It wasn’t until I actually went on my summer holiday this year that I realized I haven’t had a relaxing summer holiday for a good couple of years, probably since I last got out to Marbella. Because my holidays usually involve visiting family and friends, I am always in a whirlwind of seeing different people and going to a different places. So four months into a new busy marketing job in London, the opportunity to go and sit around a pool in a private villa and do nothing was incredibly welcome. Cyprus is a wonderful country, and even though they are independent, they still manage to keep the Greek charm that entices holiday-goers year after year.
Our booking was made through James Villas, who do not do flights, so these were booked through Thomson. Because my friend lives in the Midlands, we were going to Birmingham airport to start our trip. I must say, it is the second time I have been, and I love it. Quite similar to Stansted in size, Birmingham airport is a hassle-free start to a holiday.
We booked the airport lounge, and I have always been vocal in my blogs about how much I like the No1 Traveller lounge in most other airports, especially Gatwick, but I do have to say I was slightly disappointed with the Birmingham one. The buffet food wasn’t as good as it is in other lounges, although the hot options were still fairly palatable. For some reason, no one believes in air con or fans in this neck of the woods, so expect to be sweating your tits off before you even leave England. The main gripe though was the toilets. One of the main pulls for me of an airport lounge is being able to drink as many Gins as possible before I’m forced onto a plane and stuck there for hours, so needless to say not having to queue in the public toilets is something I’m happy to chuck out £30 for. In Birmingham though, there are no lounge toilets, so this was a waste.
As you can imagine after this debacle I was looking forward to getting on a plane. Which is unusual for someone scared of flying. I’ve never flown with Thomson and seeing as they have fancy adverts and are a massive company, I thought they would at least be a bit better than the budget airlines. Well, I thought wrong. They are so shoddy, they didn’t even have any hot drinks on the flight way there, and this forced me to have Gin and turn up to the transfer incredibly merry. Shame on you Thomson. The best bit though was coming back. I appreciate that the people who work in the airport are nothing to do with Thomson, but if you are going to slap your branding everywhere you should at least keep in contact and make sure your staff are adequate.
What wasn’t adequate, was piling us all onto the airport bus, and leaving us there 20 minutes with no air con, no explanation and no advice on when we would be moving towards the plane. The conditions were so bad that my friend had a panic attack – but does Thomson care? No.
Spirits were lifted when we got there. The villa, Queens Paradise 6 booked through James Villa, was stunning. Three en-suite bedrooms, a living room, a private pool and a balcony big enough to do a forward roll on and also a massive living room. As well as the fact that the actual villa was incredible, it was close to the strip of bars and clubs, and also the local supermarket. I’ve never really looked into hiring a villa, as I’m lazy and I like a hotel, but because eating out is so cheap, you really can afford not to have to keep cooking.
You also get a cleaner, who comes once a week, a towel change twice a week, and a pool guy who unfortunately isn’t hot if you want to carry out any ‘The OC’ fantasies but was fantastically friendly.
The strip of Coral Bay and most of the accommodations are pretty close to the beach. It is about a 15-minute walk from the far end of the strip, and it’s downhill which sounds great but isn’t the best when you are walking back sunburnt after a day in the sea and sand, so be mindful of that. The nearest ‘big’ town is Paphos, and the buses are about every ten minutes and run until midnight. With a single on the bus costing around £1, there isn’t much reason to get a cab, but if you are not a public transport person they will set you back around £17.
Most excursions will either come and get you from a pick-up point, or your villa, but don’t book from Atlas travel which is opposite Blazing Saddles. Not only did they give us the wrong information about where to get picked up and about the waterpark, but they also left us a sarcastic message when we put it on their Facebook page saying ‘sorry you had to cross the road’. Walk up the strip past the small supermarket, and there is a much better travel agent there.
The beach in Coral Bay is more or less close by wherever you stay. You can hire a sun lounger for 5 euros, and an umbrella for 2.50 euros, and you get to keep this for the whole day which is pretty reasonable. Although there are places to get drinks, food is very limited so take your own or don’t go there without consuming as much as possible beforehand. They have water sports available, so make sure you are not swimming in the wrong part of the sea unless you want to get KO’d by a paddle boat.
There is a waterpark in Paphos, but we hear Fasouri was bigger so we booked there. On an excursion transfer, it is about an hour and a half because you pick everyone up, but it is well worth it. The locker hire is a bit pricey, considering some give them out for free, but the food and drinks are quite reasonable as far as waterparks go. Although there are only a few ‘big’ slides, there is plenty of other stuff to do, including a spa for an extra charge. It is incredibly clean, and even if you are not a thrill seeker just lazing about in the wave pool or the lazy river will suit you fine.
Even the kids’ pool was amazing and had a massive bucket that filled up and rained water down on everyone, which is a welcome addition when the temperature can hit up to 40 degrees.
Eating and Drinking
Because there is a strip of bars and restaurants, you won’t be disappointed when it comes to food. Coral Bay has a bit of everything from Italian to Mexican, and traditional Greek food like Meze. To stay competitive, prices are similar in each place, it will cost you on average 10euro for a main and 5euro for a cocktail. Some of the bars have happy hours, and some are better on weeknights than weekends. There are a lot of PR people on the strip, so just get chatting with them to find out what night is their best night. Kleo’s bar is probably your best bet if you are a bit younger, and you fancy listening to something a bit more compelling than an ABBA tribute.
As you tend to on holiday, we found a restaurant where the food and staff were so nice, we just continued to go back. I have written them a separate blog – but I really would recommend Coral King if you are in the area. Neo the owner is fantastic, and he will even let you add him on Facebook to book tables. I can’t wait to return next year! They even let us smash plates on Greek dancing night.
Love to know your thoughts guys?