After the pandemic year we have all lived through, the idea of a relaxing and luxurious getaway has never been so enticing. However, when you are wondering where to go, there is one very affordable destination nearby that you may not have considered: Cyprus.
The Louis hotel chain recently invited a group of Israeli journalists to stay at several of their Cypriot properties (the chain also has hotels in Greece) to see what is available to Israeli travelers just an hour’s flight away. Since my idea of the ideal vacation is right on the beach with frequent swimming, I felt well qualified to assess luxury beachfront hotels.
Cyprus has long been a popular destination for British and Russian tourists, but due to pandemic regulations – particularly home quarantine for those who have not been vaccinated (mostly children) – few of these countries have been able to make the trip this year. What this means to Israelis is that the resorts in Cyprus are uncrowded and more welcoming than ever.
Louis Hotels promotes a number of its top hotels as getaway destinations for adults, especially couples. I have stayed at three of their hotels – the Ivi Mare in Paphos, the Royal Apollonia in Limassol, and the King Jason in Protaras – and visited several more, all of which provided a pleasant and calming experience.
These hotels pride themselves on their service, and everyone – from the receptionist to the waiters and even the housekeepers (who took the time to direct guests who got a bit lost on their way to their rooms) – were extremely pleasant. treat.
All three facilities have elaborate spas, gyms, and pool areas, with poolside bars and even bars inside the pools where you swim, along the waterfront. On June 1, l he European environmental monitoring agency, the European Environment Agency, ranked Cyprus first out of 27 countries in the European Union for having the cleanest bathing water. I could feel it as soon as I stepped into the sparkling waters. The sea was refreshing even when the sun was strongest, not the tub as hot as the Mediterranean can be.
During the months that COVID closed the hotel, it was renovated and redecorated in a low-key but pleasant style. One detail that illustrates the hotel’s approach to dining for couples is that the state-of-the-art showers have enough room for two. It is also possible to choose a room with a private jacuzzi.
The area around the Ivi Mare offers nightlife and we enjoyed the sunset at a harbor bar which offered not only the usual cocktails but also smoothies made from locally grown berries. There were many local restaurants and shops along the waterfront. And although there was music floating above the water, it was not a crowded and heartbreaking scene.
ON THE SECOND day of the trip we traveled to Limassol, where the five star Royal Apollonia hotel is located. This hotel is larger and has an interesting collection of swimming pools, as well as areas where two people can lie on an outside bed under an awning.
The Royal Apollonia spa offers all kinds of wellness treatments in a tranquil space decorated with wood and stone. I was able to try out their interpretation of a Dead Sea mud “climatological” treatment, which was very similar to what one would find in Israel. I also enjoyed a gentle massage, only two of the over 100 spa treatments available.
The area around Limassol harbor is lively, and there are many bars and clubs in the area. You can also stroll along the promenade and watch the sun set over the rows of fishing boats moored there. For those who like to combine shopping and vacationing, there are several malls in the area, as well as stores along the port that offer high-end brands that are not available in Israel or are much more expensive here. For the record, even the more touristy souvenir shops we visited had very reasonably priced items including local sweets, spices, and teas.
THE THIRD hotel on our trip, the King Jason Protaras, is rated as a four star rather than a five star hotel, but it seemed just as luxurious as the previous two. It has been recently redecorated and features bespoke furnishings in rooms that reflect the blue and white scheme so common in Cyprus and Greece.
There are a number of pools at the King Jason, some with exercise bikes right in the water, as well as an outdoor hot tub. The hotel is located on Fig Tree Bay, where the sea was particularly attractive. The hotel has a staircase from which you can dive straight into the Mediterranean, which is perfect if you want to go back to the pool or restaurant and don’t want to be sandy. As with all of the hotel’s beaches, the water was incredibly clear.
All three hotels offer several buffet restaurants, with plenty of dishes, including local specialties, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as an abundance of fresh seafood and Greek-themed cold cuts that serve “Meze”. , which is Greek for the aperitif. Breakfasts are similar to what you would get at an Israeli restaurant, and there was an abundance of fresh salads and fruit at all meals, much of it locally grown. In addition, at the Ivi Mare and the Royal Apollonia there were Asian fusion restaurants Akakiko, which mainly serve delicious Japanese cuisine, including sushi and noodle dishes. The chef at Ivi Mare made excellent falafels and hummus for us to make us feel right at home.
Cyprus traces its history back to around 10,000 BCE, making it an ideal destination for those who wish to combine a lazy beach vacation with the sighting of archaeological treasures. As we made our way from Paphos to Limassol, we stopped at a beach that is believed to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. There is a castle right by the water in Paphos. It was built in the 13th century to protect the area and has a wonderful view from the roof. The castle is not far from the Paphos mosaics at the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. The location has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1980 and features magnificent mosaic floors that are part of the Roman villas found in the area, as well as mosaics from the Hellenistic period.
There is a forest near Protaras where you can hike if you can get away from the pool, as well as an outdoor sculpture garden.
With enough planning, it is possible to organize an event such as a wedding in hotels, which will handle all aspects of the celebration, from gazebo to cake.
Although it appears that Cyprus is heading towards Israel in terms of canceling COVID regulations, a PCR test is still required for tourists who stay there more than 72 hours before returning home. These hotels may offer testing directly in the lobby. It was a quick, no-frills procedure and I received the results by text message a few hours later.
In addition to our stay at these three hotels, we also got to see some of the family hotels including Louis Phaethon Beach in Paphos and Nausicaa Beach in Protaras. They have kids ‘pools with all kinds of animal statues and rainbows, and have kids’ clubs that offer daytime and evening activities. They don’t skimp on lifeguards and at Louis Phaethon Beach there are at least 10 lifeguards on duty throughout the day.
Louis Hotels offer a number of discounts to those who book through their website and, in some cases, free upgrades to sea view rooms.
Speaking of the winter months in hotels, Jason Perdios, CEO of Louis Hotels, said: “Cyprus is one of the few places in the world where you can ski in the mountains and swim in the sea on this day. ”
And it is definitely a place where Israelis can find peace and paradise.
The writer was the guest of the hotels.