Cupule Wedding Venue Cyprus
Cupule Wedding Venue Cyprus

Podcast Episode 6: The Cupule Wedding Venue in Cyprus

Filed in Podcast  /  January 5, 2023 /

In the South east of Cyprus, there is a beautiful National Park – Cape Greco, and within that lies The Cupule wedding venue. Surrounded by the sea and countryside, this beautiful property was initially a home built and owned by Philisa and Elaines parents. And today we hear the story of it becoming a wedding venue, created and developed by Elaine and Philisa and her partner Marios.

You can see this gorgeous location for destination weddings on their website and say hi on instagram too!

Come and have a listen to their story:


Hello, Philisa and Elaine. Welcome to Business Soulfriends. Thank you so much for coming on to being a part of this podcast. I’m so looking forward to hearing all about The Cupule, but I wonder if we could start by hearing a bit about yourselves and perhaps you could just tell us in your own words who you are and a bit about what you do.

Philisa: Okay, I’ll go first. I’m Philisa and I’m the managing director of The Cupule. So basically I spend a lot of my time doing back office work and also dealing with the clients directly. So looking after their needs, their wants. We’re very on hands team. So a lot of the two years that we’re planning, that happens with me and with Marios. Yeah. Marios is my partner, so there’s three of us on the management side of The Cupule and Elaine… I’ll turn it over to Elaine now.

Elaine: I’m more on the ground. Operations manager. So at The Cupule, I’m sort of more in charge of getting everything, checking that everything’s working and everything’s in its place, exactly what the bride and groom have asked for. And seeing that everything runs on the ground. That the gardens are perfect and the designs that everything that they’ve asked for and that the design team have organized that it’s put in its right place. We’ve been now five years, five years working.

Susannah: Brilliant. And from what I’ve read, it sounds like, I think maybe your parents built this venue back in, I think was it 1981? Is that how the premises came to be?

Philisa: Correct. It was initially a house that my dad built, and they were hoping that they would be able, at the time, put about three or four houses on the property. However, in late 1990s, it was declared part of Europa 2000 and it became protected as the National Park of Cape Greco. So we actually have one of the rare cases of having zero build. So you can’t actually build anything on the land. So because we had a building permission that pre existed, we could keep the house and we could keep the buildings that were already in place. So we designed The Cupule because we had a large expanse of land.

We designed it then in the beginning of like, 2015, we designed it so that we have weddings. Because obviously having such a large expanse of land just didn’t make financial sense to upkeep it. And we’re quite lucky that we’re now in the middle of the National Park because obviously it’s beautiful and nobody can build around us.

Susannah: Yes! Was this ever your family home or what was the house used for? Initially?

Philisa: Yeah, mom and dad were living here for years.

Susannah: And is this where you grew up or tell us a bit about the story of you two as sisters growing up.

Philisa: We grew up in Torquay in the south of England, and we had a small hotel there. And then we later on the family had restaurants. And somewhere in the late 80s, my dad bought a property in Cyprus and we started to live sort of between Cyprus and the UK. And the late 80s is when Elaine moved over here and kind of settled. So Elaine was the one who did that step.

Elaine: Yeah, I said I wasn’t going to go back. A lot of the Cypriots at the time would spend the summer season in Cyprus and winter in the UK. And I said that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that, so I said I’d stay for two years in Cyprus without going back and see whether.. which part I, which I loved best. I went back after two years. And it was lovely to go back down to the West Country, but I knew I wanted to stay in Cyprus. I came back and then slowly the rest followed, which was my mum, my dad and Philisa and then the brothers as well. A couple of the brothers have turned up over the years, but most of them have returned. It’s only Philisa and myself, and my parents that remained here in Cyprus since the 80’s.

Susannah: And you said that you have a Cypriot heritage. What is that?

Elaine: Our father’s Cypriot

Susannah: and then he was living in the UK. And your mum’s from the UK, is she?

Elaine: She’s Irish.

Susannah: Irish, similar to me! I know Torquey a little bit because I went to university, in the south west, so I was Exeter, Plymouth, Truro and we went to Torquay a little bit. So, yeah, I know that area a tiny bit, but it is beautiful. Obviously you’ve got the sea and the sand and everything, but you don’t get the same heat that you get in Cyprus!

Elaine: You don’t get the heat no… Palm trees down in Torquay, but not the sun. Definitely not on bank holidays anyway, as far as I remember.

Susannah: No. It sounds like you had a bit of an entrepreneurial family growing up, but I think that you both did – had other careers, other professions, before you decided to open this together, is that right?

