Known as the island of love, Cyprus is widely accepted as the birthplace of Aphrodite and the Petra tou Romiou, or Aphrodite’s Rock, is its shining show piece in that mythological story. Just a stone’s throw from this famous landmark is my home for my four-night stay in Cyprus.
This Mediterranean island is the perfect hotspot for people looking for a varied getaway. With almost year-round sunshine, you can visit at any time and enjoy action or relaxation – whatever takes your fancy. Cyprus is just a four-hour flight from London and we flew with Cobalt Aero (www.cobalt.aero), which operates daily flights from several UK airports. After a comfortable flight and just under an hour transfer to resort, our group arrived looking for a little rest and some much needed sleep.
On entering my Executive suite, I was blown away. This spacious setting was open plan with huge bed, seating and desk area, mini bar with a selection of beverages and snacks and a Nespresso coffee machine. With a little further exploration, I came across the bathroom and it was bigger than any I’d ever seen. With a gorgeous double bath, you could get lost in, his and hers sinks, and a sizeable shower, this was the crème de la crème of the bathroom world! Molton Brown toiletries lined the sink area and, had I not been so tired, I’d have jumped straight into a soothing bubble bath!
After a very restful night’s sleep I woke to the sun. Opening the curtains, I was delighted to find a double balcony and an amazing view of the pristine, Blue-Flag honoured Pissouri Bay. Watching the waves splash onto the shore was mesmerising and I suddenly realised I couldn’t wait to see and experience this beautiful island. But first, breakfast!
Cape Aspro is one of four restaurants on resort and with panoramic views of the coast, from the restaurant’s name sake white cliffs and out to sea, it’s a tranquil spot and one that I don’t think I’d ever tire of – such a perfect way to welcome the day. Columbia Beach Resort has two breakfast options, with Bacchus, the resort’s gourmet Italian restaurant, serving the same buffet breakfast selection – a mix of hot and cold dishes including cereals, fruit, pastries, European delicacies and eggs made to order. Everything was yum and certainly set me up for the day ahead.
Food is a key theme for Columbia Beach Resort and something it excels at. The talents of Executive Chef, Ioannis Giakoumidis, shine through at every restaurant and lots of his menus incorporate a traditional Cypriot twist. Over the course of our stay we ate at three of the four restaurants, taste testing Cape Aspro’s speciality seafood sharing concept for lunch; sampling Bacchus and its gourmet Italian fayre for dinner and visiting the Apollo Tavern for a culinary journey through the Eastern Med. Everything was stunningly presented and tasted like heaven. The seafood sharing concept stood out for me the most – whole seabass, seafood tacos and scallops were amongst the dishes we shared, and all was accompanied by traditional Greek salad, freshly made humus and olives. The sight of each dish had the wow factor and the taste then followed suit.
A particular food highlight for me was a personalised masterclass with Ioannis, who showed the group how to prepare three dishes with very popular Cypriot ingredients including seafood and halloumi. I’ve since tried to re-create the carob (a local fruit) coated halloumi recipe at home – it’s nowhere near as good as the resort’s version but it’s a great way to remember the stay and bring a bit of Cypriot flavour back to the north of England! And it tastes great, even if I do say so myself.
Columbia Beach Resort oozes Cypriot charm and authentic luxury, with every aspect of its design and set up detailed in the highest quality. Following a landmark transformation last year, which brought together two hotels over 75,000 square meters, it now boasts 169 multipurpose suites spanning a variety of categories including those suitable for families and multigenerational groups holidaying together.
The resort’s centrepiece is its west side infinity pool, which offers the perfect sunbathing spot with views over the bay and out towards the horizon – and we certainly took advantage of any downtime to sample the delicious pool bar cocktails and take a dip.
The resort’s award-winning Hébe spa sits at the top end of the infinity pool where its inside pool interconnects during the summer months. Named for the Greek Goddess of Youth, Hébe, the spa offers sumptuous treatments that can tackle almost every ailment, ELEMIS branded products, a sauna and jacuzzi area that is open to all guests, as well as a state-of-the-art gym for those with energy to spare. I enjoyed a Swedish back massage and can honestly say it’s the best I’ve experienced. My masseuse was very careful to understand any areas of concern and worked to cover my needs constantly checking in to ensure I was free of pain and feeling well.
For guests that want to explore the surrounding area, Columbia Beach Resort also has the onsite Bike-Cyprus (www.bikecyprus.ch) team, led by resident Swiss cycling champion Thomas Wegmüller. Catering for everyone from novice riders through to keen cyclists, there is a session to suit all activity levels and Thomas will plan a bespoke route for each group. As we headed off resort and along the beach it was clear a leisurely cycle through the local area would be just enough for our rusty skills. We headed out into vineyard territory for a lovely tour during which Thomas was excellent at giving us some history on the area and highlighting some interesting anecdotes. On return to the resort, I hit the bath and relaxed in a fluffy Molton Brown haze.
Watersports are also readily available onsite with everything from catamaran trips, windsurfing and much more to choose from on the beach at Pissouri Bay.
With more than enough on resort to keep you occupied for a week I can see why guests stay put but the island has lots to offer in terms of activities and adventure. Just a 20-minute drive from resort is the town of Paphos which is home to the Mosaics Archaeological Park for those that want a bit of culture. We explored the harbour area and the Mosaics Park before heading off to try our hand at golf – something I can categorically say I expected to be terrible at.
The Elea Estate Golf Club (www.eleaestate.com), designed by Sir Nick Faldo, is fringed by undisturbed and un-irrigated swathes of colourful native flora and the entire course has been designed so as not damage the surrounding landscape. The stunning visual effect invokes a truly Mediterranean feel while retaining the ethos of a tradition experience. We experienced a 30-minute session with one of the club’s professionals and, armed with a few tips and a quick demo on stance and swing, I was hitting golf balls with the rest of the group.
Wine isn’t something I’d naturally associated with Cyprus but a visit to the Vasilikon winery (www.vasilikon.com) certainly changed this opinion. As one of the first local wineries in Cyprus, this family run business is a successful operation. We tasted their finest produce and it was so good, I purchased a couple of bottles to take home.
My stay at Columbia Beach Resort was relaxing, rejuvenating and I enjoyed every minute of it. The resort’s intimate atmosphere, friendly staff and authentic design serve to provide a serene space and so it really isn’t a surprise to learn that this multi award-winning hotel is also a member of the world-revered Small Luxury Hotels of the World boutique collection. I truly didn’t want to leave the resort and I’m already planning my next visit!
You can stay at Columbia Beach Resort on Pissouri Bay, Cyprus, for seven-nights from just £1,270 per person. This price is based on two adults sharing a Junior Suite, Garden View, on a bed and breakfast basis with return flights from London Gatwick departing on 22 September 2018. Private transfers are also included within the price. Book now by visiting www.sovereign.com or call 01293 839594.
Direct flights to Cyprus are available from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stanstead and Manchester International Airport with Cobalt, starting from just £93.90 per person. To find out more about Columbia Beach Resort visit www.columbiaresort.com.