I had been doing Greece and Cyprus a major disservice prior to my wonderful stay at the Amathus Beach Hotel, Paphos (Pafos). My previous opinion had been partially constructed from hazy and somewhat debauched memories of a tacky and frankly disastrous holiday in Malia aged 18. A week which had been largely fueled by the radioactive fishbowls and a whole lot of hormones. The rest of my minimal knowledge had been built from a ‘romantic’ holiday to clubbing mecca Ayia Napa. Apart from showcasing the gloriously clear sea and white sands our week was ruled by my violently jippy tummy, an after effect of an extremely questionable mexican meal on the strip. Deserved punishment for neglecting genuine Cypriot dining perhaps? But as Joanna Lumley is currently testifying via her latest TV offering, Greece and Cyprus have a hell of a lot of offer. So via this trip I intended to put right my wrongs and experience some authentic Cyprus, as well as lapping up the benefits of resort living.
The point of my trip was actually to experience the new Spa and Wellness Centre located at the resort, but as you can see from the length of the article I have found it impossible not to gush about the resort as a whole. But I will begin as intended…..
The newly renovated spa resides on the ground floor, just past the compact but well appointed gym. The spa reception continues the sleek aesthetic of the hotel interior: Curved walls with cut-out shelves display their range of products, including my new favourite Pavonia, shiny dark wooden flooring extend into the spa area with vibrant oriental flowers and foliage adding bursts of colour. The corridors leading to the various treatment rooms are lit with a techno blue hue (which seems to be the trend right now), with unique local handmade Murano glass panels installed into the walls, which are also a striking feature of all the rooms ceilings. For post treatment winding down there is a room decked out with reclining chairs, with an array of herbals teas to continue the well-being, and a soothing fish tank to gaze into during your zombified state.
My first Spa treat was a couples Aromatherapy Massage with new friend Bex, who I’d met less a mere 12 hours before. Now, what better way to break the ice than revealing matching gaping black paper pants while trying (and failing) to cover the modesty of ample chests! Once our faces were planted in the face holes of our parallel massage tables we swiftly forgot our half naked blushes and allowed the relaxation to commence. Pre-blended essential oils were chosen to suit our personal needs, predictably as stressed journalists we both plumped for the ‘relaxation’ option. The masseuse started on my tight back and continued to reach most areas of the body, the tips of fingers and toes and even the top of my bottom and decolletage – which I don’t mind confessing to enjoying immensely. It’s hard to describe through words how I felt during and after the treatment, the most effective way would be via an embarrassing euphoric and orgasmic sigh/exhale.
Despite working within the beauty industry for a good few years I have always tried to avoid reviewing facials, imagining that my intensely fragile skin would rebel with a blotchy protest at the mere thought of a strangers touch. Knowing that the suns rays were available to temper any temporary reaction I decided to give Amathus Aromatherapy Facial a try for my second treatment. Firstly the beautician gently removed any oils/make up from my face, then shone a light onto my skin to help decipher was treatments would best improve and soothe my skin. There were a couple extractions (spots and blackheads), which a steamer helped to bring to a head. Throughout my time in the chair the beautician checked that I was comfortable and that she was being gentle enough. She managed to make the extractions without leaving unsightly battle wounds, and without the profuse eye watering I usually force during my regrettable squeezing session. After my surprisingly relaxing treatment I was informed that my skin was extremely sensitive and dehydrated and given short and long term advice to improve its condition. As a beauty reviewer I do my best to avoid spending money on products where possible, relying on the freebies which come as a massive perk of the job, but after such success I just had to buy my own set of Pavonia for Sensitive Skin in the hope I could look as fresh and dewy at home. It should be noted that I went without foundation that night, and that never happens!
And for my final treat, a stint in the revolutionary Aromahydrobath. Despite their obvious capabilities, I don’t naturally associate a bath with relaxation. Due to my unpredictable work schedule I generally only have time for a speedy shower, only finding time for a bath in the rare (all too rare) occasions when it is absolutely necessary to carry out some extreme deforestation. It felt bizarre but nice that someone was saying it was acceptable to sit and do nothing for a reasonable chunk of time, the only multitasking involving lying down and breathing. I was left to soak in bubbling peace, accept for a couple checks to ensure that I hadn’t fallen asleep and drowned, or been burnt/frozen to the core. The problem with being left alone is that my mind starts to think what I should be doing, my inbuilt workaholic guilt switch is flicked, so as predicted I didn’t fully relax this time… although I was definitely on my way to it. So although it didn’t achieve the state of complete chill the massage accomplished the AromaHydrotherapy Bath did condition my tired skin while the the essential oils attempted to calm and distress. I could feel and see the jets manipulating my skin like play dough. The extreme visual manipulation of my flobby thighs convinced me that it must have been having some positive affects on both my circulation and stubborn cellulite.