Elaine: Yes, we did. I started off in the fashion design business and we opened up together with my mother, my sister and myself. We had opened a shop, which was initially the small business that my father bought over here. It started off as a pub, but then…. we knew the catering side, so we ran that as a small sort of restaurant pub with food. And then I said I wanted to do the fashion because that’s what I really had a lot of passion for at the time. Philisa was very creative and my mother also, she was very fantastic seamstress, so we all went into that and then from then we separated and Philisa opened her own two businesses with factories in the retail area. And myself, I stayed with my mother and that was one of our first things. I’ll leave Philisa to tell you her side of it.

Philisa: We’ve got lots of different backgrounds. I can say the only common denominator that I have throughout my life is that I’ve always been in sales one way or another, and service industry. I think growing up with the hotel and the catering and then going into running my own businesses, my own factories, my own shops. And then later on, I actually went into real estate, again managing and taking care of brokerage and selling houses. All of it has always been about having that great customer care, attention to detail and putting a lot of passion into what you love to do.

And I think those are the things once we combined our forces as sisters, we bring different tools into the arena and then adding on with Marios, we all see things very differently, we all operate very differently. And the three of us together has just cumulated in something that is hugely successful because of all those different energies.

Susannah: Yeah. So what was it then, was the impetus for you thinking, okay, you talked a little bit about The Cupule and why with the property you can’t build on it so to try and use it- and it’s in such a beautiful place- so it makes sense to use it for a wedding. But what was it that attracted you towards that? And what was the impetus for thinking, let’s do this together?

Philisa: Basically, Marios and myself, once we started dating, we used to go around in the afternoons after we’d finish work. We used to like to have cocktails. And in Cyprus, normally in the afternoon, in the summertime, people are getting married in the hotels. And so we just became spectators to a lot of weddings that were taking place within hotels. And we saw that there was a key factor missing, and that was the privacy was just not being offered to the clients. It looked great on the photographs, so if you clipped the image, the image of the bride and the groom and the sea behind them was fantastic. But the actual reality of that was not so great.

Susannah: People lying, sunbathing and things.

Philisa: Yeah. And so it just kind of made us think that we had a place where we could offer that privacy, and that’s how me and Marios had the impetus for doing it. It was just really trying to get the finances on board after that and me sitting down doing the business plan. And that took about two years.

Susannah: I read on your website that Elaine had always, I think, for maybe quite a long time before, had been interested in weddings or doing, like, wedding planning. Is that right?

Philisa: Yeah. Elaine had actually said it would make a great wedding venue in maybe the 1990s because it was just so big for mom and dad. So she had all always thought about it, but it just wasn’t the right timing or it wasn’t in the right person’s hands. So yes, she most probably visualised it and wished it into being more. Then I happened to step on board a couple of decades later.

Elaine: I did visualise it. I did see it as being a great place because of beauty. Because like Philisa said at the beginning about where it’s situated, but at the time it would have needed a lot of finance. And my parents were quite old by that time so they weren’t in a position that they wanted to start a new business and I wasn’t financially in a position to push that forward. And I don’t have the drive that Philisa has for the finance and that side of it. So I kind of just visualised it and hoped somebody would take it from me. But I think that’s what happened.

Philisa: It made financial sense. We couldn’t keep the home unless it became a business. It needed a lot of money just on the upkeep.

Susannah: And it sounds like you both have fairly clear ideas about each other’s strengths and maybe passions within the business and what aspects you sort of lead in terms of the roles. Was there any ever difficulty? Obviously sisters are different growing up. Was there ever any difficulty in clashing over rules and working out who does what part of the business?

Philisa: Not really. The company was set up mostly by me and Marios. So the actual primary owners to the business is myself and then Marios. And then Elaine is a smaller shareholder. So we always listen to each other because we do respect each other’s intelligence and differences and luckily we never actually come into big clash over how things need to be. I think you have to love each other very much in this kind of situation because sometimes you just need to walk away and go, okay, I’m going to lose the battle, but maybe I’ll win the war or vice versa. Because at the end of the day, your relationship with people has to be paramount to the business. You have to be good and loving with each other as siblings and as partners and then that love you’re able to pass it on to your clients that are coming here to celebrate the most important day of their life with us.

Susannah: Now might be a good time then to hear a little bit more, but just to hear you describe the place, about this location. I mean, I’ve seen that there’s so many different places that you can have your ceremony.. I mean, it looks absolutely stunning. So, yeah, it would be really great just to hear you talk all about that and what it’s like and the experience, all the beautiful places around it and Cape Greco.

