Miraggio isn’t a hotel. It’s an escape. A far-from-the-madding-crowd retreat positioned on Pallene, the first of the three fingers of the southern most part of Halkidiki, and also the name of the largest town.
Entering the reception, my eye is caught by the sweeping corridor that leads to a stunning view across the Aegean sea and towards Sithonia, the second and middle finger of this trio of peninsulas. It’s moments and scapes like this that give me such a fondness for Greece. The true blues of the water and deep olive greens of the steep hills.
And the ice-cold glass of local Greece sparkling wine, while I’m doted on for check in, works in their favour also. If Carlsberg did Greek holidays…
The property is vast and, as I blindly follow a smiling member of staff across the lobby, down several floors in the lift, before walking past a very select variety of shops, gliding by a fountain-filled pool, taking in another two pools as I swerve right and round a banana bend to my room – asides from the few people strewn on loungers, we don’t bump into a single person. And this bumper-pack sized hotel is at two-thirds capacity. Impressive.
In fact, it’s only really at breakfast – in their Kritamo Restaurant which caters for the half and full board guests, that you really get a sense of how many other inhabitants there are. And that’s because the breakfast is good. Really good. As is lunch and dinner. All served as a buffet. Without a soggy or tasteless morsel in sight. I’d recommend you lose a few pounds before you go because you’ll come away heavier and happier when you leave. Bellies full and lips licked.
And, again, here, you can’t escape that far-reaching view across Sithonia, the second finger all the way to Agion Oros, the third where you see, quite clearly, Mount Athos standing proud. Reachable by a 2-hour boat trip that costs 60 Euros for a round trip.
The fact that the hotel goes by its full name ‘Mirragio Thermal Spa Resort’ is down to a bit of good luck. When building began in 2015, they struck liquid gold when they found mineral-rich healing water, or ‘Thalassotherapy’, deep down underground. A few labs test later and their suspicions were confirmed – water rich in zinc, potassium, calcium sulphate, sodium and magnesium which, when absorbed by the body, stimulates the metabolism, detoxifies and boosts the lymph nodes and circulation.
Which you can – and I did – enjoy in the form of their four geothermal-water pools with a sliding-scale of temperatures, one of which leads you outside to an infinity view. Or, for something a little larger, I slide into the main pool and let the jets gently pummel the back of my neck, before nipping into the central reservation – a mini hydrotherapy circuit that pushes me along by a steady current.
Then there’s the usual spa jollies – dry saunas, wet steam room, a less-seen tepidarium equipped with a heated tiled bench that lines the entire room and keeps my toosh toasty. As well as a plunge pool which I avoid like the plague, instead opting for their sensory shower which I could stay in all-day long. It’s strictly adults only so, though über family-friendly, the pitter-patter of tiny feet stay firmly outside. By the sea, the bubbling outdoor pool, the kids pool or the main pool that surrounds a sunbed island, is crossed by two bridges and features what I would describe as a ‘mushroom’ fountain. Basically, the kids have plenty to be splashing in and out of to care that there’s a secret place where adults slip off to while they have the time of their life at hotel’s hub of fun Kids Planet.
Outside of the hotel there’s relatively little. Surrounded by olive-tree sprouting rolling hills, along an expansive and serene coastline, you’ll not be bothered by much. Maybe the far-and-few-between white fluffy cloud that likes to mess with your tanning schedule. But, if you’re getting itchy feet, there’s a ridiculous amount to do including but not limited to horse riding, numerous water sports, yoga, pilates, tennis, table tennis, day trips to Thessaloniki, or you can even charter your own boat. (Did I mention they have their own marina that can accommodate boats up to 180 feet? Sorry. Must have been distracted by the thought of sipping on another Piña Colada in the Mirage Bar.)
I’m not a massive fan of yoga for several reasons, but the woman who takes the class – a Mancunian called Katie – is one of the few instructors I’ve had which has actively encouraged people to take it easy and not be a competitive twat. And the early-morning (9am) sea breeze that brings your attention back round to that stretching sea view isn’t too shabby either.
I also do a spot of cycling when there. Being that it’s a naturally hilly area, I opt for the easy option as I’m far from Wiggins-fit. But my activity of choice (when boating isn’t an option) is the 5-wine tasting, accompanied by a charcuterie board complimented by a yummy fig jam. With the sommelier, Roxana Campeaneu, who strikes the right balance of knowledgeable without being uppity. The only way to make this better would be to take it onboard and enjoy it with the odd spray as we sail across the Aegean.
But, back on land, my favourite place is the string of cabanas that look out to the ocean. A little annoying that you have to pay €80 extra, but sparkling wine, water and a fruit platter is thrown in for good measure, so not so bad. Lying there as the sun slowly falls from the sky, colours turning bright blue to an amber glow, before the purple sets in, just…feels…so God Damn relaxing.
It makes up for the a-little-too-tepid-for-my-liking temperatures of the pools and melts away any concerns I have about deadlines and responding to the never-ending trail of emails, and it is where that infamous view is perhaps best enjoyed. In this escape this is my escape.
Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort is open April through November. Rooms start from as little €118 per night when you book B&B direct through the hotel, with the option to add half (€39 per person per night), full (€52 per person per night) or full plus (€58.50 per person per night) board. But, if you can afford it, I highly recommend indulging in a suite with your own private pool.
Flying direct takes around 3 hours from either London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leeds, Edinburgh or Newcastle. And flights are operated by EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways, Tui or Jet2.
Transfer takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes and is organised by the hotel if booked direct or through your tour operator.
Hannah Berry George is a Writer and Director. Find more from her at hannahberrygeorge.com or on Twitter and Instagram @veryberrygeorge.