After an uneventful flight, it was nice to be greeted by the flock of Ikos reps at the airport and whisked to our private transfer. I was disappointed to be in a standard taxi and not an Ikos branded Merc, especially when we had booked Deluxe.
It took about 40 minutes to get to the hotel, which was expecting a busy arrivals day and check in was conducted in the theatre, which added to a bit of a disappointing start.
One of the USPs of Ikos is their check-in experience. Your bags are whisked away, you’re offered champagne, cocktail or drink of your choice and a cool towel to wash off the airplane funk. Sitting in the lobby bar with your drink in hand and your personal check-in agent is special and sets the Ikos tone. I really missed it. We were offered champagne and still had a personal check-in but the feel of the theatre wasn’t Ikos. Still, it’s better than standing at a long desk like you would at other hotels.
After checking in, we were taken by golf buggy to our suite. The narrow road only wide enough for one vehicle, and a maintenance truck was blocking our path. The truck moved a bit but not enough for us to get past. I suggested we pull to the side, let the truck reverse and then we pull in front of him. After some chatter in Greek, the truck moved forward enough for us to get to where we needed to be.
To be fair, had I known where we were going, I’d have just got out and walked and whilst I found the situation hilarious, like a Faulty Towers comedy sketch, a less relaxed guest could have easily got annoyed by the whole thing.
However. The suite. Oh my word. We’d booked a deluxe junior suite with private garden and the disappointment with our arrival just seemed to evaporate away. The signature blue and cream tones of the furniture and tiled floors, the giant, blue fabric headboard framing the king size bed make for a calm, comfortable space to call home.
The little garden had a table, sofa, 2 chairs and 2 sun beds. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t meet our standards of “private” but it absolutely did. Our suite (5107) was at the end of a small corridor so we only had a neighbour at one side. Even then, there was a housekeeping cupboard in between so barely any neighbour noise at all. The garden had high hedges and whilst overlooking the deluxe pool and Aegean Sea, the pool area was about 6 feet below the level of the garden so anyone walking past couldn’t easily see in to the garden. The only downside is that the smoking area was directly below so whenever anyone was smoking, the smell would drift up. Fortunately, hardly anyone smoked whilst we were in the garden so it wasn’t a problem for us.
My other concern was whether the garden would get much sun, and being south west facing, we had sun from around 10am until 7pm. We were there in April so at the height of summer, it would probably be better.
As it was April with a high chance of rain, that’s why we booked a suite with a lounge and garden. If it chucked it down all week, at least we had a decent size space to relax and when the sun came out, we could just pop out in to the garden. We wouldn’t usually book a suite so it was a nice treat. The deluxe upgrade was only an extra €250 for our 6 night stay which felt like a no brainer. We definitely got value from the upgrade supplement – the bottle of Tattinger is €40 RRP, the massages around €100 and we appreciated the additional amenities such as full size toiletries, deluxe pool area and exclusive menus. The complimentary beach bag is nice but very feminine. I gave mine to my mum! You also get a higher spec model of Tesla, but we didn’t bother with the free car hire day. Whilst we felt we got value from the upgrade to deluxe, the pricing is dynamic so you’ll need to be the judge of whether it’s worth it for you.
There’s a short walk through video of the suite on my Facebook page. I’ve also shared some top tips on saving money on Ikos holidays!
As well as beautiful bedrooms and perfectly manicured grounds, Ikos is renowned for its spectacular food and drinks. Your bog standard all inclusive, this is not. At Oceania, we had the choice of the lobby bar with breathtaking views over the pools and Aegean Sea, the buffet restaurant, Flavours and a la carte restaurants Ouzo (Greek, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Provence (French, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Beach Club (sea food, open for lunch and dinner) and Anaya (Asian, open for dinner only). There’s also the deluxe pool bar, main pool bar and beach bar which serve drinks and snack during the day. This choice is standard across all Ikos hotels, with some of the larger properties having additional restaurants with a local influence.
