Named 16th best hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in its 25 Top Hotels of 2019 awards is the Ikos Oceania in Nea Moudania, Greece. Voted for by millions of people this accolade is no mean feat. It goes to highlight the quality of hotels to be found in Greece, a country that has long been thought of as the home of the basic and dated accommodation.
Halkidiki has long been a holiday destination for Greek tourists and many people from the nearby city of Thessaloniki have their holiday homes there. Travellers from outside Greece are increasingly discovering the three green "fingers" of land that make up Halkidiki. With outstanding beaches, a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of activities and excursions, it is a great destination for all. But Halkidiki is particularly wonderful for the luxury traveller. Having predominantly Greek customers keeps hoteliers and restaurateurs on their toes. Quality is the watchword here. Halkidiki delivers luxurious comfort and a gastronomic experience that will keep you coming back for more.
The Ikos Oceania, like its sister hotel the Ikos Olivia in nearby Gerakini, has contemporary design in a soft pallet of colours. Choose from a range of elegant rooms and suites then enjoy sophisticated dining and opulent leisure facilities.
At the Oceania, the landscaped gardens cascade downhill to the private beach on the azure Aegean. The setting is lovely for a relaxing holiday and dining is especially recommended here. Choose from four à la carte restaurants, most with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Added to this the hotel offers a "Dine Out" experience taking guests to some of the best local restaurants for the perfect modern Greek food experience.
As well as the excellent beach, there are plenty of pools at the Ikos Oceania to suit all ages and styles, toddlers, children and adults, together with a heated indoor pool and a private pool for the exclusive use of Deluxe Collection guests. Enjoy all-day waiter service at your chosen pool for that extra touch of comfort. Or relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil spa.
Prefer a more active holiday? The Ikos Oceania has a huge range of included activities to keep everyone happy, including tennis, mountain biking, canoeing, aerobics, yoga and much, much more. With evening entertainment, bars and children's shows, there is always something happening at the Oceania. No wonder it is the people's choice!
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Greece has everything the traveller needs. Awe inspiring sightseeing, miles of beaches of every kind, hundreds of islands to visit and great weather for two thirds of the year. What it also has is fabulous gastronomy. The country still suffers from a terrible reputation for poor food gained from the sub-standard fare served to tourists in mass market hotels, the ubiquitous giros, and the limited menu on offer in Greek restaurants around the world. But Greece's cuisine today is actually fresh and fabulous. Today top chefs are developing a fusion of the traditional with a modern style. This rediscovery of Greek food heritage is winning acclaim and makes Greece a real foodie destination.
Foremost exponents of the reconstruction of well-known Greek dishes are Georgianna Chiliadaki & Nikos Roussos. Owners of Funky Gourmet in Athens, they have been awarded two Michelin stars for their avant guard twist on classics such as Pastitsio (macaroni with mince) and Horiatiki (Greek salad).
Fresh local ingredients are now being celebrated by renowned chefs such as Alexandros Kardasis and Sotiris Evangelou. No mention of top Greek chefs would be complete without Michelin starred Ettore Botrini. His restaurants in Corfu, Athens and now Rhodes set the bar high. Botrini can be seen on the Greek version of 'Kitchen Nightmares' and has published many recipe books. All of these chefs and many more are ensuring that Greek's culinary tradition is preserved but also taken to another level of excellence.
Greece has always produced top quality olive oil, fruit and vegetables and of course seafood. What many people don't know is that the more mountainous regions produce a vast range of cheeses - it's not just all about feta! The meat is some of the most succulent I have ever eaten, despite the preference for serving well done in most tavernas, even today. Instead of taking these great ingredients for granted, Greek chefs are now celebrating them.
Crete has been at the forefront in the revival of traditional Greek cooking since the 1990s. Its produce is excellent due to the long growing season and the Cretan people's connection to the land. Along with other notable regions and islands, Santorini with its fertile volcanic soil, the Peleponnese and Halkidiki with their world famous olives, there is so much variety in produce and cuisine to try in Greece.
All over Greece there are now opportunities for the foodie tourist to experience this first hand. Cookery classes, olive oil tastings, bakery demonstrations and all manner of meals are on offer. From the rustic to the very grand, you can find it all in Greece.
Celebrate the great culinary come back on a Tasteful Travel Greece tour. Get in touch to find out more.
Let's dispel the myth that Greek wine is all Domestica and Retsina. These days Greek wine offers award-winning, quality drinking. The 'Wine Roads' are routes through the wine regions of Greece, brought to you by an association of wine makers. The idea is that you can explore your chosen region by travelling in a logical way from winery to winery.
One of these routes is the Wine Road of Northern Greece. Actually it is a collection of routes with suggestions of beauty spots, historic places and museums to visit, as well as the best vineyard tours and tastings. Try the 'Wine Route of the Olympian Gods', 'Wine Route of Naousa' or, as we did, the 'Wine Route of Thessaloniki'. There are plenty to chose from and you can find full details on the association's website here.
Thessaloniki is one of the world's eternal cities. With its roots in Classical Greece, it thrived during the Byzantine era and lived through the Turkish occupation, as can be seen by the historic monuments, castles and churches scattered throughout the city. Excellent museums, particularly the Archaeological Museum which houses relics from Alexander the Great and the Byzantine Museum with its fascinating insight into more than a thousand years of history. Don't forget to swing by the White Tower, the symbol of the city which dominates the coastal landscape.
But Thessaloniki is not just a city living in the past. It has a beating heart of markets, bars and restaurants, as well as exciting night life. It also has access to nearby seaside and mountain resorts making it the ideal hub for a holiday or tour.
One of the highlights of this wine route for us is a visit to the Geravassiliou winery and museum. Take a tour around the vineyard and taste the award-winning wines in the cellar, set amongst ancient amphora and Venetian chandeliers. Your wine expert is informative about the grape varieties or blends in each wine. As part of your tour your guide will take you around the museum, mainly consisting of Vassili Geravassiliou's (the owner) collection of wine bottle openers. This gives a fascinating insight into the history of this humble tool, from ancient to elaborate. Other exhibits explain the wine maker's art.
A visit to Geravassiliou is a complete celebration of wine. And you might even meet Mr Geravassiliou!