Whilst Cyprus is actively seeking to expand specialist holidays, particularly during the winter season, a British based company is celebrating 19 years of operating successful niche holidays to Paphos.
Specialist tour operator, Planet Holidays offers line and partner dancing holidays in Cyprus.
“We started offering these holidays to Cyprus, as we offer specialist breaks, and we were looking at ways to ensure we could sell Cyprus in the winter sun season, as well as during the summer months,” said managing director of Planet Holidays Mathilde Robert.
With line dancing so popular in the UK, it seemed a good choice.
“We wanted to target groups looking to pursue their favourite pastime, and soak up sunshine and culture.”
The holiday company offers both seven and 14 night breaks in Cyprus, and groups stay at the Louis Imperial Hotel in Paphos, where dancers make the most of the 180 square metre dance floor.
The holidays run in March with groups usually numbering around 60 and ranging in age from 60 up to ninety one.
Numbers for repeat customers are high, over 85 per cent, so they must be doing something right.
Irene and Dave Hardy are in their late 60s and live in Kings Lynn in Norfolk. They have been line and partner dancing for the last 25 years and have been coming on dancing trips to Cyprus since they began 19 years ago.
“We love it and would recommend these holidays to others. They combine our love of line and partner dancing with sun, sea, and a friendly Cypriot welcome, and over the 19 years, we’ve made friends with other dance lovers,” they said.
Participants can take part in daily dance workshops which are held in the mornings, followed by dancing every evening. These are under the tutorage of Kalvin and Pat Finch, who are both fully qualified dance instructors from M.I.B Line Dance, and have been teaching for more than 15 years.
Robert said that the holidays are suitable for both inexperienced and experienced dancers, although most already know the steps before they arrive. Participants are guided though many of the most popular dances around. Steps include: kick ball change, Monterey turn, grapevines and rock, and are performed to all sorts of music from older classics to modern hits.
She said that dancers wear whatever they feel comfortable in, but most have dancing shoes, and twice a week there is a themed, “dress up evening”, with prizes for the best costumes.
“It’s fun and you have to have quite a good memory, as there are so many different steps and each song has a different combination of steps,” she said. “It’s a popular holiday choice, as it combines the love of music and dance with a social gathering. Even people travelling on their own soon make friends.”
Those whose partners are not dance fans often come on holiday without them, joining up with friends who share their interest. This is the case with five ladies from Bournemouth, called the ‘Bournemouth Belles.’
One of them, Susan Walker from Poole in the UK, is in her 70s and has been dancing for over a decade. At home, she takes part in five different classes ever week, and numerous social dances at weekends.
“We came on this trip for the first time in 2015 and then again this year. We’re definitely coming back for the 20th anniversary in 2017 and bringing a few more enthusiasts with us,” she said.
Walker said she’s made friends with everyone on her trips and has fallen in love with Cyprus.
“I hadn’t been to Cyprus before and it has been such a pleasant surprise, I wish I’d visited sooner,” she said. “We are all taken in by how safe it is, it’s easy to get around and everyone speaks English. My own personal highlight was winning a prize for my Roaring 20s outfit in 2015; great fun.”
The dancing tourists are also a popular attraction for other holiday makers, providing free entertainment in the hotel. They are popular with hotel staff too.
“The hotel staff love our line dancers, they can’t do enough to make their stay highly enjoyable. Over the years the staff and the dancers keep in touch on Facebook and are great friends. One of the barman Emil has now learned two dances and is the dancers’ favourite barman,” said Robert.
Organisers say they are aiming for twice as many dancers next year, as they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary in Cyprus from March 12- 26. Couples are already reserving their rooms.