Having by no means been to Cyprus earlier than, the sense of familiarity got here as a shock.
The western-Mediterranean island could also be two thousand miles, or a 4.5-hour flight, away from London, however matters like excessive English literacy charges, right-hand drive automobiles and UK plug-sockets make arriving right here really feel comparatively stress free.
My vacation spot was the Amara, which has been welcoming paying visitors throughout a soft-opening section since July this yr.
I used to be on the town for the official launch of the five-star, 207-room resort on the outskirts of Limassol, only a 40-minute drive from Larnaca Airport.
As a result of punishing warmth of high-summer in Cyprus, the island usually finds its busiest instances are exterior the standard June-September high-season, with an early autumn resort launch most popular for that reason.
The occasion was a lavish affair, aiming to mirror the Stademos Lodge Group’s important funding on this new luxurious property – their third after the five-star Elysium in Paphos and the four-star Mediterranean Seaside Lodge in Limassol.
The Cypriot political class had been out in power, led by former president George Vassiliou, who was later joined by present president Nicos Anastasiades.
They’d not have been dissatisfied by the eye to element, service and culinary expertise on supply at Amara, and had been absolutely inspired by the sense of Cypriot financial confidence on present.
This island of 1.2 million individuals has loads going for it, with established strengths in tourism, monetary companies and actual property serving to the native economic system flourish since independence from the UK in 1960 (with the 2013 Eurozone disaster a notable exception).
Meals performed a central half within the occasion, simply as it’s a key promoting level for Amara itself.
Earlier this yr, the resort unveiled plans to alter the gastronomic panorama of Limassol with three eating places led by movie star cooks Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Giorgio Locatelli and Giorgos Papaioannou.
Matsuhisa Limassol, created by acclaimed chef ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa, joins his private portfolio, which stretches from Paris to Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz.
Providing intimate, refined and modern eating experiences, the Amara location gives Nobu’s signature Japanese-Peruvian mix of cuisines.
No stranger to working alongside Matsuhisa, Locatelli has additionally opened his first Cypriot outpost on the resort.
The 2 cooks have labored collectively prior to now, not least with their neighbouring eating places at Atlantis, the Palm in Dubai, devising unique collaborative menus for one-off eating occasions.
Ristorante Locatelli at Amara serves conventional Italian dishes, emphasising the standard and freshness of the produce in addition to including a singular artistic contact impressed by the encircling Mediterranean Sea.
A focus is the Italian-led wine checklist, which has additionally turn out to be one of many visible centrepieces of the restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling fridges displaying the best vintages.
Throughout the get together each Matsuhisa and Locatelli had been in attendance, getting ready and serving samples from their now operational eating places.
Locatelli stated: “I used to be drawn to Cyprus due to the historic and cultural similarities with southern Italy.
“The nice and cozy luxurious of Amara appears the proper spot to place Ristorante Locatelli – I’m trying ahead to exploring the produce and bringing a contact of Italy to the east Mediterranean.”
At Amara, the pair have been joined by Armyra, from Papaioannou, a devoted seafood restaurant.
Having two of essentially the most celebrated cooks on the planet available for the opening was actually a coup for Demos Demosthenous, managing director of Stademos Lodge Group, and suggests he’s taking no possibilities in his quest to make Cyprus typically, and Amara particularly, a key luxurious vacation spot within the area.
The resort itself has been 12 years within the making.
Designed by SB Architects, a San Francisco based mostly agency, it marks one other chapter within the island’s high-end revamp.
The principle resort encompasses two distinct areas; the spa wing, which is adults-only, and the family-friendly wing, which has its personal devoted swimming pool, a child’s membership and a crèche for infants.
All of the rooms have 180-degree sea views, whereas among the premium lodging supply personal roof-top swimming pools.
On the apex of the resort there may be additionally a presidential suite – the Amara Suite – costing in extra of €4,000 per evening.
The positioning additionally features a 450-meter ballroom and occasion house, in addition to a full-service spa, constructed across the ruins of the traditional Greek village of Amathus, found because the resort’s foundations had been being laid.
Normal supervisor, Xavier Jolivet, explains: “It’s an thrilling time to be opening the doorways at Amara given the latest improve in funding of luxurious resorts and property in Limassol.
“The city has seen a surge of growth lately, together with the completion of the brand new marina, and a number of high-end resort openings within the pipeline very a lot inserting Limassol on the map as a luxurious European seashore vacation spot in its personal proper.”
The Amara does its greatest to keep away from the staid and stuffy ambiance that comes with many five-star resorts, but you continue to really feel your each whim might be catered for.
If there’s a extra luxurious place to remain in Cyprus, I’d wish to see it.
Discover out extra about Amara on the official web site.
Phrases and pictures: Phil Sharp