Stay The Night: Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus
Holidays are about spoiling ourselves and enjoying the finer things in life. That's what this place is all about, says John Mullin
Sunday 29 May 2011
We can all kid ourselves, for a time.
A five-bedroom villa in one of Cyprus's swankiest resorts, one of those fabulous swimming pools where the water drips over the edge, and an astonishing Jacuzzi. Why not enjoy life's finer offerings? If we don't deserve it, who does?
But it was Mark: Mark, the rather personable guide from the letting agency, in the kitchen, with his gesticulations, who brought me back to earth. He pointed around him: to the handsome granite surfaces, to the burnished wood, and to the gleaming appliances, including a fridge that could surely hold several of a serial killer's victims, standing. As he did so, he said: "And the kitchen, you'll find it's just like home."
That very morning, I had watched with no little alarm as a large rodent had strolled with studied nonchalance across our scuffed kitchen floor, stopped, turned to gaze at me, as if to take a couple of casual drags on a fag and ask: "What's your problem, pal?"
So, no. This sumptuous house in the Aphrodite Hills resort, a 15-minute drive from Paphos airport, is hardly a home from home. On the market at just over £1m, it hardly would be, would it? And that's just the point. For this is holiday, a time to escape and to spoil ourselves.
Villa Anatoli isn't even top-of-the-range at Aphrodite Hills. They go up to £4m, but it's hard to imagine one four times better than this. The views over the Mediterranean are stunning, and the gardens and patio both large and gorgeous. Inside, it's all marble finishes – cool on even the hottest of days – oak panelling, and painstaking detail. The downstairs – the aforementioned kitchen, dining area and living room – is open plan, with two bedrooms and the first two of five (yes, that's right, five) bathrooms. There are two more bedrooms upstairs, another on the bottom floor, and you could easily sleep 10. Usually, when they claim that, you'd be tripping over each other. Not here.
The food and drink
There are even two places to eat outdoors at the house: the patio and the upstairs terrace – which has more, and better quality, furniture – than my living room at home. And you can eat well and pretty cheaply: fish is inexpensive and particularly good, locally, and you can cook it all on the turbo-charged barbecue. You can, of course, make the odd schoolboy error. Wine-wise, stick to the Vasilikon – about a whole fiver in the supermarket – and you'll avoid our early week debacles. Guests can book tables at the resort's restaurants.
Then there's the golf – around which Aphrodite Hills has been built. The par 71 course is beautiful, integrated throughout the resort via a cunning highway of golf cart lanes. The emphasis is on leisurely enjoyment rather than the fiendishly challenging, though the par seven, the course's signature, a par three played across a ravine, causes a fair degree of frustration. We know, because our villa overlooks it, you can hear the anguish when that seven iron goes astray. There is a really good driving range, a decent pitch and putt – as we called it in my youth – for the kids, and even beginners' lessons. You'll also have access to the riding and the tennis academies, fitness centre, spa, kids' clubs. You could live your entire holiday in an expat's parallel universe and that would be a real pity. For what is fantastic – and, to me, rather unexpected – about Cyprus is how much beyond soaking up the sun there is to do. I had somehow supposed it was all fish-and-chips-and-pints-of-lager where you'd be in trouble in the event of a little rain. Wrong. Aside from kiddie favourites, such as go-karts, horse-riding, a fabulous water park, a decent zoo (five albino snakes, including two pythons and a rattlesnake. Is this normal? Is this some kind of record?), there is a wealth of historical attractions and distractions. Even my kids enjoyed the fort at Paphos – owned by everyone, at one point or another. There's Aphrodite's rock, where the Goddess of Love rose from the sea. A word of warning: Be careful with the swim-round-the-rock-anti-clockwise-at-midnight-three-times-and-achieve-eternal-youth thing. My wife, a very good swimmer, it should be said, found it tough going – and it didn't work. And there are the ruins at Kourion, where the centrepiece is a fully restored Greco-Roman theatre with awesome views. Or there is always the flat-screen TV, with Sky, games station with Wii, and Wi-Fi back at the ranch.
Pets are admitted to the resort.
A week's rental costs £1,933 through Villarenters.com (property ref 26361).
Villa Anatoli, Aphrodite Hills, Paphos, Cyprus.
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