Over the Easter break Elaine Kelly visited ZENING Resort, a simple yet beautiful destination for those seeking relaxation, joy and inner peace.
Cyprus is a beautiful island, only a 4-hour flight from Dubai. It’s perfect for a long weekend, especially to escape the heat of summer. When the marketing team at ZENING Resort Elia Village in Latchi, located on the far northwest side of the island, invited me to come and check out their yoga resort, I thought a long weekend in April would be perfect. Friday – April 10 My husband and I landed in Larnaca on the Emirates 330 flight, which was totally full, and entered the new, efficient airport to collect our rental car. I highly recommend this as it’s a 2-hour drive to the resort and taxis are very expensive. We drove towards Limasol and then on to Paphos, with the coast on our left and mountains on the right. There were olive, orange and lemon trees heavy with fruit and tall spindly conifers on the hilly limestone land that reminded me of one continuous golf course. Like Oman, the buildings are in various skin tones, all with terracotta tiled roofs upon which sit two solar panels that heat the water tank on the roof.
As we passed Paphos, the hills became steeper as we drove over the grey stony mountains and then down towards the coast listening to Radio Sunshine playing old hits such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Jail House Rock by Elvis Presley. As you enter the town of Latchi on Chrysouchou Bay, there is a large red wooden ship on the left opposite the marina that marks the entrance to ZENING Resort. If you could, it’s best to fly into Paphos, but from Dubai, this is not an option. The wellness resort is about 15 years old and was recently purchased by AJ Goyal, who has lovingly begun to refurbish the 135 holiday studios and one-bedroom apartments set on 35 hectares of grassy and tree-covered land overlooking the bay. We entered the reception and were warmly greeted and offered hot mint tea with apologies for the cold weather. We were instructed to leave our car at the reception parking area and were driven to our room at the top far end of the resort. We had a one-bedroom apartment with living room/kitchen and newly renovated bathroom. Extra blankets were in the wardrobe. We received a yoga bag with soaps and creams, a pair of flip-flops and some yoga leggings, which was a lovely touch. We enjoyed a late lunch in the restaurant overlooking the coast – a delicious village salad with home baked bread – and then took a drive into town with our umbrellas and raincoats. The coast is rugged with mud-coloured gled sand. There is evidence of many new developments as you drive along the coastal road. We found a hotel/bar made of traditional limestone and snuggled up next to the fire, and chatted with the local expats who run a dive centre and a property management business. They told us about the big event of the year, the Easterbonfire at the local church. Easter is the most important festival of the year and the entire town attends the midnight service to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. That evening we enjoyed a delicious buffet of fresh organic foods including several vegetarian options. We crashed early to be up in time for the morning pranayama class.
I woke at 6.00am and stepped outside onto our porch. It was dark and cold and the first signs of light appeared over the hills in the east. I had an amazing hot shower and dressed for yoga leaving my husband to continue sleeping. As I walked down the hill, birds darted around chirping loudly as the light of day became stronger. I was the first to arrive in the yoga hall, a large space with wooden flooring and a big East-facing window. I started my practice, and then the teacher, Ravindra, arrived. He greeted me, and lit incense and candles. We were 4 people for the 7.00am pranayama class which started with yogic breathing, followed by Ujjayi and Kapalabhati. We finished with Nodi Shodana and then rested for 10 minutes till the 90-minute Hatha yoga class started.
Ravindra is from Haridhar in India and was invited to teach here by the owner, whom he met while teaching in Dubai at Bikram Yoga in TECOM. He has been practisting yoga since 1991 and has a master’s degree in Human Consciousness and Yogic Sciences. He offers several yoga teacher trainings a year, which are UK YRT certified. Daily activities include a morning pranayama followed by a 90-minute Hatha yoga class, another yoga class at 11.00am and yoga theory at 3.30 and meditation at 4.30pm. There are also fitness classes and Pilates, all included in the room rate. There are 3 pools, bicycles and a small outdoor gym. In the evening there are group activities and movies, so you can be as busy or as restful as you like. After lunch on the terrace we headed to the Veda Spa for a therapeutic massage. The therapy rooms all overlook the gardens and pond teaming with fish so you can enjoy the sound of the waterfall as you lie being massaged. Irina, my Russian therapist, gave me a strong yet soothing massage. After the massage, we went down to the sauna and steam rooms, which are brand new. There is a heated indoor pool and a relaxation room lit with candles for reading or meditation. We climbed the 40 steps back up to the restaurant and helped ourselves to a fresh mint tea, and then walked back to our room for an afternoon nap in preparation for the midnight church service. Dinner is buffet style and includes soup, salads, delicious local olives and a selection of hot dishes. There was a movie on in the reception library so we walked down with some newly made friends and settled in next to the open fire to watch Crazy, Stupid Love munching on fresh popcorn.
At 11.00pm we drove to the small village to join hundreds of welldressed Cypriots at the church in the town square. There was a huge bonfire where many people gathered and kids let off bangers. Every one carried a large unlit lampada (candle) and there was a general feeling of excitement in the air. A few minutes before midnight the lights in the church were extinguished and the choir sang the story of the three women who arrived at Christ’s tomb only to find it empty. The lights were switched on again and the priest called the congregation to “take from his candle the light which never dies”. The flame was passed from person to person until everyone was holding a lit candle. Then the fireworks and the bangers went off, and the night sky was alight with colours. We were greeted with the words “Christos Anesti” and invited to take a dyed red egg and some cake made from raisins, cheese and sesame seeds. You tap eggs with others and the one with the unbroken shell wins!
I was too sleepy to make it to pranayama so I started with yoga instead, a strong Ashtanga-inspired class with around 10 ladies. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and today it was just about warm enough to sit outside on the terrace and eat overlooking the sparkling blue waters of the bay below. By the time I finished breakfast it was time for the 11.00am yoga class, which was better attended and a little less strenuous. We joined friends on the terrace for lunch and sat chatting for a few hours wrapped in our sweaters. The afternoon was spent reading and writing, and I joined the meditation session at 4.30 for an Osho meditation seated in couples humming to ourselves, which was really soothing. After dinner there was a quiz and movie in the main reception again. I managed to stay awake till 10.00pm but then found myself dozing on my husband’s arm with the warmth of the fire by my side. Because the resort is so affordable, it’s a great long weekend yoga break away from Dubai. While there, definitely hire a car to visit the surrounding villages. To really enjoy the place visit from May-September when the weather is warmer.
Posted on 03 May 2018 by Elaine Kelly