Friday, 4 November 2011

Cyprus Winter Sun Holidays at St Raphael Resort

All that Glitters in the Winter Sun.

By Bernice E. Gregoriou

Cyprus has long been a popular tourist destination, best known for its mild climate – not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter – its sandy beaches and the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

The island of Cyprus can be compared to a multi-faceted diamond – a jewel in the Eastern Mediterranean with numerous sides, each one revealing something different and exciting. The St. Raphael Resort is one of the sparkling facets of this precious jewel. The resort hotel is ideally located on the south coast of Cyprus with easy access to all free parts of the island Limassol town – served by the local bus service – is just 12kms to the west while a short drive of 40 minutes is all that is required to reach the summit of the Troodos Mountains, the town of Paphos or the capital, Nicosia.

The St. Raphael Resort offers such a wide variety of facilities and services that it would be quite possible for guests to spend all their time within the complex from the start to the end of their holiday without setting foot outside. There is an indoor heated pool besides the two outdoor pools, plus sauna, steam bath, Jacuzzi, gym and tennis courts for those wishing to burn off a few calories. Alternatively, there is a temptation of a good book on a sun lounger in the beautifully landscaped gardens for those wishing to soak up the winter sunshine.

Throughout the winter months, the Resort maintains a busy calendar of activities with the various festivals being celebrated in style. The Christmas and New Year period features a packed programme culminating in the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve Reveillon. February 14th is always a very special day of romantic events for all Valentines at the St. Raphael Resort.

Easter in Cyprus is a highly important festival and the weeks leading up to this holiday are very exciting. Guests at the St. Raphael will have the opportunity to take part in the traditional Cyprus Easter events. Easter Sunday is a day of feasting on souvla, delicious barbecued meats; flaounes – pastry packed with a savoury mixture of eggs and cheese; tsoureki – a sweet bread made with eggs; in fact, an indulgence in all the delicacies not permitted during the long 40-day fast.

The first day of Lent in Cyprus is also a day of celebration marked by the Resort. Locally called Green Monday due to the custom of eating only salads and vegetables on this day, the beginning of Lent is a time of picnics, games and flying kites!

Prior to lent, Cyprus throws itself with enthusiasm into Carnival time – ten days of fancy dress disguises, dancing, singing, eating, drinking and parades. Limassolians are well known for this merry-making and at this time of the year the St. Raphael is positively bubbling with excitement and alive with colour, costumes and carnival events.

Those wishing to venture outside the resort during their stay to see further afield have the option of hiring a car or taking part in an organised excursion. The island is a paradise of stark contrasts. At this time of year, the winter sport enthusiast could ski or snow board in the mountains while just a 30-minute drive away someone could be skiing or windsurfing in the sea!

Others, with a spirit of adventure in their hearts, may prefer to explore the area around the St. Raphael on foot or by bicycle. During the winter months the landscape is fresh and green, abounding in local flora and fauna. The area is a delight for bird watchers, entomologists, botanists and herbalists. What nicer way to spend a few hours than roaming the countryside with the assurance that one can never get lost as the sea is always visible, a permanent market by which one can get one’s bearings!

The outdoor lover is spoilt with the choice of activities available. From autumn to spring, the ultimate golfing paradise is found in Cyprus with its 18-hole championship clubs all offering practice facilities, gold clinics and individual lessons. The golf enthusiast can feel at home here amidst the well tended, challenging courses.

Cyprus is also an important stopover for motorised and sailing yachts cruising the Mediterranean. The St Raphael Marina provides berths for many of these luxury craft. Naturally, sailing and water sports are an integral part of life on the island. At the beginning of January the Cyprus Yachting Association holds the five-day New Year Regatta at its headquarters a short distance along the coast.

Those wishing for slightly more rigorous exercise can join in the annual Amathounta Half Marathon taking place mid-November; or the Limassol Marathon in February. They could perhaps, get in some extra practice at the Internet Shooting Range at the nearby village of Parekklisia.

From cultural to sporting events, from village festivals to town parades, from architectural sites to contemporary shopping malls, from scintillating night life to nature walks, Cyprus has it all. The jewel of Cyprus glitters in the sunshine of the winter season and there is a never a dull moment with the countless interests and activities available for those with time to relax and enjoy.

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1 comment:

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