PAPHOS & AKAMAS AREAS

April 18, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (0)

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Paphos castle

On the west coast facing the sunset lies Paphos. Paphos is gathered behind a fishing harbor, castle and world heritage archaelogical site dating back to ancient Greece and the Roman empire. A narrow beach and rocky areas fringe a promenade walk lined with shops, cafes and hotels sporting their own pools and spas.

There are more serene and exclusive spots in Cyprus  – like  Anassa (see my earlier posts). And there are certainly less exclusive and more touristy spots than Paphos (around and beyond Larnaca), with so many northern Europeans that you wonder if you stumbled on a suburb of Stockholm, if it were not for the dry sun.

In Paphos you are definitely in Cyprus with a decent sized town full of Cypriots going about their lives behind the tourist front line along the seaside. In Paphos the shops cannot resist billboard size signs. That is very Cypriotic. Shoe shops abound of course – Cypriots love shoes. Café upon café of course, and a street known as bar street. Its not quiet and elegant – its busy in a relaxed Mediterranean way –  and commercial for sure in its own unpretentious way.

For me the real charm of Paphos is that you are sitting on top of an outpost of ancient Greece and Rome. That means real ruins to look at and mythology attaching itself everywhere. Aphrodite goddess of love and beauty is said to have come out of the waters off Paphos – various spots on the coast claim her birth just there. But more concrete and worth at least a whole day or two is the Unesco site House of Mosaics, with the villas of various noblemen surviving in the form of the odd wall with very beautiful mosaics, albeit damanged by time. In addition there are three museums in Paphos telling ancient stories.

The other thing I like about Paphos is our hotel staring out over the sea.  

Just one teeny little modest sign marks this hotel – “almyra” at the entrance to Poseidenos Avenue.  And already you know it is different, modest, tasteful.

A design hotel, it is an unpretentious place, yet stylish, with those little features that show a designer was here, making all this simplicity. It is a family hotel with endless connecting rooms, kid’s menus, kid’s clubs and so on. Next door lies sister hotel Annabelle. Both lie in gardens that stretch down to the beach walkway with their own beach restaurants and views over the blue Mediterranean.

Almyra was the first of the Thanos family hotels built in what was then avant garde style. Next Thanos hotel was Annabelle, which moved out of minimalism. It is still not elaborate, but it has round balconies, rusty marble and more colour, harking back to a more classical hotel style.

Almyra’s pools are square – Anabelle’s lagoon shape. Quite a few rooms also have plunge pools, and the luxury of outdoor showers. Annabelle was an immediate  success. In fact to date 80% of its guests are repeaters. So Thanos then went a step further in the classical direction. They built Anassa – on its own beach a 40 minutes to one-hour drive over the mountains, beside the Akamas peninsula nature reserve. Not just classical but UBERclassical and luxurious. See my earlier blog.

Anassa is not just a place to lie on the beach or by the pools. It’s great for sporty people – with sailing, windsurfing, squash, tennis, mountain biking and hiking on the wild and rocky peninsula.

Here you are again in the world of Aphrodite. If you had not heard of Greek mythology you would think she is a woman of flesh and blood, judging by the signs. Aphrodite swam in some baths nearby – see the image.

My choice would be to spend the first 2 or 3 nights of a Cyprus week at Almyra in a Kyma suite. And spend a whole day in the ruins again. The surviving mosaics are so fluid in their lines, it’s as if an artist did strokes of colour in minutes, rather than years or decades…exquisite. Then I would head off over the mountains to Anassa for more luxury, physical exercise and exquisite nature, chilling out totally…

This suggestion needs a sound budget.


ANNABELLE BELOVED

April 16, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (0)

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Lagoon pool


ALMYRA – DESIGN HOTEL PAFOS

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Almyra main pool

Almyra is a Design Hotel. Simplicity is the keynote, in a style based on straight lines and Mediterranean flat roofs – but there are little touches that spell Designer and Balance. Throughout it offers comfort, oodles of light and blue sea views…

A walking promenade lies between Almyra and the Beach, leading round the bay to the port and castle.

