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SHAKE off the British winter blues and treat yourself to a Cyprus spa holiday that will refresh you in body and soul. ROBIN GAULDIE dips his toe in the jacuzzi in these top resorts...

IF you've ever been to Wales you may have encountered the stuff that the locals call laver bread. It's a greenish-brown slimy substance made from seaweed. It's supposed to be very good for you.

In Wales, they eat it for breakfast. In Cyprus, they use it as a key ingredient in thalassotherapy spa programmes.

Thalassotherapy claims to harness the healing power of the sea and its products. It's the big thing in Cyprus's luxury spa hotels, which is why I found myself slathered in brown goo, wrapped in plastic film and left to lie on a couch for half an hour, before being hosed down with cool sea water.

It wasn't quite the experience I'd been expecting. I'd been thinking more of relaxing saunas, perfumed oils, gentle massages and big fluffy towelling robes. But I have to say that I felt great afterwards.

As for the saunas, massages and fluffy towels - yes, there were plenty of those too. Spa tourism is big in Cyprus, and there are excellent package deals from UK holiday companies to these luxury resorts.


PETER Andre and Jordan are among the celebs who favour the Royal Suite at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel. But even if you can't run to a suite, you can share the experience of the exclusive Shiseido Spa (the only one in the Mediterranean) without breaking the bank. Shiseido is a Japanese-style spa experience - that means lots of shiatsu massage, claiming Zen influences, and - treatments to increase your Qi energy flow. Well, it seems to work for Peter and Jordan. The Four Seasons also has a brand new Thalasso spa area where mineral-rich seawater and vitamin-rich algae are claimed to relax and rejuvenate you.

SPA DEAL: Olympic Holidays ( - 0800 093 3322) offer seven nights at the Four Seasons Hotel, from pounds 512pp, including flights from Gatwick, bed and breakfast and transfers. A two-day Deep Relaxation course at the Shiseido Spa costs pounds 385 and includes a jet lag recovery massage, a relaxing care for face, a Japanese scalp and shoulder massage, a deep tension relief massage and an inner beauty reflexology. (


THE Retreat Spa at the Aphrodite Hills Resort outside Paphos is rated one of the world's top 10 spas and is inspired by the spirit of ancient Greece and Roman pampering (so peel me a grape). No lissom slave girls or hunky gladiators, sadly, but an amazing choice of treatments. Plunging from the steamy heat of the hammam into the ice-cooled waters of the frigidarium is a wake-up experience like no other. Lots of thalassotherapy, detox and Asian-inspired massage treatments, too. Treatments cost from pounds 31 for a 75-minute Thermae Experience up to pounds 832 for a five-day Purity package designed to get even total wrecks back in shape. Worked up an appetite? Try the healthy but tasty Greek meze at the resort's Pithari Tavern on Friday nights (pounds 18 for the buffet).

SPA DEAL: Argo Holidays ( - 0870 066 7070) has week-long holidays in self-catering apartments at Aphrodite Hills starting at pounds 425pp per week, including flights and transfers. For more spa info, go to


WE love the Anassa for its location - about a 45-minute drive from Paphos airport - on the fringes of the Akamas peninsula and the last stretch of really unspoilt coastline on Cyprus. It's built in the style of a Roman villa, with lush landscaped gardens and terraces overlooking the azure and turquoise Med. And if you feel like getting out and about, there are walking trails in the Akamas national park and cheap and cheerful tavernas on the beach and around the harbour at nearby Lakki. But it's the newly-refurbished Thalassa spa, designed by top spa consultancy Raison d'Etre and offering natural products from the UK-based Organic Pharmacy, that takes the biscuit. You can choose a one-off treatment, a four-day retreat, or - for the very out-of-shape - a 10-day detox programme tailored to your individual needs. Traditional massage, sports therapy, underwater massage, shiatsu, and detox seaweed body wraps are also on the menu. For dinner, go for healthy options such as fresh seafood cooked on a lava stone grill in the poolside Pelagos restaurant.

