By Jennifer Pelaez.
Whether you are seeking absolute escapism or a glamorous array of beach clubs and vibrant nightlife, Turkey’s sparkling Riviera boasts a fascinating and storied past – an alluring contrast between the Ancient city, evidenced by discernible fragments scattered throughout, and its modern and posh boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, delightful shops, and elegant yachts crowding the glittering marina. With its azure-sea backdrop, long palm-lined waterfront, and exotic appeal, Bodrum has an enigmatic elegance that pervades it, from the town’s most prominent landmark, the crowning Castle of St. Peter built by the Crusader Knights of Rhodes, to its flower-filled cafes and white-plastered backstreets, it is one of the most beautiful spots in the Mediterranean.
Originally known as Halicarnassus in ancient times, Bodrum was famous for housing the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and continues to attract historians and archaeologists for its layers of history dating back to the ancient Greeks, the Byzantine Empire, and later its Ottoman occupiers. Now a world-class luxury destination, the Bodrum Peninsula in south-west Turkey is blessed with a full spectrum of colors and a myriad of picture-perfect landscapes and vistas, ranging from green hilltop villages, white pebble beaches and a rugged coastline with astoundingly clear Blue Seas of the Aegean. Bodrum is comprised of the charming main town and marina area as well as the peninsula it occupies which is subdivided into numerous towns and villages, each with its own unique character and appeal. From the jetset town of Yalikavak, situated on the Northwestern face of the peninsula, where Naomi Campbell and other celebrities have been known to frequent, to the more authentic and quaint fishing village of Gumusluk, Bodrum is a magical place – a coastal town in which traditional and modern life go along hand in hand harmoniously, and warrant plenty of time for exploration.
One of the best ways to truly experience Bodrum is to hire a private tour guide through an experienced local company such as Harmony Travel, where veteran guide Habib Duran offers a full overview of all the towns and villages while offering up interesting tidbits and historical references explaining what distinguishes each village from the next. From the city center, head northeast to pass by some of the famed beach resorts and clubs in Torba where you can find luxury hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and party the day away at Nikki Beach. Next, head west towards the north shore of the peninsula to Göltürkbükü where you can find quaint hotels and villas which fill the land inland from the beach, and resort complexes dot the landscape beyond the towns. Here, the Maçakizi Hotel is the kind of stylish and sophisticated luxury hotel that one must at least stop by for lunch or spend an afternoon lounging on the chic wooden sun deck over the waters of Turkbuku bay, filled with beautiful people in the know. Its small size (under 80 rooms) makes for an intimate and memorable experience.
Get a glimpse of local life and fall in love with the hospitality and friendliness of the Turkish people by visiting one of the oldest establishments on the Bodrum peninsula; the peaceful fishing village of Gümüslük is filled with charming flower-bedecked houses and quaint waterfront taverns and restaurants, perfect for an afternoon chai or a freshly prepared fish dish while taking in the stunning views.
Loop back toward the city center while passing through windmills and then the popular town of Gumbet. A great location in between Gumbet and Bodrum city center is the Voyage Hotel Bodrum, perched on a hillside offering a perfect spot from which to explore all these locations, while being only a fun and scenic five minute water taxi from the heart of Bodrum. Voyage Bodrum offers 150 luxurious rooms with panoramic view of the St. Peter’s Castle and the stunning waters of Blue Bay. Recently remodeled the hotel has a modern and airy feel and is built into the hillside so has stunning views and outdoor stairways leading down to the pool and sun decks, one of which floats atop the crystal blue water and fit with
cushions for sunbathing. The common areas are open and since it is an adults only resort has a relaxed and stylish ambiance. The rooms and public areas have that boutique feel with the lobby bar featuring white leather arm chairs and subdued lighting with relaxing lounge music and the chance to try a cocktail or two which are included as part of your stay at this all-inclusive hotel. Enjoy mouth-watering local dishes with healthy options at the buffet-style restaurant or the international à la carte restaurant, then head outside to the beach bar that showcase regular live music evenings along with local visiting DJ’s.
If all the sightseeing has left you exhausted spend time at the hammam or opt for a day at sea; sail, snorkel, jet-ski, windsurf, or dive to local sites encompassing wrecks, reefs, and caverns. A boat tour of the area’s many coves and bays is an ideal day out, or take a leisurely cruise along the coastline in a traditional wooden gulet to explore the quiet coves, citrus groves and wooded islands. One of the most spectacular spots are the Aquarium which features some of the clearest waters in the area filled with stunning fish and Orak Island which is further out yet worth the sail since it has shallow soft sand and pristine crystal water for swimming.
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Bodrum, soaking in the enchanting atmosphere, picturesque setting, and fabulous weather, and live in the lap of luxury. Although the season is only from April – October it is worth keeping in mind to pre-book for the upcoming season.