IF you swim around Aphrodite’s Rock three times, legend has it you will be blessed with eternal youth and beauty. Having just turned 40, I figured it was worth a try.
The foaming waters around the sea stack near Paphos in Cyprus are said to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess of youth and fertility.
While she was famously depicted in a painting by Botticelli, surfing to land on her shell, I beached on to shore like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Tired out but feeling no younger, it was back to my hotel to help the magic take effect.
Luckily, the paved promenade outside the art deco- styled 5H Louis Ivi Mare is the perfect jogging track, stretching for miles along the beautiful coastline.
A cool sea breeze and fabulous views could inspire even the laziest of holidaymakers to stretch their legs. The stunning hotel, which would not look out of place in Miami, also has an Olympic-sized pool — the longest in Paphos.
Just a length or two is enough to work off the holiday excess served up by Cypriot restaurant owners who take a perverse pleasure in stuffing their guests silly.
At nearby Y & P Latchi fish tavern, £16.60 a head will buy a fish mezze that includes traditional dips served with chargrilled garlic bread, calamari and buttery mahi-mahi accompanied by a fresh
Greek salad. With locally sourced olives and olive oil, water-melon-red tomatoes and fish plucked straight from the ocean, it felt surprisingly healthy.
Back at the hotel, dining options are extensive, including Greek, buffet-style and Asian. The Japanese Akakiko restaurant was a particular treat, serving top-quality sushi and sashimi.
A brand new hotel, Louis Ivi Mare’s well-appointed rooms are spacious with large balconies. If you are heading here for a romantic break, your other half will not be disappointed. A vast array of trendy cocktails is served at the terrace bar overlooking the pool.
If you have kids in tow they will love the slap-up inclusive buffet breakfast and large children’s pool. The area around the hotel on the western tip of Cyprus is ripe for exploration, especially if you have got a rental car.
The island has an abundance of vineyards, olive groves and farms blanketing the Troodos Mountains that frame snow-capped Mount Olympus. And hidden among all this verdant life is the ancient necropolis Tomb of the Kings.
A short drive from the hotel, the Hellenistic and Roman burial places once held — not kings — but the first noblemen to inhabit the island. Carved from the rocks, these mansions for the dead came complete with grand pillars, fancy courtyards and even slaves who were killed to serve them in the afterlife.
Another fab excursion is a group boat trip with Latchi Queen to the scenic beauty spot of Blue Lagoon. There you can have a dip in clement, turquoise waters and sunbathe above the lapping waves with an ice-cold beer.
But don’t just stick to the coast. Why not take a drive to Omodos, one of the numerous limestone-walled villages filled with terracotta roofs that dot the mountains?
Here, I meandered around the cobbled streets, stopping to buy freshly baked, cinnamon-laced bread. And I visited the impressively gilded orthodox church, where women wearing shorts are given purple, Harry Potter-like robes to protect their modesty.
I recommend lunch, served banquet-style, at Makrynari, a traditional tavern where the owner has one of the biggest moustaches I have ever seen — and he served up even bigger portions sizes of his fantastic local fare.
The goddess of fertility never did give back my youth but after a long weekend gorging on fantastic grub, I was blessed with one hell of a food baby.
GETTING THERE: Flights from Gatwick to Paphos are from £47pp one way. See ba.com. Lounge access at Gatwick is from £24pp. For details, see no1lounges.com.
STAYING THERE: One week’s B&B at the 5H Louis Ivi Mare is from £560pp based on two sharing a Superior Inland View room on selected dates in October. See louisivimare.com.
MORE INFO: See visitcyprus.com.