Tailoring Cyprus to suit different clients is as easy as A, B, C, writes Katie McGonagle


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It’s the unwritten rule that keeps the universe in balance: beauty and brains hardly ever go together, and certainly not with sporting prowess to boot.

The multi-talented among us might just manage two out of three, but any more would simply be greedy.

Not so in Cyprus, where beautiful sunkissed shores are matched by rich history and endless possibilities for activities in its pine-clad mountains and warm Mediterranean waters.

Whether clients want action and adventure, a blissful beach break, or a little bit of cultural enlightenment, there’s a side of Cyprus to suit.

ACTION: BUILDING MOMENTUM




Cyprus isn’t exactly the adventure capital of the world, but what it lacks in stature, it makes up in variety. A Tony Jacklin-designed golf course opened at Secret Valley late last year, soon to include a floodlit three-hole loop for evening play. It’s the second celebrity-designed course after the par-71 Nick Faldo course at Elea, pre-bookable through Olympic Holidays with the five-star Amathus Beach Hotel in Paphos, and a par-72 at Aphrodite Hills.

There are those who say golf spoils a good walk, so swap the clubs for boots on a hiking holiday in the rugged Troodos Mountains.

Inntravel has a seven-night self-guided route, Island of Surprises, venturing from wine region Krasochoria on the mountain slopes to the beautiful Akamas Peninsula via peaceful villages, uninhabited stretches of coastline, and stopping at ancient ruins along the way (from £525 land-only, including car hire).

Alternatively, book independent adventurers a base from which to explore: Cyplon recommends four-star Forest Park Hotel in the mountain village of Platres, where the concierge will arrange nature walks, bird-watching, mountain bike rides and visits to local monasteries such as Kykkos.

Alternatively, Olympic Holidays offers self-catering houses in Omodhos in the Troodos Mountains, or at Tochni and Kalavasos near Limassol, where a new 40-mile cycling route from Limassol marina to the mountains opened last autumn. A week in two-bedroom Olga’s House in Omodhos starts at £295 based on five sharing, with flights and car hire.

Water babies might prefer to indulge their sense of adventure in – or under – the sea.

Cyprus is already home to world-famous wreck diving site the Zenobia, but a wave of new diving spots has been created to bring the number of wreck sites up to 16. Diving packages are available from a host of seafront hotels around the island.Novices or nervous divers can even get a taste of life under water with Attraction World’s Undersea Adventure, a shallow helmet dive to see rock formations and feed the fish (£53 per adult, £42 per child).

For those who prefer to stay above the surface, the island’s beach hotels boast an array of watersports from waterskiing, sailing and jetskiing at Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort, to kite surfing, windsurfing and paragliding at Palm Beach Hotel & Bungalows, Larnaca.

Cyprus

BEACH: SAND AND SECLUSION




Cyprus is better known for its sandy beaches than its sense of adventure, but it’s still crucial to select the right coastal spot, whether visitors want buzzing bars or a peaceful beachfront hideaway.

Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “The southeast of Cyprus offers fabulous stretches of golden sand ideal for families and young people looking for lazy days by the sea. Protaras caters well for the family market, while Ayia Napa, just six miles away, has lots of facilities for young people. Both resorts have long been popular with the British market.”

Golden Beach in Makronissos, near Ayia Napa, has been garnering attention thanks to the recent opening of family hotel So Nice Boutique Suites and five-star retreat the So White Boutique Suites. Planet Holidays will feature the hotels’ diamond all-inclusive option from April 1, with dine-around meals and set room service menus for a €55 supplement per day, or €27.50 for children.

There’s no shortage of action-packed tourist resorts in Cyprus. Larnaca combines six Blue Flag beaches with trendy nightspots such as Mackenzie Beach, and family hotels including Sentido Sandy Beach Hotel, which features watersports and a kids’ club for four to 12-year-olds. Prices start from £525 for a week all-inclusive in October with Thomas Cook, including Manchester flights.

The mile-long sand and shingle beach at Pissouri also offers year-round safe swimming, watersports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding in summer, or quieter stretches of sand shielded from the wind by low cliffs. The fun-filled beachfront properties around tourist-central Paphos have no end of water-based activities.

Don’t fancy fighting the crowds to find space for a towel? Seclusion-seeking sunbathers should explore the west coast. Coral Bay in Peyia has a quiet sandy beach surrounded by limestone cliffs, with budget-friendly options such as the studios and apartments of three-star Panareti Coral Bay (from £329 self-catering for a week in April with Jet2holidays).

Likewise, Sunvil programme manager Alexis Josephides recommends beach lovers explore the Akamas Peninsula’s wild coastline and secluded coves by boat, staying at a quiet villa such as Stella Maris in Pomos, which boasts private access to a small shingle cove (from £714 self-catering for a week, with flights from Gatwick and car hire).

As a luxury alternative offering the same sense of solitude, five-star spa hotel the Anassa is elegant and understated, with guests free to choose from being active – try mountain biking, tennis, watersports and diving – or sitting back on one of the island’s best beaches. A week with breakfast starts at £1,713 in April with British Airways flights and private transfers, from Kuoni.

CULTURE: PAST TIMES




Why stop at the beach, when the island’s fascinating culture is crying out to be explored? The Troodos Mountains are home to one of the largest groups of churches and monasteries left behind by the Byzantine Empire. These are best explored at visitors’ own pace from a base such as Casale Panayiotis, well-placed to explore the sights. Car hire, seven nights’ B&B and flights starts from £634 for a week with Sunvil.

For a little more structure, try the Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s new Aphrodite’s Cultural Route, visiting some of the island’s best-known archaeological sites including the goddess’s fabled birthplace Kouklia, the ruins of a temple dedicated to her at Amathous, and 12th century BC settlement Kition.

Even guests on a tight budget can enjoy their fair share of cultural exploits: two free escorted walks set off from Larnaca town centre twice a week, with a Larnaca Past and Present theme covering the history of the town each Wednesday, then a focus on locally-made ceramics and handicrafts in the area around the fort and St Lazarus Church on Fridays.

The four-star Sun Hall Hotel is in the town centre and an ideal spot from which to explore the city’s historical sites, starting at £589 for a week on a bed-and-breakfast basis with Jet2holidays, with flights from Manchester in May.

Hotspots Paphos and Limassol aren’t short of fascinating sights either: the Roman mosaics and museums of the Tombs of the Kings draw visitors to the former, while Limassol’s castle and the nearby ancient site of Kourion attract them to the latter.