Holiday at Ikos Aria - Greece
Holiday at Ikos Aria – Kos, Greece
On a gloomy winters day last year and after much research, I bit the bullet and booked a family holiday at the Ikos Aria resort in Greece. I had read so many reviews about the Ikos group and subsequently set my expectations high.
After a smooth flight with Jet2air and a quick 20 minute transfer, we arrived late at night at the newly opened resort (it had opened two weeks prior to our arrival). It looked amazing but with two exhausted children in tow, we were keen to get to our room and get them into bed, so we managed to get the children settled quickly.
We awoke early the next morning to the most stunning views and birdsong. The kids were excited to go and explore so we headed off for breakfast. What a treat it was to see the hotel in daylight, and a good breakfast set us up for the day. Of course, no sooner was breakfast finished, the children were eager to get to the swimming pools. The splash pad and childrens’ swimming pool is located next to one of the bigger pools. There was no shortage of sun loungers and the staff were quick to bring us towels, offer us drinks and pool bar service.
On our 3rd day, we took the courtesy bus from the hotel to Kos town. The bus departed the hotel at 9.30am and the outward journey took about 50 minutes. Our son enjoyed giving a running commentary of all that he could see on the drive, the few other passengers had a few giggles at his excitement of spotting windmills and tractors!
We took up the option of having the hotel prepare a packed lunch (needs to be booked 24 hours in advance) and we set off to explore the town, castle and harbour side. We also took the mini ‘train’ tour of the town (16 euros for two adults, children under 5 are free)– which was a good decision in the heat and when you have limited time. The journey back to the hotel was slightly quicker at 35 minutes and the kids had a nap on the way back.
We also enjoyed lots of time on the beach, the hotel has children’s play area set up in the shade with buckets, spades and other toys, you also get free 30 mins babysitting on the beach. With bar service and sun loungers on tap in the sunshine, what more could one ask for!
The hotel also has free bicycles in all sizes, so catering for every family member and they provide crash helmets too. The staff at the sports centre were so helpful and a pleasure to deal with on collecting and dropping of the bikes each day. This was a highlight for the kids and as the resort is large, there are ample paths for cycling, along with bike parking facilities. It was a good way to wear the kids out.
The staff go the extra mile and are very engaging, particularly with children, so much so, wheneer George saw us, he offered us a buggy ride around the resort, which included a guided tour of the grounds. The golf buggies come with seat belts too and the children loved the rides!
Included in the Ikos stay, is the option to use the mini car for a day. It needs to be pre-booked, and you can also request children’s car seats. We took the option to add on insurance for 12 euros. Once we had fitted the children’s car seats, we headed off to Plaka, a little forest that has peacocks and a gathering of cats. The cats are fed and neutered (all neutered cats have a snip in their ear) and enjoy living in the forest. The peacocks and peahens enjoy strutting around and making a racket. You just have to be mindful of where you walk to avoid any poop falling out from a peacock perched in the tree!
The next stop was the Thyme honey shop, where the children enjoyed tasting different types of honey as well as seeing all the products made from honey and bees wax. There was also a donkey on site, she was called Miele and was very well cared for and enjoyed saying hello to us all.
Next on our itinerary was the Traditional house of Kefalos. What a treat, the host was very engaging and took the time to give us a tour and answered all our questions. Our children enjoyed seeing how people lived ‘in the olden days’ and we finished off our visit with a tour of the lovely garden and enjoyed home made lemonade and pomegranate juice under the shade of the vine leaves. The children kept asking to go back to visit again!
Whilst on the mini adventure, we took the option of the Ikos dine out experience, and the hotel booked for us to have lunch at Mylotopi restaurant, the site of an old windmill that used to mill the flour for the surrounding villages. The view from the top of the hill is absolutely beautiful and we were also given a tour of the windmill. The windmill has been lovingly restored and has some wood that was retrieved from a shipwreck and you can see lots of inscriptions in it. Apparently when it was used as a flour mill, it was also a meeting point for dating, a sort of olden days Tinder if you like! As part of the windmill tour, we also got to see the traditional house and again we learnt some fascinating facts about how Greeks used to live.
I should also mention the food at Ikos, we tried all of the restaurants and enjoyed some incredible meals, nothing was too much effort for the staff and there is a wine list of 300 wines to appreciate. It is worth mentioning that the high chairs are spotless too, a rareity! Children are given little booklets and pencils to keep them occupied whilst awaiting their food.
We also took advantage of using the pedallos. Our 3 year old was a bit cautious about the adventure, until we told him the yellow life jackets made us look like Minions, then he bought into it! The kids enjoyed it so much, we went back to the water centre the following day and tried out the kayaks. This enabled us to get right up to Nikos island and go for a walk to explore the little church. The highlight was having some baby seagulls come along side us whilst we paddled on the water.
We also enjoyed the children's disco some evenings, as well as the shows which are also child friendly. After our 10 day stay, we were sad to leave and kudos to all the staff who made our stay memorable and relaxing. Safe to say, we are now converted to the Ikos brand!