Here Comes the Sun
Francesca Lee-Rogers journeys to Cyprus in search of some late-year sunshine.
While I gaze across the calm azure waters, I canít help but pinch myself just how stunning the scenery is. Having spent a busy summer enjoying an unprecedented heatwave, ever since autumn had started to slowly envelop its tendrils round every nook and cranny, turning crisp not only leaves but also the air, I was plotting my escape to more amenable climes.
My destination? Cyprus. A small island on the very peripheries of Europe, its location south of Turkey lends itself to being more Middle Eastern than Mediterranean and offers the weather to match. While enjoying average temperatures during the high season of around 30-degrees, I’m pleasantly surprised to find the climate is still incredibly balmy during my visit in October, with the mercury regularly hitting up to 28-degrees at the height of each day. And the 4.5-hour flight from the UK makes it an ideal mid-haul destination that’s accessible year-round.
After a comfortable 25-minute private transfer from Paphos airport, my husband and our five-month-old baby arrive at our first home-from-home for the next couple of days: Annabelle. Along with sister hotel Almyra, this resort makes up part of the high-end offerings from the Thanos Hotels & Resorts group, along with Anassa and Aloe. Cool white walls, comfortable furniture and touches of light fabrics and wooden finishes give a refined elegant feel while the floor-to-ceiling windows with views across the bay make for those all-important pinch-me moments.
Everywhere in the hotel oozes a sophisticated calm – indeed, the entire area exudes a delicate quiet, with guests talking in hushed tones and fully focused on relaxing to their utmost. The atmosphere is the same throughout the hotel regardless of the activity; whether it be lounging around one of the several pools, unwinding by the beachfront, or selecting the best place to sip a pre-dinner cocktail. For this there are options aplenty. We take a peek into the lobby’s Byz Bar, check out the pool bar, and even enjoy a tipple on the balcony of our room, overlooking the pools. However, the highlight is Ouranos. Part of a €11m transformation in early 2018 (which to our astonishment, was completed in a matter of months) along with an indoor pool and spa, the new fourth floor has been completed with a rooftop lounge which offers unrivalled panoramic views of the seafront.
Ouranos also serves as one of the resort’s dining options, which is one of many – so foodies won’t be disappointed. There’s a restaurant for all occasions, with Fontana offering up a wide selection of buffet fare, while those after a more intimate experience can enjoy the à la carte offerings at Amorosa. The personal highlight for us is the Mediterraneo restaurant. Located on the seafront, it’s styled like a Cypriot taverna, with delicious local food to match. We coincide our visit with ‘Fisherman’s Night’, and devour a set menu which features meze dips, fresh seafood including baked red snapper and scallop ceviche, as well as a sumptuous fish soup, all washed down with a bottle of local wine of course.
The following day, we head over to sister hotel Almyra. These two sisters are very close indeed, in fact literally next door from each other. After what must be the easiest transfer ever – a two-minute walk – we take a wander around the hotel to get our bearings, and the difference between the two resorts becomes immediately apparent. Almyra not only has a more contemporary feel, but also the average age of the clientele appears to be much younger. It also seems more family-friendly, with the two main pools being unofficially split between adults and families; although for those looking for a very quiet retreat, the spa area and adjoining outdoor infinity pool are designated as adults-only.
Family holidays are certainly top of Almyra’s agenda. In addition to offering a room service-style menu of items – with everything from bottle sterilisers and colouring books to a DVD library for the older kids – there are also excellent childcare facilities, with a kids’ club that can accommodate children from four months all the way up to 12 years; ideal for keeping little ones entertained all day while giving the parents some well-deserved R&R, and a perfect opportunity to explore Paphos harbour, check out some of the sailing activities on the seafront, or catch some rays at the aforementioned adults-only spa area.
At Almyra we stay in the Kyma suite, which certainly has the wow-factor with the full-height windows framing the picture-perfect view of the lawn and the sea beyond. The décor is minimal yet stylish, while offering all the creature comforts including a large and comfortable bed, a bathroom stocked with Acqua di Parma products, and the cherry on the cake: a private roof terrace, perfect to while away the evenings whilst watching the sunset.
For breakfast and often evenings, we find ourselves at Mosaics, where an impressive buffet feast awaits every evening. With a range of different cuisines on offer each night and a daily changing menu, there’s plenty of choice. Meanwhile, having already sampled the taverna-style fare at Annabelle, we forego paying a visit to Ouzeri – Almyra’s equivalent offering traditional Cypriot cuisine – and instead gravitate to the elegant surroundings of Notios. Located by the outdoor pools with a beautiful view of the seafront, it offers Japanese-Mediterranean fusion food of the highest quality. While our eye is caught by plates such as Atlantic black cod with soy and ginger and tonkatsu veal chop, we opt for more traditional dishes. After a satisfying starter of beef carpaccio alongside a king crab salad, we enjoy a main of yellowtail sashimi, spiced tuna maki rolls and vegetable tempura. The flavours in each dish are perfectly combined, and we’re left very content with our selection – the tempura perfectly crispy, the maki rolls flavourful and filling, and the sashimi gloriously fresh and refreshing.
On our last night, we reflect on our satisfying sojourn. Sun-seeking goal achieved, we also feel wonderfully relaxed and refreshed; having sampled two resorts which both offer their own unique charms.
Rates at Annabelle start from €186 (currently approx. £167) per night based on two people sharing an Inland View Room including breakfast annabelle.com.cy
Rates at Almyra start from €216 (currently approx. £192) per night based on two people sharing an Inland View Room including breakfast almyra.com
Annabelle 10, Poseidonos Avenue - 8042 Pafos, P.O. BOX 60136 - 8125 Pafos
t: +357 26 885 000
Almyra 12, Poseidonos Avenue - 8042 Pafos, P.O. BOX 60136 - 8125 Pafos
t: +357 26 888 700