SPA DEAL: Anassa is a member of the glam hotel network, The Leading Hotels of the World. Abercrombie & Kent ( - 0845 618 2213) offer seven nights at Anassa from pounds 1,144pp, including flights, transfers, and b&b in a studio suite. For more about the spa, go to


THE Amathus Paphos Beach Hotel is on the outskirts of Paphos, with huge gardens and their own small pebbly beach as well as a huge freeform freshwater pool. Treatments at its Armonia spa include Thalgo packages using marine-based products (yes, it's seaweed again) Decleor aromatherapy massage and skin-care treatments, Germaine de Capuccini detox massage (just the thing if you've over-indulged over Christmas) and a range of reflexology, reiki and shiatsu massage treatments. They're all unisex, but Armonia also offer their own range of treatments specially for blokes.

SPA DEAL: Thomas Cook Select ( - 0870 607 5085) have seven-night packages at the Amathus Paphos Beach starting at pounds 529, including flights and b&b accommodation. For spa info go to


YOUR very own Jeeves can be part of the deal at the Thalassa Boutique Hotel and Spa overlooking

Coral Bay, near Paphos. Butler service is included when you stay in one of the Thalassa's suites. Some suites even have personal saunas and whirlpool baths - or his 'n her bathtubs. Thalassa's Anagenisis Spa is the first holistic spa in Cyprus, with an array of treatments inspired by age-old therapies from all over the world. You can choose from Swedish and sports deep tissue massage, reiki, shiatsu, yoga and Pilates sessions, hot stone therapy and much more.

SPA DEAL : Olympic Hol idays ( - 0870 429 4242 ) offer seven night at the Thalassa Hotel & Spa from pounds 535 per person based on two sharing a seaview twin room, including breakfast and return flights from London Gatwick. More spa info on


LE Meridien Limassol Spa and Resort combines fivestar luxury with Le Spa, Europe's only indoor and outdoor thalassotherapy spa, where huge mosaictiled seawater pools are connected by cool swimthrough tunnels and soothing waterfalls. A two-day Body and Soul programme combining thalassotherapy wi th Indian head massage, an aromatherapy facial, relaxing massage, use of the sauna and the hammam (a traditional Turkish steam bath ) costs pounds 299 per person. Make sure you don't undo all the good work by gorging lots of calories - dine at healthy Japanese restaurant Kojima. It's on its own little island overlooking the lagoon.

SPA DEAL: Package holidays from Planet Holidays ( - 0871 871 2234) to Le Meridien start at pounds 575. For more details on spa treatments, go to


FANCY your own private spa? The latest fad among spa fans visiting Cyprus are luxury villas with bubbles. Zoe Villa is aimed for the sort of spa people who'd normally go for a boutique hotel rather than big resort. It has a domed jacuzzi room with a heated whirlpool and its own gym. The villa has a swimming pool and a private roof terrace overlooking the countryside and the hillside villages of Miliou and Yiolou. It's an easy drive to Paphos for spa visits. There's a beach if you need more pampering.

SPA DEAL: The villa sleeps six and each bedroom is en suite. A week at Zoe from April 9 costs pounds 315pp, including villa rental, flights from Gatwick and car hire when six share. Villa rental alone costs pounds 1,149 for a week or pounds 191.50pp - book through Meon Villas ( - 0870 901 4011)

MORE info from Cyprus Tourism Organisation - 0207 569 8 800


Be rejuvenated by a new Four Seasons spa treatment; Huge choice of treatments on offer at Aphrodite Hills; Luxurious Anassa on the unspoilt Akamas coastline; The sweeping beauty of Coral Bay, near Paphos; Thalassa Hotel overlooking stunning Coral Bay; Swim-through tunnels join pools at Le Meridien; Your own pool, whirlpool and gym at Zoe Villa; Freshwater pool and huge gardens at Amathus; Pictures: PICTURES COLOUR LIBRARY/FOUR SEASONS/ARGO HOLIDAYS/ABERCROMBIE & KENT/THOMAS COOK SELECT/OLYMPIC HOLIDAYS/PLANET HOLIDAYS/MEON VILLAS
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 23, 2007
Previous Article:TRAVEL UPDATE.

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