Wow. What a whirlwind two weeks that just was! We basically decided one Wednesday to book a holiday to Cyprus and within a week we were on the plane heading towards our hotel – the Thomson / TUI Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica. As some of you might know, my husband is in the forces so it can be notoriously hard to pin down dates for a family holiday. We saw an opportunity with his work and my work for this particular week and just went for it! I have to say there was something quite liberating in booking it so last minute. I did kind of miss the buildup in terms of getting organized and packing though.
I originally had my eye on heading to Portugal or Italy but with the last minute-ness of it all and my list of requirements (near a beach, near enough to different areas to explore, kids club, baby crèche, modern hotel facilities, not too long a flight or transfer), we just didn’t manage to find anything. I had been to Cyprus before for work, and had always wanted to head back to explore it a bit more, so it seemed like a great second, well third (!), option. The time of year had an influence on the choice as well. September can be a bit hit or miss weather wise in a lot of holiday destinations but we thought Cyprus looked pretty reliable and we weren’t wrong. The flight time was probably at the limit of what we were looking at for this holiday, at four and a half hours, and was alright with the two kids.
Where we stayed
Due to the fact we wanted to find somewhere that had a kids club (starting at age 3) for Little I, and a baby crèche for L, we were rather limited in our choices of hotels! It came down to two in the end – the Thomson (or TUI as they are changing over to) Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica, by Nissi Beach, and the First Choice Holiday Village in Paphos. What swung it in the end was that we had stayed in a Holiday Village before (in Rhodes, Greece) and although we did have a really good time, it was a bit overwhelming having the whole hotel’s guests being British (that might sound weird, sorry!) and we just fancied a change. In saying that, Paphos seems like it might have been a better option for getting out and about exploring, as it had a bit more to see in the surrounding area.
So we chose the TUI Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica which was just across the road from Nissi Beach. It is a pretty big hotel that seems to be popular for weddings as well. We saw three in the week we were there. There are six pools, a splash park and a shaded kids pool. One buffet restaurant and two bookable restaurants. And lots of different room options.
Our room was great. We booked one of the family rooms with pool view, sliding doors and partition. It was a great size, super modern, very clean and the fact there were sliding doors between the main section and where the kids slept was good. Little I’s snoring is impressive for her age. The bed was SO comfy and we slept really well the whole time we were there. There was also a little fridge, TV, lots of storage space and a balcony with a table and chairs. The robes in the wardrobe were a nice touch too.
We went all inclusive, which is a bit of a waste for me (apart from the drinks side of things!!) because I don’t eat a huge amount but great for the husband and kids. Breakfast was good with lots of different options of hot items, eggs, pastries, fresh fruit, cold meats, cheese and lots more. For lunch you could either get food from a snack bar near the pool or go back to the main restaurant. For each meal time there was a separate kids section which had a great selection of foods for them – not just your usual chicken nuggets and chips etc! I was impressed by all the rice, pasta and veg options. All the allergens were listed on each dish as well. Very helpful when you’re dairy free.
All TUI Family Life hotels have baby lounge, I believe, and they are such a good idea. They are air conditioned lounges with lots of facilities for babies. Our one had toys, sofas, a TV, cots, a kitchen area with a kettle, sterilizer, fridge, microwave, kids toilets and changing areas and a soft play section. They are great when you need a break from the sunshine with your little one but don’t want to go all the way back to your room. Our one also had details of all the clubs and activities as well.
The baby club was really good and a decent price too. You could book six, two hour, sessions for 60 euros or each session was 12 euros I think. The girls that worked there were so friendly and did lots of activities with the babies like water play, messy play, stories and playing with different sensory toys. They were also great at getting L to nap!
The kids club, for Little I’s age (3-5 years) at our TUI Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica was called Bamse Club. There were different ones for different age groups. Bamse is friendly bear who has a magical cupboard and at each session they have to find the magical key to open the cupboard which will show them what the theme is for the session. Little I went to an under the sea one, a space one, a wild animal one and Hawaiian one. They do arts and crafts, outside games, inside games, memory games, stories and dancing and always give you a full debrief when you pick them up and sign them out.
You just turn up to the older kids sessions but you have to pre book the baby ones. I think we were there at a good time of year because the most amount of children I saw in a session was six or eight where as one of the girls said they had up to twenty in the height of the season.
There are also a couple night time sessions for kids and babies, which you pay extra for, where they can go for a little party whilst you have a quiet dinner. Everyone is a winner! They are very popular and lots of fun. The older kids ones were 7 euros (for two hours) and the baby ones were 18 euros (but were usually three hours) and it included food.