Standard room guests can prebook 3 a la carte restaurants prior to arrival whereas Deluxe guests can prebook for every night. Either way, pre-booking is essential – the further ahead, the better – to avoid not being able to get a table. During our stay, all of the a la carte restaurants were fully booked, every night. This caused us an issue when rubbish weather threatened our Deluxe Beach Dinner, but more on that below.
In summary, all of the restaurants are fantastic. The quality is excellent and the flavours swoonable. Presentation is thoroughly considered and we didn’t have a bad meal, not on this trip or any of the other two. Portions can be a tad small so a third dish “for the table” is usually advised. One thing that stood out compared to previous visits is the wide range of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. Ikos is committed to sustainability and that really comes through in their menus. Ikos are also very attentive to allergies and intolerances and have an extensive range of gluten and dairy free options.
In detail, below is a bit more about our experience in each restaurant.
For our first dinner at Oceania, we shared chicken gyoza and vegetable spring rolls for starter. The gyoza were probably the nicer of the two although the spring roll was lovely and crispy.
As a main, I had the duck and the other half had the tofu stir fry. We shared the satay skewers as a side as they’re not really big enough as a main on their own.
Whilst I loved the subtlety of the white chocolate and coconut dessert, the richness of the other half’s chocolate mouse won the dessert round. It was more like a ganache than a mouse and very delicious.
The bugasta at breakfast was everything that a breakfast should be. The vanilla cream is one of my favourite things to have at Ikos having fallen in love with it at Olivia in 2020.
The BBQ lunch at Ouzo, whilst offering a delicious range of salads, fish and meats, was a little chaotic in terms of service and not to Ikos standards. The staff worked hard but there just wasn’t enough of them to look after a full restaurant. To be fair, after providing feedback we had a personal apology and explanation from Florin the Food and Beverage Manager which was very much appreciated. We got to know him quite well by the end of the holiday though…
We saved dinner in Ouzo for our last night as it had consistently been a favourite during previous Ikos holidays and it was the right decision. Service was better under Florin’s watchful eyes and the food spectacular.
The beetroot salad with tiny cubes of apple and raisins was amazing, as were the zucchini bites.
I couldn’t decide between pork or lamb kleftiko for main, so had both whilst the other half had spinach risotto. As we were split over which dessert to have, we ordered three! You can’t have a meal at Ouzo without having the signature poached pear, so I had that, the other half ordered the walnut pie from the vegan menu and we shared the orange cake. All three were delicious and I was surprised by how much I liked the orange cake, as it’s not usually a flavour I go for.
The Libra rose wine was the standout wine of the week too.
Celeriac mash. That’s all I have to say. I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with a side dish. The lamb main was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle but the celeriac mash was the star of the show.
Breakfasts at Provence are always a treat and, of course, the vanilla cream stuffed croissant is an absolute must. I also love the yogurt bowls they do for breakfast but I’m really just here for the croissant!
Beach Club is the smallest restaurant and there was a queue for tables at lunch, so I’d recommend getting there early if you want to avoid a wait. The Beach Club kitchen also provides the meals for the Deluxe Beach Dinner which limits the number of diners the restaurant can serve. If you are there at lunch, you must have the French fries (which aren’t really French fries at all, but scrumptious)!
Dinner at the Beach Club was one of my favourites. I had crispy mackerel and prawns and I’m glad I ordered two mains as neither were massive. Whilst the main was one of the tastiest dishes of the week, the dessert was the worst. It was supposed to be a coconut mouse with mango sorbet but there was hardly any coconut mouse and was pretty much just sorbet, which was disappointing.
I found the menu at Fresco the least appealing but the food was actually really good. Feeling a little bit adventurous, I ordered the tuna tartare for starter and was impressed with the freshness of the flavour.
The chicken breast main course was perfectly cooked with a lovely crispy skin and salty jus. The other half’s cheesy pizza was also very good.
