Having just returned from a long weekend in Turkey, I feel refreshed, relaxed and just tanned-enough, to receive some raised eyebrow envy from my non-journo friends.
With the temperatures just starting to rise in May, it is a great time to go to get some bargain sun and avoid the hardcore sun worshiping crowds. With a previous visit to Antalya a distant memory (apart from the beautiful beaches and long hot days), I was keen to get back to the white sands and dip my toes in the crystal-clear water.
If you’re feeling adventurous, do a hotel switch halfway through your vacation, and break it up to two spots. This is a remarkably straightforward thing to plan, especially if you choose a reputable group which has sister hotels across the region. And as there are so many beautiful locations along the coastline, why does one deserve all the ‘you’ time?!
With most of the resorts along the Aegean coast offering a range of swimming pools, spas and private blue flag beaches, you are bound to have a good time.
But if you are looking for something beyond the realms of the hotel, you can be certain to find some culture too. Bordered by eight countries and straddling two continents, this diverse country is a mix of sights, sounds and cultural customs, which makes it more than just a sun, sea and sand lazy beach holiday (although on this occasion, this was one of the bonuses!)
For a really-chilled break, you only need to leave your sunbed for half a day at a time, and go exploring in the town. A must see are the dancing water fountains in the main square. A busy tourist spot, but impressive nevertheless, and you can hobnob with all the sailing types who jet in and moor up for the night.
You should also make a visit to the marina and check out the fashion boutiques, which sell a bit more than touristy garb – and often kit out the sailor’s wives for their glamorous, on board adventures! Head out of the new, and into the old town, where can see more local produce, and if you can, you should persevere to the top of some slightly steep stairs, which take you to the Panorama Restaurant and Bar. Get there for sunset, and treat yourself to a drink and the view.
Party animals will love the aptly named ‘Bar Street’ which does what it says on the tin. I can’t vouch for any establishments on said street, as I strolled down in the daylight, but it seemed reminiscent of carefree holidays in my early twenties in Majorca.. Say no more. There is a reason why I don’t do tequila shots anymore.
However, as I am no longer such a hedonist-I would much rather look after my head, and body, so embraced the hotel spas and pools, which were widely available at both hotels I stayed in. The first G-Hotel Grand Azur, Marmaris offered large, luxury accommodation in a typically luxury style. Big bathrooms (with Jacuzzi bath), rooftop Steak Bar, delicious cocktails and a Turkish Bath were some of the few things I tried during my stay.
A visit to Turkey wouldn’t be complete without at least one boat trip. If you are a social butterfly and like meeting new people, you can join an organised trip to Olu Deniz, where you can take a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon; Or depending on where you stay, you can book a day trip to Rhodes for a Greek lunch, as it’s only an hour away on the Catamaran.
Seeing the sunset at sea is one of my favourite things, and being based on the marina, there are many boats that you can charter privately too. My advice is to get a small group, lots of iced wine and head out for the afternoon/early evening. Make sure to tell the Captain you want plenty of stop off points to jump in to the crystal water and I guarantee you will get the best tan (and Instagram pictures).
The latter part of my trip involved upping sticks to the D-Resort Gocek, which was just 90 minutes away by mini bus, but a world away in the style of resort. A stunning modern hotel, situated next to the marina and the small town of Gocek (it is also just 30 minutes from the airport, so longer in the sun before checkout!) It also has two outdoor pools, restaurants and the very popular Breeze bar located on the beach. Gaining a reputation for its newly designed Spa, which is a haven of peace and tranquillity, and the gym which could rival any member’s club in the UK- this is aimed at the luxury market.
With most guests spending time at the perfectly formed private beach (which you can get to via golf buggy, bike hire or 10-minute stroll), the atmosphere is buzzing. But you are not smothered in someone else’s Factor 30 as there is plenty of space to relax, chill out, and splash about in the sea.
If you are looking for a slice of paradise in quiet, stunning surroundings, the simplicity and elegance of D-Resort Gocek will not disappoint. Both restaurants I tried for dinner- Günaydın Steakhouse, which does a delicious everything (I had the taster menu), and the experimental, but buzzing Q restaurant situated in the mountainside were both delicious. Is Peruvian-Japanese going to be the next big thing? You heard it here first!
Even though this is a recognised holiday destination, the pace is slow and the locals are super friendly. And with hundreds of blue flag beaches making up its 400 miles of white sand, it is no wonder it is a place to come and chillax. I managed to get through two books. Like I said, the most difficult choice was which ones to pack!
words: Sara Darling
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Dalaman from Birmingham, London Gatwick, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and London Luton airports, with fares, including taxes, starting from £54 one way (£101 return). For further information or to book Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays please visit www.monarch.co.uk.
Rates at D-Resort Grand Azur start from £120 per night for half board, including taxes. D-Resort Grand Azur is the only hotel in Marmaris to offer half and full board ensuring flexibility. Book online at www.dresortgrandazur.com.
Rates at D-Resort Gocek start from 448 EUR. Rates are per room per night on a B&B basis. Book online at www.dresortgocek.com.tr. Both hotels are open all year round.