The Charm of Cyprus

Donna Meredith on 17 April 2016
I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Cyprus with eleven other Travel Counsellors courtesy of the Cyprus tourist board. After we touched down in Larnaca with Aegean Airlines, we headed for the Olympic Lagoon Resort in Ayia Napa. The resort is a collection of pools and rivers surrounded by a variety of rooms and apartments. Some with private pools, some with small gardens. It’s perfect for families with a vast array of things to keep the little ones entertained and across the road from the resort is the beach which boats soft sand and crystal clear, calm waters.

Ayia Napa town has long been associated with young intoxicated Brits partying into the early hours of the morning. However, our Cypriot guide assured us that this is now a bit of a myth as only 10% of holiday makers to Ayia Napa are 18-30 years old. And I’m inclined to take his word for it because my experience of Ayia Napa is that it seemed an orderly and well-kept little town and well worth a visit. If nothing else visit the Monastery which has been standing on the hill since the 15th century.

Back at the hotel in the early evening when the sun was going down, the resort switched on its vast array of coloured lights bringing to life the numerous lagoons, rivers and pools around the place. It really was a postcard picture.

We dined outside with the hotel management after a tour of the resort which showed us all the facilities and entertainment available for the guests. We were impressed, especially the catering for families with its baby room and computer gaming room. The evening entertainment in the poolside bar, which included singers and acrobats, also looked enticing and well-polished.

We drank coffee at the recently built Limassol Marina while admiring the luxury yachts moored up along the edge. Stelios, our Cyprus tourist board friend, informed us that there are plans to build similar marinas in both Ayia Napa and Pathos. My impressions so far was that Cyprus is enjoying an affluent period in its history and that tourism is at the forefront of that.

The next thing to mention is the wine tasting session at the family run Zambartas Winery up in the hills near Limassol. Like any Travel Counsellors event that involves a sniff of alcohol, we all seemed to enjoy it very much. After a few rounds of tasting the whites, pinks, and reds, out came the Euro notes purchasing as much as could be squeezed into suitcases. All in the name of contributing to the local economy!

On to Pathos we ventured. The ancient UNESCO Archaeological Park which houses Roman mosaics is well worth a visit and the fact that more areas of archaeological interest are still being uncovered adds to the mystery of the place. Interestingly, there is an old lady who still lives in the middle of the site because she refused to be moved from her home when the first discoveries were made back in the eighties. Fair play to her!

The Tombs of the Kings, also a UNESCO site, is where you will find tombs carved into the rock dating back to the 4th century BC! I believe there are still more of these tombs to be excavated. Who knows what they will find?

We visited many hotels along the water’s edge of Pathos but the one that really stood out for all of us was the Elysium. This was an exquisite hotel that oozed understated class and elegance and rumour has it that the Beckham’s have stayed there.

Cyprus also has much to offer in terms of water sports. We had a meeting with a local scuba diving operator called Cydive whose facilities were excellent. They informed us that the main attraction for divers is the Zenobia Wreck. This ship sank in 1980 along with her £200 million worth of cargo. It’s in the top 10 wreck dives in the world and is a must for all serious wreck divers.

On the final day we were given a tour of the Aphrodite Hills Resort which was set in a very beautiful and tranquil location yet close enough to town if you wanted more excitement. The resort is made up of a large collection of apartments and villas build around the golf course. There are other sporting facilities including a football academy where Rio Ferdinand has taught and also a tennis academy course. Most of the villas have private pools and there are various sizes and styles to suit all tastes and budgets.

We were then treated to a golf lesson at the driving range followed by an amazing three course lunch at the clubhouse courtesy of the management. The on-site restaurants are of a very high standard indeed.

If you would like to know more about Cyprus, or are thinking about visiting, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Cyprus has something to offer everyone.