Going Greek: The All-Inclusive Vacation You Didn’t Know Existed
One word you will seldom hear, if at all (unless perhaps you overhear me speaking to my children) while at an IKOS resort, is “no.”
Truly, I don’t think there was one request I, or anyone in my family, had while visiting either Ikos Dassia or most recently, the newest resort to join the Ikos family, Aria, that wasn’t met obligingly. The service is truly second to none.
Whenever I’m asked how I discovered Ikos- this seemingly too-good-to-be-true, deal-of-a-lifetime, five-star, Greek-owned, all-inclusive resort, I tell whoever is asking my secret: I googled “best all-inclusive resort in the world” and Ikos came up. And that’s the truth.
At that time, there were only two Ikos resorts (there are currently four, with their fifth- and first to be located outside of Greece- opening this coming May of 2020 in Marbella, Spain).
When Ikos says, “all-inclusive,” which they’ve appropriately coined “infinite lifestyle,” they mean it. This isn’t “all inclusive with a 50% discount off room service” or with “a slight up-charge for a particular brand of liquor.” I’ve seen many “all-inclusive” resorts exclude bottles of wine from their list of amenities, or require out-of-pocket fees for specialty coffees or the like, but at Ikos, it’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of environment- and you get more than you can imagine, for a fraction of what it would cost you to get it anywhere else.
All of the Ikos resorts are quite perfectly appointed amidst sand and sea, and it’s clear that the destinations have all been very carefully selected, as each Ikos location boasts some of the most beautiful views in the world. The company’s first location, Ikos Olivia, located on Greece’s mainland in Halkidiki, really set the bar high for those to follow, redefining the luxury vacation for everyone from young honeymooners to retirees, and families of all ages, in between.
After Olivia there was Oceania, also in Halkidiki, followed by Dassia and then Aria, on the Islands of Corfu and Kos. And fans of this travel-forward company are counting down the days until Ikos Andalusia’s Springtime opening on the Costa del Sol, Spain.
So far, we’ve stayed at Ikos Dassia and Aria, and the sunsets alone- illuminating the otherwise neutral hues of the buildings, with glorious pinks, purples, yellow and blues- like everything else about these exquisite properties, are truly magical. What’s also remarkable? At Aria, on the island of Kos, there are ancient ruins in multiple locations, which are protected and prominently displayed for history lovers to admire and enjoy.
Ah, the food (because isn’t this the reason we travel)?
Until Ikos, whenever I heard the term “all-inclusive,” I imagined hoards of boisterous college-aged kids, sipping large, frozen, well-quality drinks in all shades of the rainbow, around an overcrowded resort pool, proudly displaying their brightly-colored plastic wrist-bands to bartenders… in between- of course- quasi-unidentifiable meals at the cafeteria-style, on-site buffet. This was never my idea of a vacation- even when I was a boisterous college kid, myself.
Fast forward to present time, and having discovered the Ikos brand feels like a giant leap for traveling mankind. With five incredible restaurants to choose from at the two first, and smallest, of the Ikos hotels the cuisine could not be more different from the Spring Breaker’s special, previously pictured in my head.
Each resort provides guests with a variety of culinary choices, with plenty of local Greek dishes for those wanting to fully immerse themselves in the world of Ikos, while also giving diners the opportunity to transport their senses to other international locations, by feasting at either Provence- the appropriately-named French restaurant, Fresco- where one can enjoy pizzas, pasta and other Italian delights, Anaya- a rather exquisite Asian hot spot with a variety of boldly flavorful dishes coming from the eastern continent, and now Olivia- the newest, Spanish-style restaurant, and the company’s way of getting clients excited about Andalusia. It’s not surprising that the menus at Ikos were created by Michelin-starred chefs, or that “the food!” is always one of the first things mentioned by Ikos guests and reviewers.
I’m always wary of any kind of cabernet/cruise ship- style entertainment while on vacation (I will say, though, that Disney Cruise Line knocks it out of the park…). Being a recovering NYC theater-major, I often shy away from such productions, but when the kids wanted to go and watch one of the nightly Ikos performances in the outdoor theater, I just couldn’t say no.
I was more than pleasantly surprised at the caliber of talent in this young, energetic group of actors, dancers and musicians, all coming from the U.K., many of which have- or will- perform on London’s West End. We caught a variety of shows with themes such as “British Invasion” (we heard everything from the Beatles to the Spice Girls), “Michael Jackson,” “Music From the 2000s” and “Disney Favorites.” Needless to say, there was something for everyone.
-Taking the Kids-
This may be hard to believe, but both our kids, now seven and five, when asked to name their favorite holiday destinations, put Ikos and Disney World as equals, tied for number one. For the past few years, whenever I’d try to include them in the planning of our next adventure, it would be difficult for me to receive any answer but “Disney!!!!” when asking them where they’d like to go next (…I mean, they’re kids!). But it goes to show just how versatile and family-friendly the Ikos brand really is that we’ve made this kind of progress. With an activity-packed Kids Club- run by Britain-based company Worldwide Kids- Tennis Lessons, Bike Rides, Football/Soccer Camp, Water Sports and ice cream available around the clock, it’s no wonder the company has won over our two young travelers.
-When To Go-
All of the Ikos resorts are open seasonally, from April/May through October (the exact dates vary slightly, depending on the particular resort), with Summer, for obvious reasons, being the high season. This, of course, is reflected in the nightly rate, with the cost for a 1-week stay for two adults and two children being- on average- literally 3X higher if you visit in July or August, vs. if you were to take your trip during the month of October (the difference being to the tune of roughly 800 euro, per night). Many people will read this and think “Why would we go to a European beach resort in the fall? It will be too cold!” But fortunately, the average temperature, for any and all of the Ikos locations during that time frame, hangs out around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea temperature is warmer than anything we are used to being from coastal New England, even during the hottest part of the year at home, and the pools, you’d be happy to know, are all heated. If you’re able, I highly recommend traveling during the “shoulder season” and taking advantage of the fantastic prices and what truly is, my definition of blissfully perfect weather.
-A Whole New World-
I understand that many seasoned travelers may balk at the thought of an all-inclusive resort, but I urge those who will, to put all preconceived opinions on this vacation style aside when considering Ikos. A world where culture and comfort not only coexist, but work together beautifully to create the ultimate experience for tourism-lovers everywhere, the Ikos brand is sure to become part of your travel rotation as more and more gorgeous locations open up around the world.
A traveler since childhood, Juliana Fraioli Wilson has always had a love for exploring. She is a published writer and an accomplished business owner with a background in music and art. Join Juliana, her husband Ryan, and their two kids in Wanderland! Follow along as they share tips, tricks, recipes and reviews from some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.