Philip Green’s wife apparently spent £5 million at the Anassa on hubby’s 50th birthday, taking over the entire hotel and flying in guests — among whom were Kevin Costner and Prince Albert of Monaco — to this corner of south-west Cyprus. Apparently Rod Stewart, George Benson and Tom Jones performed there.
A neighbour who had taken her family there some time ago had also been impressed by their “Baby Go Lightly” service which meant there were lots of baby items she didn’t have to pack.
Turning off the main road towards the end of the 45-minute journey from Paphos Airport, we trundled down a secluded track for a few hundred yards before arriving at the hotel. In the marble lobby we were greeted by staff with iced face-towels and fresh lemonade, and then dispatched to waiting golf carts for the journey to our rooms.
Set amid lush greenery and abundant flora, the resort resembles a Provencal village more than a Cypriot one, with its white-washed villas with their lightblue shutters and huge balconies.
Though the hotel has only 177 rooms, it has four restaurants allowing plenty of dining options. The range includes the Basiliko, the signature gourmet restaurant featuring new Cypriot cuisine, the Pelagos, a speciality fish restaurant with locally sourced fish (and, for non-kosher diners, seafood) plus light Mediterranean fare. There is also the Amphora with a buffet of local specialities, including vegetable dishes, and Helios, where we dined on our first night. A Mediterranean restaurant with its own quiet courtyard, it specialises in handmade pasta, fresh fish and — for non-kosher diners — seafood and imported meats.
My hors d’oeuvre of goat’s cheese carefully arranged on a mosaic of roasted peppers and main course of chargrilled seabass fillet with roasted tomato and local olive ragout were excellent. Although seafood is a big deal, the à la carte menu has plenty of vegetarian options as well as permitted fish.
Next morning, I decided to sacrifice yoga on the beach at 7.30, instead sleeping in before heading to breakfast in the Pavilion Restaurant, where I sat at an alfresco table. The buffet was a lavish spread with all the usual breakfast options — hot items, deli items, cheeses, breads, pastries, juices — plus a selection of homemade jams made from curious combinations such as coconut and green peppercorn and strawberry with mint. As breakfast experiences go, it beats gripping a slice of toast with my teeth while simultaneously forcing my way in to a shirt and fumbling for the front door key.
Gazing out over the calm bay listening to a faint background medley of clinking crockery and morning bird song, I could see why the resort is a popular choice for overachieving business types and celebrities.
The hotel offers various water sports, but I was feeling sedentary, so took a motorboat ride to the nearby lagoon known as Aphrodite’s Pool, where, according to our captain, Hans, those who swim in it “retain their youth”.
After a lunch of local fish and mezze dishes, I headed to the Roman-style health spa where, along with marine-based skincare therapies and facials using Organic Pharmacy’s chemical-free product line, they offer acupuncture and “lifestyle consulting” for the stressed.
Those who wish to venture outside Anassa can visit the beautiful Chryssoroyitissa monastery, or go further afield to Paphos. The nearest town — and arguably the most attractive on the island thanks to vast investment in infrastructure, hotels and residential property — it offers plenty of up-scale shopping, with boutiques, clustered around the mediaeval harbour, along with cafés, bars and restaurants.
Just a few hundred yards from Paphos harbour, a series of villas belonging to Roman nobleman, is being excavated. Dating from the third to the fifth century CE, the mosaics are huge and ornate, made from marble, stone and glass paste, featuring mythological scenes.
And if ever I have £5million to spend on a birthday bash, I can’t think of anywhere I would sooner spend it.
Expressions Holidays (0207 433 2650; www.expressionsholidays.co.uk) offers a three night stay at Anassa, in a Garden View room from £1,070 per person, based on two sharing. Price includes return flights to Paphos with British Airways, private transfers and taxes.
Anassa (www.anassa.com.cy; 00357 26 888 000)