First to Almyra, a trendy-hip box-of-a-hotel right on the shore, a few minutes’ walk from Paphos, the fishing village that turns to youthful activity when the sun goes down. Owned by Kikkos Monastery since its launch in 1973, the 158-room hotel has had such a makeover it reminds me of Clint Eastwood redone as Brad Pitt.
I was in villa 10, which could inelegantly be described as a modern terraced bungalow, even nearer the water than the main blocks. All white outside, it is similarly light within. You look through the room to your private concrete terrace, from which you can go down three steps to a grass patch shared with your neighbours, with the beach below (you also share your flat rooftop with them – again white, it has been sculpted with white seating and becomes pretty sexy by night). In the room, thanks to French designer Joelle Pleot – who had earlier redone Thanos Michaelides’ home – I had grey marble floors, palest white-grey walls, soft wood furniture with pale blue leather upholstery and pillows. A futuristic stainless fan whirred overhead. The bathroom had a big overhead rainforest shower as well as a hand-held unit, and lovely LaSource toiletries, from Crabtree & Evelyn, that matched that pale blue upholstery.
We met for dinner in the outdoor restaurant, by the beach. The menu is international with a twist. Fish and chips here is a basket filled with fried calamari, served with a metal pot of ‘village’ fries and another pot of tartar sauce. When I got back to my villa, I found the bed turned down, and a red apple on a round card, on which was written ‘Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, but the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul’.
In the morning I did a pre-breakfast power walk along the coastal path, coinciding with some young revelers still on their way home from the previous night. Fishermen were already getting ready to go out. I returned, to be ready for breakfast, in another outdoor area. I checked out the massive hotel lobby, really only used during winter months unless, like me, you wanted WiFi (perfect reception here, which is not usual on this island). Pleot has deliberately turned the lobby into a residential home, albeit a massive one, with lots of different chairs, different seating areas. In winter there is a giant open log fire. Her sense of colour comes out in the bright orange chairs in the bar area. I was offered a round of golf, a mere 20 minutes away, but it was time to go.
Forty minutes later we were in the north-west section of the island at the small coastal town of Polis. We headed west towards the Akmasa Peninsula, and after four miles turned off the oleander-flanked road into the private drive of Anassa (‘Queen’, named for Aphrodite, whose mythical baths are a few miles further along). This Leading resort, opened in 1998, cascades over 70 acres of rough coastal terrain. It is, frankly, huge. A water feature in the outside turning circle and then a guard of honor of seven water jets greet you as you come in to a honey-colored marble colosseum. To get to the sunset terrace, to look down to the sea, it is a 200-foot walk (I measured it), along wide open corridors, which take angles, say past a big mirror flanked by a pair of green lights. Thanks to designer Darrell Schmitt, you can always see something intriguing, and there are strategically-placed local pots, or modern icons, to give culture as you walk – or through gorgeous gardens, immaculately tended, with lawns but also acres of natural bush, a millefeuille of different colored flowers.
The 173 rooms are set, village-like, in blocks. I was in 73, a downstairs suite with private outside entrance, parlor and bedroom, and a stone-walled terrace with plunge pool. My rooms had pale wood floors, cream walls, paintwork and shutters covered with fine curtains. Here the fans were pale creams, hanging from slightly peaked cream wood ceilings. I had a bathroom and a half, with Bulgari.
I rushed out to the spa, somehow finding my way across the ‘village square’ and the little church – contemporary with the resort – where a couple, attended by their ten-ish son, were being married. The spa is semi-subterranean, a real draw as it has 17 treatment rooms. They offer thalasso and Organic Pharmacy, the London firm apparently beloved of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. I had an anti-ageing body treatment, namely a scrub of white sugar, salt and rose petals followed by a wrap of day and Andean rose petals, then a rose oil spread, then a body cream which included the following ingredients, green coffee fatty acids, guarana, horsetail complex, ivy and meadowsweet – a 200ml pot this from the Organic Pharmacy webset will cost you £150.
There are five restaurants, cleverly not all open every night. Wednesday is Cypriot night, a buffet with live dancing in the ‘village square’, and lots of fun (had I stayed another night I would have coincided with the weekly management cocktail. The new chef here is Australian Ashley Goddard, who wants – as he did at Soneva Fushi – to plant an organic garden, for guests to visit.
In the morning, the sun streamed in through shutters that I had deliberately left open. I got up, looked over my plunge pool to exotic bushland, far down to the ocean. A mountain bike awaited, and I managed a good workout. My room service breakfast was simple style, a big wood tray holding marvellous orange juice and a generous bowl of unsweet local yoghurt. I had a heart shape of butter, French L’Ancienne jams and local honey, a Frette napkin and oodles of flavourful coffee. It was time for my acupuncture, from an amazing local resident, Christine Whittaker, a Welsh woman who gave up serious law for a change of lifestyle, and spent four years studying detailed acupuncture in Beijing. She was supposedly doing my face but at one point I opened one eye to find myself lying with needles stuck in all up and down my legs. I felt like Gulliver with the Lilliputians. And this one is for energy, she said, putting one in the top of my head. She counted ’em in, counted ’em out (fortunately the same).
Sadly, no time for tennis or watersports or even trialling all the restaurants. My car awaited, and I promised myself to come back (35% of all guests here are repeats). Well done Thanos and sisters!
P.S. the following night Christine’s energy needle took effect. I woke up at 2 am bursting with creativity.