Seeking a spot of sunshine from the winter gloom, Angelina Villa-Clarke soaks up the latest opening on this charming Greek island…
If you had reservations about all-inclusive hotels, then Ikos Dassia in Corfu will make you rethink all your prejudices. The Ikos group has been making waves with their luxury take on pre-paid holidays for a while, with two resorts already well established in Halkidiki. The latest property in Corfu raises their game even further.
Ikos prides itself on a luxury take on all-inclusivity. Restaurants are well-conceived and headed up by Michelin-starred chefs and the hotels’ interiors are stylish and boutique in design. Perfect for families, it offers a sophisticated yet fun approach, with fine dining, great service and chic rooms, but does away with the continuous dipping into pockets for ice creams which, let’s face it, is par for the course when holidaying with the little ones. The group also haven’t ruled out the prospect that child-free adults also want this top-end practical approach to hospitality and so there are also child-free zones and VIP de-luxe areas.
Found on the picturesque Bay of Dassia, with its own private beach, the new Ikos Dassia is the largest property yet, with 411 bedrooms, suites and villas. Divided across two hubs – Sea and Sky – each have their own lobbies, restaurants, pools and rooms (although guests can use both sides of the resort by reaching either by sauntering along the beach promenade or jumping into one of the golf-cart shuttles).
Days are kicked off by meandering along to Flavours – the best restaurant for breakfast due to its vast choice on offer – although you’ll be spoilt for choice regardless as there are nine different restaurants in total. Set in 23 acres of fragrant gardens, the resort feels lush and spacious and guests can hire bikes to zip around if they wish. At the beach club, there’s a range of water sports to try out as well as kayaks, pedalos and canoes to hire from the boat house. There are kids clubs and babysitting, if you want an afternoon of pampering at the spa or just to switch off by one of the many pools, but there’s also lots on offer for families to enjoy together – from afternoon football, tennis courts and evening entertainment.
Nice design touches include verdant living walls, wide terraces with chic rattan furniture – ideal to enjoy a coffee while overlooking the bay, and breezy lobby-lounge areas with comfy corners. Rooms are slick with polished floors, velvet beds and Moroccan-style statement lighting. At the top-end of the scale there are luxury villas with their own pools but the standard rooms are not to be sniffed at and are just as beautifully designed. The palette throughout has been inspired by the classic Greek colours of blue and white and most have some outside space – with balconies, terraces or private gardens.
While the buffet breakfast at Flavours is inspired, the highlight really does lie with the various cuisines on offer across the other restaurants, which all come into their own for evening meals. Anaya, for instance, is Asian inspired and offers a fusion-style menu in a chic dining room. You can start with Tom Yum Kung Thai Spicy Soap or Tuna Tartare with Thai Mayo. For mains, there’s Miso Marinated Salmon with Eggplant and Black Sesame or Hoisin Duck.
At Ouzo, the classic Greek restaurant, with menus by chef Lefteris Lazarou, you’ll sit facing the sea, in an all-white dining room. Choose from a modern take on the classics– such as Shrimps Saganaki cooked with Limnio Wine, Tomatoes and Oregano and Lamb Kleftiko with Potato Purée and be impressed with the innovative wine list.
As well as Fresco, for Italian specialities, Provence, which serves French cuisine and the modern Ergon Deli – there’s also Kerkyra, which focuses on local Corfiot dishes. The breezy restaurant is beach-chic in design withwoven furniture, sea views and driftwood features. It’s headed up by Greek Michelin-star chef Ettore Botrini, who is better known for his Corfu Etrusco restaurant, ranked 68th on the list of the world’s best restaurants. Top dishes include Baby Anchovies with Kefalotyri cheese, the traditional beef stew ‘Sofrito’ and Corfu–Venice Risotto with Cuttlefish Ink and Orange Zest.
Corfu itself is full of treasures to be discovered – from the city’s Venetian forts to the Achillion Palace built by Sissy, Empress of Austria. Luckily, Ikos Dassia’s ethos is all about encouraging guests to go out and explore and its Local Discovery concept includes a series of complimentary experiences that take guests beyond the hotel walls. The Mini Drive Adventure, for instance, means you can hire out one of the hotel’s Mini Coopers for the day. It’s the perfect way to zip around the island and discover some of its pretty bays and historic sites.
Guests are also offered a museum pass to visit one of Corfu’s three top museums – Capodistrias Museum, the only museum dedicated to Ioannis Capodistrias, first Governor of Greece and senior European diplomat, Casa Parlante Museum, providing a true insight into bygone Corfu and The Antivouniotissa Museum, showcasing post-Byzantine religious art.
Finally, the dine out option means you can eat out at a range of local tavernas and restaurants at no extra cost. With a complimentary shuttle service into Corfu old town – itself one of the most charming Ionian towns to wander around – it’s worth booking Rex, which is found on the Kapodistriou Street in the historic centre and offers a series of delicious Greek classics.
Next up, Ikos has its sights on Kos with a new hotel opening next year, followed by its first foray into Spain with Ikos Andalusia, opening in May 2020 in the historic town of Estepona, close to Marbella. It’s an immersive holidaying experience which is proving irresistible.
Rates at Ikos Dassia start from €230/£205 approx. per night based on two people sharing a double room. To book, please visit www.ikosresorts.com/resorts/ikos-dassia or call +30 23730 95300.