Ikos Olivia – the best all inclusive in the world?

This isn’t your standard, or even really good all inclusive. There’s clear reasons why Ikos Resorts are voted the best all inclusives in the world – as reviewed on Trip Advisor at least.

You probably haven’t heard of Ikos Resorts, or their sister brand, Sani. The group has just 10, ultra luxury, 5 star resorts in Greece and Spain, slowly building their empire since 2015. Under their Infinite Lifestyle mantra, they have reimagined what an all inclusive holiday should be and I would honestly struggle to think of anything to make the experience any better.

The surroundings.

Perfectly manicured grounds. We loved walking through the herb garden, smelling thyme, mint, rosemary and watching the chefs take cuttings to use in meals and drinks.

Spotless pools and beaches. Not a speck of dirt, and that’s not easy on a beach! The staff take great pride in maintaining the look, cleaning and sanitising sun beds between uses and at the end of every day.

A perfectly thought out room. Even the entry level room we had was beautifully decorated with plenty of storage. A good size wardrobe with multiple drawers. A massive dresser unit in the bathroom for toiletries and a rainfall shower. Slippers and robes as standard, as well as a free minibar with branded drinks.

Fashionable and comfortable bars and restaurants. Each designed for their theme, whether it’s Italian, Greek or Asian. With every detail thought of – every dish of food has its own plate. Eat something different every day and you’ll never eat off the same plate. Now that’s attention to detail.

The food.

I could tell you all about the fabulous food, bite by bite but how many superlatives can one person use? Amazing, wonderful, unforgettable, delicious, exquisite.

The fact is, all of them apply. None of the meals were average. We’re on a scale of really good to eye-rollingly ridiculous. There are some definite standouts;

Really good –

Deep fried soft shell crab and green mango salad at Anaya

Club sandwich with ham, cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise at Provence

Flatbread flavoured with French onion soup, goat’s cheese and tomato sauce at Provence

Ikos beef burger with cheese, bacon and Gouda at the beach bar

Sweet & sour pork with Jasmine rice at Anaya

Eye-rollingly ridiculous –

Beef sirloin marinated with garlic, chilli , parsley and aromatic butter at Flavours

Poached pear with saffron at Ouzo

Greek yoghurt with honey, walnuts and honeycomb at Provence

Croissant stuffed with vanilla cream and strawberries at Ouzo

The Paris Brest with praline at Provence

Meal times are really what sets Ikos apart from their competition. There’s plenty of stunningly decorated hotels in the world but very few get food & beverage to such a consistently high standard. With Greek (Ouzo), Italian (Fresco), Asian (Anaya) and French (Provence) À la cart plus a mediterranean buffet (Flavours, not currently serving a buffet due to Covid restrictions), you’re spoiled for choice at every meal time. And if there’s nothing that you fancy on the menu, the staff will rustle something up especially for you.

My favourite restaurants for breakfast were Provence and Ouzo, with Flavours my pick for lunch and dinner.

Ikos has a cellar of around 300 wines. I had a damn good try of working my way through them but mostly wanted to stick to Greek wines and each restaurant had a slightly different range. I also developed a taste for the Pol Rémy rose champagne which featured at lunch and dinner on more than a couple of occasions! It was surprisingly easy to work through a bottle as your glass is surreptitiously refilled without you even noticing. The waiting staff were happy to give recommendations on which wines to try and 9 times out of 10, the bottle is opened fresh for you.

We also had a good bash of working our way through the cocktail list, all featuring branded spirits and made by award winning mixologists. Pathos was my standout favourite, bitter and tangy from the tequila, ginger and grapefruit. The Dill No Dill was the other half’s clear favourite, gin based and refreshing from the cucumber. Just look at the little peg!

The service.

A quick scan of reviews will tell you that service stands head and shoulders above most other hotels you’ve stayed in.

I had a nightmare with the agent I’d booked through, moving our booking from Ikos Oceania (which hasn’t reopened due to Covid) but the hotel manager was a great help in getting it sorted for me. He even came to personally greet me at check-in which I thought was a great touch.

Check-in itself is a relaxed, hands on affair. A member of staff will sit with you on a comfy sofa and complete the check-in process, whilst the waiter brings the first of many cocktails! All areas of the resort are pointed out on a map and you can book any spa or dinner reservations.

All of the staff are keen to go out of their way to meet your needs. Georgios at the beach bar took on a personal mission to find me a cucumber and mint ice tea as it was my last day and I still hadn’t tried it. It took a few hours – I wasn’t leaving the beach anyway so the time didn’t matter – and I don’t know where he got it from, but he got what I asked for and seemed genuinely pleased to be of service. Stavros in Helios Bar took great pleasure in recommending drinks, even offering concoctions off menu.

Service wasn’t faultless, at times we felt forgotten, waiting a little too long between courses or without our drinks being refilled. During one lunch, I didn’t have a fork, the other half had to wait for his lemonade, they delivered our meals to the table next to us and tried to give us another tables drink.

These instances standout only because of their rarity and were mostly acknowledged with an apology as staff noticed that standards had slipped from their usual high benchmark.

Covid.

Ikos introduced their Infinite Care Protocol to ensure the highest standards of health and hygiene for everyone, staff and guests, in all areas of the resort.

Everyone has their temperature taken before entering the resort, even employees. Guests are whisked to the medical centre where a covid antibody test is taken – a finger prick blood test with results delivered within 15 minutes. The test looks for a specific antibody and depending if it is found in the blood, the count will depend whether the infection is currently active and whether a swab test will need to be taken. Fortunately, our tests came back negative so we could finally take our masks off and head to reception for check-in.

There’s a mini PPE kit of hand sanitiser and 2 masks in the bathroom but masks aren’t required anywhere except the minimart and spa. There’s sanitiser at every bar and restaurant and the housekeeping team are constantly visible, always cleaning and sanitising surfaces. The staff wear masks all the time but otherwise, the resort is a blissful covid free bubble.

There’s no bar service, only table service and there’s currently no buffet. The only downside is having to book a table for breakfast and dinner. You can prebook 3 for each, with walk-ins allowed at lunch. I emailed before arrival to book and then booked 3 more dinner reservations on the hotel app so had most of our dinners sorted before we checked in. You can’t book breakfast reservations in the app so sorted these at reception. The only downside to this is having set meal times adds rigidity to your day, which isn’t ideal when on holiday.

After what has been a pretty rubbish year, I’m so glad that my Ikos experience was able to go ahead as planned. I didn’t leave the resort for the full week, ate and drank my body weight every day, sat in the sun, reading books. What else could I ask for?

Date of trip: September 2020

Price paid: £900pp for 7 nights in an inland facing room booked via Stayforlong, excluding flights.

Points earned: None, I paid for this trip with a cash back credit card rather than a points credit card.


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