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Spa heaven

The Cypriot ultra spa!

Nicole Mowbray is the world’s toughest reviewer of wellness centres. How did Cyprus’s destination spa Anassa measure up?

I have unashamedly high standards when it comes to pampering. Who better than me then, to test out the new spa treatments on offer from Cypriot ultra spa Anassa?

This place is what's known as a 'destination spa' - treatments aren't an 'add on', they're their whole reason for being.

On an isolated stretch of coastline about 45 minutes drive from bustling Paphos on the Akamas Peninsula, Anassa is a family-owned resort famed for its beautiful food and beach.

Uninterrupted sea views from Anassa's private Villas

Delightful villas wind out across the property in a kind of mock Greek village with cobblestone streets and tumbling bougainvillea. It is utterly delightful.
But what about the all-important spa?

Day one, I trundle past a beautiful rustic Greek chapel in the hotel's grounds, down to the spa for an 8am yoga treatment. It's raining - rare in Cyprus at this time - so instead of performing our morning stretches on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, we take to a room overlooking tall fir trees with our teacher Simon.

The hotel has a fully equipped gym, and there are all manner of extras you can book - yoga, meditation, water sports or chartering a yacht out to the Blue Lagoon, about an hour's sail along the coast.

And then there's the treatments. As well as traditional thalassotherapy and Organic Pharmacy products, the spa at the Anassa has just taken on Ila products, which is music to my ears.

I've long been a devotee of the Ila brand. Created by hand in England, Ila goes to great lengths to be ethical. They describe themselves as 'beyond organic', an ethos very close to founder Denise Leicester's heart since she began the company in 2005. Ila at Anassa is the kind of pampering marriage that I knew would blow my socks off.

Anassa Spa Resort terrace

I began my Ila journey with a 60-minute Ku Nye massage,  a combination of massage with kneading, acupressure and the use of hot stones and poultices.

I was pleased to hear that the divine smelling oil used actually comes from Cypriot roses.

If you're not a fan of the heat, try the Prana Vitality massage which doesn't use hot poultices, just long deep sweeping strokes to eliminate stress from the muscles.

njoy a massage on an isolated stretch of coastline

Despite the Ku Nye being a brand new offering at the spa, my therapist was experienced and instinctive - unsurprising when you learn that Denise picks her therapists by hand and gives them one-to-one training.

I defy even the most battle-hardened insomniac to stay awake after this treatment. It was all I could do to drag myself back to my room and clamber into my marshmallowesque bed.

Next up; a bespoke Ila facial with renowned celebrity facialist Anastasia Achilleos. I almost do the treatment a disservice to call it just a facial, because it was so much more. Comprised mainly of meditative sweeping massage, it helps drain your lymphatic system and eliminate puffiness from the face.

Essence of sea lavender and sea lettuce improve your circulation, and bestowed me with a rosy glow. I truly felt this 90-minute facial was 'transformative' not only to my face but to my mind as well.

Anassa indoor Spa pool

Lastly I tried what I have simply named 'The Jets'. It's hard to explain how much I loved The Jets. Want an instant slimming treatment, one that rids your body of its wobbly bits and improves the look and feel of your skin? Book in for the Ila Thalasso Jet Shower and Deep Tissue Massage.

You strip off and don a pair of paper pants. You enter a large tiled chamber with handles at one end of the room where you stand. Then, a lovely lady comes in and picks up what looks to be a fireman's hose attached to a contraption which heats seawater to just a bit warmer than your body - then she fires it at you, working up your legs from your feet and doing your tummy, chest and arms. You turn around and face the wall so she can do your back and the backs of your legs and buttocks.

The pressure is quite high although not uncomfortably so, and in under a minute the area being 'jetted' goes red where the circulation is rushing around. This is the aim of the treatment and so, when that happens, the therapist moves on to the next area.

After you're all red and completely drenched – soggy paper pants and all – you are taken to another room to shower, dry off and lay on the massage table to be slathered in super soft jasmine and tuberose moisturiser which is then massaged in.

So did Anassa live up to the most finicky spa reviewer in the world? Dear readers, it did. I really cannot recommend the Ila treatments at Anassa highly enough. Beg borrow or steal to get yourself there.

First published in the Mail Online - August 2015

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