Cyprus: Golf Travel’s hidden gem

By Richard Bevan

Cyprus is astonishingly ‘under the radar’ in terms of its profile as a tourist, and more specifically, a golf tourist destination for UAE travellers.  We were surprised to learn that it’s only a 3 hour 40 minute flight from Dubai and has perfect all year round weather conditions, making it ideal for weekend visits as well as longer trips and with four top class golf courses in close proximity, there is enough fairway action to keep you occupied. We checked it out over the Eid break and managed to play two of the island’s four layouts during our visit. 

Elea Golf Club

Part of the stunning Elea Estate and occupying a wonderful elevated position, perched on the hillside overlooking the Mediterranean, this is a classic Sir Nick Faldo design. It looks easy enough off the tee but all is not what it first appears. Shot selection is key while accuracy in your iron play and short game is an absolute must.

I encountered more sand on this course than on any beach I visited – bunkers everywhere! The greens are fast and tricky with steep run-offs a common feature. As the local pro put it when we were discussing my distinctly up and down round, “If you have a good putting day, you’re going to play well here!” Sadly…I didn’t!

Opened in 2010, the par 71 course measures 6,900 yards off the back tees and has a real ‘linksy’ feel to it with large undisturbed and un-irrigated swathes of colourful native ‘garrigue’ flora everywhere, creating a windswept and rugged vibe to proceedings. 

Playing this wonderful course without a buggy will give you a good workout, too, with some of the holes playing up steep hills. I used a buggy and loved every minute of it!

Aphrodite Hills, PGA National

The island’s most well-known course is a sight to behold, a real beauty with breathtaking sea views from many of the holes and picturesque natural vegetation and flora in abundance.

Already a world-renowned course, named ‘2018 European Golf Resort of the Year’ at the prestigious annual IAGTO awards, it has recently had a €4m investment upgrade, including renovation of the greens and a complete modernisation of facilities.

The course, opened in 2002, is a clever design by Cabell Robinson providing a highly enjoyable test for all levels of golfer with holes differing from the five different tee positions.

The 6,788 yard par 71 PGA National course is the perfect mix of challenging bunkers, manicured fairways quilted in lush Bermuda grass and generously tiered greens.

Visually spectacular, the course sprawls through indigenous olive and carob trees and is built on two plateaux, separated by a dramatic ravine. The par-3 seventh ‘Canyon Hole’ (bottom left) was a particular highlight for me from a visual perspective, playing as it does, across the aforementioned ravine! 

The Aphrodite Hills development is huge with different villa and apartment options as well as a hotel and many different leisure and dining choices on site, making this a perfect, all-in-one destination for families, couples or friends. 

Columbia Beach Resort

Situated in the quaint village of Pissouri, just half an hour away from the busier but equally scenic Paphos, the Columbia Beach Resort is ideally placed for a golf break in Cyprus. 

Our journey to Elea took around 25 minutes by car while Aphrodite Hills was a mere 15 minutes away. The other two courses on the southern Greek part of the island – Minithis Hills and Secret Valley – are 40 minutes and 20 minutes away, respectively. 

At this point it is pertinent to add, that aside from its perfect location for golf lovers, the Columbia Beach Resort is a stunning five-star resort of the highest order. 

The all-suite property sits on a beautiful stretch of Blue Flag pebble beach alongside Pissouri Bay and is framed at the rear by a dramatic cliff face and the white peaks of Cape Aspro to the east. 

We stayed in an ‘eagle’s nest’ suite which was perched on an elevated position upon the cliffs affording, literally, a ‘birds eye’ view of the whole resort, as well as the picturesque coastline below. Not a bad place to enjoy a sundowner in the evenings!  Some of the other ‘Eagle’s Nest’ suites featured either a plunge pool or pool and all of them are a more than ample 60 sqm in size with a large sitting area, kingsize bed, sprawling marble bathroom and small kitchenette. 

There are 169 suites in the hotel in total, all furnished to the highest specifications drawing on traditional Cypriot influences with a modern twist. The smaller, more plentiful junior suites still measure a sizeable 43 sqm, while there are also two-bed family suites available. 

There are two swimming pools on the resort with the stunning main pool being the real centrepiece of the property. It is huge, well suited for swimming proper lengths.

Time to relax

There’s also an innovative inside/outside aspect to the pool with the final section closest to the hotel’s main building, running into the spa making it an indoor pool with the doors to that section closed at 4pm every afternoon. 

This feature could be very useful for guests visiting in the winter but certainly wasn’t needed during our Eid trip at the beginning of June! 

The award-winning Hebe Spa itself is another standout feature of the resort. As well as the indoor pool, there is a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, relaxation areas and six treatment rooms. There’s also a fully equipped gym and two indoor squash courts (the resort also features two floodlit tennis courts) and the spa offers a range of fitness, yoga and pilates classes.

Expertly trained therapists provide a full spectrum of different treatments and my travel companion and I were treated to a Pro Collagen Age Defying Facial and Hebe Ritual Massage respectively, both of which were highly enjoyed. 

We stayed on half-board and after experiencing the quality of the restaurants on site, we were glad that we did. A sumptuous breakfast (with bubbles if desired) is served up in Bacchus, overlooking the main pool while Apollo Tavern, with a spectacular view of the shimmering Mediterranean waters of Pissouri Bay serves up delightful Cypriot fare and Cape Aspro, again enjoying a seafront position alongside the resort’s smaller, family pool, specialises in freshly- caught local seafood. 

For 5-star luxury with a laid back Mediterranean vibe a stone’s throw away from the island’s courses, the Columbia Resort is a perfect choice for a memorable golfing getaway.

Suites are available from €355 per night when booked directly at www.columbiaresort.com. This is available for selected dates during September on a bed and breakfast basis.

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