Matthew Hampton discovers the range of activities on offer in Cyprus, and picks some of the best spas, walking trails, golf courses and more
Cyprus certainly packs a lot in. Yes, there are lots of resorts, but there are also golf courses, sailing schools, vineyards, walking trails…and you can even get married there.
The following holiday themes and suggestions should give you ideas to match your different clients’ preferences. All flights are included in the sample packages.
Cyprus built its reputation on good quality – if not especially cheap – hotels.
As Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean caught up in the four and five-star market, Cyprus had to go the extra mile to differentiate itself, and so began to develop its spa product.
Most spas are aimed at simple relaxation and de-stressing, but some will offer treatments for injuries, ailments or specific conditions.
Thalassa hotel’s Anagenisis Spa, for example, offers mothers-to-be a range of indulgent therapies, including a body toning wrap and breast-firming massage. Stop sniggering, gentlemen.
Detox: The Columbia Beach Hotel at Pissouri Bay has just added a new line of luxury skin products by French spa guru Daniele de Winter. The cosmetics boast anti-ageing properties and tie food into the treatment process. Olympic Holidays offers seven nights this spring from £815 per person.
Detach: The first and still one of the best super-luxury hotels on the island, the Anassa, has a secluded spot on the Akamas peninsula. Newly upgraded, the spa offers a range of treatments and all-natural products from The Organic Pharmacy. Olympic Holidays offers seven nights this spring from £1,305.
Pine-scented forests, meandering walking trails, charming, family-run inns…no, we’re not in Switzerland, but Cyprus’s Troodos Mountains.
The pace of life changes down a gear in this high-altitude haven in the centre of the island – and so too does the temperature. In winter it can snow and there are even a few ski runs.
Walking is the best activity though; there are four waymarked trails on the upper slopes, each taking their name from the Gods: Artemis, Atalante, Kaledonia and Persephone.
Visit in the spring as the flowers start to bloom, or in summer, when the heat on the coast gets a bit much.
Walk this way: Cosmos offers half-day jeep excursions from Paphos for a taster of the mountains. The tours cost £35.
Ain’t no mountain high enough: For real walking enthusiasts, Explore has a seven-day tour of Cyprus with time in the mountains, capital Nicosia and the wild Akamas Peninsula. Seven nights’ bed and breakfast leads in at £765, including flights, transfers and guiding.
Cyprus came a little late on to the golf scene, so there isn’t the variety of courses one would find in Portugal’s Algarve or southern Spain’s ‘Costa del Golf’.
But nor are there crowds of wannabe Tiger Woods trying to tee off all at once.
Instead, there are several good quality courses, mostly built in the last 10 years, which are starting to bed in nicely.
Minthis Hills, which opened as Tsada in 1994, certainly has an arresting location – in the grounds of a 12th century monastery. Perhaps the player’s prayers as they approach the green are more easily heard.
Most courses are in the Paphos district, but plans are under way for another close to Ayia Napa on the far eastern coast.
Above par: Secret Valley is an 18-hole, 72-par championship standard course. It’s easily accessible from Paphos, 14 miles away, and would suit any holiday golfer. Green fees are from €48 a round. Cadogan Holidays offers seven nights at the Annabelle in Paphos from £1,002, departing April 18.
A hole in one: The giant Aphrodite Hills complex has a championship-quality course and five-star InterContinental Hotel. It also has a tennis academy and plenty of other activities, such as mountain biking and horse riding. Non-sporty types might like to try the spa or take a cookery lesson. Sovereign Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board from £2,845 for a family of four, departing April 3. Green fees are from €105 a round.
The Med’s bread and butter, families are spoilt for choice in Cyprus. It’s not so much the variety of resorts – although there are plenty – but the standard of the hotels that keeps families coming back for more.
Choose from chilled-out Paphos, which suits parents with young kids who just want to relax, to lively Ayia Napa, which has reclaimed its family-friendly badge from the 18-30 clubbing crowd.
Tiny tots: The five-star Almyra in Paphos has developed a ‘baby go lightly’ package – anything from taxis with child seats to in-room DVDs can be ordered in advance. There’s also a crèche for kids from six months to four years, and a kids’ club for four to 11s. Seven nights this spring leads in at £1,160 per adult and £650 per child, booking direct with the hotel.
Teens and tearaways: Ayia Napa is great for active families thanks to its fine sandy beach and nearby water parks. Planet Holidays offers seven nights at the four-star Asterias Beach Hotel from £579 per adult and £379 per child departing April 13.
Food and wine holidays
A traditional Cypriot meze may seem like it will never end. But when the ingredients are so good, who would want it to?
Lots of little dishes, sometimes up to 30 in a single setting, provide a wonderfully sociable way to eat.
Most mezes start with pitta bread, houmous and other dips, before moving up to stuffed vine leaves, salads, halloumi cheese; then maybe some sausage or meatballs, a fish platter and some heartier meat dishes such as moussaka.
The best advice is to take it slowly!
For parents of fussy children it’s a real boon as there will always be something that appeals.
Liquid lunch: Food isn’t the only attraction – the Coral Beach Hotel in Paphos has launched a wine tasting package that includes vineyards visits and a five-course dinner. It can be pre-booked for €105. Sovereign offers seven nights at the Coral Beach this spring from £569.
Cheesy wotsit: Learn how to make halloumi (and more) on a rural holiday. Sunvil offers seven nights at a traditional house in Tochni from £754 per person this spring. Optional extras include cookery lessons and an orange picking excursion.
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