Bodrum - Luxury Travel Magazine
Bodrum - Playground of the Rich and Famous
|By: Lisa Perkovic, Issue 45 – Summer 2011|
|IN THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER, SUPERLINERS FILL THE BAYS, HELICOPTERS AND PRIVATE CHARTER PLANES CRUISE THE SKIES, AND FLEETS OF LUXURY VEHICLES LINE THE STREETS, BUT YOU WON’T FIND THE A-LISTERS WANDERING AROUND BODRUM’S MAIN TOWN; THEY’RE WHISKED OFF TO HIDEAWAY VILLAGES DOTTED AROUND THE PENINSULA DISCOVERED BY LISA PERKOVIC.|
|Eucalyptus gums and bushland scramble down mountainsides to meet bright blue sea – this could be anywhere off the coast of NSW, until the five-star resorts of Bodrum Peninsula hove into view. Clinging to the cliffs and sprawled along promenades, luxury hotels are everywhere on this small southwestern Aegean peninsula. Today it’s a playground for mega-millionaires, movie stars and royalty but Bodrum’s beginnings weren’t nearly so glamorous. Like the convicts who landed on Australian shores, Bodrum’s 20th century residents were outcasts from the Ottoman Empire. In the early 1900s, criminals were exiled to the remote fishing village, punished by basic conditions and isolation. The most famous of these was the poet Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçli, who was banished here in 1925 – but later became the legendary Halikarnas Balıkçısı, The Fisherman of Halicarnassus, one of Turkey’s greatest modern writers. The well-heeled bourgeoisie flocked to the Fisherman’s side in the 1960s, bringing their boats and buying up land. Their journey became known as the Blue Voyage, and signalled the beginning of Bodrum’s boom.|
In the height of summer, superliners fill the bays, helicopters and private charter planes cruise the skies, and fleets of luxury vehicles line the streets. You won’t find many A-listers wandering around the main town; they’re whisked off to hideaway villages dotted around the wider Bodrum Peninsula. Here boutique hotels and guesthouses tumble gracefully down the hillsides, sprawling out to private pontoons and beaches.
With an entire headland to itself, Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, about 15km southeast of Bodrum, is one of the most secluded resorts in the region. Rooms look past the football field-sized infinity pool to the private beach and marina below, where guests dock their boats or hop off seaplanes. The hotel is a maze of restaurants, pool and beachside bars, and shaded chill out spaces. Domes and minarets rise from the pool like a sunken city, or so it seems when exploring the labyrinth of treatment rooms in the Six Senses Spa below. The faux towers double as skylights for the spa, a sanctuary of colour therapy, shiatsu and steam treatment rooms. Turkey is the home of the hamam, and at Kempinski’s traditional bathhouse guests are scrubbed and washed squeaky clean in the marble-covered retreat.
Each of the 180 guestrooms has a balcony or terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea. Breakfast is until noon, and who needs an omelette when Elef, an elderly Turkish woman, makes gözleme on order? The folded spinach, cheese and potato crepes are thin and crispy, making the perfect savoury segue into cakes, muffins, eggs, pancakes, cereals and fruits.
Golturkbuku is the name given to two sheltered villages half an hour away on the peninsula’s northern side. The bay at Gölköy is where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie docked their superliner this summer. In the background of half their paparazzi shots, you can see Maçakizi Hotel, where any lounge cushion is seriously hot property, and where the beach club decks, lined with daybeds, extend straight out onto the water.
Laid back luxury is the mentality here; 81 guestrooms snuggle into the hillside, unassuming on the outside, modest within. Nothing on the grounds is over the top except the luscious gardens, camoufl aging buildings and covering paths. Everything gravitates towards the open-air kitchen, an effortlessly chic pavilion where the Maçakizi day begins. Don’t expect breakfast at 8am and lunch at noon; guests slowly emerge when the music starts at 11am. The lunch bell rings at 2pm for a buffet of fresh, seasonal local produce, and by 6pm the tables are cleared and the music turned up for happy hour. Come 7pm the volume dips and the mood is more serious.
Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco and Sydney chef Christine Manfield are fans of Aret Sahakyan’s modern comfort food. His international Turkish cuisine lets flavours speak for themselves and draws crowds from around the area.
