As the recession continues tp bite into holiday budgets, Katie McGonagle scouts out the best-value breaks to Turkey for couples and families
It’s been a tough couple of years for the Turkish travel market. Once hailed as a haven for cheap breaks abroad, the collapse of low-budget operators Goldtrail Holidays and Kiss in 2010, followed by Turkey specialist Holidays 4U last summer, called into question the sustainability of those bargain-basement prices.
But although the ultra-cheap prices of recent years have disappeared, holidaymakers can feel reassured Turkey still offers excellent value for money.
And the other attractions that made it so popular – beautiful beaches, being outside the troubled eurozone and just a four-hour flight away – mean it still has a lot to offer.
Tolga Tuyluoglu, director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office, says: "Of course, the market was affected by the failure of operators such as Goldtrail and Holidays 4U. However, I believe much of the quality accommodation they offered has been taken up by other operators, so the capacity they carried has not been lost. Standards in Turkey are definitely rising overall, but Turkish holidays still offer great value for money."
The changing market has created openings for new operators, including Just Sunshine, which sent out its first Turkey brochure to agents this month.
Managing director Can Deniz says: "We believe that with some of the specialist Turkey operators going out of business, there’s a market for another strong, independent specialist. The hotel prices are extremely competitive compared to other destinations in Europe. You’re getting a lot more for your money, and of course it’s not in the euro, so overall you still get a very good deal."
Perfect for couples
Turkey’s mix of lively resorts and sleepy villages makes it the ideal destination for couples of any age, whether they want fun in the sun or a romantic getaway.
There is plenty to tempt clients off the sun lounger too – Turkey’s wealth of Greek, Roman and medieval history means its archaeological sites are second-to-none, while a new championship golf course opening this year in Kusadasi cements the country’s reputation as a growing golf destination.
For clients keen to be at the heart of the action, the port city of Marmaris is hard to beat. It offers a combination of exciting nightlife and unrivalled watersports, plus an extensive range of accommodation to suit even the most modest budgets.
The Selen 1 Hotel has amazing views from its rooftop bar, and is just 25 metres from the beach. Olympic Holidays offers a week’s B&B for £379 in September.
Meanwhile, the scent of pine from gardens surrounding the three-star Kervansaray Hotel in Marmaris means guests can combine peace and quiet with the bustling centre of the resort. Airtours offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £445.
The growing resort of Gumbet, near Bodrum, is the place to go for great watersports, as well as brilliant clubs and bars. Try the Miraluna Hotel, all-inclusive from £436 with Airtours.
Meanwhile Altinkum’s new five-star Venosa Beach Resort and its private stretch of sand will lure couples looking for luxury without eye-watering prices – from £449 per person in May with Cosmos.
Private beaches farther down the Turquoise coast in Side’s Seven Seas Imperial and Hotel Side Prenses offer a taste of luxury and the chance to visit a historic outpost of the Roman Empire, from £649 with Thomson and First Choice respectively.
Amid economic doom and gloom, families are cutting back on luxuries where they can – but that doesn’t have to mean missing out on a great holiday.
Although all-inclusive packages are proving popular with clients keen to stick to a pre-determined budget, food and drink is much cheaper in Turkey than in eurozone countries so self-catering can be a great way to keep costs down, while shared apartments can also be a good option for larger groups.
Almond Tree House in Gokebel, on the Bodrum peninsula, has its own pool and gardens, giving youngsters room to run around while mum and dad enjoy drinks on the roof terrace. A week’s self-catering costs from £1,265 during school holidays, excluding flights, with Ilios Travel.
It’s worth stretching the budget for the Bodrum Imperial, a Thomson 4T-rated property, which boasts a crèche, kids’ clubs and aqua park, plus sumptuous spa treatments for the grown-ups. Thomson offers all-inclusive from £894 per adult, first child £415, second £480. It’s also the perfect starting point for a day trip to Kos, just a 45-minute ferry ride away.
Just Sunshine offers Seray Hotel in Marmaris from £359 per person all-inclusive, or £259 for children, while boutique Palmetto Resort Hotel in nearby Selimiye offers a quieter break, from £425 B&B for adults or £378 for children.
The ‘kids’ dens’ in family rooms at the four-star Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme give children their own space in which to relax after days packed with archery, football and raft-building; parents can enjoy spa treatments and Turkish baths. One week’s all-inclusive starts at £1,050 per adult and one child free with First Choice.
Families keen to combine the beautiful bay at Olu Deniz with peaceful country trails can try Ovacik, a village just two miles from the main resort. Wings Abroad’s Antas Apartments is priced from £292 per person.
Pre-booked excursions are a great way for families to avoid arguments – and to boost agents’ commission. Attraction World’s 12-island cruise from Sarigerme is bound to be a hit, especially as under-7s go free.
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