Bamse also featured heavily in the kids evening entertainment which was good as well! Just your usual singing, dancing and games up on stage. I did find it hard to keep track of Little I though when she was up at the front and we were sat down. The stage wasn’t sectioned off and they could run round the back
All the entertainment teams were really good and put a lot of effort into all the games and fun that went on every day.
It was a really fun hotel to be in with kids and had lots going on without being to intense.
Pros and cons
• Very, VERY clean hotel. I am quite OCD when it comes to cleaning but I couldn’t fault this place. The rooms were always immaculate once housekeeping had come round. The restaurant had plenty of staff who were constantly clearing and cleaning tables. Baby highchairs were disinfected and covered with cling film before use. I saw the pools get cleaned every day.
• Modern rooms (look recently refurbished).
• Totally geared up for families.
• AMAZING kids club and baby crèche.
• Lovely play park.
• Baby lounge was great.
• Good food with allergens listed.
• The two bookable restaurants – The Tavern and The Green & Grill were good and a nice change to the buffet.
• All inclusive drinks were good.
• Staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.
• Lots of pools to choose from.
• Well equipped gym.
• Good entertainment at night.
• Nissi beach across the road was gorgeous.
• Supermarkets and cash machines near by.
• If you didn’t have a swim up room, or a room near the pools, like we didn’t, it was a bit of a trek to find a sun bed in a suitable location to be able to head back up to your room if needed.
• The layout of the pools was a bit odd in terms of getting around the resort as well. It’s hard to explain! They just seemed to be a bit rammed in, in some areas.
• You also have to be up pretty early in order to get the good sunbeds – standard holiday chat though I guess.
• Our AC didn’t work that well but that might have just been us!
• Location wise there wasn’t much going on at night in terms of a promenade down the beach or anything, unless you wanted to walk towards Ayia Napa.
What we saw
Some of the places we explored when staying at the TUI Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica. We hired a car from a place right next to our hotel and had a day out and about towards the end of our holiday. We really wanted to head up to Paphos or up the Troodos Mountains to explore some old villages but it just wasn’t feasible with the heat and the kids. The AC wasn’t that great in the car.
Nissi Beach – this beach was right across the road and was lovely! The sea was SO clear, pretty warm and a good depth for kids to play in, i.e. it didn’t get too deep too quick. The sunbeds and umbrellas were a good price – only 2.50 each for the whole day and the beach doesn’t go too far back so you don’t have much of a walk to the sea. There were nice bars and restaurants open during the day but they didn’t seem to stay open in the evening. There were also lots of water sports going on, if that’s your thing.
Ayia Napa – had to be done! We walked into Ayia Napa one night but my Google Maps took us a bizarre (and pretty dodgy) route and it was SO HOT. We were melting for the 40 minutes it took. Luckily we managed to turn the night around by finding a nice fresh fish restaurant called Vassos Fish Tavern overlooking the marina. I had swordfish which was so fresh and tasty. The place had a play park for kids so Little I was kept happy whilst we had a cheeky cocktail. We ended up getting a taxi back…a much better idea.
Larnaca – we had a little wander around the old Turkish part of the city (the Skala District) but there wasn’t too much to see so we headed to Mackenzie Beach for some lunch at a beachside restaurant.
Konnos Bay – what a stunning bay! I wish we had been able to spend the day here but it was just too hot. It got up to 36 degrees the day we went. We tried to go on a walk to have a look at the sea caves but only got halfway along the path and had to give up. We had some very miserable, hot children. We also gate crashed a lovely looking fancy hotel trying to find somewhere for a drink overlooking the bay, and failed!
Hala Sultan Tekke – in the cooler months the salt lake area surrounding the mosque is filled with water and Flamingoes. It was still impressive to see the salt lakes even though all the water had dried up and the mosque itself is a lovely little place. With LOTS of cats. Loads of them. Little I and I ended up feeding them because we felt bad, bless them. They were very friendly.
Wherever we went we noticed it was great value for money. Even though the Euro and Pound are pretty equal at the moment nothing felt particularly expensive. And food and drink actually seemed cheap for the amount you got. The husband was delighted with the huge portion sizes wherever we went!
Overall we had a really great family holiday at the TUI Family Life Aeneas Resort and Spa by Atlantica and would highly recommend this holiday to other families. A great hotel in a great country where we’ve made lots of lovely memories on our first summer holiday as a family of four.
If you want to see a lot more of what we got up to (and more of the hotel and Cyprus then check out our vlogs below:
*This post is NOT an ad. I am not working with Thomson and paid for the holiday myself :)