You’re staying at the Aphrodite?!” shrieked my girlfriend’s step-mum excitedly, when I told her we were off to Cyprus for a few days. According to her, it’s the best hotel on the island. My old man’s reaction was similar (less shrieking, more bitterness). Although he was mainly jealous because I was going to get a round of golf in.
My dad lived in Dhekelia in the 90’s and it’s where he took up golf – probably to get some rest bite from his three raucous kids. Only, he played golf on what he described as ‘browns’, essentially brown patches of muddy land with no grass in sight.
Things have changed since the those days, luckily for me. Now, Cyprus is home to a picturesque PGA-approved golf course at the Aphrodite Hills Resort – a five-star holiday village, built in 2002, located around a twenty-minute drive from Paphos airport. The reason for my visit is because it has just undergone a €2.5 million refurbishment.
Nestled at the top of a rocky cliffside above the Mediterranean sea, the resort is made up of luxury holiday villas and a five-star contemporary hotel. The entire portfolio spans across 2.3 million square metres of craftily pruned agricultural land.
The hotel and well-scattered apartments are accessible by 11km of winding roads, which snake gracefully through lush green fairways, steep, stony ravines and acres of olive trees and vibrant flowers.
Guests can choose between a room or suite in the Aphrodite Hills Hotel by the renowned Atlantica Hotels or a holiday villa (ideal for families). One to four-bedroom apartments are available depending on the number of guests or budget. Sea and golf course views come with a greater expense, as do those private pools (all other apartments come with communal pool access).
The pristine, sandy-coloured buildings on the resort sit naturally into their surroundings, like exclusive LA-hills-style condos. Any new properties must not deviate from the original architect’s design brief to ensure consistency and style are maintained.
Villa interiors are in minimal, chic style – not unlike a California beach house – with English sockets and all the mod cons. All are air-conditioned (and heated for the offseason) with jacuzzi baths and well-equipped, self-catered kitchens, flatscreen smart TVs (with Netflix and satellite TV).
The hotel on the complex is five-star opulence with a family feel. There’s piano bar with live music, eight restaurants, a gym and an indoor/outdoor pool, plus plenty of places for children to play. Rooms are decorated in keeping with the rest of resort – tasteful yet practical and spacious enough for groups.
During the offseason, the eight restaurants are condensed to three. In summer months eateries range from Asian and a la Carte to local kebabs and a British-inspired pub.
Food in Elonas, the main restaurant, is classic all-inclusive fair catered towards British families (who make up 50% of the clientele) and narrowly falls short of five-star cuisine. Less tradition Cypriot dishes and more burgers, pasta and pizza (usually with mayonnaise and tomato ketchup as an automatic accompaniment). More traditional options would be welcomed.
However, the breakfast is plentiful, wholesome and worthy of its five-star rating. Fresh juices, smoothies, a health bar and both hot English and continental breakfast available – as well as freshly made crepes and waffles.
The hotel is also blessed with an extremely talented patisserie chef and chocolatier who make aesthetically beautiful and equally delicious desserts worthy of Paul Hollywood himself.
Things to keep you busy
The facilities at the resort are most impressive. There are clay and hard tennis courts, a football pitch, 30-odd swimming pools, parks, horse riding facilities, an award-winning spa, Costa Coffee and most-impressive of all, a PGA-approved golf course.
After a recent refurbishment, completed earlier this month, it is the beacon of not only Cyprus’ golf but Europe’s too. Having been named the No.1 golf course on the continent for 2018, it’s stunning views, impeccably-tended greens and bleached white sand – imported from Egypt – make it a must-play course for any golf enthusiast.
English-speaking coaches and pros offer tennis and golf lesson year-round for all age ranges and abilities and are good value and seemingly effective (I shaved two shots off my handicap after one lesson). Kids clubs and elite sports camps are also available during summer and winter times.
The people who look after you
The staff at Aphrodite Hills Resort are everything you want staff to be at a five-star resort – charismatic, friendly and attentive (but not overly) with no hint of pretentiousness. Quality customer service is an art form and everyone at the resort (from the waitresses, bartenders and coaches to the groundskeepers) are the Picasso’s, Gaudi’s and Ennio Morricone’s of their respective industries.
This stunning resort is an ideal winter getaway for couples and groups and the perfect spot to take the children are any time of the year. It’s secure, easily-accessible and there’s that much to do you won’t ever have to leave the resort.
Flights: Flights from London Gatwick to Paphos with EasyJet available for £70
How to get to the hotel: Local taxis available from the airport for around €20.
Accommodation cost: A private room in a two-bedroom villa with private pool starts at €200 per night (rates vary)
Spa costs: Treatments from €45