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Almyra And Anassa, On Cyprus – Thanos Hotels Group Includes These Two Splendid Resorts

First to Almyra, a trendy-hip box-of-a-hotel right on the shore, a few minutes’ walk from Paphos, the fishing village that turns to youthful activity when the sun goes down. Owned by Kikkos Monastery since its launch in 1973, the 158-room hotel has had such a makeover it reminds me of Clint Eastwood redone as Brad Pitt.

I was in villa 10, which could inelegantly be described as a modern terraced bungalow, even nearer the water than the main blocks. All white outside, it is similarly light within. You look through the room to your private concrete terrace, from which you can go down three steps to a grass patch shared with your neighbours, with the beach below (you also share your flat rooftop with them – again white, it has been sculpted with white seating and becomes pretty sexy by night). In the room, thanks to French designer Joelle Pleot – who had earlier redone Thanos Michaelides’ home – I had grey marble floors, palest white-grey walls, soft wood furniture with pale blue leather upholstery and pillows. A futuristic stainless fan whirred overhead. The bathroom had a big overhead rainforest shower as well as a hand-held unit, and lovely LaSource toiletries, from Crabtree & Evelyn, that matched that pale blue upholstery.

We met for dinner in the outdoor restaurant, by the beach. The menu is international with a twist. Fish and chips here is a basket filled with fried calamari, served with a metal pot of ‘village’ fries and another pot of tartar sauce. When I got back to my villa, I found the bed turned down, and a red apple on a round card, on which was written ‘Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, but the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul’.

In the morning I did a pre-breakfast power walk along the coastal path, coinciding with some young revelers still on their way home from the previous night. Fishermen were already getting ready to go out. I returned, to be ready for breakfast, in another outdoor area. I checked out the massive hotel lobby, really only used during winter months unless, like me, you wanted WiFi (perfect reception here, which is not usual on this island). Pleot has deliberately turned the lobby into a residential home, albeit a massive one, with lots of different chairs, different seating areas. In winter there is a giant open log fire. Her sense of colour comes out in the bright orange chairs in the bar area. I was offered a round of golf, a mere 20 minutes away, but it was time to go.

Forty minutes later we were in the north-west section of the island at the small coastal town of Polis. We headed west towards the Akmasa Peninsula, and after four miles turned off the oleander-flanked road into the private drive of Anassa (‘Queen’, named for Aphrodite, whose mythical baths are a few miles further along). This Leading resort, opened in 1998, cascades over 70 acres of rough coastal terrain. It is, frankly, huge. A water feature in the outside turning circle and then a guard of honor of seven water jets greet you as you come in to a honey-colored marble colosseum. To get to the sunset terrace, to look down to the sea, it is a 200-foot walk (I measured it), along wide open corridors, which take angles, say past a big mirror flanked by a pair of green lights. Thanks to designer Darrell Schmitt, you can always see something intriguing, and there are strategically-placed local pots, or modern icons, to give culture as you walk – or through gorgeous gardens, immaculately tended, with lawns but also acres of natural bush, a millefeuille of different colored flowers.

The 173 rooms are set, village-like, in blocks. I was in 73, a downstairs suite with private outside entrance, parlor and bedroom, and a stone-walled terrace with plunge pool. My rooms had pale wood floors, cream walls, paintwork and shutters covered with fine curtains. Here the fans were pale creams, hanging from slightly peaked cream wood ceilings. I had a bathroom and a half, with Bulgari.

I rushed out to the spa, somehow finding my way across the ‘village square’ and the little church – contemporary with the resort – where a couple, attended by their ten-ish son, were being married. The spa is semi-subterranean, a real draw as it has 17 treatment rooms. They offer thalasso and Organic Pharmacy, the London firm apparently beloved of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. I had an anti-ageing body treatment, namely a scrub of white sugar, salt and rose petals followed by a wrap of day and Andean rose petals, then a rose oil spread, then a body cream which included the following ingredients, green coffee fatty acids, guarana, horsetail complex, ivy and meadowsweet – a 200ml pot this from the Organic Pharmacy webset will cost you £150.