Deluxe Beach Meal
We were worried a few days before the meal as the weather forecast wasn’t great and the evenings were chilly as it was. To be fair, in April, thats to be expected. The deluxe concierge kept saying all of the restaurants were fully booked but we were waitlisted for a cancellation.
On the day, it rained and winds hit around 25 miles per hour. We asked again if the meal on the beach was happening and were told it was. A decision to cancel or not would be made at 4pm. As the rain had stopped, the meal went ahead.
I am glad we booked for 7pm as there was still some warmth in the sun and the sunset was beautiful. However, once the sun had set, it was cold and we were given blankets to wrap up in. As the beach is publicly owned, the hotel isn’t allowed to put our heaters.
Whilst the rain had stopped, the wind hadn’t died down and food was literally being blown off my plate and sand blown in to my food. The cool wind took away any heat in the food.
Whilst the food is excellent quality, as you would expect, the menu is pretty much the same as the Beach Club with a few additional items. The portions were bigger though. I had sea bream ceviche to start and fillet steak for main. We were told that the deluxe beach meal is the only place to have fillet steak and I don’t recall seeing it on any other menu. The other half had the tofu skewers, for the third time.
On the whole, I didn’t rate the experience highly. The bean bag chairs were comfortable but the sitting position is too slouchy to eat, and it was simply too cold and windy to eat outside.
We did speak to Florin, the Food and Beverage Manager, who greeted us on the beach and he explained that as the hotel was full of couples, the tables for two were reducing the overall capacity of the restaurants. That being said, the hotel should have a suitable backup plan for poor weather which retains the elevated experience the beach meal is intended to deliver. Substituting it for the buffet isn’t good enough. Sara, the deluxe concierge came to see us during dinner at Ouzo on our last night and this was the feedback we gave.
If you’re considering the beach meal outside of the peak summer months, I’d give it thorough thought as chances are, you won’t be able to change it last minute if the weather isn’t great.
When we visited Olivia in 2020, the buffet wasn’t open due to Covid restrictions and apart from 1 breakfast at Dassia in 2022, we had never eaten at Flavours on any of our other Ikos holidays. But, this isn’t just a buffet, this is an Ikos buffet.
The range and quality of food is as you would expect from Ikos. We had a couple of breakfasts and lunches in Flavours during this trip and enjoyed all of it. Whilst the food is great, Flavours is the only place you feel like you’re at an all inclusive resort. There is an adults only section, in a glass walled room so that really dampened the noise when it was busy.
Champagne, cocktails, mocktails, spirits, soft drinks and barista coffees – it’s all here and all included.
The Ikos wine cellar has over 300 different varieties of wine and each of the restaurants will have a selection perfectly matched to the menu, although you could order a wine from another restaurant and they would bring it for you.
The cocktails are professional made, to order and even if your fave isn’t on the menu, they’ll still make it for you. The cocktail list is extensive and a what better way to spend your holiday than trying every one?!
As well as the lobby and pool bars, there’s also an adults only bar and a nightclub.
Ask anyone why they return to Ikos year after year and service will one of, if not the, top answer.
It’s not faultless, nothing ever is. We had a couple of issues which we had to feedback (service in Ouzo and the lack of backup for the Deluxe beach dinner) but otherwise, the service is unparalleled. They’ve actually made it hard on themselves; as soon as it slips, you notice because it’s unexpected and out of place. On a couple of occasions, we waited just a few minutes too long for our drinks or for the order to be taken. In any other bar or restaurant, you wouldn’t have noticed, but these little blips stand out because they’re so unusual. Senior management do listen though and are visible, which makes all the difference. They’re honest and explain why things happened and it’s hard to not respect that.
So after another cracking Ikos holiday…Aria 2024??
Want to save money on your next Ikos holiday? This might help…
Date of trip: April 2023
Price paid: £899 per person for 6 nights in a Deluxe Junior Suite with Private Garden, ultra all inclusive (excluding flights). Booked direct with Ikos resorts.
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