Agent Expert: Cyprus charm

Agent Expert: Cyprus charm

Cyprus has always had a special attraction for Gabi Birbeck, director of Rendezvous Travel in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire. Her father once lived in Akrotiri and took the family on many childhood holidays to the island. She’s also been selling the destination for 26 years and has twice been named top-selling agent by Amathus Holidays. Here, she offers advice on booking the perfect Cyprus break.

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Understand the island’s appeal

The Brits love Cyprus because it’s so easy to get to and has a range of facilities to please all types of holidaymaker.

You can fly from almost any of the regional airports in the UK – and it’s large enough that you can see different things each time you go. Whether you want to be out clubbing or escape to the middle of nowhere, it’s got everything you could want on your doorstep.

Paphos and Limassol are the two places everybody has heard of so they tend to be the most popular with people who are new to Cyprus.

Paphos is a man-made tourist resort so it’s got everything: there are lovely beaches nearby, a few archaeological sites and all the shops and restaurants you need. Limassol is a living, breathing city but it also has a thriving tourist area and a beautiful sandy beach. I always recommend people go to Limassol’s old town, though, so they don’t just see the tourist side.

Explore the hidden gems

The Akamas Peninsula in the west of the island is a beautiful national park so it’s completely unspoilt.

About 25 miles from Paphos, it’s great for people who want to be cut off from everything, and has beautiful walks, amazing views and gorgeous little taverns. The Anassa is quite a famous five-star hotel there.

I’d also recommend visiting the Troodos Mountains – they’re the backbone of Cyprus. I think agents sometimes forget there are some lovely little hotels and rural properties converted for tourists up there, which are ideal for people who want something out of the way.

Omodos is the prettiest village in the whole of Cyprus. It’s all cobbled streets and lovely little tavernas, and if you go out in the evenings you’ll probably be the only non-local there so they treat you really well.

Fig Tree Bay on the other side of the island is beautiful, and there’s a little village called Deryneia which is a real, traditional village so you don’t see too many tourists. You can see right into the no man’s land Buffer Zone that separates Turkish-controlled north Cyprus from Greek Cyprus, so that’s quite interesting historically.

I always suggest people visit places such as Aphrodite’s Rock and the Adonis Baths as well, to get a sense of the island’s myths and legends.

Aphrodite Rock, Cyprus

Find the perfect place to stay

Cyprus has a great range of properties so there’s definitely something to suit all visitors.

For young people, Paphos is brilliant. It’s got Bar Street, which comes alive at 11pm and doesn’t close until 5am. Protaras is also a good place because it’s got lovely beaches and plenty of bars.

For families, Paphos and Limassol have the biggest range. The Aphrodite Hills Resort has a stunning kids’ club called Pirates’ Village – it’s absolutely fantastic for families.

The Almyra in Paphos is also really good for families. They offer baby packages to save you having to bring all the nappies and baby food out – you just say what you want and they provide it all when you’re there, making it ideal for families with babies or toddlers.

For older travellers, the Akamas Peninsula is quieter and there are a few little fishing villages which have plenty of things to do but don’t get as many crowds.

It’s also good for active clients because of the nature trails – walking holidays are becoming really popular.

For people on a budget, I’d recommend the Mediterranean Beach Hotel in Limassol or the Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos. They’re both four-star hotels but they have pretty reasonable prices and they’re easy to get to so you don’t need a car to get about.

On the luxury side, I’d recommend the Asimina Suites in Paphos, the Annabelle Hotel in Paphos and the Anassa, near Latchi.

New trends and when to go

The standard of properties is definitely going up. At one time there were only a handful of really beautiful hotels on the island but now more are opening.

For instance, the Asimina Suites used to be a pretty standard four-star but the owners have revamped it and it’s now an all-suite five-star. It really is to-die for.

There’s also a trend towards all-suite and adult-only hotels, so people who don’t want to be around children have got somewhere to escape to. The Cypriots are renowned for their love of children, though, so there are still plenty of hotels that are really good for families.

We’re seeing Cyprus becoming more popular in the winter – it’s still warm even though there’s snow in the mountains. You can ski all morning then come down and spend the afternoon on the beach.

Spring is a glorious time too, because you’ve still got snow in the mountains but you get all the gorgeous flowers. The flora and fauna there is amazing.

Final tips for selling Cyprus

I would suggest keeping in touch with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation because it’s always running promotions and doing lots of training events, so you can pick up a lot of information.

I’d also say don’t sell something you don’t know. Go for recommendations from other agents or from past clients rather than choosing somewhere out of a brochure. I tend to go for individual hotels rather than chains because you get more of a taste of the country. People go for chains because they’ve heard of them, but most of the hotels are still privately owned by Cypriots – they’ve got real pride in their country and want to show it off.

Don’t underestimate Ayia Napa, either. It used to be an 18-30s stronghold but it’s reinventing itself to be a lot more upmarket. The clubbing crowd is moving on, so this beach resort is becoming much nicer for other visitors.


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