Jeannine Williamson tests the city’s tasteful transformation
Limassol is a city with layers. There’s a Greco-Roman amphitheatre, a medieval castle (rebuilt by the Ottomans) and even British colonial buildings, all jostling together like a historic jigsaw. And now recent developments have added a modern layer to Limassol – as well as rejuvenating a few old corners too.
There’s a new marina, more attractions and refurbished hotels, and the old town has been pedestrianised, giving Limassol a smart new look. With more than a quarter of the city’s tourists hailing from the UK, you’re sure to have clients keen to try out or rediscover this Cypriot favourite. Here’s the lowdown on the new Limassol.
See: New marina and more
Opened in June, the €500 million marina and waterfront is the shiniest new jewel in Limassol’s crown. The four year development is a shopping, eating and leisure destination with everything from cafes, well-known fast food chains, cool chill-out bars and the smart Yacht Club restaurant to high street and designer shops. The 650 berths can accommodate small yachts and gin palaces, so it’s also a great spot for people watching.
Limassol’s main seafront includes new cafes, an eco-friendly ‘green beach’ with loungers made from sustainable materials, a cycle path and the attractive Molos sculpture park. For energetic visitors it’s also the starting point of a new 43-mile cycle route to Pano Platres in the Troodos foothills.
Across the road from the marina is the rejuvenated old town where streets have been pedestrianised. Carob Mill Quarter is a vibrant new focal point. The old mill is now home to places to eat and drink, including a lounge bar and microbrewery, and the building’s history can be seen in the museum.
A stone’s throw from here is buzzing Saripolou. By day, locals and visitors linger over strong Cypriot coffee and mezze at the many cafes and restaurants; by night, it evolves into a trendy hot spot to see and be seen, with clubs staying open until the early hours.
Nearby attractions include the Cyprus Theatre Museum, with old posters, model stage sets and beautiful costumes, and the Cyprus Historic & Classic Motor Museum, which opened in February and includes Mr Bean’s Mini, among more-historic motors.
Limassol is ideally placed for trips to see enduring attractions such as the ancient city of Kourion, verdant Troodos Mountains and Aphrodite’s Rock, the spot where, according to legend, the goddess of love rose from the waves.
Stay: All new accomodation
In keeping with the new face of Limassol, there has been a wave of unprecedented hotel refurbishment. The majority of properties are four and five-star, with most former three-stars now converted into holiday apartments.
Sold through operators including Thomson, Olympic Holidays and Cyplon, the Royal Apollonia, Limassol’s first five-star, has undergone a spectacular floor to-ceiling transformation. The 204 rooms, including 22 suites, have been refurbished in cool and contemporary style, with glazing used extensively throughout the hotel to provide unbroken views from rooms and public areas. The new spa includes a novel and therapeutic Dead Sea climate room.
The 144-room Crowne Plaza, upgraded from a Holiday Inn, and featured by Cyplon and Sunvil, is near the town centre and marina. Winner of an Intercontinental Hotels Group food excellence award, the hotel’s dining options include à la carte restaurant La Brezza.
The landmark independently-owned Four Seasons has taken over management of the neighbouring Amathus Beach, and they will be exhibiting together for the first time at this year’s World Travel Market in London. The luxurious 304-room Four Seasons, Limassol’s second-largest hotel, opened the island’s first spa, which is now the only Shiseido Spa in Cyprus.
The six dining options include the award-winning Vivaldi Italian restaurant, a seafood bar and Colors Cafe serving exquisite cakes. Sold through numerous operators, including Kuoni, Elegant Resorts and Classic Collection, the grounds include a Greek Orthodox-inspired wedding chapel.
A standout feature at the 239-room Amathus – which in future will particularly target the family, wellness and sports markets – is the spa with the island’s largest sea water indoor pool and tranquil Garden of Senses relaxation area. Limassol’s only member of the Leading Hotels of the World marketing group has also been extensively refurbished and new features include a grill room and al fresco seafront fish restaurant.
The city’s largest hotel, the 329-room five-star Le Méridien, closes in November for a major renovation with a scheduled reopening date of March 2016.
Sell: Sun & fun
A long-standing favourite with the British for sun, sea and sand holidays, it’s easy to sell Limassol on that score alone. With 10 miles of safe, family and disabled traveller-friendly Blue Flag beaches, it’s warm enough to swim from April to October and there’s windsurfing, diving, sailing and fishing year-round.
Limassol is in the heart of the island, 40 minutes from Larnaca airport, and all the main tourist attractions, such as Kourion, the Troodos Mountains and capital Nicosia, can be reached within an hour. Cypriots drive on the left, so it’s also easy to get around.
The cultural calendar is a busy one, so packages can be sold to coincide with annual events such as the May flower festival and International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama, with English subtitles, in July and August.
Limassol is at the centre of the island’s wine industry and there’s a wine festival every August and a wine museum in Erimi, eight miles west of Limassol. But for clients who prefer to focus on vintages recent enough to drink, Limassol is a gateway to many of the island’s wine routes.
Cosmos Holidays has seven nights’ B&B at the Poseidonia Beach Hotel from £559, including flights from Manchester.
Planet Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B in a Superior Room at the Four Seasons from £755 this winter, including flights from Gatwick.
Cyplon Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board in a Superior Sea View Room at the Royal Apollonia from £818 in March 2015, with flights from Gatwick.
Sunvil Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the Crowne Plaza from £832 for travel in spring 2015, including flights from Gatwick and car hire.
Tried & tested:
Poseidonia Beach Hotel
Reopened in April following a refurbishment, this friendly four-star has a relaxed vibe and is a great choice for families and couples looking for a well-priced break. As the name implies, it’s right on the beach, and guests can also sit by the pool (covered in winter), and in the shady garden that features a playground.
The 138 rooms, sea and inland-facing, are decked out in light colours and include two-room family and executive suites. Offering B&B, half-board and all-inclusive, the main Poseidon dining room has an extensive buffet, themed nights and an à la carte menu, while the beach-level Aegean coffee shop, open for breakfast and lunch, includes outdoor seating.
Facilities include bars, an entertainment programme, small gym, spa, hairdressers and free Wi-Fi in the lobby.
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