Cyprus… one of the best locations to steal away for a cosy romantic week, a family vacation, some much needed rockstar partying, a relaxing honeymoon or like me a week away with the girls to enjoy turning another year older!
It’s wonderful to have my travel hat on again and be able to tell you of the wonderful sights and sounds that Cyprus has to offer. Like I said, ALL of the above is on the menu but for me, heading to Cyprus meant so many things… aside from the beautiful temperatures of the Aegean Sea, the heavenly sunsets to the historic sights, incredible food, warm friendly people, the exotic nightlife, homegrown organic food and great wines… Cyprus has this… and much more!
I went to Cyprus in May with two of my girlfriends to celebrate turning another year older which is always for me a bit of a party and I couldn’t think of two better ladies to clink glasses with. I had always wanted to go there as my mother had fond memories with a trip many moons ago she had with her own girlfriends so it seemed just fitting I do the same. After careful consideration I booked us into the St. Elias Resort for a few nights and then the Paphos Breeze Resort, both of which are part of the renowned Louis Hotels Group which has incredible 4 and 5 star properties in many superb locations. The reason I picked the Louis Group is that they do wonderful all inclusive packages and having been away with the girls before I thought this would be the easiest and most cost effective way to have a holiday and not worry about money, food, wine, beer or cocktails for the 7 days. For me it was all about relaxing, pampering and enjoy the blistering sunshine with gourmet delights- everything our hearts desired! Bliss!
So we co-ordinated our schedules.. I was coming from Dublin, Suzanne from London and Kate was coming from Edinburgh so we all took separate flights. I took the very efficient and incredibly sleek Cobalt Airline, this is a new airline and service from Dublin and is fantastic. Flights leave on a Wednesday and a Saturday from Dublin and fly direct to Larnaca so it’s an easy, quick and cost effective service. I flew out on a Wednesday and although the flight was five and a half hours it flew by (pardon the pun) as I took my laptop and got some great writing work done whilst later enjoying a movie. The airline crew were excellent and we got there on time and excited to get to the hotel.
First up was the sophisticated St. Elias Resort which is located in Protaras. I arrived at night to the most stunning views of our private pool lit up in purple hues. I was greeted with squeals of delight as Katie who had landed first had been availing of the non stop Prosecco on arrival. She was very sweet and slightly sozzled and couldn’t stop telling me how amazing she thought the staff were and how delighted she was we had gone all inclusive. I’m so glad too… could you imagine the bill if we hadn’t and this was only the first two hours!!
It was wonderful to see her and the nattering and hilarious banter began straight away. We had a look around the room which was ample size for the three of us. The rooms are fitted with fridges stocked up with champagne, beers, wines and soft drinks. Every day, the staff brought fresh fruit on platters complete with local produce, croissants/buns and sweet treats – it’s heaven. The minute I arrived, I took a dip in our private pool to cool off after the long journey and even though I had arrived late in the evening it was glorious to see the village below lit up with fairy-lights. Our pool overlooked the local village so we could enjoy the sights and sounds from afar but still have our privacy. After I had cooled off, we headed to the bar for a few cocktails and even though it was nearly closing, the kind staff obliged and helped us start our first night with a few late Pina Coladas and Margaritas… it kicked off… with a very large Irish bang!
The next morning after a long relaxing sleep I unpacked and have to say was delighted with all the wardrobe space. There was so much for three girls, I was thrilled! The decor of the rooms are extremely pretty and fresh, white linen and soft whites adorn the villas and rooms complete with lovely comfy sofas, kitchen tables and every mod con. I was delighted that we were so near the breakfast room and could literally crawl over as the night before had left us a little delicate!
Breakfast in St. Elias as with the other Louis Hotel Resorts is a buffet breakfast and the one thing I have noticed about Cypriot hospitality is that its very like the Italians and naturally the Greeks in that they want to feed you. You will NEVER go hungry for all the delicious delights on offer and although this is a four star plus resort you can have everything from fish to cake, ice cream, Prosecco even homemade lemonade at 7am! We went for delectable omelettes, coffee, fruit and some fizzy water to try and cure the hangovers and then it was straight back to the pool for some lounging, reading, listening to music and tanning. The great thing about the resort is that you can have your own private pool if you request it (there is an additional charge) or you can access the large hotel pool if you wish. The bar is open until late every night and the staff are trained to do Frappuccinos, Mochachinos and everything from a Bloody Mary and in between. Every day there is a signature cocktail and in the evenings the local entertainment for kids is second to none or you can head into the local towns and surrounding nightclubs.
