Disabled Living Centre
(AUTUMN 2003 MAGAZINE)
so good, he went there twice!
After the exertions of last year, when my girlfriend and I spent four weeks driving around Italy in the August heat and contracting ear infection in Naples, we decided to keep it simple this year and go for a week break in Cyprus.
A quiet week, no car, no sightseeing, just staying put by the pool and pointing my body at the sun. An onerous task, I know, but as our information officer Sally would no doubt affirm, someone has to do it.
We stayed at C & A Tourist Apartments in Polis, a lovely little village 40 minutes drive north from Paphos airport. We arrived there sometime after midnight, and were pleasantly surprised to find the owners of C & A waiting for us by the pool with cold beer at the ready. Now, Iíve stayed at the King Edward in Brisbane, the King David in Jerusalem and the Kingís Head in Slough and none of the owners of these establishments has ever stayed up to welcome me with a cold beer!
The apartment complex is owned and run by Eva and her husband Andreas, who picked us up from the airport, and their son, Chris. Chris is a wheelchair user of several years standing - or rather, sitting! - and has therefore more than a professional interest in ensuring he is able to provide a memorable holiday experience for his guests, a majority of whom are disabled.
There are nine self-contained apartments, all but one on the ground floor. The apartment upstairs can be reached by lift, which Chris also uses to get to the family home on the first floor.
There is ramped access where needed, a pool hoist, roll-in showers and grab rails in all the right places. The new ramp from the pool-side apartments to the pool was officially opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the end of August by a very special, devilishly attractive guest who had visited Cyprus not six weeks earlier. He was so impressed by his first visit he felt compelled to return with his children. But enough about meÖ!
Sitting in the sun and roasting isnít really my idea of fun. When I roast, I like to be doing something, and thereís plenty to do in Polis and in nearby Latchi. Over both visits I attempted to dine at every restaurant in Polis, but there were just too many, even in a village the size of my desk!
Latchi is a small harbour village, soon to become a marina, and sits invitingly in a long stretch of shingly beach. There are numerous fish restaurants, and every kind of water sport you can imagine. Chris has successfully encouraged the owners of the various activity centres to ensure disabled visitors can enjoy all that a seaside destination has to offer.
As a reckless thrill seeker, it was my duty to try out the jet-skis. I was advised that, since the water was rather choppy Iíd better stick to no more than 25 kms an hour. I saw this as a direct challenge and notched up a respectable 54 - and that was before Iíd left the confines of the harbour! For my second visit Sophie and Mark at Aquaplanet had bought new jet skis - a couple of 900cc Kawasaki models. These are powerful beasts and had it not been for my children urging me on to ever greater speeds, I might have been happy to skim the water at a steady 60. However, Iím proud, and relieved to say that they are their fatherís children and reckless thrill seekers both, and together we topped 69 kms per hour, a feat that even the late Sir Donald Campbell would have been pushed to achieve.
But it wasnít all thrills and spills. We took a glass-bottom boat trip along the coast, past mythical sights like the Baths of Aphrodite to the quaintly named Blue Lagoon, where we stopped for an hour or so for a lunch-time swim. Getting off the boat into the water was easy enough for me, applying the principles of Newtonian physics to assist my descent, to whit gravity: I fell in.
Getting back into the boat was no less elementary, as thanks to Chrisís efforts the boat owners had installed a hoist. Getting into a sling, though, when youíre bobbing about in the ocean, is not a straightforward task. But it did make for an interesting spectacle and kept fellow voyagers suitably amused for what seemed like an eternity. I am told that as they hoisted me up to the top deck I resembled a rather sad net of cod plucked from the grey Atlantic.
Whether jet-skiing, parasailing, boat tripping or any other kind of water based Ďingí, for many wheelchair users this part of Cyprus, indeed this part of the Mediterranean is a wonderful place to come.
Cyprus may not be quite so geared up for disabled people as we aspire to be here in England, but itís rare to find such a welcoming, helpful, disabled friendly holiday establishment as C & A Tourist Apartments anywhere in and around the Med.
Chris and his family add that vital ingredient that can guarantee a successful and memorable holiday: the personal touch. From the moment Andreas picks you up from the airport, having waited around for hours because you gave him the wrong arrival time, to the final farewell at departures a week later, you are part of the Neophytou family.
Your comfort and individual requirements are their over-riding concern. If you need to hire a manual or power wheelchair, hoist or any other piece of equipment, just let them know before you arrive and itíll be there waiting for you.
I wasnít brave enough to take my own wheelchair: anything that is or looks remotely fragile seems to enrage most baggage handlers. I hired a power chair from Chris, and after Iíd managed to break that one, he gave me his own!
If youíre looking for a complete holiday experience with guaranteed sunshine, warm seas and a different activity each day; or a quiet break resting by the pool or exploring the Akamas peninsular, C & A Apartments in Cyprus - open all year round - could be the place for you. And with direct flights from Bristol it could hardly be easier to get there.
For further information, visit their websites:
or phone me, Chris Goddard, at the DLC on 0117 9653651
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(Activities are only in May-Sept, weather permitting!)