By Alix Norman
To me, yurts have always been associated with Mongolia, biting blizzards and the high, cold steppes. Yurts belong in National Geographic, glossy pages revealing pictures of smiling nomads packing their entire home onto the back of a yak and heading off across the barren plains. So it’s with no small amount of surprise that I discover a quiet Mediterranean valley – gentle breeze blowing off the sea, herb bushes and olive trees dotting the landscape – playing host to what I’ve always considered a typically eastern type of dwelling… Yes, yurts have come to Cyprus, and they’re yours for the taking.
Yurts in Cyprus is an eco-friendly holiday venture, set in the picturesque foothills near Simou village in the Paphos district. A unique venture for our little island, it’s a project that offers the perfect getaway for those tired of bland hotels, insipid entertainment and lacklustre service. Because everything about Yurts is tasteful, thoughtful and bespoke, whether you’re staying for a night or a week.
“The yurts were all made specially in Mongolia, as much as possible from natural materials – horsehair ropes, camel hide and wood,” says Pawel Sikorski, the proprietor of Yurts In Cyprus. “The structure comprises four different layers: a cotton liner, a layer of felt insulation, canvas on the walls so it can breathe, and a waterproof liner on the roof. Oh, and there’s a sun cover over the whole structure.”
As he shows me round the area – two-and-a-half acres of peaceful seclusion overlooking a small brook – it’s clear that this is a project that has been created with a great deal of thought and care, in terms of both the environment and the comfort of visitors. Each yurt is about six metres in diameter, with a sheltered decking area facing the setting sun, and private bathroom facilities. From the outside, they’re beautiful: blending into the surrounding nature and linked one to the other by natural stone paths. But it’s the inside that’s truly surprising. Like the Tardis, there’s simply oodles more space than you’d expect, and it’s all been put to excellent use.
Nasu for example – the three yurts have all been given Mongolian monikers – boasts over 27 square metres of floor space and nearly three metres of head room, allowing Pawel to outfit the yurt with a beautiful kingsize bed, rosewood chest of drawers and comfy armchairs. The wooden floor is strewn with sheepskin rugs, and – like both the other yurts – there’s a wood burner set in the centre. And when it comes to the little necessities of life, nothing has been forgotten: there’s excellent wifi coverage, docking stations for your phone, electric fans for the summer months and specialised lighting throughout.
“The focus is on a very personal service,” says Pawel – who has been nicknamed ‘Mr Can Do’ by a previous guest in honour of his ability to cater to every need. “I always try to go the extra mile, anticipating guests’ needs and providing every comfort. Whoever comes to the door is treated as a friend.” And it’s this positive attitude that has made Pawel such a success: his previous career in hospitality and event management with the Hilton and hotels in both Greece and London is a great fit for such an enthusiastic character who’s now living his dream.
“Yurts is kind of a dream project for me,” he smiles. “Ever since I relocated to Cyprus in 2009 I’ve been looking to do something unusual, something different, something out of the box that I could share with people. For me, the most important thing is to be able to share whatever I do with others, and I’m certainly doing that here: I think this is a very unusual type of accommodation that really allows people to enjoy the beauty of the landscape and either relax or do loads of activities.”
As part of the service, Pawel is very happy to recommend and facilitate all sorts of activities in the area, from horseback riding to hiking, golf to bird watching, wine tasting to cooking lessons. And, speaking of gastronomic pleasures, he himself is also an excellent chef, including a three-course dinner in the accommodation price as well as being on hand to cater to any meal or dietary requirement visitors should require.
“I’ve got the Straw House here, and that’s an incredible asset,” he says of the main base for Yurts in Cyprus, which is a large, comfortable dwelling built with a timber frame and stone floors. “I think it acts as a great advantage: there’s a kitchen for anyone who would like to cook their own meals, an honesty bar stocked with all sorts of drinks and it’s perfect if groups of friends or families are all staying at the same time – they can dine here on the patio or just get together and enjoy each other’s company.”
Like the yurts, the Straw House is an eco-friendly structure, and Pawel places great emphasis on the fact that, despite the five-star luxury of Yurts in Cyprus, the entire venture is as environmentally responsible as possible. “Water comes from a borehole a few hundred metres away; there’s unlimited drinking water which I dispense into glass bottles to help with recycling; there’s a composting toilet on site; and much of my produce is bought locally. In fact,” he adds, “because the solar panels create a surplus of electricity, I swap my excess power for fresh fruit and vegetables from a nearby farm!”
Luxury with a conscience, then, is the byword at Yurts in Cyprus: a fantastic destination for all ages that’s already attracting visitors from all over the world. “It gives me so much happiness to share this place with other people; they say once you’re inside the yurt’s it’s like a different country,” Pawel concludes, “very peaceful.” A little bit of Asian serenity in the Med – just perfect for a wonderful getaway.
Yurts in Cyprus
An eco-friendly getaway destination in Simou village, Paphos. Rates are fixed all year round and include breakfast, and one dinner is included in weekend stays. Discounts are available if more than one yurt is booked. For more information and booking, contact Pawel Sikorski on 97 629148, [email protected] or [email protected], or visit www.yurtsincyprus.com