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A long weekend in Cyprus

Bridget, one of our Mediterranean specialists recently visited the stunning Anassa and Almyra hotels in Cyprus.

After the successes of the Scott Dunn Explorer Children’s Clubs at Pine Cliffs (Portugal), Daios Cove (Crete) and last year’s addition Verdura (Sicily), it was decided to expand the repertoire further to include two hotels in Cyprus. We have worked in partnership with the Thanos group and have re-designed their childcare product, ratios and standards and have launched two new Explorers Children’s Clubs.

The Almyra and the Anassa are sister hotels, albeit very different from one another, and owned by the Thanos group. With both clubs due to open at the end of March 2013, several of the Mediterranean team went to Cyprus to experience the wonderful Thanos hotels.

We left the UK early in order to make the most of the 3 days in Cyprus, so after a 4+ hour flight from Gatwick we landed into Paphos just before 14.00 local time. We were ushered onto a coach to make our way to the 5-star Anassa resort & Spa where we would be staying for the 3 nights.

Having previously been personally uninspired by the Cypriot countryside, I was pleasantly surprised by the journey. The Spring weather made for some beautiful green hillsides, some early flowers were peaking their heads out but, best-of-all, the sun was shining and it was definitely ‘t-shirt weather’ despite being the 1st March – in stark contrast to the arctic conditions we’d left at home!

We wound our way out of Paphos and through the farmland up to the North-West of the island, where the Anassa nestles in a little bay just outside the charming fishing village of Latchi. With an impressive backdrop of the Akamas peninsula, the hotel has a spectacular location and the hotel itself is no less jaw-dropping.

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Beach view – It’s an incredibly private beach as there are no other hotels around (there are no “private” beaches allowed in Cyprus)

The design is eminently traditional and based around the theme of a Cypriot village complete with Village Square where they hold festival nights once a week and a small Greek Orthodox chapel. Luxury really does abound; the hotel is stylish but understated and what struck me every time I walked through the entrance way was the incredible feeling of roominess – ceilings are high, corridors are wide, it’s clean and white-washed and there are plenty of spaces which are just that: space, with no ulterior motive.

We were shown to our rooms, ostensibly the most basic room type (Studio Suite), but still large enough for 2+1. They had lovely views over the pool and sea. In my opinion, the beds were the best I have ever slept on – enormous Empress Beds with mattresses to die for.

We then joined a tour of the hotel to view the many beautiful suites and rooms, some with private plunge pools, most with spectacular views across the bay – you can choose from either the sunrise or sunset side of the hotel – to the pool and beach area locations.  All of the rooms are spacious and grand and are impeccably clean. I particularly loved the turn-down service, to have your slippers laid out in front of your bed and a little note on your pillow was a wonderful touch.

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View onto the main pool and pool bar, looking out into the ocean

The newly refurbished children’s club “Explorers” is in a great spot in the resort. Located in-between the pool and the beach in a shady corner with an outdoor play area tucked under the trees, the main indoor area of the club is large, plus it has separate areas for the different child age groups with age-appropriate toys and equipment.  There’s also a sleep room with proper wooden cots for infants, and a kitchen where hot and cold food will be prepared for the children. You can book just a half day, full day or the whole week, so childcare is extremely flexible.

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Children’s play area, outside the new Explorers club, located under the shady trees

Breakfast at the Anassa is fabulous, the next morning an array of fresh food greeted us – newly baked pastries and breads, a wide selection of hot dishes, cheese and cold meat platters, plus fresh fruit aplenty.  These were served with the most delicious fresh orange juice (Cyprus has amazing oranges), coffee and teas.

After breakfast, we headed back to Paphos to visit the 5-star Almyra . The Almyra’s modern, minimalist design is really refreshing; white, black and slate is the order of the day with the odd bright splash of color. Room types vary from Superior rooms (a good size, sea view, no balcony) to Terrace rooms (ground floor, sea view, open onto communal garden area) to Kyma suites – these are my favorite, ‘almost sea front’ accommodation with spectacular ocean views, living area and your own rooftop terrace where you can sunbathe in the day and have a BBQ cooked to order in the evening.

The spa at the Almyra is stunning and new for this year has the fantastic QMS Medicosmetics looking after the skincare element (the also look after the spa at the Anassa). The outdoor adult-only pool is lovely and they offer themed entertainment on occasion in the summer. An example of this is a ‘Sex and the City’ evening, where they projected the film onto the wall and their spa therapists give manicures around the pool!

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The pool at the Almyra spa

The children’s club is split between two locations with the Globetrotters and Adventurers (four and under) in one spot and the older children separated in a slightly different area of the hotel (five years +). This allows the older children to be as noisy as they want, without waking the smaller ones up. The interiors of both are well designed and fun, with plenty of space and an outdoor shaded area.

The next morning we roused ourselves for a 9am Jeep Tour around the Akamas Peninsula, a huge area of National Park just to the west of the Anassa where we ‘off-roaded’ for a couple of hours around the untouched countryside. Our charismatic guide taught us about flora and fauna as we drove through the park. We didn’t have time to visit the turtle conservation area sadly, but did pop by an almost completely deserted Turkish village, another stark reminder of the recent history of the island.

Back at the hotel, I snuck in a quick dip in the heated indoor pool and outdoor hot tub before lunch, then headed to the cookery demonstration where chef talked us through two local specialties – lamb cleftiko and stuffed vine leaves (dolmadakia). Both deliciously easy, although I suspect you may have to be in possession of some tasty Mediterranean ingredients, the hot house equivalent just might not cut it!

The Thanos team really know how to spoil their guests, and both the Anassa and Almyra are two beautiful hotels with fantastic staff, facilities and superb service.

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