It is dusk and the sun is slowly dipping into the Mediterranean Sea between slim white columns on our immediate horizon. We watch sipping complimentary glasses of black-label Freixenet Cava from this evening’s new arrivals ‘mixer’ – and listen on, intrigued, towards the Cape Aspro restaurant where two white-linen-shirted gentleman sit and play. One has a shiny head and rather large moustache, the other, a splendid silver bouzouki. (The bouzouki, dear reader, is a traditional musical instrument bearing some resemblance to an Elizabethan lute).
Before long our two entertainers are joined by a group of dancers, dressed in traditional fashion. In a sort-of act-of-courting dance they wave their white hankies in merry Cypriot accord. By now we are seated at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables with plates piled high of ‘Greek Night’ ‘gourmet buffet’, the only option within the hotel complex on this shoulder season Monday evening. Tonight the signature Apollo Tavern is sadly closed. Instead, we find ourselves in the company of various other guest, including some excitable blond-haired children and a German rock-singer and her seemingly elastically-limbed, older boyfriend. At this point, one of the dancing group places a glass on his head. Then another. And another. And so the evening continues.
The next morning we are once again al fresco, this time on the terrace of the Bacchus Restaurant, joined by various feline friends all vying for a little piece of our breakfast. Our more specific geographical location is the newly-re-opened Colombia Beach Resort, set on a charming corner of Cyprus’ Pissouri coastline. This German owned hotel was first opened in the 1980s, and since September has re-opened its doors to a much refurbished interior, offering new levels of luxury to its guests. The west wing of the building now boasts suites and bedrooms overlooking the vast infinity pool that begins with doors opening out from the Hébe Spa, and finishes with the swim-up Poseidon pool bar, serving an array of internationally-known cocktails.
Further towards the sea there lies a chapel, decorated with bright blue frescos, as imagined by the late British artist John Corbridge. Close to this sit newly renovated beach villas, offering extensive views over the bay from which to watch canoes and jet-skis float and zip across our temporary new horizon. Our room is prettily decorated in calming shades of blue and white, complete with charming mosaic designs across the suite’s softly tiled floor. Moulton Brown products in the bathroom offer a home from home feeling; although we do struggle to navigate the rest of the hotel and local services as the refurb means all printed directories are yet to be delivered.
Comfort, peace and relaxation are key elements of any stay at this resort – perhaps one reason why the SPA team here in September partnered with spabreaks.com and UK Charity Willow – a team providing Special Days for young adults with life threatening illnesses. Over Women’s Wellness week – an initiative begun to promote taking more time to focus on mental and physical wellness, the hotel elected to take part in a global massage-athon, alongside 35 other spas from around the world. Ladies donating their spa fee to the charity enjoyed treatments in global unison, here on luxuriant massage beds in the hotel’s palmtree-strewn gardens, overlooking the sea. Flowers decorated each visible corner, whilst guests were pummeled into Elemis-sponsored oblivion. This is a special outdoor service, which we are told, can also be arranged here on personal request.
Feeling more adventurous after a massage, that evening we decide to embrace the local dining scene and head out into the village. A minor mis-communication with the concierge means that our handsome taxi driver arrives befuddled. “I thought I was picking up two old ladies” he says, looking at my friend and I, youthful as the hotel itself. Two minutes later on ‘scenic route’ diversion, we discover that the restaurants indicated are in fact only a ten-minute walk away from where we are staying – even with the aid of a walking stick or two.
Against the advice to try out hotel-owned Italian ‘Il Buchetto’, we favour instead something a little more long-stay – The Vine Leaf Tavern – somewhere that exhibits an honesty in its service that perhaps has been the key to its continued success over the last 40 years “You ask me what the house white wine is? I give you whatever I have open,” says our hero-waiter for the night.
The following evening we venture a little further afield, this time into the hills and Pissouri village itself to The Bunch of Grapes. On a large patio, under burgeoning trellises of vines, we make friends with a British Bulldog and ensure that we inhale enough fresh tzaztiki and halloumi to sink a hotel pedalo. Readily lacto-comatosed, we retire back to the hotel shortly afterwards – choosing instead of the still-open Eros Cocktail bar, to sit a moment on the now-abandoned sun beds down by the water.
Praying to avoid another earlier episode of ‘surprise sprinklers’, we lie back to watch a dark sky opening up, complete with a vast array of brilliant, glittering stars. Check-out now looms on the following day’s horizon, and so in this moment of pause we discuss what enables real, achievable wellness. Our conclusion is simple: time well-invested with the people that you love – holiday destinations like these, an added happy bonus.
For more information on Columbia Beach Resort, including details of events and experiences, visit www.columbiaresort.com.