If you think you know Bodrum, think again, says Karl Cushing
There’s a definite buzz about Bodrum, and when you view the Turkish Aegean resort along with its satellite resorts on the Bodrum Peninsula, such as Gumbet, Ortakent and Turgutreis, it’s not hard to see why, with rich pickings for everyone from luxury lovers to bargain-hunting fly-and-floppers.
Classic Collection is just one of the higher end operators adding properties here to meet demand, with sales up 30% year on year. Pinpointing the appeal, head of purchasing Gary Boyer says: “Bodrum is a beautiful, upmarket city with nice beaches, shopping, an upmarket marina, and a wonderful choice of restaurants and bars. In high season it could also be considered a real party place, and definitely one of the places to be seen for the European jetset.”
Other operators noticing a Bodrum sales surge include Mosaic Holidays, whose summer sales are up 10% year on year, and Cosmos, which has seen a particular rise in B&B and self-catering breaks (up by more than 50% this year).
Bodrum’s enviable range of upmarket accommodation can typically be found on the outskirts and at less-developed centres nearby, such as Torba Bay, home to properties such as Casa Dell’Arte, and Turkbuku, dubbed ‘the St Tropez of Turkey’ due to its pretty, yacht-lined harbour and popularity with A-listers, which is home to Hilton Bodrum. The latter is a recent addition for Cosmos.
Anatolian Sky reports increased interest in Torba Bay and Yalikavak, where its options include the beautifully landscaped Zeytin Ada and the hillside boutique chic of 4reasons respectively. Other popular high-end options in the area include the all-suite Xanadu Island, Gardens of Babylon, and the 173-room Kempinski Barbaros Bay, about nine miles out of Bodrum.
The popularity of Bodrum’s boutique properties can be clearly seen in the 2012 brochures. Thomson, for example, has added three properties to its Small & Friendly collection – the Hotel Indian Summer, Hotel Istankoy and Hotel Orion. Classic Collection, whose best seller is The Marmara Bodrum, has added Salmakis Resort & Spa, which head of purchasing Gary Boyer calls “a competitively priced four-star all-inclusive”, and the upmarket Grand Yazici Boutique Hotel.
Many of the upmarket properties boast great spa facilities, making them well suited to couples and wellness fans. Top picks include the Kempinski, the Ada Hotel, known for its hammam, and the Grand Yazici Bodrum, home to the region’s largest indoor pool.
For families, Classic’s Boyer recommends another newly brochured option, the all-inclusive Kefaluka Resort near Turgutreis, which is also new for Mosaic Holidays. Alternatively, First Choice’s SplashWorld collection features the all-inclusive Aqua Fantasy Aquapark Hotel & Spa (pictured) while Thomas Cook has UK exclusivity at the four-star Ersan Resort & Spa, now part of its Aquamania offering, having added a new water park with nine water slides.
For some real budget bargains head to neighbouring Gumbet. This year, Thomson has added Central Apartments to its 2wentys range and Thomas Cook has added the two-star self-catering Dost Apartments to its youth brand, Escapades, along with more all-inclusive options at existing properties such as the four-star Parkim Ayaz.
Or if it’s individual properties you’re after, Ilios Travel features a wide range on the Bodrum peninsula, from Karma Apartment, its stylish lead-in property near Yalikavak (sleeps four), to Sakina Konak, a modern property with an infinity pool in Gokcebel (sleeps eight).
The abundance of activities on offer in and around Bodrum is a major selling point. Attraction World has 17 options, from village and market tours to horseriding, jeep safaris and gulet cruises along the Turquoise Coast.
Top local spots for watersports include Bitez and Turgutreis (six and 14 miles from Bodrum respectively), also home to two of the best local beaches, while the nearby Dedeman Aquapark runs a free local shuttle service.
Bodrum is also home to some important historical sites, chiefly a Roman amphitheatre, the remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – and a crusader castle, home to an interesting museum. Further afield, top picks include the limestone formations at Pamukkale and the classical city of Ephesus (Attraction World has a tour taking in both; £74 adults, £34 children). Clients can also take a ferry to Didyma, site of the Temple of Apollo, or the nearby Greek islands of Kos or Rhodes.
Or, they may just want to kick back on the local beaches by day and hit the various restaurants, bars and clubs by night – spending whatever lira they have left after shopping at the local bazaars and the boutiques at Port Bodrum, on Yalikavak marina.
Value and variety are two of Bodrum’s top selling points, not forgetting the temperate climate and stunning coastline. Its bustling centre and choice of nightlife and dining options will also be a plus for some, while others will prefer exploring the charming local villages, with their pretty marinas, bougainvillea and whitewashed buildings.
Then there’s the wide choice of accommodation and airlift. In addition to Turkish Airlines, low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Pegasus service Bodrum airport from the UK, along with charter airlines such as Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. This makes a wide range of durations possible.
On the incentives front, Prestige Holidays is offering £10 Love2shop vouchers for every booking for a couple at the Kempinski Barbaros Bay, while agents making 10 bookings with Mosaic Holidays between April 1-July 31 will be invited to join its Turkey fam.
Next month, Ilios Travel will be taking four agents from Grace Travel, Liphook Travel, Independent Holiday Shop and Traveltime to Bodrum to stay in stylish villa accommodation in Gokcebel.
In other news, Mark Warner has reduced the lead-in price for seven nights at its all-inclusive Sea Garden property near Bodrum from £771 to £595 for summer, including flights from London and transfers.
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