Robbie Farrell leaves the kids at home for a trip to a TUI Sensimar Concept hotel in Paphos
‘That’s mine.’ ‘I’m bored.’ ‘There’s nothing to do.’ ‘Are we there yet?’
Any of these nightmare expressions sound familiar?
Anyone with young or teenage children should be all too familiar with at least one of the above phrases. No matter where in the world you bring them or how much there is to do, there will always be tears and fights and the ‘bored’ word uttered at some stage on a family holiday.
So, after almost 15 years of running around after the rug rats, it was sheer bliss to get away from the kids for one week to the charming Cypriot town of Paphos and an adult-only hotel, where I got lost in the ‘sound of silence’.
Situated on the west coast of Cyprus, Paphos is less than a two-hour drive from Ayia Napa, yet it’s a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of its bars and clubs.
Our accommodation for the week was the TUI/Constantinou Bros Pioneer Beach Hotel. It’s an adult-focused, four-star beach-front hotel in Kato, Paphos – situated conveniently close to the places of tourist and archaeological interest, as well as restaurants, bars and shops.
Upon our late-night arrival, we were pleasantly greeted at the door by the hotel’s night manager, who had prepared a cold platter for us, even though it had passed the midnight hour.
And, it’s such attention to detail that keeps holidaymakers coming back to the same resort and hotel year after year.
A hotel insider told me that this luxury establishment has been there for more than 27 years, yet it has a 60per cent return rate with some customers coming back up to twice a year.
I’m not one bit surprised to be honest, as the next morning when we headed down for breakfast, I couldn’t believe the selection of food on offer and can only describe it as a banquet fit for a king.
There were delicacies from every corner of the globe on offer, as well as local Cypriot cuisine and even a gluten-free section.
The hotel also features four top-class restaurants — three of which are à la carte. One in particular, The Odysseas, is a real highlight, thanks to its stunning sea-view al fresco terrace.
But, believe me, if you stick to the buffet, you won’t go wrong. Offering breakfast and dinner, with the option of a set menu, here you’ll find show-cooking, carving stations and a massive salad bar.
There are themed menus throughout the week, including Cypriot and Asian cuisine. Just so you know, there’s a dress code here – you are asked not to wear swimwear to dinner. Each evening at dinner time, the hotel offers fantastic entertainment that includes casino night, Cypriot night and, my favourite, the magic night.
There is also a very special evening each Friday called ‘The Manager’s Drinks at Sundown’. Here you can watch the stunning sunset while tasting some of the local wines that have been produced in the same manner for more than 200 years, and some of the local beers and spirits too.
But the entertainment doesn’t stop there. Throughout each day, the hotel’s team work around the clock with fitness programmes and games, and there’s even an afternoon of gin tasting, if that tickles your fancy.
However, one of the highlights for us was the full- and half-day Cypriot tours that can be organised through the TUI hotel representative. Tours like ‘Cyprus Through the Ages’, ‘Flavours of Cyprus’, ‘Troodos Hidden Charms’, and even microbrewery and BBQ trips are available.
With so much on offer, it was hard to choose, but the one place that jumped out at me was a trip to the capital Nicosia.
As the last divided capital in the world, Nicosia is a fascinating city to explore — it offers you a glimpse of two very different worlds. The tour starts in the Cypriot southern sector and crosses the ‘Green Line’ buffer zone to explore the Turkish-occupied north of the capital.
Our first stop was at St John’s Cathedral, followed by a walking tour through the historic streets of Laiki Geitonia inside the Venetian City walls. It’s a maze of winding streets with churches, squares and majestic old buildings. Be warned though: you will need your passport on the day to cross over into the Turkish-occupied side.
The old town of Paphos, too, is a fascinating place. There is a bus stop right outside the hotel’s front door that will bring you in to the old harbour for just €1.50. Here, you can transfer at the central station to another bus to the old town.
The town itself is perched high on the mountainside, overlooking the west coast of Cyprus, and the views are breathtaking. It also features a wonderful, old traditional market with loads of stalls, friendly stall owners, leather goods, lace and local produce. And if you fancy a bite to eat, there are some wonderful restaurants that overlook the ocean, with local and international cuisine and beers at a fraction of Irish prices. A typical local beer will cost you just €1.50 a pint.
But one of the best days out for us during our week-long stay was the Wave Dancer full-day cruise. The voyage departs from Paphos harbour and cruises all the way to the beautiful nature reserve of the Akamas Peninsula, where you will see the famous Turtle Bay, otherwise known as Lara Bay.
The trip includes a delicious real BBQ lunch, which is cooked and served fresh each day on the top deck in front of the guests to give that lovely summer atmosphere.
This is accompanied by music and live entertainment and shows throughout the day. It also includes as much booze as you can drink for around €57 per person. This one is not to be missed.
Overall, Paphos and the TUI/Constantinou Bros Pioneer Beach Hotel is a wonderful destination. The hotel staff are some of the friendliest I have come across on my travels and we were treated like royalty.
The hotel can be booked on both full- and half-board basis and I would highly recommend the full-board if you want to make the most of your money.
Robbie travelled to Cyprus as a guest of TUI. This feature originally appeared in The Sunday World.
The TUI Sensimar Concept stands for “stylish holidays just for adults”. However, adults only doesn’t just mean couples only.
TUI Sensimar hotels are designed for everyone, whether you want to chill by the pool with mum, catch up over cocktails with your other half, or make the most of the activities on offer with your fitness pal. Wherever you stay, expect a relaxed, child-free break in peaceful surroundings. All TUI hotels are in beautiful settings.
Offers in 2019 for TUI Sensimar Pioneer Beach, include:
• September 11/18 — Seven nights, based on a double room with inland view on half board from €1,039pp.
For more info, see tuiholidays.ie.
Niagarous volumes of water have passed under many metaphorical bridges since I last visited Cyprus. It was 1994 and the very happy occasion of our honeymoon: a fortnight in October in an elegant hotel on the beach - the gift of a dear friend, the late Gillian Bowler, no better woman to pick a stunning vacation location.