Zak Smith says that despite its chequered political situation Turkey is still providing top end luxury to global elites
The sun may be setting on one side of the Aegean, leaving storm clouds to last a generation, but it's shining brighter than ever on the other side, bathing the Turkish coastline's glamorous hotels, multimillion pound super-yachts and unspoilt bays with a prosperous glow.
Turkey used to be the preserve of the package holiday crowd, where England went for a cheap tan and even cheaper kebab. However, while the country battles ISIS on its border and imprisons more journalists than any other country on earth, it also has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the development of the Bodrum peninsula, the result being something even St Tropez would be jealous of.
Efes lager, sweaty meat and local markets are now a distant memory as Armani, Cipriani and Nobu lay down their pitch. More household names in the luxury travel scene arrive and this small area, traditionally the preserve of local elites, has finally been opened up to a new, international, jet-set clientele.
Start in T’rkb’k’, a beautiful bay some 45 minutes from Bodrum. Orange blossom, bougainvillea, rugged hills and a sapphire sea dotted with gulets and super-yachts set the backdrop for one of the most beautiful coastlines in Turkey.
Along its shore sits Ma’ak?z?, a boutique hotel that has to be experienced to be believed (pictured above). Multi-layered and built into the hills, the hotel is designed for laidback chic, where guests can just as easily detox as take advantage of the carefree party atmosphere.
Traditionally a playground for the upper echelons of Istanbul high society, the hotel has a beach club thronging with local and international models, playboys and businessmen, where DJs spin the latest lounge beats as the clientele enjoy platters of oysters washed down with magnums of Whispering Angel.
Tenders ferry hedonists to and from their boats to join in the fun and summer indulgence continues day and night. To explore the coastline, the hotel has its own private gulet and motorboat, so you can choose how you cruise around the Aegean, with chef and deckhands on call to ensure the experience is unforgettable.
As you sail along, it's hard to miss the likes of Kempinski, Hilton and Mandarin Oriental dotted along the coastline, the latter of which offers dozens of multi-million-dollar villas and apartments for sale.
Kate Moss recently gave the area fame with her on-flight indiscretions, however she was actually coming from LifeCo, an eco-health spa in the hills above T’rkb’k’. With Kuum Hotel & Spa also nearby, the area provides a wealth of luxurious health and wellbeing options for a calming weekend away.
You can dock in Yal?kavak (pictured above), the glistening, newly-constructed marina twenty minutes from Bodrum, which is lined with super-yachts on one side and dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes on the other. With shops like Armani and Billionaire, the area is trying to attract a certain crowd, but this is balanced by local designers and restaurants in equal measure. Yal?kavak manages to retain its warmth without being too 'bling'.
For coastal summer fun, the Bodrum peninsula is luxurious, naturally beautiful and relatively free from thronging international crowds. Take advantage while the sun shines.