On the fringes of Limassol, this Luxury Collection Resort & Spa combines a celebration of traditional Cypriot crafts with a wealth of activities
In the Trodos mountains of Cyprus, traditional crafts thrive. Lefkara – a colourful village perched in the rugged foothills – is famed for its embroidery and silverwork and the streets are lined with shops and the evidence of those skills passed down through the generations. There are pretty stone houses with pantiled roofs, iron balconies, glimpses of flower-filled courtyards and lots of blue paintwork. The blue would once have been the natural result of using the area’s abundant red/pink hibiscus flowers as pigment for the paint.
The simple white walls of the Greek Orthodox Church hide a dimly lit space crammed with rich gold décor, silverwork, frescoes and dark wood, creating a calm refuge from village life.
Tourists flock to Lefkara making it a busy wee place, and behind the shop fronts the craftspeople are at work. Nina Christou is stitching intricate lace embroidery patterns – the lefkaritiko, traditional geometric motifs that have made the village’s needlework famous.
Her husband Michalakis is working with silver, chasing designs on goblets and making filigree decoration. He tells me his sons are following in his footsteps.
Down on the coast, traditional crafts are also at the heart of the recently opened Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa on the eastern fringe of Limassol. The 274-bedroom hotel is a treasure trove of Cypriot art and it becomes a pleasant challenge to spot the local references as we unwind in its 25-acre estate.
Not only do the Lefkara designs adorn panels subtly in the lobby, wallpaper and carpets, they are also discreetly embossed on the leather mirror surrounds in the bedrooms. So tastefully is it done, you do need to look for them, because overall the Harrods Interiors design scheme has a vibrant contemporary edge and plenty of modern tech.
The symbol for the hotel is an amphora – again sporting a Lefkara pattern – but the two-handled jug also acknowledges an even older part of the island’s history. Just a few miles from the hotel are the remains of a perfume “factory” dating back 4,000 years. Pyrgos is said to have been where perfumes, using the island’s herbs and flowers, were made on an industrial scale for trade around the eastern Mediterranean. The hotel celebrates the perfume-making tradition with a dramatic chandelier of crystal petals hanging in the space above the lobby.
With Cyprus being considered the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love who is said to have used perfume to get her way, it gives me an excuse for another excursion. Just half an hour’s walk along the beach towards Limassol is an archaeological site with a temple dedicated to Aphrodite.
Dusty the ruins of Amathous may be, but when you put the remnants of carvings and pillars in the context of ancient life, the power of her cult can be sensed.
After my walk, Parklane’s Kalloni Spa is the obvious destination. It is laden with top of the range features, many unique on the island, such as a Russian banya, couple’s treatment room and extensive thalassotherapy pools, and its indulgent treatments revitalise even the weariest of travellers.
A Kalloni Experience massage, where an essence candle is caressed by hand into oil, did the trick with my explorer’s muscles. After a wash and blow-dry in the hair salon, watching the sun set, I was ready to dine.
The Parkland has six restaurants to choose from, each with its own distinct charm and flavours, so your palate will not get bored.
Daphne, which serves Cyprus-inspired plates, was probably my favourite: I love the flavour of the herbs of the Mediterranean dishes and who can resist halloumi or lamb in this part of the world?
However, the fillet steaks at the sophisticated Grill were up there with the best, and breakfast in Lanes was a buffet to behold.
All the restaurants benefit from the Parklane’s €1-million investment in its 45,000-bottle wine cellar. There are the stellar names alongside the best of Cypriot wines and an impressive 160 wines to drink by the glass.
A bonus was an Epicurean Moment with the head sommelier, George Loukakis, whose insightful mini masterclass introduced us to the xynisteri wine from the Trodos mountains. Light and refreshing, it drank particularly well with my yoghurt and garlic marinated chicken skewers served in the Gallery lobby bar as the hotel’s resident pianist turned on the charm.
With all that good food – and drink – it was imperative I try out the other facilities on site. You can’t miss the fact the resort has put lots of care into creating an environment which will please all types of travellers. The grounds have been planted with 7,500 plants, and although the hotel only opened in March, they are in their second season and flourishing nicely.
There’s a fitness suite with state-of-the-art machines to flex your muscles and a dreamy indoor pool and sauna to counteract your exertions. Even with five pools, no two are the same. A decadent grown-ups-only pool, close to the 16 stylish adult-only suites, is serenely calm, while a more upbeat seawater pool has jets and an island to swim to. The central pool has families at its heart with a children’s area featuring a water chute. If that is not enough, then 24 of the resort’s suites have private pools and, of course, the sea is right on the doorstep.
Families are something general manager York Brandes and his team have given a lot of thought to. There is the cutest castle-themed kids’ club where youngsters can spend time being creative and active with their friends, and at its heart, a waterslide pirate ship is sure to capture youthful hearts.
For more structured activity, the resort’s Football Academy, with headline names such as Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora to train with, is sure to be a winner and there are also tennis courts with the promise of top names coaching at academies in the future.
Visiting Parklane soon after it opened, there was an obvious sense of pride in what had been created. The £150-million investment has not just produced a stylish international resort, it has taken Cyprus’s colour and culture and stitched them into a holiday package as alluring as any of Aphrodite’s potions.
Prices at Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa (www.parklanecyprus.com) start from €310 per room, per night based on a b&b stay in a Superior Inland Room.
The Kalloni Experience massage is from €120.
A week’s Football Academy is from £550 per child.
Several airlines fly direct from Scotland to Cypriot airports. Larnaca is 55km and Paphos 70km from the hotel.