When visiting spas you’re stripped of your usual masks, your flesh it out for all to see when unleashed from your fluffy toweling dressing gowns, and your are forced to let your ‘natural beauty’ shine through sans make up. You need to feel comfortable, so having staff that put you at ease is essential in aiding the complete abandon of stresses. Thankfully the staff here were so sweet natured and warm I felt that ease almost instantly, and didn’t give two hoots about the lumps and bumps and blemishes on display. They were also extremely attentive during the treatments, making sure everything was as enjoyable as possible. I hope I get the chance to return and sample the plethora of other treatments on offer.
As I said at the beginning I wanted to rectify past mistakes, avoiding english run tourist haunts and well known franchises and instead take in some of the heritage of my surroundings . I wanted to come away feeling I’d experienced the real deal. As an 8 year old schoolgirl I began my fascination with Greek Mythology after becoming enamored with the Greek Goddess Athena. I could lie and say it was because she represented Wisdom and Courage, but the reality is that the blonde depiction in my schoolbook was a beautiful and enviable combination of Grace kelly and Kim Basinger (LA confidential era)…. I digress. For a start I should really be talking about Aphrodite as we were enjoying birthplace for our stay, either way, visiting the local mosaics was a great way of recalling all those wonderfully tragic and triumphant tales. Arguably the most famous of the coloured stone depictions illustrates the triumph of Dionysos as he heads across the sky in a chariot drawn by leopards. It should be noted that the very same man has been held responsible for being the first to discover how to make wine… something for which we should be eternally grateful! Excavations are continuing as we speak so by the time you visit there could be even more sad and sordid tales to absorb.
To continue our day of history and culture we ventured to the Tafon Ton Vasileon (Tombs of The Kings) -100 tombs dating from the 3rd century BC, constructed with Doric columns and said to house local noble families. The unexpected added bonus was that their situation gifted you with the most stunning of sea views. With sun frazzled brains full of historical facts and figures we then headed to Sterna Winery for some wine tasting… to kill some of our newly educated brain cells with alcohol no doubt. We were treated to some lush green panoramic on the journey up to our high destination, a far cry from the arid landscapes I had previously associated with Cyprus. Now, if you want to meet a characterful Cypriot, look no further than this destination. Owner Savvas Chrysanthou certainly left an impression, one which earned him legendary status. If you want an eccentric. impassioned, loud, cheeky and frankly hilarious wine tasting experience Savvas is the perfect guide for you. But be warned, as well as coming away with some invaluable knowledge about wine ( e.g You only get a headache from sweet white wine) you will find it hard to leave without purchasing a few bottles of his scrumptious medicine.
To finish our day out in style we headed to extremely welcoming Yiannis Kathikas Tavern for a traditional Meze meal. Now, I love to pig out as much as the next but I can’t help but wonder whether this generous style of dining veers towards plain greedy. Every time I thought the last plate had been delivered, we had to make room for another five food displays. It was truly delicious and wonderfully indulgent but my stomach was definitely vigorously waving a white flag before the end. Still a must for anyone visiting Cyprus.
