When people in the Arab world need a restorative break, they frequently head for the island of Cyprus. It's less than an hour by air from most Middle Eastern capitals, and yet it seems a world apart.
Once on Cyprus, many gravitate to the beach communities of Larnaca, Limassol or Paphos, but these places are so crowded with package tours that they aren't much fun unless you absolutely have to see thousands of topless Scandinavian bathers.
A few of the cognoscenti , myself included, instead make for the capital, Nicosia, where a really wonderful weekend can be had, unbelievable as it might sound, at the Hilton International Hotel.
Because Nicosia has declined in importance since the Turkish invasion in 1974, the hotel is off the beaten path of tourism and is wonderfully uncrowded. Behind the hotel are small pool-side cabanas--with fenced-in patios, walls of frangipani and manicured lawns--that remind me of the ambiance at the Beverly Hills Hotel and that offer relief from the artificial sameness of most chain hotels.