The Old Monastery has had an interesting past spanning over 120 years. It has been used for many purposes including a Police station of the Sultan during Ottoman times, a Monastery for Monks that cared for St Luke’s church situated opposite the property and in more recent times the home of the famous architect Pearce Hubbard who was a close friend of Lawrence Durrell, the author of the renowned book ‘Bitter Lemons’, which tells of a time in Cypriot history before the conflict and separation. The Old Monastery has been tastefully restored and updated by its present owners and exudes charm and nostalgia which guests from around the world enjoy, appreciate and often return for.
Peters’ parents, Liz, and Richard bought the property in, Lapta in 1979 which had previously been home to the famous architect Pearce Hubbard and his partner Anna whom he bequeathed the property to upon his death. Hubbard had bought the property in 1953 from the monks serving the church opposite: St Luke, and upgraded and extended it. At that time Liz and Richard had just sold an apartment they bought in Kyrenia in 1972, where we have lovely memories of holidays spent as a family, but due to the Turkish settlement in the North of the island had been broken into and squatted in, until Richard was successful to evict the squatters legally.
Greek friends who had stayed in the North after 1974 encouraged Liz and Richard to look at a property for sale calling it " something special !! " They both recall being taken aback by the sheer beauty and atmosphere of the place with its old buildings with their covered terraces, the courtyard, the majestic Cyprus trees, and the sun terrace with its Moorish arches. And all set in the centre of the residential village of Lapta, with supermarkets, barbers, restaurants, a butcher and a post office in walking distance. I , Peter , recalls "on my first visit thinking, this is like out of a movie or book"
Over the first few years Liz and Richard would live in the old house whenever in Cyprus, and in time had the idea to extend the property in order to derive an income from holiday lettings. To this end the first step was to add a swimming pool. The cloister garden surrounded by its protective walls was deemed the perfect spot, and in order for the walls not to be disturbed the cavity for the pool was dug out by one person with a pickaxe, shovel and wheelbarrow over the period of 6 months. Richard designed it himself, fitting the pool into the existing structures and 2 majestic Cyprus trees. To this day the magnificent looking pool is the centerpiece of the property.
After that the land behind the pool walls was cleared of shrubs, reeds and 92 snake nests (!), and 3 duplexes were built (the Olivia block) and another 2 storey building (the Palm block), which added 6 more rentable units bringing the total capacity to 30 beds in 8 units. A new entrance was made and a new courtyard connects new buildings with the old, to form " The Old Monastery " ( TOM) .
From 1985 till 2012 Liz and Richard looked after the property and rented out these self catering apartments, Liz looking after the decorations, the cleaning and the maintenance, and Richard looking after the watering of the gardens and the bookings. In September 2012 they decided It was time to retire and enjoy their lives without the daily responsibilities. They decided to sell the property and at that time my wife and I decided to buy the property so it would remain in the family and so that we could continue to enjoy the place where so many fond memories in our and our children's life originated. We had been to Cyprus every single year since 1981, so all of us considered this to be like a second home.
After a period of renovations when we added A/C in all bedrooms and some lounges, had all the woodwork and ironwork replaced and building facades repainted, added wifi, redecorated the main kitchen in Old house I and transformed the old garage into an art studio, we took over from Liz and Richard in February 2013.
Now, at the age of 51, living in Dubai, with 3 of the 5 children still in education, we could ill afford for me to quit my job as a commodity broker and move to Cyprus. We needed to find someone to
look after the property and manage the day to day responsibilities. This was clear from the moment we told my parents that we would buy the property off them.
This is where a miracle happened. As Christian believers we pray and believe God answers prayers. So after our return from Cyprus in September 2012, my wife Georgia got in contact with her network of ladies and put the word out that we are looking for caretakers of a property in Cyprus. One answered and said she knew of a Kiwi couple, Kim and Wini, who were based in Israel and felt called to move to Cyprus. We took their number and contacted them and ended up meeting them at Dubai airport, where they had a stopover on the way to New Zealand to see their family. Over 2-3 hours at the Costa cafe at Dubai airport we told them what the responsibilities of running TOM were. Unbeknown to us at that time Kim and Wini had been to visit Cyprus, first to the South and then to the North and had decided the North felt right, and had booked an airbnb in the village of Lapta and spent 3 weeks there and grown to love it. So when they asked us finally where TOM was situated and we said "in Lapta", that sealed it for both of us.
Having initially intended to stay at TOM for a period of 2-3 years, Kim and Wini are with us now for the 10th year. For family reasons they have decided that they can no longer spend the whole year at TOM, but we are happy for them to help out whenever they can. Again this is perfect timing as my retirement from work means that Georgia and I have now time to take over the responsibilities of running TOM.
Over the last 10 years Kim and Wini have created an atmosphere of peace and of God's presence which is felt by all who visit. Coupled with the beauty of the buildings, the pool, the fruit trees and the Cyprus trees, and with regular injections of modernisation and renovations we feel TOM is the perfect place for a family vacation, a retreat or to celebrate that special occasion. Last year we were able to celebrate our own son's wedding with 70 guests in the courtyard of the old part, with catering, bar, flowers, photography and music and dance.
Cyprus has a rich history, the Northern part is still fairly untouched, it is beautiful, boasts 330 sunny days per year, has great food at affordable prices and has always attracted travellers from around the world which makes for interesting conversations and meetings. We would be delighted to welcome you as our guests at The Old Monastery and encourage you to reach out to us with any questions you might have.
Georgia and Peter ( 2023)