A few doors along the promenade, Divan Hotel is also popular for its Mediterranean-influenced fare. The hotel has a beach club, of course, and a few metres away the large pool and jazz bar get busy during the day. Next-door is Maki Otel, whose over-water bar is popular with the boating crowd. The owners tie their cruisers up alongside land-based guests who loll around cushioned alcoves sipping martinis.
Set back from the water is the charming Ada Hotel, where a wrought iron gate fortified with flowers leads to guestrooms filled with high-backed chairs and sandstone fireplaces. This boutique hotel’s hamam has a domed ceiling with starry skylights, and the day beds in the waiting room are reason enough to visit. A stroll around the cove leads to Turkbuku, the southern part of Golturkbuku. Miam Restaurant books out because its seafood mezzes – caviar dip, chunky octopus tentacles, spicy fish stew and succulent homemade dolmades– are the perfect start to an evening. Next-door is Dogal Dondurma, a simple ice-creamery where the scoops are soft and stretchy. In the villages it’s all about food, wine and seclusion, while Bodrum town has the bustling pace of a port city, and the revelry to go with it. Looking down on the eastern bay is Halikarnas Night Club, where up to 5,000 partygoers squeeze in to hear international DJs and dance the night away. The decadence and debauchery hark back to Bodrum’s more ancient past. Settled and named Halicarnassus by the Dorians in 1000BC, the town has been occupied by Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Turks, Ottomans and even briefly by the Knights of Rhodes.
The crumbling ruins of the 350BC Tomb of Mausolus – to whom we owe the word “mausoleum” – are all that’s left of this Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World, but there are plenty of relics in the Castle of St. Peter. Antiquated treasures are guarded behind glass cases and stone walls in this 15th century fortress that now houses the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Bodrum is known for its bespoke artisan wares. Idle hours are spent under canopies of bougainvilleas admiring more modern treasures. Shoemakers have made leather sandals here for centuries. The waiting list at Ali Guven Sandals, where Mick Jagger and Bette Midler have standing orders, is years long – but at hole in the wall peddler Bodrum Sandalet, they’ll adjust footwear to fit on the spot.
On the main street of Cumhurlyet Cad, jewelers ply their trade from in-house workshops. See Fethi Aydogan at Gooz for handmade gilded necklaces, perfect statement pieces wrought from ornate concoctions of silk and semi-precious stone medallions. Tearing yourself away from glittering wares or glistening ocean is difficult. The sign on the road into town says it all. “Don’t think that you will go as you came; the ones before you were the same; To all those who came before you happened the same. They lost their heart in Bodrum and left it.” The Fisherman of Halicarnassus.
|THE HAMAM EXPRESS|
|A Hamam is a Turkish bath distinguished by a focus on water, as opposed to ambient steam. The baths can be found in every city of Turkey, and some cities even have several hamams to select from. There are three rooms that make up a Turkish hamam; the hot room, or caldarium, where bathers can steam-soak and have a massage, the tepidarium, which is a warm room for washing with soap and water, and the cool room to relax or nap in. Lilia Kanna|
|Malaysia Airlines flies to Istanbul via Kuala Lumpur three times a week for A$2,207 per person return for economy, and A$8,227 per person return for business.|
|Singapore Airlines also flies to Istanbul via Singapore. Flights start at A$2,052 per person return for economy, business class fares start from A$15,200 per person return.|
|Turkish Airlines flies direct four times daily from Istanbul to Bodrum. Economy fares start at A$135 per person return, business class fares start at A$469 per person return.|
|KEMPINSKI HOTEL BARBAROS BAY|
Rooms from c195 (about A$268) per night. Presidential suite c1,478
(about A$2,037) per night.
Kizilagac Koyu Gerenkuyu Meukii Yaliciftlik
+90 252 311 0303
Rooms start from c195 (about A$268) per night. Sea View Villa Suite from c960 (about A$1,322) per night.
Kesire Mevkii, Turkbuku
+90 252 377 6272
Rooms start c99 (about A$136) per night. Deluxe Suite from c360
(about A$496) per night.
Kelesharim Caddesi No:6
+90 252 377 56 01
Rooms from c100 (about A$142) per night. Suites start at c180 (about
A$255 per night)
Kele¡harımı Mevkii Mimoza Sokak
+90 252 377 61 05
Rooms start at c240 (about A$330) per night. The Presidential Suite c546 (about A$742) per night.
Golturkbuku Belediyesi Bagarasi
+90 252 377 5915