Speaking exclusively to Cyprus Traveller, Telemachos Hassapis, general manager – holiday residences at Aphrodite Hills Resort reveals how, despite the hotel changing ownership, this will benefit the resort grounds as a whole for its guests.
CT: There’s a lot going on at the moment with the change of ownership at the hotel and other developments you are expecting within Aphrodite Hills Resort itself. What are your expectations this year?
Telemachos: What we’re expecting with the introduction of the hotel brand is to welcome many more guests visiting us. The nature of the new product is to provide an all-inclusive service that allows guests to remain around the resort grounds as opposed to outside. Despite this we believe that quite a few of these guests will be visiting us to enjoy the facilities of the resort such as the village square with its shops and restaurants, the Retreat spa, kid’s club, tennis and soccer school. We are confident that there will be an improved quality of product available within the resort and a better overall experience.
CT: Are you expecting any challenges from the change of ownership at the hotel which will now fall under the new brand or will it prove to be something more beneficial for Aphrodite Hills Resort?
Telemachos: It will definitely be beneficial for us as the new brand is of a very high standard and we expect the number of clients coming to the resort to increase. There’s a saying that “the best furniture in a hotel is its people” and the same applies to our resort. Just the pure fact that we will be welcoming a larger number of guests the place will become even more alive and be more active.
CT: Within Aphrodite Hills Resort there are various different facilities and services to choose from. As a result you welcome guests from different backgrounds, some only using one facility and others using a combination. With the change at the hotel in mind how are you expecting the natural connection of all these facilities to combine?
Telemachos: Sometimes we get clients staying in the apartments and the villas with their families, and at other times we would have guests staying at the hotel. We expect the same now that this natural connection will continue as each product and service complements and adds value to the other. That’s why we refer to Aphrodite Hills as an integrated resort. It’s a place that anyone could find the services that they could think of while on a holiday. Every member of the family has something to do, the mother is enjoying the spa, the father is playing his golf rounds, the daughter is in the kid’s club, the son is at the soccer school and they are all staying in a luxurious villa and enjoying a barbeque during the evening. Everybody’s happy.
CT: You mentioned the soccer school which will be introduced this year. What’s the reasoning behind this new addition and what are you expecting from it?
Telemachos: We’re very excited that we’ll be introducing this service. In the last two years we provided something similar when we created a small pitch that was used by a UEFA Pro coach. It proved to be so popular that unfortunately he sometimes had to turn children away due to limited spaces available. So what we decided to do was to create two small pitches with higher quality specifications allowing the coach to employ additional qualified coaching staff. It will be operating from the Easter holiday period right through to the end of October. It’s an additional service that we will be providing for families as it has proven to be very popular, while part of our kid’s club activities programme over the years. We expect that it will be an even huger success and that the two pitches may not be enough, as football is a sport that so many children enjoy and we want to provide them with the activities that they enjoy the most.
CT: If the soccer school indeed proves to be the success that you are expecting, what future plans do you have for this service?
Telemachos: We have additional space in the same area we’re building the two pitches now which is in the vicinity of the tennis academy area. The space is there and if need be we will create more pitches and employ more coaches. At the end of the day what you need to do as a business is always provide to your customers what they are asking especially if the demand is there. We noticed that the soccer school was a demand that they had when we had to turn children away last year. What a good problem to have?
CT: Why does sport play such a big role within the resort? There is the golf, the tennis and now the football so what is it about the relationship between sports and the resort?
Telemachos: The environment, the design and location of the resort, and the fact that we cater more to families than anybody else direct us to gear our offerings towards these kinds of activities. Parents these days are encouraging their children to take up activities that keep them away from problematic situations and so they keep healthy and enjoy a more active lifestyle.
CT: Is introducing additional sports activities something that you could do in the future?
Telemachos: We’re always looking at introducing new activities but I think that you have to take things at a gradual pace and not rush into anything. We allow our new services to mature over time and then we step to the next level as they say.
CT: Previously you highlighted that the resort’s location provides you with an advantage to attract guests. How do you utilise the location to your benefit?
Telemachos: We are ideally only 15 minutes away from Pafos and 30 minutes from Limassol. We are based within two hillsides that are separated by a dramatic ravine in the middle and overlook the Mediterranean. The 18-hole golf course is spread around the resort which makes the entire property look and feel green, lush and sporty. It’s such a big area that covers 578 hectares with only an eight per cent building density. It gives you the feel of the openness of the area and provides a natural inclination to be active.
CT: Under your management you also cover the residences within the resort. Firstly, have there been any recent developments with the residences? Secondly, what can new guests expect when choosing to stay at a residence?
Telemachos: 10 years ago the business of renting a house for self-catering purposes was a simple exercise: “Here are the keys Sir/Madam, bring them back in a week’s time, have a good stay and see you next week.” What we’ve done over the last decade is take that self-catering service closer to the five-star hotel service. Today we have properties that clients can enjoy this five-star service to its maximum. We pick up the client from the airport, are escorted to their property, they enjoy complimentary wine or even champagne, fresh smoked salmon and all the five-star hotel amenities that are waiting for them at their property, as well as a daily cleaning service. We can deliver breakfast every morning to their door with a newspaper. We will literally treat them like kings! These are the type of properties that are increasingly growing in demand and become trendier. I guess families are looking for time to spend together while at the same time enjoying luxury and this is exactly what these properties are giving them. They are on holiday, they have more space and privacy, families can interact with each other peacefully – this is why I feel these properties are very popular. It’s a very big business that started from nothing and has grown immensely.
CT: Would you agree with the statement that Aphrodite Hills is a “trend setter” within the island’s hospitality industry and sets standards?
Telemachos: Our intention is not to set the standards but to give our guests the service that they are seeking. We never say “let’s be different because we want to be” but to always listen to what our clients want and can we give it to them at a price that we and they can also benefit from? If yes then we’ll do it.
CT: What would your message be to tourists visiting the island to consider staying at Aphrodite Hills? You have already highlighted many positive facts about the resort but what would you tell them if they’re still not sure about where to stay?
Telemachos: When we receive feedback from our guests after their stay they all say that they enjoyed the peacefulness and tranquillity of the resort. The resort has allowed them to relax their minds and forget about their worries back home. These are the most common comments from them, that they relaxed which is what they wanted from their holiday. If this is what they are telling us it means that it’s a fact. If they want to just get away from it all then Aphrodite Hills is the perfect place!