TURKEY is a great choice for a
PERFECT SHORT BREAK FROM DUBAI
only 4 hours away.
A TRIP TO TURKEY
Starts with a very reasonable flight only 4 hours away from Dubai or London. Turkey is an extremely interesting country with high standards of accommodation, great shopping, food and sight seeing opportunities. It’s useful to remember that there are NO RESTRICTIONS ON EATING AND DRINKING during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan in Turkey.
Such a large country, so much to see, so how best to plan your trip to Turkey to get the most out of it? That would depend on your interests and age of travellers, but here’s what a family with 2 teens from Dubai with a decent budget decided to do.
ITINERARY FOR A TRIP TO TURKEY
Dubai to Istanbul on Emirates – 4 hours
Istanbul to Bodrum on Atlas Jet – 50 minutes
Bodrum to Alacati (near Izmir) Self drive about 3 hours
Izmir to Istanbul on Atlas Jet – 50 minutes
Istanbul back to Dubai on Emirates – 3.5 hours
We spent 4 nights at the magical Macakizi hotel in a village called Golturbuku in Bodrum, the idea being to relax and destress immediately after a tense session of exams and waiting for results ! We have image conscious and panicky members in our family so there is always some scepticism about what Mum has decided to book, but all doubts disappeared on arrival at the Macakizi.
It passed all tests and really is a STYLISH PLACE to unwind, relax, eat and sleep. Click here to read more about the Accommodation, Food, Location and the Downside of the Macakizi.
If you have younger children then perhaps consider the Casa Del Arte in nearby Torba, they are completely equipped to deal with young families, have a large swimming pool, a gentle but small beach area, a gorgeous art set up for kids and young adults as well as a clay workshop area complete with an American potter! Owned by a Turkish family from Istanbul, this group of properties has an exquisite collection of art in one of its hotels that’s a real treat to be around. It is a venue for openings and events on a regular basis.
But if money is no object and you really are more comfortable with Big Names, then look no further than the fabulous and newly opened Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, again located in Golturbuku, a few minutes drive from the Macakisi in a lush, green hillside with hidden beach areas reminiscent of Langkawi.
In fact there are 2 private beaches at the Mandarin Oriental, both of which looked very peaceful and have had soft sand transported from Northern Turkey. The lobby of the hotel is strewn with freshly potted orchids and exudes an air of luxury and tranquillity. The rest of the hotel follows suit from it’s state of the art gym with pilates rooms and oversized indoor swimming pool, the many outdoor swimming areas and the gorgeous bar where we had drinks in the evening overlooking the Agean watching speedboats make deliveries to larger yachts in the area.
The rooms are everything you’d expect from a hotel like this and a big plus for me was every room had it’s own yoga mat! Service was efficient and friendly and despite the hotel only being open 3 days, it was already 40% full and I think it will get busy very quickly. This hotel has something for everyone, young and old, those who want to party and those who want some peace, the setting is unbeatable and the facilities very extensive so really you would have no reason to leave this place if you come on a short break or were part of a mixed age group that likes doing their own thing and getting together for meals.
We then chose to stay at the Alavya hotel in Alacati, the windsurfing capital of Turkey. This boutique hotel has 20 rooms or so and is quite a contrast in size and style to the Macakisi and Mandarin Oriental. It has been designed by renowned Turkish architect Hakan Ezer who also designed the Nars hotels.
Everywhere you look is perfect from a simple window ledge to garden bench, there is no detail that’s been overlooked here so you really feel you are in an interiors magazine photo shoot. The hotel’s restaurant Mitu opens out onto the main street of Alacati’s old town so you literally are on the doorstep of lots of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. This is fabulous to have so close to home but it did get quite noisy late into the night as it was high season so perhaps come out of season to really enjoy this area. Similarly reputed restaurants were booked out for dinner for 2 weeks solid! But we ate once at the hotel restaurant and loved the bar Foryu which felt a bit like a tropical Zuma ! Don’t leave Alacati without trying to windsurf as the fabulously flat sea in a sheltered bay with just the right about of wind make ideal conditions for this sport even if you are a complete beginner. The hotel is connected to the Bubi Surf school and the instructors are highly trained and friendly. Do note that Classic rooms at the Alavya can be a bit on the small side as the hotel is a converted Greek house that has been extended so you may feel more comfortable in the more expensive superior rooms.
Three Nights in Istanbul could make a story all on their own but we decided to do a little bit of sight seeing, explore some different neighbourhoods and do some shopping along with good eating and drinking. We stayed in the Nisantasi area of Istanbul similar to Knightsbridge in London and were located very well for shops, cafes and restaurants as well as European style buildings and architecture. We took the metro from Osmanbey to Sishane and explored artisanal Galata a couple of times and I highly recommend having lunch or even staying at the very French influenced Georges Hotel near Galata Tower. This boutique hotel has a large and relaxing roof top terrace restaurant Le Fumoir that serves excellent, high quality French food in a relaxed setting with a breathtaking view. We had a very late and leisurely lunch and noticed people just came in to have drinks or coffee and relax on the terrace later in the day. The seaview rooms with parquet floors are very atmospheric in this hotel.
There is no shortage of monuments and museums in Istanbul but do remember mosques, even the Blue mosque while free to enter have specific opening and closing times during the day. Some of the well known museums are around Euros 30 to enter and do have long queues in high season. I loved shopping in Istanbul from Turkish designers to the Grand Bazaar where bargaining is de rigeur.
But Istanbul is expensive so be prepared and while English is spoken in the swankier parts of the city, it really helps if you learn some Turkish phrases before you go. But don’t let that put you off!
Do let me know if you found this article helpful and thanks for sharing with any friends thinking of making a visit!