Cyprus Hotel

The Anassa

Since it opened a year ago the Anassa (queen, in ancient Greek) has in fact become the queen of resort hotels in the eastern Mediterranean. Like a whitewashed Cypriot village, this hotel is built on a hillside and overlooks two swimming pools and a long, empty beach. The 60-acre grounds are magnificently landscaped with bougainvillea, hibiscus, fig and olive trees, and herbs. The architecture is a contemporary idiomatic interpretation of the island's Greek, Roman, Venetian, and Byzantine past, rendered in sand-colored Cypriot limestone and Italian marble. From the white-walled entry courtyard, the hotel unfolds in a gorgeous series of fountains and vaulted corridors leading to a central staircase under its signature dome. All rooms are extremely spacious, with cathedral ceilings and balconies or terraces with sea views—the suites with Jacuzzis on the terraces or with private plunge pools are the ones to get. (Those on the eastern side of the property are more private than the ones overlooking the pool.) All rooms are done in a soothing Mediterranean scheme of sand-colored walls, white cotton bedspreads, wicker or wrought-iron furniture and lamps, and have ceiling fans and air-conditioning.

What surprised me most, however, was the food. It's outstanding. There's a superb breakfast buffet, plus four restaurants offering very different menus. In the intimate taverna setting of Basiliko, the gastronomic restaurant, French chef Emmanuel Guemont cooks up dishes better than those in most hotel dining rooms in Europe—a starter of tamarind-marinated duck breast served on a bed of tomato cubes, coriander, parsley, and scallion in an open phyllo packet meant to be dipped in a yogurt mint sauce, and a gorgeous faux-sushi Japanese dessert, including a passion fruit and pear soup, chocolate spring rolls, and nectarine slices on sweet, sticky rice. John Kouphou, chef at Pelagos, the poolside restaurant, serves up grilled sea bream with olive oil, lemon, and a green olive relish—along with a menu that features dishes from all over the Mediterranean.

Work up an appetite at the fully equipped gym with squash court, the tennis courts, heated indoor swimming pool with atrium ceiling, or by hiking the beautiful nearby Akamas peninsula. The Anassa makes a good time-out if you happen to be visiting Israel (about 50 minutes by plane) or Egypt (approximately 70 minutes). Just come with fat novels or someone you're mad for, since the bar here closes at one and there's no nightlife nearby. $375-$4,470. 357-6-888-000; fax 357-6-322-900. Reservations 800-323-7500.