Cyprus has long been famous for its beaches, beauty and fascinating mix of cultures but it now has a beautiful hotel to complement its natural charms. Sophia Constant reports.
Away from the package holiday hotspots such as Ayia Napa, Cyprus has always appealed to a discerning crowd. Fascinating history, ancient ruins, sleepy villages, mountain peaks and pristine beaches have always been the primary lure for travellers coming to this island in the further reaches of the Mediterranean, but the island now has another string to its bow: Parklane, a rather beautiful five-star hotel sitting in a spot right on the beach, and boasting a top-end spa.
The island’s history and culture have been celebrated in Parklane’s creation, from the food and activities down to the minutiae which help this newly-opened £150m creation retain some real Cypriot character. Traditional designs from nearby artisanal town of Lefkara are subtly incorporated throughout the hotel, from the wallpaper to the floor tiles, while there are Tibetan highland wool carpets, bohemian crystal chandeliers, 1,200 pieces of Cypriot-inspired art dotted around the resort and 30,000 tonnes of marble features.
The 274 rooms and suites are spread out within 25 acres of glorious gardens, with various parts of Parklane designed to cater to different types of visitor. There are plenty of interconnecting rooms for families, while couples and individuals will probably be happiest in the ‘Lifestyle Suites’ within an adult-only wing; a quieter, more secluded escape at the edge of the property with an adult-only pool. The perfect choice, however, is probably one of the Park Suites, set within secluded gardens with private pools.
No matter which room you’re in there are all the activities and facilities you’d expect, with a choice of pools, gyms, yoga studio, tennis courts and watersports all on hand, as well as a 300m beach that lines the front of the property.
As for the aforementioned Spa? It’s a true luxury spot. Kalloni Spa has a diverse menu of treatments in a huge (32,000sq ft) haven designed in the style of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to wellbeing. There are 14 treatment rooms, three private suites, plunge pools, saunas and healthy food & drink menus.
Kalloni’s pièce de résistance from among the treatments is ‘Thalassotherapy’, which involves plunging into a series of pools at varying temperatures and salt levels as well as receiving a full-body hydro-massage to aid circulation, detoxification, relaxing the muscles and softening the skin.
Rooms at Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, start from €310 per night based on a Bed & Breakfast stay in a Superior Inland Room. For further information, please visit www.parklanecyprus.com
Food and drink
Parklane hotel’s food and drink options include an Italian restaurant called Il Teatro, a modern spot called The Grill which has a touch of 1930s-style speakeasy about it and Lanes, where the daily breakfast spread reminded me of the ‘Be Our Guest’ scene from Beauty and the Beast.
Perhaps best of all for the visitor, however, is Dafne’s, where true Cypriot cuisine is whipped up by chefs grilling traditional dishes over hot coals. Pitta stuffed with halloumi, drizzled with oregano-infused oil and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, followed by slow-roasted lamb souvla, is an unbeatable combination.
Away from the hotel, you’ll find the food strongly influence by a blend of Turkish, Greek and middle eastern cuisine, infused with aromatic flavour from the island-grown produce: wild sage, fennel, rosemary, carob, rose water, honey and pistachios to name a few. If you’re after freshly-caught fish, the Kyrenia Beach Bar and Restaurant at Avdimou Beach is justly renowned for its top-quality food.
Wine is also a highlight. The Cypriot landscape is woven with vineyards, and countless family-owned wineries can be visited in and around Omodos, where once upon a time, every house had its own winemaking tools. Cyprus’s most legendary drink and a ‘must-try’ is Commandaria, the oldest named wine in the world (1192), declared ‘The King of Wines’ by Richard the Lionheart.
Things to do
Cyprus is famous for its beautiful beaches and zipping around in a hire car is the perfect way to reach the most pristine and deserted stretches of sand. Ladies Mile is a 20-minute drive from Parklane, Lara’s beach is one of the prettiest on the island — it’s a nature reserve where you can see turtles hatching — while Afrodite’s rock and beach is beautiful and laced in mythology. The Blue Lagoon is a remote paradise for those who wish to escape the crowds, while divers will also discover a variety of magical sites to explore, including one of the top five diving wrecks in the world.
Thus charming hillside town is known for its hand-embroidered cloths with distinctive patterns, detailed lacework and intricate filigree silverware. You really feel the traditional side of Cypriot life: artisans take immense pride in their skills, which have been passed down through generations.
Wander cobbled-stone streets beneath zig-zags of rippling bunting, passing venetian-style merchant houses with gorgeous hand-carved doorways and balconies overflowing with bougainvillea. Pop into family-run workshops and chat to locals, usually perched outside on stools to catch the sunlight, along with any hearsay making its way through the streets. Be sure to visit the Church Dedicated to the Holy Cross to gaze upon stunning authentic frescoes, beautiful filigree lamps and the most stunning 15th Century ceiling.
A visit to 13th Century Lemesos Castle opens up fascinating stories of Richard the Lionheart’s conquest of Cyprus, the only English royal wedding to have taken place in a foreign country, and how he sold the island to the Knights Templar to fund the third Crusade.
There are other ruins equally worth a visit. Ancient Kourion has an amphitheatre that still hosts opera under the stars, and also contains the remnants of Kolossi Castle and the ancient city of Amathous.
Walking and biking
If you come in mid-summer then the blazing temperatures will probably limit your exertions, but for those coming here in Spring or Autumn the island’s staggering beauty demands you get out and about. Cyprus is particularly beautiful in spring, when the mountains boast a rainbow-display of wildflowers and rare orchids, the salt-lakes are aflame with migrating flamingos and beaches are much quieter.
Cape Greco National Park is great for kayaking and coastal walks, but the Troodos Mountains are the ultimate playground for adventurous types. You can hike or bike along old mule trails through thick pine forests, uncover hidden waterfalls and spot birds dancing in the trees.