A package holiday has never really appealed. We like to be independent, organising our own flights and accommodation, and having flexibility. Last year we even planned an amazing driving holiday through France, Switzerland and Italy. However, we’ve recently come back from our first package holiday and I was impressed.
Why a package holiday this time?
The original plan was to go and visit my family in Italy, but we had three flights cancelled within a few weeks. It showed how changeable the travel situation is with Covid. We didn’t want to rebook flights and spend lots of time searching for a villa when there was a very high chance flights would be cancelled again and we’d lose our money on accommodation. We still had aspirations of going abroad but didn’t want the stress. A fully ATOL protected, package holiday seemed the way to go.
Cyprus as a destination
We took Italy off the table as even double vaccinated people are required to quarantine on arrival for five days. A quick look at the EasyJet Holidays website revealed the European countries we could go to quarantine-free. Cyprus was one destination that came up. It ticked the boxes on travel time, sunshine, warm sea and cuisine.
A friend mentioned The Elysium in Cyprus, saying it was one of her favourite hotels in the World. We looked it up and could see why. We went back to EasyJet and were delighted to see that the very hotel was included in their package holiday to Paphos.
What the package holiday included
The package was much cheaper than booking the separate elements so it was a no-brainer. We pushed the button. It removed all the stress as we knew it was all covered and didn’t have the fear of a last minute flight cancellation. We also didn’t spend hours trawling the web for accommodation to match our flight dates.
The package included:
- Return flights to Paphos
- 23kg of luggage each (including the kids)
- One item of hand baggage each (including the kids)
- Hotel accommodation
- Private transfer from the airport to the hotel
The Elysium hotel
The Elysium is a very elegant, five star luxury resort with a lovely vibe. It boasts some outstanding staff (special shoutouts to Yannis, Luigi and Kiki), fantastic restaurants and a wonderful spa. It also ticked the other box for the kids: having a pool (well not just one but multiple). I loved the private beach, facilities, good restaurants, amazing air con and having staff on hand to offer advice and make bookings. We phoned the hotel ahead of booking to ask about interconnecting rooms and as soon as we’d pushed the button they confirmed them. The rooms are well appointed and serviced very well. We went for bed and breakfast as we wanted to have the flexibility to eat in and outside of the hotel for lunch and dinner.
We didn’t use the kids club, but plenty of people did. I sneaked a peak and the facilities looked great. I also had a blissful few hours at the spa and was treated to massages, facials, scrubs and all sorts of other indulgences.
The Elysium is well situated for exploring Paphos city (Ktima: old town and Kato, the harbour area/new town) itself as well as the expansive Paphos district. It is also right next to the Tombs of the Kings – a Unesco World Heritage Site.
What were the best bits of a package holiday?
Ultimately, in the current climate, the peace of mind is invaluable.
The generous baggage allowance is brilliant. There was no faffing about adding on extra things and incurring more charges once the flights were booked.
On arrival, it was fantastic having someone waiting for us to take us straight to the hotel.
We enjoyed having the great service and everything taken care of. I loved having breakfast sorted every day and the vast and quality selection available. I may have had Champagne before 10am on a number of occasions! It was a bonus not having to clean up the kitchen every day.
The kids particularly loved chilling by the pool and the younger two liked being able to socialise and make new friends. I love how easily kids do this! I’m more of a sea lover than a pool lounger so for me the private beach – and proximity to other blue flag beaches – was wonderful.
The restaurants were top notch. It was great mixing up a more leisurely lunch or evening meal at the hotel with dining out in Paphos.
We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was extremely surprised that such a high calibre hotel would be included in a package. We loved the country, food and people.
Hiring a car
A family holiday should have something for everyone. My husband and particularly me wouldn’t enjoy spending all day, every day at a resort. We hired a car via the hotel – at a very competitive price – so that we could do more exploring.
We were able to head over to lovely Latsi/Latchi on the north side of the island, the Troodos mountains and waterfalls, Polis (and Aphrodite’s baths), wineries, countless beaches and villages and even Aphrodite Water Park.
The Covid requirements for travelling
The UK is on Cyprus’ red list so whilst there was no quarantining, my eldest had to have a PCR test within 72 hours of our departure. She also had to have another PCR test as soon as we arrived at Paphos airport. Interestingly (as of August 7th), the test in the UK cost £150 and €19 in Cyprus. Quite a difference!
My husband and I didn’t need to take a PCR test before travel to Cyprus as we are double vaccinated. Our twins are under 12 so they didn’t have to either. With those criteria in place we then had to fill out a Cyprus flight pass.
Cyprus is on the UK’s Amber list. For our return, we all had to have a PCR test within 48 hours of our flight (the hotel organised this and we had it on site), proof of pre-arranged ‘Day 2’ PCR tests in the UK and a completed Passenger Locator form. A word of warning… many of the Day 2 ‘approved’ test providers on the government website are rather suspect. We never found one that actually cost the displayed price.
Would I do a package holiday again? Yes. Would I do a DIY holiday again? Also yes. However, until travel returns to normal I’d definitely stick with the former. I might have a beady eye on what’s available for October half term…