The five-star Anassa Hotel in Cyprus (www.thanoshotels.com/ans/ansfrm.html), a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, is situated on national parkland, which predictably raised some hackles when the hotel was built in 1998. To keep the peace, Anassa’s architects gave a nod to the environmentalists by leaving its grounds in their untamed natural state, but the rest of the property is polished to a perfect sheen.
The Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus has long been a favorite of high-end European travelers, particularly from the United Kingdom (Cyprus is a former British colony). Anassa’s list of celebrity guests includes European footballers, film stars Isabelle Adjani and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Last August, beloved British TV chef Gordon Ramsay came to stay.
Your VIPs can have a similar over-the-top experience at this 177-room retreat, although most guests come for the privacy, the fine food and the newly remodeled spa.
Best room in the house is a private cottage called the Alexandros Residence. Measuring 210 square meters, it offers two bedrooms, an office and a full kitchen. The hotel will stock the larder and arrange a chef to cook privately for Alexandros guests, who typically stay for one to two weeks.
In the main building, the two-bedroom Anax Suite and the one-bedroom Aphrodite and Adonis suites are situated on the third floor, with dedicated-key access. They’re blessed with beautiful light and sea views. Touches like the pop-up television at the foot of the bed and the bathroom/dressing area that stretches across the entire width of the Aphrodite Suite deliver a little “wow factor” without going over the top. We loved the clean-smelling Bulgari bath products throughout (those in the suites are the 6.8-ounce size).
Hotel Manager Stathis Mavrommatis ([email protected]; 357-26-888-200) handles major requests, such as large-scale private parties or weddings in the hotel’s Greek Orthodox-style chapel.
Book a table at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Basiliko, when making room reservations. This atmospheric spot, resembling an ancient wine cellar and lit by candles, is reached via a narrow, winding stone staircase. It has just 30 tables and, since it’s open to the public, reservations must be made in advance. The stylish Helios restaurant is the hotel’s other elegant-dining option. It presents a different menu each night and includes an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes. (Children aren’t permitted in Basiliko or Helios.) The Amphora restaurant offers more casual fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Pelagos is an all-day poolside restaurant. Executive chef is Australian Ashley Goddard, formerly of the Soneva Fushi Resort & Six Senses Spa in the Maldives.
Spa Manager Jo Bullock also came from Soneva Fushi. She now oversees Anassa’s renovated Thalassa spa, which reopened in March. Spa products, from U.K.-based Organic Pharmacy, are handmade weekly. Popular treatments include the Anti-Aging Body Ritual and the Honey-Jasmine Facial Mask. Book treatments in advance through the concierge or reservations desk ([email protected]).
Cyprus is a relatively small island and nothing is too far from the hotel, including the primary airport in Larnaca, about 90 miles away. It’s an easy drive on the island’s good road system, but guests who are eager to reach Anassa quickly can always opt to arrive via helicopter at the hotel’s private helipad.
Anassa staff can arrange excursions for guests, such as 4x4 trips into the Troodos Mountains and around the Akamas peninsula. There’s also the option of visiting traditional villages such as Lofou, Omodos and Fyti. In addition to beach and pool activities, there’s a PADI dive center on site.
Encourage clients to stop in at a local restaurant for a meze lunch, a seemingly unending flow of dishes such as rice pilaf, lamb chops, fresh fish and salads. Local specialties include Cypriot wine and haloumi, a mild cheese (think mozzarella meets feta) that can be grilled without melting.
The painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and they’re magnificent. They are, however, closed in winter and many are open only by special request. Ask the hotel concierge to arrange a visit.
For visitors with an interest in ancient history, there’s plenty to see on Cyprus. At Kourion, there are excellent mosaics and a restored amphitheater, used for concerts and an annual Greek drama festival in July and August. The beach town of Pafos has a critical mass of antiquities, including wonderful mosaics at the Villa of Dionysus. The ambiance of lower Pafos is a bit downscale, but upper Pafos is charming. Kiniras restaurant (www.kiniras.cy.net; 91 Makarios Avenue) is a quaint local place for meze.
The Cyprus Tourism Organization (www.cyprustourism.org; 212-683-5280) has mapped out several driving routes, including a wine trail and an antiquities trail.
With no nonstop flights from North America, Cyprus isn’t on most U.S. travelers’ radar (perhaps making it more appealing to the been-everywhere, done-everything client). Route them through London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or other airports. There are 39 airlines serving Cyprus, including British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa.
A Studio Suite features elegant vaulted ceilings, and double doors that open to beautiful Cypriot views.
An intimate pool area provides marvelous sea and mountain views.