Philisa: Yeah. Well, basically we have three areas within the venue that we can do weddings. One of them is in the garden area and that’s mostly got the sea view and it’s kind of like being amongst the trees getting married. The second area is I’d call it the classic area. And we’ve got like a walkway through water fountains, and they get married at the end on a big wooden platform, which is the arbor. And again, fantastic panoramic sea views. The third option for getting married at the cupule we’re just launching this year, and that will be a floating wedding or floating ceremony, and they’ll be actually able to get married on top of the swimming pool at The Cupule. So we’ll have very thick plated glass and the bride and the groom will go out onto the platform to actually get married on top of the swimming pool. And again, it’s those panoramic sea views over the Med. That obviously is what’s driving so many people towards The Cupule. It’s those unparalleled sea views and the privacy.

So they’re obviously here, they rent the venue. We don’t do any other weddings that day. Normally we don’t do a wedding the day before because we’ve got the set up for their unique wedding, and then the following day we do downtime. In other words, giving the bride and groom chance to chill, relax around the venue, get a bit spoiled by us, add in a couple of treats and different things. So, yeah, we normally take about three days on each wedding.

Again, for the dinner, the banquetting areas, we have them either on the lawn so they can be right on the lawn, on the grass, under the stars. We have marquee ones where they’re inside, so they’ve got the marquee above them and all the chandeliers. So we give them a couple of options also for the dinner. And it really is whatever the bride and groom want, that’s what we’re going to make happen. We don’t have any fixed ways that we have to do it.

Susannah: That sounds amazing. You’re very creative thinking about that new place to have the ceremony. It sounds like there is a lot of creativity that’s involved in this. Who dreams up all these things?

Philisa: Who dreams? I think. He’s not here.

Susannah: So he’s the creative force, is he?

Philisa: Maybe I think Elaine and I have a lot of visualization and we have a lot of experience and knowledge about how to actually make it happen. But definitely the creative ideas is he’s always pushing us…

Elaine: to go another step further, better, bigger, bolder. He’s never satisfied. He loves it when it’s happened, but he always wants the next big thing. He’s not stagnant. He doesn’t like anything to be stagnant. He wants to keep on making it better. And as well, I think the thing is, with Philisa and myself, I get bored very easily. So if it doesn’t, if it’s a bit too similar, I want to try..and if something works, I want to see if we can make it a little bit nicer, different. So, yeah, if they come up with suggestions, I try to see how we can actually make it happen in the real world.

Philisa: And then I normally come in and go, how much is that going to cost?

Susannah: So things must have developed quite a lot, probably, since when you did your very first like, you opened it, you got your first bookings, you did your first weddings five years ago. I’m sure a lot has changed since then. Can you remember what your first wedding was like?

Philisa: Absolutely, yes!

Elaine: I remember it distinctly. I remember the groom about 20 minutes, half an hour before the wedding, running and jumping in the swimming pool, and we were all like, no, you can’t. You’ve got to get ready. But he was so elated, and they were such a fantastic couple. Yes, you definitely remember the first. We remember everyone is special. But, no, that one was it really got to our heart. because we knew then that we could do it at the end when it finished, we sit down afterwards and we’re like, yes, this is what we want to be doing. And they’re brilliant, Philisa and Marios together, their drive to push things and make things happen and their determination is great. So, yeah, that it was a fantastic first wedding. Brilliant, definitely, yeah.

Philisa: Yeah. We always get very hands on with our brides and grooms. We kind of know them. It’s normally two years before we do their wedding, so a lot of our days are spent even now in the winter, doing zoom calls and talking to them and getting their ideas. So, yeah, definitely our first guys. I’ll never forget them as long as I live.

It’s really very pleasurable for us because we get a lot of satisfaction out of the job we do.

Susannah: That’s brilliant. One of the things, actually, you’ve mentioned a few times that really stands out is the privacy in this place that you can have all your people around you and it’s very your own community whilst you’re there. And I think and also that your bride and groom can stay over and then enjoy this lovely venue the next day as well.

The other thing that I’ve mentioned, or I’d read through reading into that, was about your bridal suite. And it sounds like there’s an awful lot of history behind this special place. Maybe you could tell us the story about that.

Philisa: Okay, yeah. Basically, the actual furniture of the bridal suite was something we inherited when my parents purchased the hotel in Torquay. So the hotel, when they purchased it was actually owned by a very elderly lady that was lady in waiting to Queen Victoria. And as a lady in waiting, you had to have one room within your house which was kept in perfect condition, just in case the Queen ever visited you. So this bedroom suite was made in the 1800’s in Austria, and it was obviously sent to the hotel that my parents then went on to purchase. And from there, when they sold the hotel, it went into storage in the UK. And then it was sent over to Cyprus in the 80s after they moved over. And because we didn’t actually have a room big enough, it went into storage for about five to six years until Mum and dad built the house that is now The Cupule. And then Mum and dad were using the bedroom suite as for their master bedroom.

