Kick back or keep busy with a holiday to Turkey
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with some destinations: for a beach holiday, go here, or for an adrenaline-fuelled activity break, go there.
So sometimes it’s worth a reminder that no country is a one-trick pony; sure, you can chill on the beach, but you can also dive in and try water sports to get the heart pumping.
And even on an action-packed break, you can still squeeze in a spa treatment.Turkey is a prime example, home to a host of beach resorts that lend themselves just as readily to active escapes as straightforward sun and sea.
Pause: Spa breaks
Turkish hammams have such a reputation worldwide that even the simplest spa break taps into centuries of tradition.
Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “The Turkish bath is a deep-rooted element of Turkish culture, and hotels are at the forefront of modern-day spa facilities, with all kinds of treatments on offer.”
One of Olympic’s top spa sellers, the four-star Salmakis Resort & Spa in Bodrum takes Turkish baths to new heights, elevating the classic soap and scrub with lemon and orange blossom or even ground coffee and a full-body chocolate mask.
It’s not the only hotel to go beyond the traditional hammam: Barut Lara Resort Spa & Suites combines thalassotherapy, Turkish baths and sea-salt scrubs with a medical spa offering relief from symptoms of fibromyalgia, back pain and dermatological ailments, all by qualified medical staff.
Fellow Antalya property Papillon Zeugma also tops up its hammam experience with treatments from around the world, from Hawaiian or Balinese aromatherapy massages to Thai reflexology and ayurveda.
Pause: Quiet getaway
The easiest way to guarantee a stress-free break is a hotel where guests can check in and switch off, and with just 26 individually designed rooms, the family run Oyster Residences in Oludeniz fits the bill.
“This adult-only boutique hotel is metres from the beach and offers great views of the towering mountains,” says Travel 2’s Ruben Cabezuelo.
“There are hammocks, sunbeds and loungers around the pool, which is surrounded by peaceful gardens, and local restaurants and bars are a short walk away.”
On a larger but no less relaxing scale, D-Resort Grand Azur is a high-end hideaway with plenty of spots for quiet reflection. Between a private Blue Flag beach, new roof terrace with 180-degree sea views and split-level pool, guests will have no trouble finding somewhere to kick back and admire the Marmaris coastline (sea view rooms from £120 half-board).
Pause: Cruise the coast
That beautiful coastline looks even better from the polished teak deck of a traditional Turkish gulet. Anatolian Sky Holidays says gulet cruises rank as one of its most popular holiday styles, with the freedom to pull up in quiet coves or alongside uninhabited islands to swim or sunbathe.
Routes include meandering along the Turquoise Coast from Selimiye to Datça, around the Gulf of Hisaronu between Marmaris and Selimiye, or the Blue Voyage cruise from Fethiye to Marmaris, which stops at yachting favourite Göcek and at Cleopatra’s Bay and Baths.
Vessels sleep 14 to 20 guests in en suite double cabins for over-14s only, unless booked for exclusive use.
Play: Get active
Turkey’s water parks are an obvious family favourite, but whizzing down a slide isn’t the only way to get active.
The lengthy list of sports at Neilson’s four Turkish beachclubs means there’s no excuse just to lie on a sunlounger, with free coaching in tennis, sailing, windsurfing and more. Plus its 2016 brochure has added waterski and wakeboard upgrade packages for guests.
Those aren’t the only activity-oriented hotels. From family properties such as First Choice’s Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme and Mark Warner’s Sea Garden Beach Resort in Bodrum, to high-end hotels such as Barut Lara or D-Resort Grand Azur, which take watersports as seriously as spa, sporty guests have plenty of opportunities to let off steam.
Play: Tee off
Golf has become a key driver of tourism to Turkey, particularly in Belek.
While it might not rival the Algarve in terms of numbers just yet, the quality of its golf courses is undisputed, playing host to European Tour events and world-class players.Golfing resorts such as Gloria Golf Resort and Maxx Royal Belek are the best bet for keen players.
The former is the biggest in the country, with two 18-hole championship courses and a nine-hole option, while Maxx Royal is home to a Colin Montgomerie-designed course that has hosted the Turkish Airlines Open for the past three years.
Play: City stays
Who says active holidays are just about sports? A busy city break requires just as much energy, especially if visitors are trying to squeeze a city as diverse as Istanbul into a single weekend.
Osprey Holidays’ Helen Perrin says: “To really make the most of your time there, consider pre-booking a city tour. You can skip the line at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, view the ancient Column of Constantine, and haggle at the Grand Bazaar.”
This half-day tour costs £33 through Osprey Holidays, but there are other pre-bookable options. Perrin also recommends a dinner cruise along the Bosphorus, so visitors don’t even need to pause their sightseeing to eat (from £72), or for an overview of the city, a helicopter tour (from £400 for two).
Monarch offers a week all-inclusive at Barut Lara Resort Spa & Suites in Antalya from £829 based on two sharing, with flights from Gatwick on September 22. monarch.co.uk
Travel 2 offers a week all-inclusive in a land view suite at Maxx Royal Belek from £1,299, with flights from Gatwick and private transfers departing May 11. travel2.com
New spa hotel
Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort is set to open next June in Kaplankaya, Bodrum. The American brand operates spa hotels in Arizona and Massachusetts, but this will be its first foray outside the US, with a property featuring 141 rooms and suites, a 40-room spa and two restaurants. canyonranch.com
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