There are five restaurants, cleverly not all open every night. Wednesday is Cypriot night, a buffet with live dancing in the ‘village square’, and lots of fun (had I stayed another night I would have coincided with the weekly management cocktail. The new chef here is Australian Ashley Goddard, who wants – as he did at Soneva Fushi – to plant an organic garden, for guests to visit.

In the morning, the sun streamed in through shutters that I had deliberately left open. I got up, looked over my plunge pool to exotic bushland, far down to the ocean. A mountain bike awaited, and I managed a good workout. My room service breakfast was simple style, a big wood tray holding marvellous orange juice and a generous bowl of unsweet local yoghurt. I had a heart shape of butter, French L’Ancienne jams and local honey, a Frette napkin and oodles of flavourful coffee. It was time for my acupuncture, from an amazing local resident, Christine Whittaker, a Welsh woman who gave up serious law for a change of lifestyle, and spent four years studying detailed acupuncture in Beijing. She was supposedly doing my face but at one point I opened one eye to find myself lying with needles stuck in all up and down my legs. I felt like Gulliver with the Lilliputians. And this one is for energy, she said, putting one in the top of my head. She counted ‘em in, counted ‘em out (fortunately the same).

Sadly, no time for tennis or watersports or even trialling all the restaurants. My car awaited, and I promised myself to come back (35% of all guests here are repeats). Well done Thanos and sisters!

P.S. the following night Christine’s energy needle took effect. I woke up at 2 am bursting with creativity.

Spa-ing Caribbean Style

Easily reached by air within a few hours of most U.S. cities, the Caribbean is more like another world with its azure waters, white sand beaches, and lush vegetation. It’s here that visitors come to truly escape from it all. Offering many types of refuge, today’s Caribbean resort spas provide guests with everything from recovery from a heady night scene in San Juan to the ultimate escape – a few days on a nearly uninhabited island. With this in mind, Spa Finder highlights some of the Caribbean’s “spa-musts” to add to your list.

Largely untouched by tourism and commercialism, Anguilla is a new kid on the block for many visitors. Opting for smaller luxury hotels and villas in place of mega-resorts and casinos, the island nation is a self-governing British nation known for its more than 30 untouched, white-sand beaches. On the southwest coast, Cap Juluca Spa features 79 luxury accommodations along its private beach. Spa-goers come for the resort’s Mind, Body, Spirit Weeks and Dance for Joy programs. Guests also enjoy the convenience of booking spa treatments in the privacy of their rooms. While guests enjoy the resort’s remote location, they can easily enjoy the shops, restaurants, and nightlife of St. Martin – only a 15-minute boat ride away.

With pleasant trade winds and a constant year-round temperature of 82 degrees, Aruba features unique Dutch colonial architecture and a thriving nightlife. Just 15 miles north of Venezuela, Aruba has two neighboring islands, Bonaire and Curacao. The three islands are often referred to as the ABC Islands. As the island lies outside the hurricane zone, visitors are able to plan their trips to Aruba all year long. Surrounded by fragrant gardens, lagoons and waterfalls, the 14-acre Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino is an ideal choice for spa seekers. Guests can take in views of the ocean from a private balcony, included in all accommodations. The oceanfront Larimar Spa assists guests in balancing body and mind. A selection of services, including therapeutic and integrated massages are offered in the 13,000-square-foot facility.

More laid back than the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands has kept tourism at bay by decreeing that no building can be higher than the surrounding palm trees and offers no direct flights to the U.S. mainland. Those who do make it to the B.V.I., however, are not disappointed. Hotels and resorts are spaced out, providing guests with the feeling of possessing an entire tropical island to themselves. Here, Peter Island Resort combines a balance of rejuvenation and energizing activity. Located on the fifth largest of the British Virgin Islands, the resort only welcomes 116 guests at a time where they can enjoy five beaches, including one that is reserved for use by one couple at a time. From scuba diving and island parties to luxurious accommodations and stunning scenery, guests re-energize while still having fun.

