It’s time to start planning that winter escape, but guaranteed warmth and sunshine means that you will have to travel a little further south than Cornwall. And a serious contender has to be the island of Cyprus…
If you’re looking for some winter sun that doesn’t take hours and hours to get to or break the bank when you’re there, then Cyprus ticks all the boxes. A word of advice, if you do decide to visit Cyprus, make sure that you fly to Paphos. It’s not that Larnaca airport is that far away as this is an island after all, but landing at Paphos puts you right in the heart of Golf Central. And if you are here for that purpose, then you need to be on the west side of the island.
It’s a short drive from airport to the city, soon to be European Capital of Culture for 2017. With a myriad of choices of hotels, holiday apartments and villas for every budget and all four golf courses close by, this really is a great base.
However, if you are hoping for a smaller, less touristy town, you could opt for Polis, which is to be found along the coast to the west. Staying here will give you a more authentic Cypriot atmosphere, but you then have a drive of 30–45 minutes to most of the courses rather than 10–20 minutes.
APHRODITE HILLS HOTEL. This hotel, south of Pathos, is located next to the Aphrodite Hills Golf Course and overlooks the glittering blue Mediterranean Sea. It manages to combine the classic with the contemporary and is a perfect choice for individuals, couples and families.
The rooms and suites are spacious and luxuriously furnished, with either balconies or a terrace from which to enjoy views of the golf course, mountains or sea. There are a selection of restaurants and bars covering most tastes, from a la carte fine dining, to international buffet. The award-winning Retreat Spa, offers state-of-the-art facilities to make your stay even more restful after a long day of golf.
ASIMINIA SUITES. Also located on the south side of Paphos, but much closer to the city, is the Asimina. About 15 minutes’ drive from the airport, it is part of the Constantinou Brothers chain of hotels and properties. This adult-only hotel (others in the group are child-friendly) is brimming over with comfort and there are no screaming toddlers or stressed out parents in sight. It is also perfectly placed for reaching all of the golf courses.
Positioned right on the beach and also having two swimming pools, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off from the hot Cypriot sun. The rooms are tastefully decorated and all the suites have large balconies on which to relax and watch the sun set into the sea.
CAPITAL COAST RESORT & SPA. This hotel is located between the old harbour and Coral Bay in Paphos. It has various combinations of bedrooms and executive suites designed for individuals, couples or families.
There are a wide variety of water activities on hand as well as a lighted tennis court, children’s outdoor playground, gardens, restaurants, bars and lounges. The health club has an indoor heated pool, steam room, Finnish sauna, fitness centre, gym and aerobics studio. The Anemones Spa offers a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as massage and beauty treatments.
THANOS ALMYRA. If you want the convenience of the city whilst also having direct access to the seafront, then go for this stunning hotel as it is right on the beach and very close to the town centre.
A landmark since the 1970s, upon being acquired by the Thanos group the hotel underwent major works to create what is now one of the most opulent designer hotels in town, with an attention to detail that creates a feeling of calmness and order.
THANOS ANASSA. If you are looking for that extra touch of luxury in a calm and relaxing environment, then the Thanos Anassa is for you. Yes, it is further from the airport, located near to the town of Polis and so a longer drive to most of the golf courses (although Minthis Hills is only 20 minutes away), but that feeling of total relaxation in this unique makes it all worthwhile.
With its own private beach and located within beautiful Cypriot scenery, this is a special place to really unwind. The spa facilities are wonderful and also don’t forget to have a meal in the award-winning Basiliko restaurant.
TIME FOR GOLF. Compared to other well know golf locations, Cyprus has a smaller number of courses. But how many do you want to play, or can physically play, while on holiday? For me it’s very much a case of quality, and the choices to be found here are all of a high standard and with a variety of settings and formats to please all, from mountains to fairways with Mediterranean views.
APHRODITE HILLS. This is probably the best known of the four – it’s an 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Cabell Robinson and completed in 2002. It winds its way through the surrounding valleys and into the hills, many of the holes offering stunning views of the sea and mountains. Right from the first hole, a par-4 with an old smelting kiln slap bang in the middle (just to give you something to aim at), you get a taste of what is to come.
The course is well laid out, with plenty to keep all golfers interested. Holes three and seven both require shots over a ravine to reach the fairways and greens. The third, a challenging par-5 from the back tees and seventh being a beautiful par-3. Believe you me, you would not want to go into either ravine to find your ball... The third is the most daunting purely because of its length, but both are regular shots if you don’t let the physiologically omnipresent ravines freak you out.
The ninth brings you back to the hotel and towards the cliffs, with views out to sea. The back nine continues in the same manner with a good smattering of lengths and surprises. I would recommend a round later in the day to witness the sun setting into the Mediterranean. It is a joy for all and as easy or as hard as you want to make it.
SECRET VALLEY. This course is very close to Aphrodite Hills, to the point that you can see several of its neighbour’s fairways perched on the hills above. I have wondered on previous trips, whether it would be possible to take a shot from one course to the other, maybe for the big hitters. As the name ‘Secret Valley’ suggests, it is tucked away in a valley and surrounded by the very same hills as Aphrodite. The course has recently undergone extensive work to expand its offerings to golfers.
ELEA GOLF CULB. Located close to town, this is a superb Nick Faldo designed golf course, but beware, it’s wonderfully deceptive. From the clubhouse above the course, it all seems relatively flat and quite tame. But once you get out there and in the thick of it, you soon realise that the terrain is extremely varied. You really need to have your game hat on, but it’s an absolute delight to play.
Starting off from the elevated first tee, a lovely par-4 with a dogleg left, gives you an impressive view of what is to come… the bunkers! Be wary of the bunkers. I am not saying that every hole is littered with them, but they are tactically placed to make you think and push yourself. It’s when you reach the second hole you will really see what I mean. Teeing off on this par-5, you will need to keep to the right to avoid a veritable army of the things. Should you survive this, your second shot will require some serious thought as you have bunkers on both sides of the green and another protecting it. Then you have the fourth hole to deal with, and yes, there are more bunkers.
But it is fantastic to play here. I recommend this course for the thoughtful golfer rather than your hit-hard-and-hope types.
MINTHIS HILLS. Located roughly 15 minutes away from Paphos, just off the road to Polis, this club is nestled in the Troodos Mountains. It commands superb views of the surrounding peaks and the glittering Mediterranean Sea in the distance; the course gives you a real Cypriot mountain experience. It is, in fact, situated on the grounds of a twelfth century monastery, and some remains can be found near the fourth hole.
Minthis Hills is always in exceptional condition and the surroundings are just inspiring. Being located 550 metres above sea level guarantees a cool breeze, which can be very welcome on a hot day. With a good combination of lengths and hazards, I would defy anyone not to enjoy a round here. This is a delightful course in tranquil surroundings and it’s very accessible to anyone staying in the vicinity.
WHEN TO VISIT. Any time of the year can be good but I love to come here in either spring or autumn. But even during the dark months of January and February, when northern Europe is cold and wet, you will find warm temperatures here. I have visited in February and enjoyed a round in the most temperate of climates. Late winter is a great time to also experience the orange harvest, and why not take a trip up into the Troodos Mountains and visit some of the amazing wineries to be found here. If you think that you know Cyprus, think again.
Good to know
Book your Cyprus Golf Holiday direct with Great Golf Holiday www.greatgolfholiday.com
EasyJet, Monarch and Ryanair all have as flights to Cyprus, as do British Airways and many other national carriers.
Minthis Hills - www.minthishills.com
Elea - www.eleaestate.com
Secret Valley - www.secretvalleygolfclub.com
Aphrodite Hills - www.aphroditehills.com