The luxury offerings making it time to go back to Turkey
Coastal Turkey is set for a bounce in 2018; there has never been a better time to luxuriate on the Lycian Coast. The pound is up 24% against the Turkish lira, low-cost airline Jet2 is almost doubling its capacity, Istanbul opens a new airport this year and Thomas Cook is launching direct flights from Norwich to Dalaman, where the brand new international terminal will be fully complete by May 2018. And of course Turkey’s stunning beaches, delectable cuisine and heavenly hotels round out the reasons why this county is back on the agenda.
Here are this year’s best destinations:
The Luxury All Inclusive
2018 sees a trend in the rise of the ultra-all-inclusive, and keen to entice post Brexit Brits to keep on travelling to Europe. D-Resort Grand Azur is a five star stunning destination on a serene stretch of pure white sand, with an incredible spa, indoor pool, and breath-taking views of the Turkish Riviera in Marmaris. Unquestionably the finest hotel in Marmaris, the property re-opens for the season in April 2018. D-Resort Grand Azur is ideally situated between two mountain ranges with stunning views of a beautiful coastline. Suites have terraces with amazing views of the mountains and sea with a beach with imported white sand that neither gets too hot or sticks to feet.
The hotel is brilliantly located in an enviable spot only a short distance from the centre of town, which is walkable along a bustling boardwalk. Facilities are fantastic. There is a well-equipped gym, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, flood-lit tennis courts and water-sports along with a massive spa sauna, steam room, Turkish bath and solarium. There is outdoor dining with live music near the sea, a fresh juice bar and buffet at breakfast and top gourmet cuisine at the rooftop restaurant. With five bars to choose from there is also a fantastic rooftop cocktail bar with 180 degree views of the beach and Marmaris coastline.
Go Glam in Göcek
This is Bodrum without the Bling – D-Resort Göcek is the epitome of elegance and refinement on the Turkish coastline. Just 100 meters from a yacht filled Gocek harbour and five minutes walk from the private beach; it is the epitome of stylish tranquility. Situated in a quiet fishing village in the heart of Göcek surrounded by gardens and mountains, Göcek is the ideal destination for luxury seekers looking to switch off.
Set across eight design-led buildings with 103 spectacular rooms, all of which have been designed with splashes of nautical navys and crisp whites it’s the best of light and modern Mediterranean style. The D-SPA at D-Resort Göcek is a standout – surrounded by indigo waters and mountaintop, it combines rituals inspired by traditional cultures with advanced treatments concentrating on stress-relief, optimising health and age-defying results. And it’s an easy getaway. Fly direct from London Gatwick to Dalaman – the hotel is a mere 25 minutes from the airport.
Undiscovered Turkey – Murat Reis Ayvalik
Accessible from Istanbul or Izmir airports, the sleepy seaside town of Ayvalik has been a long-time favourite for Turkish holidaymakers and is only now just being discovered by the outside world. Located on the Northern Aegean Coast next to a clutch of islands, Murat Reis Ayvalik is the perfect base to explore undiscovered Turkey and this charming stretch of coastline. A stunning new hotel right on the sea, the concept here is beachfront luxury with a comfortable, chic and stylish edge.
Here there sunset wine tastings, two chic restaurants offering a wide selection of modern Mediterranean foods along with incredible views along with some of the best sunsets in the world. There is a deck bar, pool bar and lobby bar all on offer and for the highly motivated, a vast menu of water-sports. In the luxury spa and fitness centre there is a heated open pool, sauna, steam room and Turkish Bath and all gym equipment affords excellent sea and island views during your downward dog. And naturally, with so many islands nearby, the seafood is incredible.
Boutique hotel for grown-ups
Fairlight Jones’ new offering, the Waterside hotel is tucked away on the far side of The Bay of Kalkan; ideal for couples seeking romance. There are nine spacious suites (seven of which have their own large pool) each with their own Cabana and a range of suites to suit most budgets – including luxurious Garden Pool Houses or the dramatic Penthouse Pool Suite with wonderful seascapes.
Included in a week’s stay is a complimentary evening meal at the neighbouring sister property, The Bay. The Waterside is within walking distance of the quaint harbour, cobblestone alleys and picturesque rooftop restaurants of the small town of Kalkan. And nearby classical sites and fine, golden sands of Patara Beach – the largest in Europe are easily arrived at.
Active in Antalya
Begin your trip with a meander through the flagged courtyards and streets of the old town, which lie directly above Antalya’s picturesque marina. Here turquoise water surrounds an impressive cluster of imposing wooden yachts known as Turkish Gulets.
Have your taxi drop you at the ancient clock tower at the top of the hill (Saat -Kulesi) and work your way down, taking in the inviting cafes and shop owners entreating you in as many languages as they can muster to inspect their wares. Save your handbag shopping for nearby Belek however, where the quality of knockoffs if far better. Here you can discover some of the best designer knock-offs in the world (my ‘YSL’ tribute handbag was worth the price of the plane ticket alone!)
Stay at Cornelia Diamond Resort
First impressions are a resounding yes. Clean lines and modern aesthetics abound but it’s the facilities that are eye-watering. Set on its own 27-hole golf course, the resort has seven outdoor swimming pools and water slides all within a short distance of the sea – water sports abound and you are literally surrounded by 50 shades of blue. We recommend the pool suites which are connected to the pool, via a ladder on an outside wooden deck. It’s also beyond family friendly.
In addition to the hotel’s stunning beach (replete with loungers and bar service) at the base of the property, there is a kids’ club in a building shaped to look like a pirates’ ship and a train that can be boarded for a tour of the premises. The indoor pool was generous and warm but the highlight was spending a half day at the enormous spa, taking in all 12 of the hotel’s aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms. There is 24 hour room service and nine à la carte restaurants, with a higher standard of food than I expected. The property is all inclusive (including alcohol) and it felt fantastic to never get the wallet out. Antalya also has a series of beautiful and breath taking waterfalls in and surrounding the city that are worth a look in and tours can be arranged.