Dramatic landscapes mark the island of St. Lucia, with its twin volcanic peaks and rugged coastline. The island’s northern part is home to the most population, which also contain most of St. Lucia’s resorts. On the south side of the island are charming banana plantations and more than 19,000 acres of rainforest. Arranged around its own white beach and sparkling bay, LeSPORT looks like a charming village with its two-story white terraced guest buildings, cabanas, and spa pavilions. Guests indulge in mineral-essential seaweed body scrubs and facials, followed by an array of sports activities, while couples may learn how to massage each other during the Honeymoon Massage.

The Turks and Caicos, while off the beaten path, is a British colony that is home to the third largest coral reef system in the world and 200 miles of beaches. Made up of 40 islands, Grand Turk is the capital, and it is here that Christopher Columbus is said to have first made landfall on one of its beaches. Whale and dolphin watching are both popular pastimes. At Parrot Cay, the hilltop COMO Shambala Spa offers Eastern-inspired therapies and recently added a 6,600-square-foot extension. Fitness is a strong element to the spa’s program, and includes a Pilates studio and yoga retreats. The spa is a popular choice for celebrities who seek a low-key getaway.

Hawaii Spas: Healing Mind & Body with Aloha

With an incredible amount of choices for those who are into the active lifestyle, Hawaii vacation packages are nirvana for the sports-minded. But Hawaii also satisfies the flip side of pushing your body to the limit. Here, extreme sport meets extreme relaxation at the greatest collection of spas on the planet.

Hawaii resorts have raised the art of the spa to a glorious new level, offering exotic treatments such as rehydrating aloe body wraps, Hawaiian revitalizer wraps, “wisdom of roses” facials, fango mud wraps, Lomi Pohaku, the original stone therapy, Lomi Lomi massage, mango salt glow scrubs, Ayurvedic oil massage, Maluha (peace) and Uhane (spirit) Hawaiian aromatherapy, Reiki holding technique, limu exfoliation and detoxification therapy, cranio-sacral sessions, Maui sugar scrub & body wraps, and for you Starbucks lovers, the Ka’anapali coffee full body treatment.

More than 24 resort hotels, on five islands, offer luxurious, state-of-the-art spa treatments with a Hawaiian flair. Take a look at my favorite spots for customized Hawaii spa vacation packages:

Oahu:

o SpaHalekulani – Halekulani

o Kahala Mandarin Oriental Spa Suites (voted “Best New Hotel Spa” by Departures Magazine)

o The Mandara Spa at Hilton Hawaiian Village (featuring advanced holistic health programs)

o JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko’Olina

o Na Hoola Spa at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa

o Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Maui:

o Four Seasons Resort Maui (Rated #1 Hotel Spa in the U.S. by readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine)

o The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

o Spa Moana at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

o Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa (Home to the world-renowned Spa Grande)

Hawaii’s Big Island:

o Four Seasons Hualalai

o Hilton Waikoloa Village

o Mauna Lani Spa at The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

o Fairmont Orchid (famed for its innovative “Spa Without Walls”)

o Hapuna Prince Beach Resort

o Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Kauai:

o Princeville Resort & Spa

o Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa

Lanai:

o Four Seasons Manele Bay

You say you’d love a spa vacation, but your other half is a golfing addict who wouldn’t be caught dead getting a papaya-pineapple body scrub? Remember – there are fantastic Hawaii vacation packages for golfers on just about every island. So while he’s knocking a Titleist around, you can indulge in Hawaiian-style treatments that will leave you glowing and gorgeous!

A Hawaii spa vacation with golf on the side, or a golf holiday with spa visits on the side – either way it works. All you have to do is sell it to him and it could be the most relaxing and rejuvenating vacation you’ve ever had!