run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review: family-friendly Cyprus at the Almyra, Paphos

I’ve just come back from the closest experience to being a celebrity that I’ll probably ever have: a week in a Pathos, Cyprus hotel so fantastically baby-friendly that it could take me ten minutes to walk the 10 metres from breakfast table to buffet.

That long because the staff were so lovely with our two tinies that, if they weren't six months and two, I’d worry about them getting big headed.

It wasn’t just the staff who loved seeing our kids - the December clientele, mostly retired Brits spending a few weeks in the sun - made us feel like the Beckhams on holiday, stopping us to say hello, to offer help with the buggy (though there are sloping ramps all around the grounds and the glistening turquoise pools) or just to coo.

Travel in the "off season", November-February, and you can bag a five star hotel for less than half the summmer price.. and, unless you’re pretty unlucky, enjoy some lush sunshine time too. Here’s the lowdown on our baby-friendly week at the Almyra, Cyprus.


The place
The Almyra is right on the beach, about a 20 minute drive from the Paphos airport. Once you've settled in, it's not one of those reclusive resorts where you can't leave without a car - the harbour with all its restaurants and shops is a 15-20 minute walk away; there's a Starbucks just across the road, and the Old Town is a 40 minute walk away. There is a lovely (and paved) coastal path to walk - it's easy to push a buggy along, super picturesque- and long: we never got to the end (if there is one). The hotel's sister, the Annabelle, is next door, and you can use its restaurant/shops and bill things to your room from there if that tickles your pickle.
 Kids stuff

Summer sees the Almyra host a full, staffed kids' club (chargeable at different rates according to age) - but there are lots of facilities in winter too, when cooler temperatures also make it easier for babies and toddlers to enjoy the holiday. There's a great, large playground, with two trampolines, a climbing wall, four slides, swings, a Tarzan swing and lots of ride-ons that our toddler loved, and an indoor play room too with lots of puzzles and games. 

The best idea, though, was the Almyra's "Baby go lightly" initiative - you fill in a form before arrival and almost everything you could need on holiday with a babe is waiting for you in your room. This is far more than the usual offering - there's everything from changing mat and potty to formula, bottles, bed guards and even toys and games. Some are chargeable, but many free - we made lots of use of the complimentary baby bouncer, baby gym, Early Learning Centre jigsaw puzzles, and lots of books. The bouncer and gym were especially good - things that you use all the time at home but wouldn't be able to travel with.

The decor

The Almyra is one of very few family-friendly members of the Design Hotel group - think super-modern, lots of white, lots of grey straight lines and bold white geometric columns. There are two wow infinity pools and a lolling grass verge down to the sea. You can see the waves from most of the communal areas. The Kyma suites - especially family-friendly rooms where we stayed - are large, with beautiful sea views, private terraces and lush lawns ideal for the kids to run around and roof terraces where you’ll need to keep an eye out! Bathrooms were lots of marble and white surfaces; the freestanding shower is nice but the baths are pretty small and made our usual family holiday tub time very snug!



The food

.... is tasty and good quality, although breakfasts were fairly repetitive. All the usual cooked breakfast plus three bowls of kiwi, grapefruit and melon, yogurts, cheese, breads and jams. 

The half-board options includes the same buffet restaurant for dinner, which meant a range of salads, curry, roast meats, a dessert table and ice cream spread full of fun toppings sauces and sprinkles. 

Dinner is an extra €20 per person if not on half-board, but a nice touch is that you could have half-board for a portion of your stay, meaning some nights you could stay in and others explore local restaurants. Cocktails were a fairly reasonable €8.
Facilities

... are worthy of a far larger resort: there's tennis, huge pools, and a multi-storey relaxing spa plus a big gym. In winter, unless you’re made of steel, only one pool is swimmable: the indoor spa pool where kids are allowed from 9am-1pm. In summer, there are two big main pools and a kids' splashing area; one is covered to ensure it's shady too. 



In winter, we found the sea was warmer than the outdoor pools, and very popular amongst the locals for a dip. There's a little rocky beach at the foot of the hotel, great for buckets and spades etc, and a larger, municipal one a 5 minute walk away.




Nearby 

Do your food research - in a touristy area, there were lots of average restaurants but the Almyra's concierge was really helpful, and helped us track down great places (tiny man came back an expert on meat-grilling!) and ice cream parlours. We especially liked the taverna-style Hondros:
Another top spot was Pingouino, but a stand-out was the foodie-fave 7 St Georges Tavern - a family-owned eaterie where you discuss your dining likes and hates at the start, then little tapas-style dishes keep on coming until you admit defeat. The aubergine dips and lamb really stood out, as did the sticky toffee pudding at the end. 
Meat-lovers will enjoy The Lodge - a five-minute walk from the hotel - too. The ouzeri restaurant at the foot of the hotel, on the seaside, is also really popular. Some restaurants close for winter (like the highly-rated Mandra Tavern) but most stay open year-round, and in December there's usually no need to book.

Obviously, this isn't Disney Land, there's not a billion attractions nearby, but we enjoyed Island Mini Golf, about a 40 minute beach-side walk away, which was well designed and lots of fun (they had little plastic putters for tinies too). 
Other things...

The hotel's staff were some of the friendliest and most helpful that we've come across on our travels - all remembering the kids, rushing to help with plates and meal times, and giving lots of tips about things to do and places to go. 

Don't be too obsessed with temperatures, either - even when the forecast said it was 16 degrees, which sounded chilly, when we were lying in the sun with no wind or in the protected bits of the hotel's poolside area, it was enough to be in just a bikini / swim shorts.

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