Just beyond the illuminated hotel pool, the sea was molten metal beneath a full moon and right on cue the palm trees really did quiver in the warm breeze.
Just along the coast, people were skinny-dipping around the rocky birthplace of Aphrodite in the hope of being granted eternal beauty.
And inland, in the lap of Mount Olympus, a taverna owner with a striking moustache and 98 hats was playing his guitar for diners enjoying an amazing meat mezze.
But for now, fresh from the airport, I was happy to savour this first view from the balcony of the Louis Ivi Mare in Paphos, Cyprus.
Next morning, after a giant buffet breakfast, I met our guide. "Calamari," I said to her and assembled colleagues.
"Bit early for seafood,” she said. "I think you meant 'Kaliméra', Greek for 'good morning'. But we’ll be having squid later."
My attempt to learn Greek in 40 minutes with a book from Audible had been a waste of time.
Not only was I useless, everyone from the hotel front desk to the omelette chef spoke good English.
A half-hour’s drive away and we were at the 4BC Tombs of the Kings. The Unesco World Heritage Site is impressive but I just kept thinking of the hotel pool, the largest in Paphos. However we had another treat before I could relax there – a boat trip to the blue lagoon.
Aboard the Latchi Queen, we sailed in a flotilla for 30 minutes alongside the Akamas Peninsula, a wildlife sanctuary, accessible only on foot and licensed dune buggies.
With temperatures in the mid-30s, my cooling swim in the turquoise waters was a special moment.
And it built up my appetite for a great lunch at the Yiangos and Peter Fish Tavern, which served a delicious seafood mezze for £17.
Dishes at the busy harbourside restaurant kept coming. The fresh calamari was tender beyond belief, and the prawns, swordfish and sardines were superb, all washed down with carafes of white wine. Then came the great news.
We were all heading back to our hotel to laze by the pool.
That evening we had a meat mezze at the hotel which has three restaurants, one Greek, one Asian and one international. We spoke to the manager Christos Zorpas, who got his first gig in charge of a hotel on Oman’s border with Yemen.
His customers there parked their camels and checked in with their guns, he said, adding: “It taught me to be polite to guests.”
But this place is his passion.
The five-star hotel is very new and he knows Brits go the extra miles to get there on a four-and-a-half hour flight – so he is determined to go the extra mile for them too.
My room was spacious, with everything I’d expect, and so clean it felt like I was the first to stay in it. Some come with private hot tubs.
And there is so much to see in Cyprus. The highlight for me was a trip to the Troodos Mountains, via Aphrodite’s Rock where, myth has it, the goddess of love was born.
By day it attracts selfie addicts. By night, legend has it that if you swim around it under a full moon, you will be granted eternal youth.
Further on, we reached the hill village of Omodos, offering great views of Cyprus’s very own Mount Olympus, the highest point on the island. Although quite touristy, it’s very charming and has one of the best tavernas I visited, the Makrinari.
Manager Krisos welcomes you with a warm smile beneath the bushiest moustache you’ve ever seen.
The authentic Cypriot cuisine will blow you away, especially the lamb kleftiko. Hanging from every wall is part of Krisos’s hat collection.
In the evening he goes down a storm entertaining guests with traditional music.
It’s a place I can’t wait to return to, by which time he’ll have at least 100 hats. And I’ll lay mine at the Louis Ivi Mare.
Book the holiday
Stay there: Rooms at the new five-star Louis Ivi Mare cost from £1,120 B&B per week, on selected October dates. Find out more at louisivimare.com.
Get there: British Airways flies to Paphos from £47 each way, ba.com/paphos. For more information, head to visitcyprus.com.
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