LIGHTNING bolts light up the night sky over Chrysochou Bay just before an enormous boom cracks what feels like right above our heads.
It is our second night in Cyprus, and we’ve allowed our daughters Isla, six, and Evelyn, two, to stay up and watch the thunderstorm, despite it being well past their bedtime.
After all, this is much more spectacular than any theme park fireworks display, and it would have probably woken them anyway.
The next morning, despite the previous night’s dramatic weather, including a biblical deluge of rain, we awake to see clear blue skies and blazing sunshine reflecting on the millpond Mediterranean.
To me this seems a perfect metaphor of what occurred in Cyprus’s economy in the early months of 2013. The pressure had built up, the dark storm clouds had gathered, but after a dramatic release, it is now business as usual.
The media reported Cypriots queuing around the block to withdraw their last euro cents from the banks before losing their life savings, and the loved ones of British ex-pats posting cash over to make sure they had enough to live on.
However, the situation was deeply exaggerated in the press and, having spoken to a number of Britons who live in Cyprus, I, for one, am convinced normality has returned.
Nevertheless, the four of us travelled to the island not quite knowing what to expect – with friends and family warning us to “take plenty of euros” with us.
But it isn’t long before my wife Rachel and I realise that not much has changed since our last visit to Cyprus four years ago, and there is the same friendliness and laid-back family atmosphere that we had fallen in love with.
Our holiday home for the week is the stunning Villa Zefyros, a mile or so into the hills near the traditional 300-year-old Cypriot village of Neo Chorio, overlooking the harbour at Latchi and the Baths of Aphrodite.
The villa is one of the properties privately owned and rented out by Akamas Villas, and it provides us with everything we need – including three large bedrooms complete with en suite bathrooms, and a massive kitchen, dining and living area. The pool area at Zefyros is the perfect venue for us all to relax – with the children able to run around in the gardens safely, before and after splashing around in the infinity pool.
Zefryos is just one of the properties overseen by Akamas Villas. Martin Maynard, who formed the company four years ago, has spent his time carefully shaping his wide-ranging portfolio – with each villa slightly different in style, size and price so holidaymakers’ needs can be catered for.
In addition, Maynard and his team, along with previous clients and property owners, have helped develop a community-like spirit on the Akamas peninsula, which lies on the unspoilt western coast of Cyprus.. The owners of the villas are generally on hand to assist and the Watkins family, who own Zefyros, take the four of us for an exhilarating 4x4 truck drive into the hills so we can see the area from different perspective.
Maynard and his assistant Didi also arrange a few activities for us, including a thrilling speedboat trip with Latchi Watersports. Our two-hour navigation of the coast takes us past some the Akamas coast’s unique bays and historic landmarks including St George’s Island, Manolis Bay and the world famous Blue Lagoon, where we drop anchor and go for a snorkel in the crystal clear turquoise waters.
Alternatively, those who know Cyprus well, or are feeling slightly more adventurous, can just hop in the car and a short drive will take them up into the hills, down to a beach at Coral Bay or the bustling tourist town of Paphos.
Our third day in Cyprus happens to be my birthday and the children insist we do something to celebrate so we go for an early dinner at Moustakallis Taverna in Polis. This is a traditional Cypriot eatery with generations of the same family serving delicious food, lighting the fire when the girls get a bit chilly, and keeping us all entertained. Our fish meze banquet with octopus, calamari, mussels, sea bream, sardines, king prawns and lobster tail is excellent. For a more contemporary, completely different vibe, try Molos overlooking the marina in the centre of the village of Latchi.
With all the hoo-ha surrounding the island’s finances, holidaymakers may well be sceptical of booking a holiday to Cyprus, which has been relied upon for decades to provide value-for-money sun, sea and scenery holidays, but our experience should reassure them.
And while the idea of staying in a luxury villa may seem too extravagant to some who usually opt for self-catering apartments and hotels, a party of six can stay at Villa Zefryos or somewhere similar in the low season for as little as £750 per week – just £125 per person.
That, coupled with low-cost flights, means a trip to the Mediterranean ‘jewel’ still makes financial sense. So if you’re looking for a relaxing family holiday any time of the year, you can bank on Cyprus to bail you out. n
Richard Jones and his family stayed with Akamas Villas (www.akamas-villas.com). Villa Zefyros which sleeps up to six, costs £1,125 per week in June, September and October, £1,325pw in July and August and £750pw in November and December.
Jet2.com (www.jet2.com) flies to Paphos from Glasgow, Leeds Bradford and Manchester, with one-way fares from £73.