Everyone’s a winner at the super family friendly Anassa Hotel in Cyprus
So, as I found out after winning a five-night stay in Cyprus courtesy of Sassy Mama Dubai and Scott Dunn, the best kinds of holidays aren’t actually the ones you plan for months on end; the breaks you don’t see coming at all are even better. I never win anything so when I received a congratulatory email from Sassy Mama telling me I was heading to Anassa in Paphos, Cyprus for a week’s stay, I nearly trashed it thinking it was a new and improved version of the Nigerian-prince-giving-me-all-of-his-money messages. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Located on the Mediterranean coast in Paphos, Cyprus, Anassa – meaning queen in ancient Greek – is an exclusive five-star hotel resort that labels itself ‘family friendly’. And, mamas, that it is.
The hotel’s beautiful, light-drenched rooms are sophisticated, spacious and luxurious, featuring incredible views of the Mediterranean and surrounding hilly, green countryside – which is obviously a treat for the grown-ups – but Anassa makes it clear that children are very important people, too. From a cosy wooden cot to a complementary sand castle set – and even a plush mini bath robe and slippers – there were several winning little touches that gave a clear nod to little guests (and made my husband and I smile). Thoughtful gestures aside, practicality is paramount too. The balcony railing of our second-storey room was closed off using protective plastic sheeting that didn’t obstruct the view, which we thought was rather clever.
Now onto the food: if you’re a bit of a gourmand, you’re in for a treat. The feast kicks off in the morning with an impressive breakfast buffet at Amphora that features an array of traditional, hot breakfast nosh (eggs, sausages, bacon, waffles, French toast, roasted tomatoes, baked beans) as well as tables heaving with healthier fresh fruits, local Cypriot cheeses, Greek yogurt, cold meats, local olives and olive oils, an array of honeys and more. High chairs are plentiful and there is plastic crockery and cutlery (wrapped in linen, if you don’t mind) that the great-with-kids staff is more than happy to bring over for the little ones.
For lunch, my husband and I tucked into fresh-from-the-sea fish, mezze platters, delicious cuts of meat, steaming coffee and moreish cake at both the casual eatery Pelagos restaurant and the Meltemi Bar, while our son enjoyed fresh nosh from a kids’ menu served throughout the hotel. Anassa’s is definitely one of the most impressive kids’ menus I’ve ever seen. (Fresh pan-seared salmon, orzo, steamed broccoli and homemade tomato sauce served gourmet style, anyone?) Parents will be pleased to know there are several kid-friendly, casual dining options (Amphora, Pelagos and Meltemi Bar) but if you’re feeling romantic you do have the option of leaving the little ones at the Globetrotters’ or Explorers’ Clubs (more about that later) or with one of resort’s experienced babysitters so you can eat something posh at the fine-dining restaurant Helios or signature gourmet eatery Basiliko. If you’re too exhausted to even think about leaving the room after a day in the sun, you could just opt for the lazy route (like we did many a night) and simply order from room service, which is just as satisfying.
I celebrated my birthday at Anassa, so my husband and son treated me to an Anassa Thalassa Signature Collagen and Oxygen Facial at Thalassa Spa the day before. An intensely moisturising treatment that improves circulation and regenerates the skin, I decided to really spoil myself by finishing off with a dip in the spa’s Thalasso bath that uses seawater pumped directly from the area’s Chrysochou bay. Needless to say, I left looking and feeling ten years younger.
While I was at the spa, my husband decided he wanted a little me-time too and dropped our son off at the hotel’s Globetrotter’s Club that caters to babies four months old and up. (There is also an Explorer’s Club for older children.)We felt quite odd leaving our eleven-month-old son with strangers in a new country, but we were totally blown away by the talented, young staff. They’re attentive, friendly and their love for children is palpable. The kids’ club is spotless and very well fitted out, featuring several vibrant sections ideally designed for children of different ages.
On the day of my actual birthday, my family and I claimed the best spot on an expanse of lush, emerald grass just a few steps away from the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off with dips in one of the hotel’s three swimming pools and the sea, of course. I spent the whole day with my two favourite people, ending it by watching the golden afternoon sun sink into the Mediterranean. It was, without a doubt, the best birthday I’ve ever had.