When I took over the house, obviously it wasn’t something – I very much appreciate it, but it’s not my kind of taste. It just made sense to put it where it always had been, in that special place. So we made it into the bridal suite and that’s where all our brides get to spend their honeymoon night in something that was fitting for a queen. It’s very apt.

Susannah:Yes, that’s very special. It’s so unique. I mean, what a story behind that and now it’s in Cyprus. It’s amazing.

Do you have any advice for perhaps sisters who are thinking of going into business together?

Elaine: Oh what to say. Philisa said it first, any business partners, whether it’s family, friends, businesses are always very very difficult and a lot of relationships break up. But Philisa and my relationship, because we had a very close relationship and we’d worked on and off throughout our lives together in the same business, in different roles. And like Philisa said, you’ve got to learn to walk away, which Philisa is very good, she’s very direct, very straight. I’m more quiet, I don’t express a lot of things, I’ll just get very huffy and Philisa will come out and put me right when I’m wrong most of the time. I don’t like it, I don’t think anybody does. But I put my head down when I know I am wrong and vice versa. But you’ve really got to care about enough about each other when you go into business together. And the only thing that you’ve got to be careful of is actually having time. So that the business tends to take up all your time. And then when you are being sisters, you still talk about your business. So in a way it’s finding to say right then, that’s enough business talk. The good thing is that I don’t really deal with all the finances and all that really back office stuff – that’s Marios’ and Philisas. So it’s really just on the design and things. So for me, it’s much easier than that. Unless it’s a complete split partnership, then definitely you’ve just got to care and be able to walk away and say, yeah, you’re right, sis, or vice versa, brother. Whatever it is, whichever siblings they are.

Philisa: Yeah, definitely. I think you have to if you’re going to seriously think about going into business with your sister, you have to, or any family member, you have to really be open for direct communication. Because if you carry on communicating, then you can get through most issues. You have to be frank, you have to be direct. And you also have to be able to walk away from it sometimes and just realise that you might not fix everything in one day, but if you are willing to go back and communicate again the next day, you will get through it. If you have the opportunity not to go into business with your sibling, I would definitely opt for that one.

It’s hard and the thing that is paramount is that you have to put your love for them before the business.

Susannah: And I suppose the other thing actually that perhaps is unique for you two is that you both moved to Cyprus. So obviously you have Cypriot heritage but that wasn’t where you grew up together. So you’ve both chosen to move and live and stay in Cyprus and make that home. How did you decide where in Cyprus you wanted to be?

Philisa: I don’t think we did. I think dad made that choice for us.

Elaine: Our father, he bought an apartment first and then he bought a small business in the centre of Ayia Napa back in the beginning of the 80s. So he made the choice and then we just followed on after that.

Susannah: I haven’t really explored that side of the island all that much, but I’m definitely going to have to because it is beautiful. As I said, we tend to be sort of Nicosia / Larnaka so yeah, that side of the island is not so far.

So maybe let’s just finish then with a couple of things that you love about the area that you’re in in Cyprus.

Elaine: For me, the reason why I love Ayia Napa and Protaras area, it’s very similar the way it looks to where I was brought up in the UK. It’s sort of like mounted hillsides going down to the sea. It’s a quiet little…I mean, everybody sees it in the height of the summer but it’s not a huge population. There’s no industry. And it goes, in the winter, it becomes a very tiny little village where you know everybody. So that part about it I love. So it goes lovely and quiet and then we get this boom of people in the summertime and it comes alive. So you get a chance to see the tourists, enjoy the sun and the beaches, but then you get this lovely quiet at the end of it when the tourists go back and we get to enjoy it ourselves. Like now at this time of the year, it’s 18 degrees a lot of the time, so if you want you can go out and walk. So for me, I like that it’s quite rural and quiet in the wintertime. But yet we’ve got this hype tourist tourist destination in the summer, so we’ve got the most best of both worlds.

Philisa: Yeah, I would say pretty much all of that. It’s just a phenomenally nice place to live. Life tends to be slower in Cyprus than in northern Europe and the traffic is a lot less. And the things that we’ve got used to over the years culturally are very pronounced now when I go back to the UK, so I couldn’t live in the UK anymore I don’t think. We find it, as Cypriots, we don’t queue up for anything. We just walk in and we normally buy things because there’s not so many people in the shops. The life is actually just a lot slower and I kind of like that.

Susannah: Thank you. This has been so lovely to chat with you and to hear all about that. For our listeners. I will pop all the details in the show notes and I’ll pop up on the blog entry and everything. But if they’re looking to find you online, where can they go and find you?

Philisa: Yeah, that’s easy. It’s That easy.

Susannah: Perfect. And I’ll put that in for everybody to find you. So, then, thank you so much for your time.

Philisa and Elaine: Thank you, Susannah. Thank you.