All the signs are that euro-free Turkey is set for a good summer season. Lisa James speaks to operators about this year's most popular resorts
Tour operators are capitalising on Turkey's booming popularity by increasing their product range for summer 2009, adding new hotels in existing resorts and opening up lesser-known areas.
“Families, couples, singles, young people, empty-nesters and even the older market are all taking to Turkey in a big way. The country is now welcoming the same number of visitors that Spain did years ago,” said Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides.
And while Turkey does attract those wishing to downgrade in a recession, its choice of upmarket product is surging.
Jewel in the Crown Holidays and Cadogan have expanded their summer 2009 range to include more four and five-star product.
UK clients are starting to differentiate between the country’s resorts, according to Artemis Travel chief executive Nigel Harris.
He said: “We are noticing that customer awareness of different regions is growing.”
So Travel Weekly takes a look at how individual resorts are faring within Turkey’s four main gateways: Bodrum, Antalya, Dalaman and Izmir.
Cosmos, Thomas Cook and Thomson all report Olu Deniz as being the most popular resort for 2009.
The all-inclusive Lykia World Village and Residence is driving much of the volume to this resort, with plenty of activities, bars, restaurants and children’s facilities.
Thomson’s Small and Friendly product range is selling well in Olu Deniz, and the Belcekiz Beach is a Thomson Platinum favourite.
Elsewhere in the region, Thomas Cook reports Marmaris and Fethiye are selling well for 2009.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “Marmaris has a good mix of bars, restaurants and beaches with family-friendly facilities at most of the hotels. Fethiye has a fantastic standard of accommodation, ideal for a romantic getaway, plus the resort centre offers good shopping opportunities.”
Anatolian Sky Holidays reports its best-selling resorts are Akyaka (one hour and 15 minutes from Dalaman) and Kalkan.
Managing director Akin Koc said: “Both have fantastic beaches with crystal clear waters. We are seeing a trend for the more unspoilt and less mass market resorts to do well.”
However, Koc said Datca, newly added to the operator’s brochure, is the “rising star” for 2009.
He said: “It is very much untouched by tourism and hosts some of Turkey’s most beautiful secluded bays and beaches. It has for a long time been a popular destination on gulet cruises.”
First Choice, meanwhile, has added a First Choice Holiday Village in Sarigerme, close to Dalaman airport.
Airline Jet2 has launched services to Dalaman from Leeds Bradford and Manchester, while Exclusive Escapes has taken allocation on the new Globespan Saturday lunchtime flight from Edinburgh to Dalaman.
Lara Beach is proving popular for 2009, according to Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice and Cosmos.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said the area is “perfect for couples or families looking for an excellent standard of accommodation at a beachfront location”, while Turkey specialist Wings Abroad has added Lara and Kumkoy for 2009.
The Antalya area has recently benefited from investment in spa properties, and Cosmos claims all-inclusive, four and five-star properties are the most popular.
Five-star product in Belek is also doing well. First Choice Premier reports its best-seller is the all-inclusive Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort and Spa, which has a spa, eight à la carte restaurants, 10 bars, eight swimming pools, shops, supermarkets, 10 tennis courts and a Nick Faldo golf course close by.
Thomson offers the Susesi Deluxe Resort and Spa, Belek in its Platinum programme. The five-star all-inclusive, contemporary property has six pools, a bowling alley, cinema and private beach.
A new hotel in the Antalya region, the luxury Mardan Palace resort, opening this spring, claims to be Turkey’s first ‘destination resort’.
It will have 560 rooms, including two royal suites with private pools, and has been designed around the opulence of the Ottoman Empire. Prices start at €360 per night.
Of all the gateways, the Bodrum area has the greatest mix of bed and breakfast, self-catering and all-inclusive properties.
Thomas Cook has introduced a KidsWORLD at the Didim Beach Resort in Altinkum, while Thomson and First Choice report Bodrum is performing well this year, particularly among families and holidays featuring gulet cruises.
While identifying demand for two and three-star self-catering, due to the economic climate, Thomson has also expanded its range of four and five-star all-inclusive properties.
Thomson has introduced four new four-star all-inclusive properties in its third-edition summer 2009 programme:
- Family-friendly Ersan Resort and Spa in Bodrum, which has its own beach
- Brand new spa property Kefaluka in Akyarlar
- Family-friendly beachfront hotel Kadikale in Turgutreis
- Magnific in Gumbet, featured in Thomson’s Freestyle programme
Airlift to Bodrum has been boosted this summer with the launch of direct, twice-weekly flights from Stansted with Pegasus Airlines, with prices starting at £86 one-way, including taxes.
The area’s sailing holiday offering has been boosted for summer with the opening of the Moorings in Orhaniye, easily accessible from Bodrum airport.
The Moorings will offer sailing holidays on the Hisaronu peninsula, which stretches for 30 miles into the Aegean Sea between the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes.
Cosmos reports the resorts of Turgutreis, an unspoilt Turkish side of Bodrum, and Gumbet, known for its upbeat, youth-orientated atmosphere and good water sports, are driving the majority of the volume into Bodrum for the summer.
Properties selling particularly well are:
- Hotel Kadikale, an all-inclusive in Turgutreis
- Hotel Izer, an all inclusive in Torba
- Bed-and-breakfast Hotel Gumbet Cove, Gumbet
- All-inclusive Royal Asarlik, Gumbet
Cosmos has also boosted its gulet cruise-and-stay options from Bodrum this year, while Olympic Holidays has added capacity on flights from Stansted to Bodrum.
TUI UK has identified Izmir as an “up-and-coming gateway that is growing in popularity”.
Of particular relevance is Kusadasi and a key resort for the group is the Aqua Fantasy Hotel and Aquapark, in Pamucak Beach.
New for 2009, Turkey specialist Exclusive Escapes is introducing the brand new Güllü Konaklari boutique hotel in the village of Sirince, the ancient Roman site of Ephesus.
The hotel had a soft opening in September 2008, and is set to become one of the finest places to stay for visitors to Ephesus in 2009.
All Exclusive Escapes’ holidays in the region come with a day’s private guide to Ephesus.
Güllü Konaklari, which means Rose Residence, has six bedrooms in the main hotel, and a two-bedroom cottage, which is ideal for families. Ephesus is seven miles away.
Exclusive Escapes offers three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Güllü Konaklari starting at £798 per person.
Cesme, near Izmir, is an up-and-coming resort. Turkish chain Dedeman and Radisson SAS have both introduced new hotels here.
More on Turkey, including travel agent resort and hotel reviews, at gazetteers.com. Freephone 0800 731 0163 to subscribe
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