Ruth Gardner, partner Will, plus children Bea, 6, and Rory, 3, went in search of some early summer sunshine
Why we went
We wanted to travel in early May to somewhere it was hot enough to sunbathe outside comfortably.
We booked EasyJet flights directly from Gatwick to Thessaloniki. It’s a three-hour early morning flight, which meant we arrived at the hotel in time for lunch on the terrace. The transfer time between Thessaloniki and the hotel was 90 minutes – not ideal with two excited small children, but the drive was a spectacular one through lush mountains and olive groves, with glimpses of the sea popping up regularly, which helped keep them amused. You can pay for a private taxi transfer (the hotel will organise any car seats required), or mini bus via the hotel, or you can hire a car.
The family-owned Eagles Palace Hotel is nestled attractively into a gentle sea-edge cliff on a bend in the road to the nearby small town of Ouranoupolis. The welcome could not have been more courteous and relaxed and we were ushered to a sunny terrace with complimentary drinks while we completed our check-in.
The hotel offers a variety of family rooms, from standard double with travel cot (supplied), to adjoining rooms with sliding door, or junior suites. All 161 rooms have a balcony, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV and king size bed, plus some have a sea view, too. The hotel has recently been refurbished to a high standard, and comfort and service are paramount. There are four restaurants, two pools (one children’s), a playground, spa, private beach, library, shop, beach- and pool-side bars, a winery, private bungalows, a free children’s club, and a beauty salon.
The hotel can supply car seats, travel cots, highchairs, a baby-sitting or baby-listening service, and add child beds to create a family room. There are supermarkets nearby for emergency nappy supplies, and access to a doctor 24/7. Children are made to feel welcome all over the hotel, and there are lifts to take you and your buggy down to beach level, or up to the highest floor. Paths around the front and back of the hotel, along the beach and through the grounds are flat and buggy-friendly, with only the steep stone steps up from the beach, and down from the hotel terrace to the pool area a bit arduous.
What we ate
Most guests opt for half-board, as did we, taking our breakfast and dinner either in the large dining room or on the outdoor terrace. The European buffet was generous and delicious. Each night is themed and during our stay we experienced the delights of Greek (naturally), Italian, Balkan and fish cuisines, and couldn’t find fault. Child-friendly options include pancakes, sausages, bread, pastries, fruit, yogurt and eggs-done-every-way for breakfast, plus plenty of pasta, chicken, kebabs, pizza, salads and vegetables for dinner.
The chef is more than happy to puree anything on the menu for young babies. There isn’t a dedicated children’s menu but our two had no trouble finding something they liked every mealtime. Besides, there was always the beach and pool bar snack menus of toasted sandwiches, burgers or baguettes to top them up with when hunger pangs struck at midday or late afternoon.
What we did
There’s a free children’s club for those aged three and over, and both Bea and Rory loved it. Staff are bi-lingual and fully-accredited, and there are lots of activities to keep children amused. In the meantime you can sleep, sunbathe, scuba-dive or pamper yourselves (as we did shamelessly) in some well-deserved ‘adult’ time.
In the unlikely event that your children will want to drag themselves away from paddling on the beach, splashing in the pool, larking in the playground or trying new activities in the children’s club then there is a free shuttle bus into the nearby small town of Ouranoupolis, or a boat trip around the peninsula to take in the dramatic views of Mount Athos and its ancient monasteries. But that’s about it.
For older teens there’s a scuba diving and sailing club, plus tennis courts. The hotel can also help organise excursions to local sights, hikes and cycle rides, but these are more adult-orientated.
Why we would go back
Unless you want a high volume, action-packed holiday (which this most definitely is not) there’s really nothing to dislike about this idyllic hotel with its charming staff and beautiful location. The rooms are luxurious, the service outstanding (although all this doesn’t come cheap!). Also quite enchanting are the resident house martins and swallows who spend their days swooping, chattering and nest-building around the pool and terrace.
Seven nights bed and breakfast midseason (May), for a family of four (two adults, two children under 5 sharing a family suite) costs from £1484. For further details, see www.eaglespalace.gr
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