Belek, on Turkey’s balmy Mediterranean coast, represents a modern, world-class coastal golf resort. Behind its long, sweeping beachfront are a growing number of championship golf courses, interspersed with luxury hotels beside the fairways and properties for private ownership.
Thanks to rapid growth in the last 10 to 15 years, after the Turkish Government pinpointed the resort as a future centre for tourism, annual numbers of golf tourists to Belek are now close to those that visit Portugal’s Algarve. Meanwhile, inland of the pine-fringed golf courses, new residential developments of apartments, townhouses and villas stretch inland in neat rows.
Belek is ideally placed to receive golf players and fans from all over the world – Antalya’s international airport, the second busiest airport in Turkey as well as anywhere along the Mediterranean, is just 30 minutes away from the resort’s centre. Half an hour east is the charming family resort of Side, and 45 minutes beyond that is Alanya.
Belek past and present
Belek usually refers to a stretch of beachfront around 10 kilometres long, fringed by dozens of four- and five-star all inclusive hotel complexes. Behind these hotels are the championship golf courses – around 12 courses split between 10 clubs. And on the other side of the golf courses, you’ll find a wide choice of property for sale.
There is a small town centre in Belek, with amenities, bars and restaurants, but the small town of Kadriye, two to three miles west along the coastal road, is equally as integral to the overall resort. The centres of Belek and Kadriye are both modern and purpose built, direct results of Turkey’s booming golf tourism, which took off in the 1990s when the first club, the National, opened there. Once golf fever got a grip, the flat farmland bordering the coast has been transformed.
That said, the area immediately around Belek is rich in history, dating back to 4BC. This includes the nearby town of Serik, five miles inland, which is the site of historically important Sillion, a colony of the Kingdom of Pergamon, and Aspendos, one of the most important Greek Pamphylian cities. Aspendos is situated on the point where the Kopru River meets the sea – once an important port and a commercial centre, it had a reputation for raising the world’s best horses and the odeon, basilica, galleria and fountains there are worth seeing.
Belek is a rising star in the international golfing arena. The resort was named ‘Europe’s Best Golf Destination’ at the Golf Magazine Awards in 2013. And November 2013 marks further golf history for the whole of Turkey – it’s when the first Turkish Open takes place as part of the European Tour International Schedule.
Based on a three-year, $7-million agreement, the Turkish Open will be played at the resort’s stunning Montgomerie Maxx Royal Club. As a precursor to this, in October 2012 the Antalya Club in Belek hosted the first Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, an elite event won by the UK’s Justin Rose that saw eight of the game’s best players, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, go head to head. The Ladies European Tour is also played at the National in Belek.
In addition to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, National and Antalya Clubs, the latter boasting two 18-holes courses, golfers in Belek can also enjoy a round or two at the Cornelia Faldo Club, the Gloria Club (two 18 hole courses, 1 nine-hole), the heathland Carya Club, the Sueno Club, set amongst pines and dunes, the Kaya Eagles Club, the 27-hole Tatgolf club and on the eastern edge of Belek, the Robinson Nobilis Club. At least five of these courses are of PGA championship standard, and all boast well equipped club houses, experienced pros and top-class amenities, including club hire.
Owners should note that there are some excellent golf packages available – these include rounds at a selection of Belek’s courses at discounted green fee prices. Members of the Kadriye Belek Golfing Society get excellent discounts, not only at most of the courses, but also in some shops, bars and restaurants around the resort. It’s worth booking a package before you visit Belek, or passing on the tip to anyone who rents your property.
Leisure and shopping
Non-golfers won’t be bored in Belek! The beaches, which have recently had huge investment, offer all types of water sports and beach activities, from sailing and windsurfing to water-skiing. The Belek Beach Park is new waterside facility, where for a small fee you have access to sun-beds, restaurants, water sports, boat trips and changing rooms.
Back on dry land, other facilities throughout the resort include floodlit tennis, gyms and spas, football pitches (football tourism is growing in Belek and the resort has special facilities to host international teams, such as at the Adora Resort).
There is also a dolphin aquarium in Belek, where you can see sea lions and swim with the dolphins. And there are various water parks in and around Belek and Kadriye, including the Troy Aqua Park at the Rixos Premium Hotel, which is said to be the biggest water park in the Mediterranean region.
Kadriye and Belek are surrounded by pine forests and eucalyptus groves, an area known for its abundant flora and fauna, with the craggy Taurus Mountains forming the backdrop to the rolling hills all around. So it’s easy to escape the business of the resort for an hour or two, if you ever needed to.
Outside of the resort, but still very accessible, day trips to the Koprulu National Park and stunning Koprulu Canyon are possible, where you can raft, hike or mountain bike. Horse riding is also popular, either along the beach or along mountain trails through pine forests.
For other days out experiencing the natural wonders of the area, you could visit the Kursunlu Waterfalls, where you can walk behind the cascade. Also within a short drive are the Manavgat Waterfalls, one of Turkey’s best known waterfalls, and the Duden Waterfalls, which plunge into the sea on the outskirts of Antalya.
It is also said that if staying in Belek in February and March, you can ski in the morning and swim in the Med in the afternoon – the Saklikent skiing centre is only 1.5 hours away from the resort!
For shopping, Belek’s centre has restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shops with souvenirs, including leather goods and jewellery. Kadriye is the smaller of the two towns, making it a bit more personal, but having slightly less shopping facilities than Belek. There is also a market in Kadriye on a Tuesday, while Belek’s is every Saturday.
As you’d expect, there are plenty of eating and drinking facilities within the beachfront hotel complexes.
Buying areas and property
Unlike golf resorts in other popular expat destinations, homes in Belek are not built integrated into the golf courses, which means fairways aren’t overlooked by lines of apartments or townhouses. That said, many properties that are close to one of the courses have views of a fairway.
Most properties for sale are situated on small complexes off the main road running along the coast between the town centres of Belek and Kadriye, or on plots around these two town centres.
Most properties are modern apartments, townhouses or villas on small, gated low-rise complexes with a shared pool, communal garden and parking. Resale and new-build are available. The main buying area outlined above is within a 20-minute walk from the beach, but you are also never far from a dolmus bus-stop for getting around the resort.
An obvious benefit that comes with a property in a resort with such a great choice of world-class golf courses, as well as Blue Flag beaches, is strong rental potential. It’s common for foreign owners in Belek to let their property much of the year, reserving a week or two for themselves, usually outside of high season. There are a number of key-holding and rental management companies in Belek who can assist with this, if required. Now that Belek hosts PGA tournaments, owners can expect rental demand to rise around the dates of these competitions.