“An ultra-luxe 5* beachside spa resort, which is also truly family-friendly: a place which - if you can afford it - warrants the trip alone”
In accommodation as in everything, Anassa offers an almost bewildering choice: simple Garden-View Rooms, Studio Suites with private plunge pool, 2-bedroom family Suites sharing a living room, opulent 1-bedroom Suites with stunning sea views from Jacuzzi balconies and four-poster beds. There's even a 2-storey villa (Residence) packed with original art and antiques, to suit a large family travelling with nanny (and very deep pockets). See the full listings on our rates page, and let yourself be guided by the reservations staff, your budget and availability.
Rooms are spread across the main hotel building (3 storeys), a couple of smaller annexes, and a rambling ‘village’ of one- and 2-storey residences spread across the 85,000 sq.m. campus, all linked by paved lanes (one of which is just wide enough for the buggy to deliver your bags). All are well screened by rampant foliage: vivid bougainvillea, yellow-and-purple latana bushes, silvery olive trees. Eastward buildings enjoy the most seclusion (as well as morning sun, of course); westward rooms are closest to the pools and beach (better for families, perhaps).
All share the same classic Med-meets-colonial elegance. Expect parquet or marble floors, cream timbered ceilings (with fan), bamboo-and-wicker armchairs, louvred cupboards and shutters, voile curtains wafting in the sea breeze. Some have a marble fireplace, a vast mirror or a hand-painted dowry chest big enough for the bride to hide inside. Contemporary style seekers might find the décor a little passé (it does date from 1998); and, coming out of season, we found the tabletop lamps too feeble for after-dark reading. But there’s no doubting the quality of materials and generosity of space, especially in the marble-lined bathrooms (all of which, even in the cheapest rooms, have a tub and separate walk-in shower).
In the main building, we liked the higher Studio Suites for couples (ask for 3rd floor if possible); while in the residences, the One-Bedroom Suite 73/74 (where we were lucky enough to stay) has uninterrupted sea views from its plunge pool and dining terrace, and masses of room for one or 2 children in its spacious sitting room. If money is no object, Adonis (a Presidential Suite) wowed us with its elevated position, giving great ocean views from the private Jacuzzi on the balcony, as well as from the indoor bathtub! Aphrodite is similar but faces the sunset instead of the sunrise.
From Cypriot mezes to French haute cuisine, by way of Mediterranean seafood grills, beach BBQs and a swim-up cocktail bar, Anassa has its dining options pretty well covered.
Of the restaurants, Amphora is the casual, family friendly option, and this is where the sumptuous buffet breakfast is served. Banquet tables are piled high with plump peaches, grapes and plums, thick yoghurts with syrupy figs and pears, cold cuts of turkey and salami, squeaky halloumi and leaky brie. There are pots of jam (coconut and green peppercorn perhaps, or caramel and toffee for the kids) and delicate whorls of butter; breads and pastries of all shapes and sizes, glazed or seeded, fluffy or wholegrain; and a sideboard of cooked items, from pancake triangles with maple honey to scrambled eggs with salmon. The list is endless, but suffice to say you won’t go hungry, and if you have any sort of dietary wish, you will be catered for with a smile.
The setting is pretty good, too: marble tables on a sea-facing patio fringed by crimson, pink and white geraniums, with silvery olive trees overhead and plaintive cats at your feet. Guests rock up in linen chemises and bejewelled flip-flops, or Maclaren buggies pushed by Bermuda-wearing dads toting tablets. It’s a laid-back and lovely start to the day.
If you’re around for lunch, grab a poolside table at Pelagos for fresh fish straight from the lava stone grill: sea bream or bass perhaps, calamari or squid if you’re bold, topped up with salads and mezes, washed down with white xynisteri.
Come dinner time, you can opt for the Amphora buffet again - a predictably lavish spread, though we found that some dishes had lost their freshness by the middle of the evening - or book a table at Helios for more upscale French Riviera cuisine. Half-board guests can choose from a set menu (with a certain degree of flexibility), while others have the freedom of the carte. Either way, expect some exciting flavours (John Dory with barley fennel ratatouille, frogs legs tempura with celery kimchee) among the Gallic flagships (steak tartare, foie gras, oysters, bouillabaisse, Perigord truffle risotto).
But if you really want to woo someone in style, and hang the cost, adults-only Basiliko offers world-class Asian-Med fusion in a gorgeous candlelit vault, with just 12 tables and a wine list to make your eyes water.
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
Winner: Kids' Facilities category
Children are actively welcomed and every conceivable provision is made for them - from a dedicated, always-warm kids' pool to healthy 'fruit smileys' served by extremely friendly waiters. Above all, the kids' club offers superlative child care from 4 months up to 17 years, divided into 5 age groups. Staff - all English speaking, all NVQ level 3 qualified - are kind and confidence-inspiring, with a ratio of 1:2 (infants) to 1:12 (teens). Charges are reasonable, but you must pre-book and pre-pay; please request on enquiry.
All the Studio Suites can take one extra bed or cot (free for under 12s). If you have 2 or 3 children look out for the occasional "Free Rooms for Children" offers (on all Studio Suites/Garden Studio Suites), which effectively halve the price of your holiday. Otherwise the Family Studio can take 2 extra beds, while the pricier 2-bedroom Suites give you separate bedrooms and an extra bathroom to play with - plus some have a private plunge pool. Some interconnect for extended families
Babysitting with English-speaking staff is available day and night at a reasonable rate - though additional charges may apply after 10pm, or for 2 or more children
High chairs and cots are available, plus (with advance booking): potties, buggies, car seats, bottles/teats, sterilisers, baby walkers, baby bathtubs, nappies/swimming nappies, swimming aids, wipes, crayons, colouring books and DVDs in various languages. These can all be pre-booked, meaning that they will be in your room on arrival
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The "Globetrotters" creche has a proper sleeping room, as well as all manner of books, toys, Brio train tracks, big Lego, dolls' houses and play kitchens. For older children, the "Adventurers", "Voyagers" and "Pioneers" clubs have a daily changing schedule of activities such as beach walks, stone painting, monkey football, water polo, origami, and shell and sand pictures. There's also a small playground, with its swings, slide, table tennis and climbing frame. The teens' club, open in July and August, offers movie nights, kayaking, air hockey, Wii, trips to bowling alleys and more.
There are kids' menus at the family restaurant (Amphora , which offers early sittings) and at Meltemi Bar, including mini hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly soldiers, and fruit smileys - though we felt it would be nice to see some more unusual options there as well.
Look out for "Free Half Board" offers whereby, if you book half board (or full board) for yourselves, your children will get upgraded to the same meal plan at no extra cost.