Almyra doesn’t have the long sandy beach and knock-dead natural setting of its sister hotel Anassa. It fronts a small sandy beach, nestled between rocks. Nor is Almyra five star deluxe like Anassa. Though it has a spa, hairdresser, kid’s club, all the pools you need (four), fabulous food at a choice of restaurants and friendly service, it is somehow not firmly five star, but excellent value and very lovable, especially for families.

Between Almyra and its other sister hotel Annabelle, there are plenty of restaurants for dine around – making half board a good option. But close by are many more restaurants in the town and on the beachfront, as well as cafes and bars. Plus shops of course, with rather low prices. And then others with not such low prices.

On the beachfront lies the pool area. The main pool has a dark floor so it retains solar energy. There is also a kid’s pool shaded in summer and warmed in winter. If you want to get away from kids on the other hand, the spa has an outdoor pool for adult’s only. A serene place, small but with a view over the bay. The spa also has an indoor heated pool.

The top suites at Anassa are Kyma. Perfect spots for listening to the sound of the waves or staring out to sea. Mesmerizing. The Kyma suite has a sofa placed just inside the wide glass frontage, perfect place for sea gazing, and opens onto a small verandah with more seating and a grass terrace with your own two sunbeds and parasols. The verandah is more private than the sunbeds, as your neighbor’s sunbeds are close by. Though you can’t see the path just below, you can sometimes hear voices above the sound of the waves.

The other special thing about a Kyma suite is the flat rooftop patio. You have your own patio for each suite, lying side by side with other private sitting areas on the rooftop. From there the view goes across the bay to the castle.

Kyma suites can interconnect to suit families.

If you don’t want kids as neighbours, you might enjoy an Atheon room – in a block of adults only rooms (see image in the gallery above).  Or if you have kids and don’t want them to fall off the balcony – a Superior Seaview room – no balcony. Instead the balcony space is incorporated into the room (a total of 28 sqm) (see image). Then again, if you do want private outdoor space you have a choice of a terrace room or a verandah room (28 sqm including the balcony). To delight families there are loads of connecting rooms for family intimacy. You might connect a terrace room with a junior suite for example. The junior suite has a sofa bed and can accommodate a child in the extra bed and also a baby cot – in a total of 35 sqm. One-bedroom suites are 55 sqm including a separate lounge. The two-bedroom suite has most space – 73 sqm.

 Wi-fi is complimentary at Almyra – good news for those who find it difficult to pay for something that these days seems as natural as air.

But don’t get stuck.  I do recommend you go out and see the mosaics and ruins of the Unesco site. Even if just to see the flowers popping up between the ancient stones…


MORE ANASSA MAGNIFICENCE

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Blue world and the terrace


ANASSA PARTY PEOPLE

April 2, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (1)

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Cocktails at Anassa Friday

“No”, said Polis. “No!”

Polis is the Director of Sales for the luxurious Thanos hotels. We were at the Thanos spring party disco, and I asked him. “Do you often have disco at Anassa?”

Horror on his face. “No!”….

Anassa, their queen property, is a place usually of supreme tranquility. Here you can get rid of energy with squash, tennis, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, walking, hiking, mountain biking…or just dissolve it all at the thalasso spa with saltwater jets, massages and floating. Or dream on the terrace amid endless views, enfolded in soft arm chairs,  float in the heated pool, or recline on the beach  on a sunbed, served with whatever you wish to drink…

But this weekend it was different. After the gala dinner the pulse of disco echoed under the Byzantine dome, caught between mosaic floor and blue cupola…

We danced around the landing at the top of the grand stairs.

Snapshots in the gallery above…include various cocktail parties, gala dinner and the disco.


ANASSA’S GOD & GODDESS SUITES

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Welcome to my Adonis suite - wihisky?

A hotel inspection – 30 travel agents or more in tow on the Thanos family’s spring party weekend.

Thanos owns three hotels on Cyprus. All delightful – but Anassa is a dream, haunted by myths and antiquity in all its pristine gleaming glamour. What might seem boring – looking at hotel rooms – is a privilege when it comes to Anassa.