After a few days relaxing at St. Elias, we had sampled the spa and had some massages by our pool so we ventured out but not before we took some photos of the local surrounding historic sights. We stumbled across some very pretty houses outside the residence and the local picturesque church. A wedding was happening below so we stood, watched and wept, it was pretty all adorned with white muslin and candles. On the possibility of getting married here, I would 100% look into it as it would serve a more budget friendly wedding. One thing is for sure your guests would have guaranteed sunshine and you know the Cypriots would look after them very well, for me I thought it would be a very good option for a family wedding abroad.
So we moved then over to the other side of the island to Paphos (approx. 2 hours away). This was the brand new fully beautifully furbished Paphos Breeze Hotel which when we arrived had only been open 10 days, you could still smell the paint on the walls. It is a fantastic resort with many facilities from private bars to two pools – one for a quieter crew facing the ocean as well as a more communal pool which dominates the centre of the resort. Unlike St. Elias this is more adult friendly as St. Elias had the added fun of watersides and children’s pools. Paphos Breeze is more sophisticated for the adults only vibe. For me the big selling point was the stunning sea views and the tennis court. Although I am utterly useless when it comes to tennis, it was a cool additional if you fancied having some exercise! I personally like to relax, eat and drink on holiday so I just watched the pros play! The apartment was in fact a little bigger than before, although we had no private pool but that didn’t matter because every day us ladies (now slightly older in age) saw the benefit in getting up a little earlier to get the loungers and the coveted spots by the pool. Personally I loved it for more frothy Frappuccinos in the morning which meant I could allow myself a Bloody Mary by 11am!
The beauty about having to not carry around a wallet and simply wake up and sleep in your bikini is that it’s hassle free so whether you were on a romantic vacation, getting a few days in with family or a honeymoon, the ease and comfort was there with every delicious food and drink at your fingertips. I indulged myself in a reflexology massage by the sea on one of the days and it was wonderful. To listen to the crashing waves whilst having a relaxing experience made it all the more heavenly. Now although the resort is fresh and relaxed, it’s not 5 star but for us we wanted friendliness, fun and fizz for the few days. We didn’t need 5 star service to make a holiday in the sun special and personally I think sometimes it can be a waste of time, however on two occasions I went for it and explored a little for my birthday. On one night we went to the Annabelle Hotel which is near the harbour in Paphos. A 5 star hotel which has an incredible tapas menu at ‘Ouranos’. We gorged on organic wines and about 10 courses, the service was amazing and we ended up crashing the owners birthday party which led to a Scottish/Irish dance off… very funny! The second night we headed over to the ‘Vivaldi’ at the Four Seasons Hotel which is a Michelin Star Restaurant. This was a nice treat in the town of Limassol and we had fine dining and Espresso Martinis that had us dancing at the local bar until possibly the next day. The special experience of having local foods and then a fine dining Michelin Star 4 course meal made the holiday even more memorable.
For me though the true heart of the holiday was at the Paphos Breeze Resort, we all didn’t want to leave, the comfort and accessibility of our surroundings was top notch. Everything was there including daytime treats, gin and tonics at 3pm and a cool breeze. I took much time to enjoy the stunning flowers and trees that align the walkways and made friends with not only the staff but the people who had also come there to holiday. There was lovely mix and myself and my friends befriended a group of older ladies who were there to spend time with their mother Betty aged 93. We got on so well that our life lesson came at the end when they sadly told us that one of the sisters on the trip was there to have a final holiday and that her terminal illness meant she had limited time. It was heartbreaking but the bonding between us all only brought home the importance of friends and family and that we should live in the moment and not worry about the small stuff. Celebrate the birthday, give hugs and rejoice, for life is for living and it’s so important to understand that you only have the one so live it and be the best you can be.
Finally, for me the week in Cyprus staying at both resorts was marvellous, I not only travelled to see some incredible historic sights, I got to relax, laugh and eat and drink my fill and believe me my glass was NEVER empty! I even did some pool aqua-aerobics! The girls made me do it!
It is marvellous to have such great memories to look back on with pals I love, adore and admire. I’m happy too it was cost effective and we didn’t blow the budget on the holiday, it came in just at the right price for everyone which is important. I have special memories of our walks on the beach, our late night sing songs, some great meals in the ‘Meze’ Restaurant in Paphos Breeze to our poolside chats at St. Elias.
Remarkably we got to see much of the locations and explored the neighbouring towns… and for me the mix of great service, incredible food, lovely people and blistering sunshine across both sides of the island made this a girls birthday holiday none of us will EVER forget!
Magic in Cyprus….
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Lisa Cannon is best known as a presenter on TV3's hugely popular movie show, Box Office. She blogged all about the lead up to her Big Day in Italy in September 2015.