If I am honest, challenging our stomach capacity became a common theme of our stay. All of the resorts restaurants offered such delicious food we tried hard to ignore the restrictions of portion decency or medical impossibility. We sampled all of the dining options, starting our day with a hearty breakfast at Byzantium which offers all day dining overlooking the Mediterranean sea, via a menu or extensive buffet options. We scrubbed up nicely for a meal at the pan asian ‘Asiachi’, which was so delicious it even managed to convert a sushi sceptic to the merits of raw fish. With it’s unusual pink glass casing and minimalist style this is one of the ‘cooler’ resort options. ‘The Luna Rosa’ is the hotels main restaurant with ‘La Rotisserie’ located in the upper level. For those who enjoy opulence and exclusivity the glass and crystal table dividers and formal mood make this the ideal choice. Knowing the morose weather we were likely to return we tried to make the most of the outdoor eating opportunities including the summer restaurant, ‘La Terazza’ which offers vast array of italian buffet options and complete with festive open kitchen. My favourite was ‘The Orangery’ poolside dining, which allowed me to get slushy and loved up by proxy, witnessing a couple getting serenaded with an accordion version of the Titanic theme as they held hands across the mood lit table… ( trust me it was more lovely than it sounds).The kind chef was also willing to accommodate all my extremely inconvenient food allergies throughout my stay and came to the table to describe my personally designed menu to ensure I was content with my meals. It was greatly appreciated not to be made to feel a dining leper for once.
As well as indulgence, romance was something that kept rearing its head. When I first saw my amazing junior suite I couldn’t help but wish I had a male counterpart to enjoy it with. The bed, complete with crisp white linen allowed for 6 body rolls (yes I did test this out) and the bathroom (which was kitted out with an extensive selection of toiletries) was beautifully finished with a walk-in shower (with handy seat) and large-room for 2- bath..But it was the feature I could see at the end of the suite which really nailed it (pun intended) .My outside sun terrace also housed my own private pool with a waterfall and lighting system which whole heartedly encouraged night-time couples pool action. The canapes and bucketed champagne accompanied by a set of 2 flutes further enhancing my opinion.
I am aware that for many the thought of resort holidaying is unappealing. I guess it is completely dependent on what you are looking to get out of your holiday. That said, a resort is rarely akin to Alcatraz, you are allowed to venture out and experience the rest of Paphos at your will. I can understand that on site musical performances and the danger of being goaded into dancing with a sweaty topless member of the entertainment staff might be considered a nightmare scenario, but you can avoid the possibility of these potentially cringe-worthy moments. But take away all the resort facilities and plush surroundings and what you are left with is Amathaus biggest selling point…. the staff. Within seconds of stepping onto the open plan minimalist reception it became apparent that a lot of guests visit year after year, interactions between staff and guests looking more like a reunion of friends. The staffs constant care and genuine interest gives this resort a warmth that many other destinations of a similar size and grandeur lack, so the vast amount of repeat guests was of no surprise to me. During our stay we got to spend time with Marietta Charalambides (PR and Spa services) and Rachel Demetriou (Hospitality and Recreation Manager) and felt we had acquired two new friends – girl crushes might be a more accurate description of our feelings, both being so unfaltering in their glamour and charm. But in all seriousness their clear enjoyment of and dedication to their roles, alongside confessions that they feel sad when guests leave but similarly excited when the new arrival turn up says it all. Some say a hotel is only as good as its staff and if this statement is certified correct then this is the best of the best.
When we arrived at Amathus we were informed of the flood-lit tennis courts, Zumba (and various other fitness classes), beachside water-sports including jet skiing and canoeing and we made enthusiastic plans to utilize them during our stay. Sadly – well I say sadly- indulging in the resorts delicious food, snoozing on poolside sun-loungers ( or drinking and the Koralia pool bar) and relaxing in the spa took precedence and we all left feeling we’d acquired decidedly more prominent paunches.. although covered with much peachier and polished skin of course. However, for those who do have will-power and enjoy the endorphin boost of a good workout this is an ideal resort to reboot, recharge and rejuvenate.
The romantic meal settings and seductive added extras of the junior suites make it ideal for couples, both young and old. The convenience of the resort ( it offers a kids club and pool and recreation centre) and ‘can do’ attitude of the staff make it a appealing choice for overwhelmed young families. The contemporary features, pampering, tanning capabilities and the ‘hip’ Nubar cocktail bar make it the ideal girlie getaway for hen parties or mother and daughter bonding. So there really is no excuse not to book a visit….
Classic Collection Holidays (0800 294 9318 or www.classic-collection.co.uk) offers seven nights at Amathus Beach Hotel Paphos from £698 per person this November. Price is based on two adults sharing a twin/double inland-view room on a B&B basis and includes private transfers and return flights from London Gatwick (other UK departure airports available) to Paphos or Larnaca airports. Treatments at the Spa and Wellness Centre start from 55 Euros (approx £49).