In the above gallery of images we see the two most popular suites; Adonis and Aphrodite (another image below).

We also see the celebrity villa Alexandros – a very private haven with its own entrance, a decent sized pool and two bedrooms upstairs. Some celeberities might choose to hide away there in solitary splendour, but a certain top celebrity at Anassa recently was out with his children at the heated pool. Heard that on the grapevine. Anassa does give that kind of serene security.

High up on the same level as Adonis and Aphrodite we also saw the presidential Anax suite – with a long more formal dining table – and two bedrooms with balconies with perfect views. Then still high up, but one level down, we saw a panoramic junior suite and a two-bedroom suite that you can occupy as a one bedroom suite or  extend to a three bedroom suite. Connecting doors on the balcony are much appreciated by families who take adjoining suites – as the kids find it easy to play together.


CYPRUS – BACK IN THE MAGIC

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Garden setting, mountains and beach

Spring again in Cyprus. Back in the land of Aphrodite…

They call Anassa the queen. The most beautiful hotel on Cyprus and surely one of the world’s treasures. It is an astounding piece of art created out of marble, inspired by history. Motifs from the ancients, are mixed with medieval cloisters, fountains, domes and cupolas and even a real Byzantine church is part of the hotel, nestled in a village square where in summer they have village type events. And of course weddings.

The grand hotel with its gleaming lobbies and terraces offers exquisite suites, including Adonis and Aphrodite – some might give their nest egg to spend a week in those two suites – with jacuzzi on the balcony overlooking the ocean and  long beach.

Apart from the usual choice of swimming pools, Anassa basks in the privilege of an unspoilt beach – tawny sands stretching up to golden cliffs on one side and the mountains of the Akamas peninsula on the other. The beach would of course look freer without the wooden walkway to the sunloungers in one corner. And much better without the string of lights that were still there by the bar when we arrived. But it is still beautiful with its cinammon sands against the blue of sea and sky.

And there was almost noone there again.  Last year it was cappuchino on the beach and the waiter ran because I requested my coffee hot – a coffee cost 7 euros.  This year my choise was water. My bottle of water (a stiff 4 euros) had a sparse elegance I felt worth picturing.

And yes the sun was warm again. 20 degrees. On Saturday it was really hot – enough to burn us.

We also had a weekend of lavish meals yet again. So much seafood, wonderful salads, Italian specialities, melt-in-mouth desserts in extaordinary displays of tempting food passions…

ROOMS

This year we had a garden studio suite.  Deliciously light and Mediterranean in feel. Our balcony had some four hours of sun in the morning, a pleasant place to be with a view of deep blue sea between the hotel on the right and garden suites on the left. The garden suites have a peaceful village style setting along winding paths – and all manage some kind of seaview or other. A little cold at this time of year to wander in light clothes to dinner (a few minutes walk – or a  quick breezy buggy ride=.

Last year our studio suite in the main building had an extra large terrace with fabulous view of the sea, which saw the sun about two hours a day. In the high summer at 40 degrees, the shade on the terrace is probably divine. But I still prefer the idea of the rooms on the sunset side, which face the mountain and sea  –  balconies just the place for sundowners. Or the ultimate – if only if only – the Aphrodite or Adonis suites which have everything you wish.

More about them later…


WHY NEW BLOG

April 5, 2010 in CROATIA,CYPRUS,France,ITALY,SOUTH AFRICA | Comments (1)

Today we are putting a little of my recent travel writing into blog format for greater interactivity.  See the articles on Croatia (sailing), South Africa (safaris), French Riviera & Cyprus (short breaks)

Most of it is informative rather than narrative – written as travel reports for my colleagues in the luxury travel business. We have a very usable definition of luxury. It’s not just marble and gold, private pools and personal butlers. It’s access to unspoiled beaches, cultural treasures, ravishing views, exuberant nature. The hotels and cruises do not all get five stars but they have something  special…

 Thanks to Binah Creative Arts for adapting a standard blog format to my needs. And thanks to Pelle (Per-Olov Broddeson) for his lovely images…