Travelers from the Americas and Asia are beginning to figure out what Europeans have known for decades: If you want to get away from it all to relax in Greece for a long weekend or a weeklong vacation, avoid the major cities and popular tourist spots and go to Halkidiki.

Long known as an agricultural backbone in Macedonia, Halkidiki offers farm-to-table fresh food; stunning, iconic historic sites; a unique beauty distinct from the Greek islands; and direct access to the uncrowded blue waters of the North Aegean Sea.

Since 1969, one of the best-known getaways on the Kassandra peninsula of Halkidiki is less than an hour drive due south from the Thessaloniki International Airport—the Ammon-Zeus hotel.

Halkidiki, Greece, a peninsula in the province of Macedonia

Halkidiki, Greece (in red), a peninsula in the province of Macedonia, Greece (light brown)

 

The Ammon-Zeus Hotel

The Ammon Zeus is the first hotel complex to offer all-inclusive destination services in Halkidiki. It isn’t just a hotel, though. It is a destination in and of itself.

Hotel rooms present a clean, modern, minimalist design convenient for the broadest range of travelers. All rooms feature private balconies. You can choose an ocean or garden facing view.

There’s a good reason the hotel looks brand-new: it is. The entire structure was stripped to the frame during the winter months between 2016-2018 and rebuilt from the inside out.

Owner Fay Psychopoulou says her father bought the property in 1969, began construction of the hotel, and discovered the ancient Greek temple of Ammon-Zeus (460 B.C.E.) on the property. The rooftop of the hotel provides the best view of both the ruins and the magnificent hotel pool bordering the Aegean Sea.

View the Ammon-Zeus Ruins and Hotel Pool

View the Ammon-Zeus Ruins and Hotel Pool

 

The hotel site is also home to a defunct 1865-era Russian Orthodox monastery of Saint Panteleimon. When in service, it was a branch of the Mount Athos monasteries located on the third, or Athos, finger of Halkidiki. Orthodox Christian guests delight at the notion of offering prayers when the church is open for viewing.

The Russian Orthodox Monastery of St Panteleimon at the Ammon Zeus Hotel

The Russian Orthodox Monastery of St Panteleimon at the Ammon Zeus Hotel

 

Services

Beach, Pool, and Spa

Hotel services are extensive. You can relax in a hotel beach chair on the sands of the Aegean under an umbrella, push a button, and order a drink of your choice right from your chair. You can immerse yourself in the flawless Blue Flag beach water with no concern about your stuff. A safe, built into the umbrella table next to your beach chair, offers this convenient peace of mind.

Of course, you can swim or sun around the pool right next to the outdoor bar, hit the spa or the gym, or opt for a massage at the spa or right at the beach. Those with seaside rooms can sit on the balcony, take in the 180° view of the Aegean, bask in the sun, and enjoy room service.

Waterside safety is a top priority. That’s why the Ammon-Zeus spares no expense to run a Blue Flag beach. The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (EEPF) runs this program in the country. It is the gold standard worldwide for environmentally safe, clean water beaches. Greece stands second in the world only to Spain with 519 Blue Flag beaches throughout the country. Halkidiki holds the in-country record with 89 beaches winning this prestigious award. At the Ammon-Zeus, the beach is cordoned off from external activities.

A partial view of the Ammon-Zeus Spa

A partial view of the Ammon-Zeus Spa

Want to bring the kids with you to this hotel? The Ammon-Zeus has got you covered. There is an outside playground, playroom, and separate swimming pool just for kids. And for those with the ultra-young, the hotel offers baby cots. A doctor is on call to serve hotel guests.

Outdoor and VIP Services

If you’re the adventurous or outdoors type, hotel staff can set you up for a balloon flight or a boat trip; to rent cars, motorcycles or bikes; to take scuba diving lessons; to go water-skiing; or to chill out with yoga lessons. Some of these services are for an extra charge. You’ll see para-sailors and jet-skiers if you’re at the beach, but they cannot enter the Blue Flag area.

If you’re looking for a destination wedding spot, the Ammon-Zeus might be right up your alley. Marriage services are on the hotel menu. All you have to do is bring your significant other.

Services would be for naught absent the cheerful, attentive staff at the Ammon-Zeus. The staff is among the best we’ve seen anywhere in the world.  They work efficiently as a team, and they’ll tell you if you’re not happy, they are not happy. Fay holds staff meetings daily to orchestrate the efforts of the day, and her efforts pay off. You can see it in guest smiles and hear it in the lavish praise they heap on the hotel staff all-day long.

Culinary

The Culinary Staff at the Ammon-Zeus with the author.

