Where? Columbia Beach Resort, Cyprus
Visiting a five star hotel you expect a lot; especially when it is grey and drizzly in the UK and some winter sunshine wouldn’t go amiss. So when I visited Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus in November my expectations were high – I didn’t just want them to deliver on five star service, I wanted them to provide the weather too.
Setting eyes on the pool overlooking Pissouri Bay after five and a half hours travelling couldn’t have been more of a visual tonic. Set high on a hillside with post-card perfect panoramas it is no real surprise that this Mediterranean Island is known for its natural beauty, and of course its year-round temperatures of between fifteen and thirty-six degrees Celsius.
Being part of the Columbia group, the resort benefits from access to facilities at its surrounding venues (such as Londa Hotel and Columbia Beach Hotel next door), but the hotel itself boasts a surprisingly intimate atmosphere, compared to its larger counterparts. Ninety-four suites are laid out in the nucleus pattern of a Cypriot village – which will account for the extraordinary level of hospitality the place has to offer – staff bent over backwards to cater to our every need.
Naturally, my first stop was the spa, which is a shining beacon in the resort’s proverbial crown. It has five treatment rooms, a Jacuzzi, plunge pool, lounge area, sauna, steam room and gym; and clearly catering to their English clientele – an endless supply of tea to enjoy in the fluffy robes and slippers which are provided. Although the resort as a whole is extremely family oriented, the spa area is only open to over-eighteens.
The treatments list is extensive – literally pages long; and I would highly recommend looking at some of the more unusual detoxing wraps if you get the chance. However, on this occasion I opted for a back, neck and shoulder massage – simple, classic, and oh-so-difficult to get right. Fortunately my therapist came up trumps, explaining where I was holding tension and targeting it, thus catapulting me into holiday mode.
Of course being on holiday food is a major priority and the mezze Apollo Restaurant left me drawling; I would have happily survived on the prawns with fennel, tomato and cream for the entire week. There is also a fine dining option at the Dionysos gourmet restaurant, where the head chef appears to have something of a creative crush on our own dear Heston – concocting an experimental menu to great effect and flair.
For anyone wanting to lounge around, Columbia has everything you could wish for – aside from the cacophony of pools and sports to keep you entertained, there is also a beach where the sea hovers between a comfortable fifteen and positively bath-like twenty-eight degrees Celsius in the summer. However, I would recommend hiring a car and exploring the wineries, olive oil factories, local villages, and art galleries that illustrate the island’s heritage. Aphrodite’s Rock is definitely worth a visit, if only for the prospect of the good luck it reputedly brings should you take a swim around it.
What’s the Verdict?
The beauty of this resort is the easy availability of everything from the restaurants to the activities, which of course is the benefit of a resort distinct from a boutique destination, making it particularly good for families although frankly it would suit anyone looking for a peaceful break in the sunshine. The guarantees here are good service, great food, and although I say it was not within their power to control it, you could even have fooled me into thinking that the blissful temperatures were made to order.
Ellen’s Top Tips:
1) There is plenty to do at the resort and lots of free shuttles for getting around the island, but to make your own schedule I would recommend hiring a car and venturing out to the mythological marvel that is Aphrodite’s Rock.
2) Make sure you eat in the Apollo Restaurant – It is a relaxed environment that’s perfect after a day on the beach, and I could have happily dined there all week.
3) Visit the Hambis Printmaking Museum and pick up an original piece of artwork. The owner and artist is quintessentially Cypriot in his welcoming spirit and his screen-printed work is simply beautiful.
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