul 2019
The hotel is beautifully designed and we relaxed straight away. Its a small resort so its easy to make the most of both beach and pool, stopping in at the bar on the way through! It was packed full of young families, but that was perfect for us and the staff are incredibly kind so you can actually enjoy the break rather than feeling guilty about your little ones!
Honeymoon romance might be dampened by all the toddlers!
Stayed on 8 Sep 2018
A polished resort, friendly staff and a relaxed vibe. Ekies All Senses Resort is particularly well geared for families with young kids. Visit Manassu beach, about 10 km south, great beach and restaurant. Try Melia restaurant nearby, which has great music on Wednesday nights and try eat at the hotel restaurants on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights when they also seem to have live music during the busy season. Kids club in the morning was also great for older kids.
Don't expect to stay at the resort the full time. While it is possible, the typical larger beaches are nearby, so I'd recommend a car to get around.
Stayed on 21 Jul 2018
The staff were lovely – very friendly and helpful. The food in Bubo restaurant. The gardens – scented and lush. Hire a car and explore the peninsula – we visited some beautiful beaches with hardly a soul on them. Visit Parthenonas, a stone age village 350m above sea level. Beautiful views, lovely café/restaurant, great craft shop, lovely warm people, clean air. Melia restaurant at Karidi Beach 300m from the hotel – fab food and wine. Grada Blue restaurant at Nikiti – on the water, creative and delicious food and wine.
Peace and quiet – too many young families for that! Out and out luxury – the bathrooms were tired and a bit outdated.
Stayed on 9 Jun 2018
The immediate setting of the resort was beautiful with a perfect beach for children and perfect out look. Great swimming pool and nice large suite.
The service at the bar restaurant was dreadful, dirty dishes werent cleared away until sometimes over an hour after wed finished, wine would arrive well after the food and food tasted as if it had been pre cooked and kept warm not cooked to order. The staff were friendly but definitely didnt go the extra mile. The resort was also quite tatty, parts could do with a lick of paint and a little more attention to detail would go a long way.
Stayed on 20 May 2018
Pretty much everything. The setting is divine with a couple of brilliant restaurants within walking distance. The setting is totally beautiful, and renting a boat for a morning was amazing. The food is good, though the service is a little slow as they're understaffed. Pullman and Paris, two local restaurants, both brilliant.
A child free break – even outside of school holidays. Both the pool and the beach had a lot of kids.