The Culinary Staff at the Ammon-Zeus with the author.

Meal service is twice a day—breakfast and dinner—and both are buffet-style. That’s right. Buffet style. They are the most eclectic and tasty buffet-style food we’ve ever eaten anywhere.

Culinary creations stem from the genius of master chef Dimitris Papageorgiou. What’s his secret with the buffet food? First, all the food is fresh. Plant foods are sourced locally. Second, his staff employs a “swap out” strategy at the buffet. You won’t find dried out or burnt foods in Ammon-Zeus buffet trays.  

Somehow, Dimitris makes it look easy to roll out his panoply of scrumptious offerings twice a day. He mentors students majoring in food science and culinary studies from various universities. He runs a happy, productive team. The smiles, ooh’s and aah’s by guests tell the entire story. The food is just that good.

Fay says, … Getting the food right is one of the hardest jobs for us. Unlike other hotels that cater to just one type of group, we must create dishes that appeal to a wide audience. The mild, Mediterranean dishes are best …”

 

L-R: Youvetsi (beef-rice); Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves); Yemistes (Stuffed Pepper; Lobster slice; and Mussels

L-R: Youvetsi (beef-rice), Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Yemistes (Stuffed Pepper), Lobster slice, and Mussels

 

The Dessert Table at the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

The dessert table at the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

 

Farm fresh vegetable mix-Ammon-Zeus Hotel

Farm-fresh vegetable mix at the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

 

Local Color

Some guests may find a need to leave the hotel complex from time to time. The nearby village of Kallithea is a 10-minute walk or quick taxi ride away and offers restaurants, cafés, clothing, grocery stores, souvenir and jewelry shops, furriers, and pharmacies.

If you find an urge to go out on the town, you’ll be happy to learn some the biggest and most well-known clubs and bars in Halkidiki are in or just outside of Kallithea. But you may not find a need to leave the property at all. The hotel offers live entertainment at the cocktail bar at various times throughout the week.

Aris and Kate-Entertainers at the Ammon-Zeus

Aris and Kate—Entertainers at the Ammon-Zeus

 

Serenity

The multi-decade success of this 126-room hotel is proof that a self-contained destination in and of itself is precisely what many travelers crave. A quick walk around reveals one reason why—multicultural appeal. You’ll hear German, English, French, Italian, Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, and other languages spoken by guests throughout the hotel.

Take a look around the Ammon-Zeus, and you’ll note you have one thing in common with all other guests: a desire to bask in the soothing Aegean experience. Many soak up the atmospheric ambiance at dawn and dusk on their hotel room balconies. Others enjoy the live music shows near the pool and outdoor bar. Some sit and ponder all hours of the day and night on a jetty nearby.

In the end, the testimonials of guests say it all. A couple from Britain said “… This is our first time here, but we’ll be back. But after seeing Halkidiki, we want to see the rest Northern Greece…”

A view of the Aegean at Sunset from the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

A view of the Aegean at Sunset from the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

 

When To Go–Finding Deals

The Ammon-Zeus is open during the high season that spans April through October. You’ll find the best prices and package deals directly from the hotel if you sign up for the early bird specials via the hotel Email alert list.

In 2018, the hotel ran a Black Friday special in late November offering a30 percent off regular prices for early bird sign-ups. Subscribers could combine this discount with other offerings at the time. They also run a Christmas reminder alert that may embed inducements for early signups.

Nightime view of the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

Nighttime view of the Ammon-Zeus Hotel

 

How To Get There

International visitors can fly into Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG). The hotel lies due south of this city about a 54-minute drive down the A-24 to the town of Kallithea. The hotel provides a shuttle bus service to and from the airport. This fits right in with the all-inclusive, get away from it all destination service central to the hotel’s business model.

You can also rent a car if you wish to explore the Kassandra peninsula. Economy Car Rentals offers competitive rates and will allow rentals for longer than 30-days for those with long-term travel plans.

Hotel

Ammon Zeus Hotel
Kallithea, Halkidiki 63077, Greece
Tel: +30 23740 22356
Email: reservations@ammon-zeus.gr
https://ammon-zeus.gr/

Links

Social Media — Ammon-Zeus Hotel

Copyrights

The author is the source of all the photos in this article. All rights reserved.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks Pass Partout-Tourism Marketing and the Halkidiki Tourism Organization, Thessaloniki, Greece for sponsoring his visit to the Ammon-Zeus. The assessments in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the Ammon-Zeus Hotel management, Pass Partout-Tourism Marketing, or the Halkidiki Tourism Organization.