“You’re heading to the best hotel in Cyprus, Sir,” said an envious taxi driver as he ushered me out of Paphos Airport and into his air-conditioned Audi.
I had already been promised luxury and elegance from the Elysium Hotel – which takes it’s name from a paradise in Greek mythology – but you never quite know until you get there, do you?
So a final glowing recommendation during the short 20-minute drive to my sun-soaked getaway went down rather well and whetted the appetite for a relaxing week ahead.
What followed was nothing short of perfection.
And in these days where it has become a habit to transmit special moments to the world via social media, I found my Snapchat and Instagram updates heading into overdrive.
What was once a pleasant getaway – you know; topping up the tan, swimming in the sea, and over-indulging on local cuisine – now seems like a thing of the past.
Jet-setters are looking for something unique and a quick search using the hashtag of this particular place proves that it’s meeting all the modern-day requirements.
So what’s different at the Elysium?
Well, I’ve never experienced a breakfast buffet with FOUR different types of bacon on offer. And if you’re wondering I tried a rasher of each with the ‘crispy’ option leading the way ahead of Mr Grilled, Mr Streaky and Mr Smoked.
While we’re on the subject of food, the Italian ‘Ristorante Bacco’ is also well worth a visit just for the warm and intimate setting and the wonderful caviar starter. More on that later.
But you need more than bacon and fish-eggs, right?
How do the five alternatively-heated pools, a private sea-front relaxation area, and a seriously-stylish spa sound?
On-site are five restaurants offering locally-sourced cuisine, state-of-the-art leisure facilities, and every bedroom has a view of the ocean.
Next-door are the famous Tombs of the Kings and are well worth a visit.
Five minutes away, on the Kings Road, there’s an Irish Bar that has more TV screens than beer mats and serves up plenty of pub grub if you’re missing anything from back home.
The Elysium’s Guest Relations Manager, Cynthia Ates, made life so easy for us when we wanted to get out.
Her name badge should have said ‘Superstar.’
She arranged day trips, restaurant bookings, taxi reservations and worked her magic to get us the tee-off times that we wanted at the four local golf clubs.
Her world-class service genuinely made a difference.
Talking of world-class, don’t be surprised to see this country develop into a thriving favourite for golfers in years to come.
The five-star hotel has teamed up with four Championship courses, all located within a 25-minute drive of the hotel, to offer an enticing ‘Golf and Drive’ package.
And the five-day booking costs around £1300 will is great value for money.
Transport is covered, whether it be through a hire-car of your choice or taxi transfers to and from the courses.
And if you’re playing in the hot summer months, you’ll be grateful for an air-conditioned lift back to the hotel!
Onto the golf courses then…
The challenging Elea Estate Golf Club – designed by professional English golfer, Sir Nick Faldo, was my particular favourite but that’s no slight on the others.
Miss the fairway and you’re in a bunker but don’t worry, the stunning views of the Mediterranean will make up for any misplaced shots on this course that opened in 2010.
Hit it long off the tee and you’ll be rewarded. But beware, the greens are the quickest in the country.
The practice facilities here are second-to-none and you get the feeling this will be up there with the real big-hitting clubs on the continent in years to come.
Likeable marketing manager Eirini Zinouli is predicting a big future and explained how the next phase of development is on the horizon.
“It includes a luxury boutique hotel, golf lodges, a spa and pool complex,” she told me over lunch on the impressive clubhouse terrace. Exciting times indeed.
Minthis Hills Golf Club is set on a twelfth-century monastery and is the oldest of the four.
The picturesque valley is surrounded by vineyards and orchards and overlooks an unspoilt panorama of rolling hills and deep blue sea.
You can slog your way around here and not be punished too often. Miss the green on the feature 13th-hole par-3 and you’re in the water, though.
Already ahead of it’s competitors is Aphrodite Hills. However it was hard to accurately assess the course because it was under repair when I played it.
It’s a lovely set-up and the greens, when open, are tricky and testing but I’d like to go back again to get a real feel for it.
Secret Valley GC, an esteemed course nestled in a scenic valley by Petra tou Romiou, the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, is just next door and this place just takes your breath away.
Sadly it was so hot that I had to finish after 16 holes.
Overall, the four courses make for an excellent trip and they will only get better.
I’m told the Elysium is striving to improve even further but it’s hard to see how.
The food was delicious, and the service even better. Rooms were of a five-star standard, as expected, and the room to relax and unwind was more than ample.
Ristorante Bacco was definitely a highlight.
The menu includes homemade pasta dishes, tender meat and fish specialties, and the most popular Italian desserts, all based on original recipes and made from fresh ingredients.
What’s great about Cyprus is the climate.
It feels warm all year round and the beaches rarely get over-crowded.
So if the summer feels like a distant memory as the dark and depressing months are already taking their toll, consider a winter break here. It won’t disappoint.
How to book:
Jet2 flies direct from Birmingham to Paphos with flights starting at £229.
The Golf & Drive itineraries at the Elysium range from three to seven nights and include accommodation in a Deluxe Inland View Room with a buffet breakfast.
The packages also include car rental or taxi transfer, and between two and four green fees for the partner golf courses, according the length of stay.
The Elysium provides golf lockers, and a ‘survivor kit’ per person, per golfing day.
For more information visit here: https://www.elysium-hotel.com/en.