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…
Nearby beach and pool
Open-air spa and bar
Romantic private dining
A relaxing 20-to-25-minute Detox Foot Bath for each guest, including a soak with Epsom salts and a reflexology massage
In the know
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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.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.
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.
It’s swimwear and sarongs in Bubo; laid-back luxe in the Treehouse.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
‘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.
Vourvourou, Sithonia, Halkidiki, 63078
2.0 mi / 3.2 km from city centre
- Onsite laundry
- On-Site parking
- Internet services
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.
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.
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.
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.
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