The group I work with is associated with a chain of hotels in Cyprus, owned by the Constantinou Brothers. One of the pros is that I get to experience the hotels for myself on an educational trip – of course a four-day break in the sunshine with no children or husband to look after? I booked onto the first date available in 2022!
The flight into Paphos is between four and five hours from the UK. We flew from Leeds and the effects of the pandemic are finally starting to wear-off. No masks are required now in Leeds Bradford Airport, nor are they a requirement on the plane (we flew with Jet 2). The only negative was that the security queue was as bad as recent reports suggest. Only two security lanes were open due to staff shortages sustained from the pandemic, which mean over an hour to get through. We arrived at the airport two hours before we were due to depart, and we didn’t even have chance to finish a coffee before our gate was closing. If you like to peruse the duty-free or grab breakfast before you fly then you should aim for a three-hour check in until airports are able to recruit and train staff and overcome their current issues.
Cyprus no longer requests a negative test for full-vaccinated arrivals. The only requirement was to complete the Cyprus Flight Pass within forty-eight hours of our flight. When we landed, we had to show our NHS Covid Pass to prove we were vaccinated and then we were free to explore.
Masks are still mandatory everywhere indoors (March 2022) – you can remove them whenever you are seated at a table, and nobody wears them outside. It was hard to remember a mask every time I left the hotel room after becoming used to not wearing one at home!
The taxi from Paphos Airport to the hotel was only fifteen minutes – it makes it an ideal spot for anyone travelling with young children wanting to keep a short transfer. We were allocated rooms at the Athena Beach Hotel, the largest of the four properties managed by Constantinou Bros. It’s also the only family hotel in their portfolio – the Athena Royal, next door, is a smaller adult-only property, the Pioneer further along the coast is another smaller adult-only, exclusive to TUI, and the Asimina Suites is a five-star luxury all-suite hotel, again for adults only.
We were allocated Superior Sea View Rooms on the fourth floor, which are part of the Elite Class selection with added benefits, the first of which is a VIP check-in with bubbly to set the tone! The hotel is styled traditionally with marble floors and walls in the lobby and restaurants, dramatic chandeliers, and elegant furnishings. Corridors are carpeted in a royal blue and bedrooms have recently been updated to light wood-style flooring to compliment the traditional panelling and furnishings. Bathrooms are all light marble with walk-in showers (some have baths available on request and other room types feature both showers and baths). The spacious south-facing balcony overlooked the large central pool, splash-park, and Mediterranean Sea.
After unpacking and refreshing we had dinner in the Zephyr a la carte – I had the lemon and butter sole and over-ambitiously selected two types of baklava for dessert – one of my favourites!
After breakfast on day two we were taken on an orientation tour of Paphos and the surrounding area by the lovely and hospitable Aristos! We headed along the coast to see the new beach bars commissioned by the local authority, back past Aphrodite Waterpark – a huge attraction for families with an abundant choice of garish slides, less than a mile from the hotel, and then onto Paphos town before heading north out into the hills and traditional Cypriot villages nearby. Cyprus is a great place to hire a car for a few days – since they also drive on the left-hand side and roads are maintained to a very high standard there is really no concern that should put you off. We visited a small independent winery call ‘Kolios’ and enjoyed a wine-tasting and tour of the production. They serve food and wine in a large dining room with huge windows opening out onto a beautiful view of the green hills and vineyards below.