Cyprus: You’re Beautiful


SINGER James Blunt knows a thing or two about love . . . so it’s no surprise he chose the Aphrodite Hills Hotel for a holiday in Cyprus.

The British musician, famous for No1 hit You’re Beautiful as well as a string of gorgeous girlfriends, spent a long weekend chilling out in the palatial luxury of a hotel which takes its name from the Greek goddess of love.

It’s certainly easy to adore the Aphrodite Hills. We found it was everything you’d expect from a five-star hotel-and more.

And you won’t have any tiffs over getting there either. It’s just a short drive from Paphos Airport on the western coast of Cyprus, and takes its name from a nearby bay, which is reputedly the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite.

While tourists flock to that bay, even though the beach is shingle, the area is wonderfully unspoilt. We drove out one day and found ourselves in the middle of a 300-strong herd of goats, complete with goatherd and dog.

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Yet as soon as you drive through the imposing entrance archway to the Aphrodite Hills complex, you enter a world of luxury, peace and relaxation.

The reception and restaurant staff are always attentive, without being overbearing, and seem to anticipate your every need.

The pool is wonderfully relaxed, with plenty of sunbeds on even the busiest days, and more than enough space for families to spread out-handy for my brood of Imogen, 16, Madeleine, 13 and ten-year-old Fergus.

And the restaurant is a delight. We were half-board, so could have our pick of the evening buffet.

The choice of food is dazzling, with each night having a different theme-Greek, Asian, Italian, Moroccan . . . the range was endless and it tasted delicious.

But what really sets the hotel apart is the huge range of superb facilities. The rooms are beautifully furnished, and the marble bathrooms are fantastic, with state-of-the-art showers and baths big enough to swim in (well, nearly!)

 

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Just a short walk from the main hotel is a small, purpose-built village with a selection of good restaurants and bars, a supermarket, couple of gift shops, a car hire office and crazy golf-in short, everything you need for a relaxing break in the sun.

A little further away is a fantastic golf course, with a splendid clubhouse, plus a tennis academy, five-star health spa and riding stables.

The golf course winds its way around the whole complex, which also includes private villas to buy or rent.

The highlight is the short seventh, where you take your life in your hands as you drive the buggy down a steep, winding path before hitting your tee shot across a rocky chasm to the green.

If you want to hone your shots you can take golf and tennis lessons with English-speaking professionals.

The hotel also offers horse-riding in nearby woodland. We’re no better than novice riders but we all felt very safe and well looked after when we took our first lesson.

The highlight of the holiday for Imogen and my wife Kerry was a morning in the world-famous Retreat Spa, recently voted the best in Europe.

They enjoyed a full thermae experience, featuring a range of hot and cold baths before a gentle massage and a drink by the tranquil pool.

The hotel also has TWO private beaches, with a frequent shuttle service to both.

The Cove is the more adult friendly, while Zia’s caters for families and is one of the few beaches which has any sand in western Cyprus.

The hotel is so good that it is quite difficult to tear yourself away and see more of the island.

Cyprus is very easy to get around though. They drive on the right but road signs are written in both English and Greek.

We spent a day driving through the Troodos Mountains, which are lush and green despite the drought which has plagued the island.

We also visited a few monasteries along the way and enjoyed the fantastic views back to the coast.

The town of Paphos, which is about a half-hour taxi ride from the hotel, has loads of bars and restaurants, all the nightlife you could want and a World Heritage Site called the Tombs of the Kings.

That might conjure up images of Egypt, but this is a Roman burial ground with fantastic underground chambers built over hundreds of years.

Visitors are free to roam wherever they want and the tombs provide brilliant hiding places for children.

But however good the other attractions of Cyprus might be, there really is no need to leave the pampered splendour of the Aphrodite Hills.

After all, if it was good enough for James Blunt AND the goddess of love . .

 

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