The luxury face of Bodrum, an Aegean holiday peninsula in Turkey, is enjoying a boost in tourism popularity as American media publications tout it as this year’s must-see luxurious travel destination.
Previously called Halicarnassus in history, Business Insider has labelled the port city of Bodrum, as an “under the radar” destination, but for many decades, Brits have flocked to the town and surrounding coastal resorts. This long-term love affair has led many Brits to buy property and live there all year round. So while American publications are only just catching onto everything it offers, it is already one of Turkey’s top tourist destinations.
Such is Business Insider’s confidence; they say the peninsula has the potential to topple Mykonos and Saint Tropez for indulgence, comfort, tranquillity, pampering and extravagance. Business Insider is telling its readers to forget Bali and Mykonos and follow in the footsteps of upper-class bohemians, celebrities, models and “monied elite.”
Quoting the New York Times who in 2006 coined Bodrum’s nickname as the Saint Tropez of Turkey, their list of reasons to visit includes stunning beach clubs, the culinary scene, spectacular hotels, an impressive real estate market and proof of its ability to accommodate upmarket travellers as seen in breath-taking mega yachts often docked just off the coastline.
A vital aspect of any luxurious holiday is booking the accommodation, and Business Insider’s first choice, Mandarin Oriental never disappoints with its professional hospitality. Amenities for guests with cash to splash include private pools, saunas, steam rooms, wellness and spa facilities, indoor pools, outdoor spa cabanas, and two private beaches to relax under the Aegean sun.
With prices ranging from $568 to $23,000 per night, dependent on whether you book a room with a sea view or a beachfront villa, previous guests at the hotel which is part of a chain operating in Asia, Europe and Americas include Uma Thurman and Morgan Freeman.
Their second recommendation was Lux Bodrum, a low-key luxury resort whose tagline is a “breath of fresh air on the turquoise coast.” Rated 8 out of ten by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, its fresh, contemporary and cosmopolitan style have earned it rave reviews among travellers.
Their third recommendation, the six sense Kaplankaya sits in Bozbuk, a small coastal resort on the way to the popular mainstream travel destination of Altinkum. Airport transfers via helicopter take 10 minutes and while there, guests enjoy being in an off-the-beaten-track through its extensive range of spa and wellness facilities. Concierge staff will also book an excursion, arrange special events, organise your tailormade itinerary and go the extra mile to make sure travellers are happy.
Bloomberg and Conde Nast also listed Bodrum as a top destination to visit in 2019. Besides recommending the Kaplankaya and Mandarin Oriental, they are pushing the Bodrum Edition, a hotel that opened in 2018 to much fanfare.
Designed by entrepreneur and hotelier Ian Schrager, it sits just two miles away from Yalikavak Palmarina, a hotspot yachting destination for mega-yacht owners, and luxury home buyers in Turkey. The architecture theme is based on natural smooth wood, and facilities include everything a traveller would expect from the outdoor cabana, spacious villas, private pools and more.
We like the Bodrum by Paramount Hotel resort with an enchanting view overlooking the Aegean that opened in 2017, while other worthwhile five star plus contenders include the Rixos, Caresse, Nikki beach, Kempinski Hotel in Barbaros bay, and many boutique hotels for romantic honeymoon couples.
The Turkish Riviera stretches from the Northern Aegean coastline round to the Mediterranean Antalya hub, but it all started in Bodrum. It was here that the concept of sailing Aegean waters on Blue Cruise Voyages to explore ancient ruins and small coastal villages was born, and during the 1970s, and 80s, Bodrum hosted many international jet setters as they sailed their way along Turkey’s coastline and to and from the surrounding Greek islands.
When it comes to professional sailing, Bodrum is the crème de la crème. From main marina centres, private luxury yacht charters depart daily during summer for a quick getaway cruise to many hotspots. Another alternative is a gulet cruise.
These boats, handmade by local craftsmen fulfil a desire for comfort and extravagance. Both the exterior and interior are homely spaces, and while the boats don’t carry the typical jet skis or have the onboard Jacuzzis, they showcase an integral part of its nostalgic heritage.
If the private beaches aren’t enough, visit beach clubs that are lazy, relaxing hubs by day and pulsating party themes at night. Xuma earns mass popularity because of its scenic Aegean landscapes and wealth of daytime activities to break up the swimming and sunbathing monotony. Pre-book Yoga, Pilates lessons and massages otherwise, venture into their restaurant endorsing the use of local, organic ingredients to serve excellent lunch menus.
Meanwhile, in Gundogan holiday resort, Moon Beach promotes the upmarket Turkish art of beach-side living, and once the sunset cracks up the volume to enjoy summer evenings with style. Other favourites include Tay Beach club and Juju by Babylon.
Bodrum’s hedonistic vibes make its nightlife scene the second best in Turkey, after Istanbul. The long-time favourite, Marina Yacht club and restaurant in the town centre continues to host diners from all over the world with excellent menus, and themed live music events.
We like dining out alfresco style in Yalikavak Palmarina though, whose tagline “it’s all about you” caters for an extravagant lifestyle with perfection. Nusr Et, the latest hot trends for meat lovers, highlights steakhouse culture with flair. Sait specialises in fresh fish and seafood. Otherwise, the international Huqqa brand accommodates everyone with its global daytime snacks and evening menus. Another local favourite and high-profile restaurant is Orfez, whose seafood dishes have earned it a stellar reputation.
During summer, Gumusluk, a small rustic coastal resort keeping a low-key reputation receives a boost of publicity when Turkish celebrities flock to experience alfresco seaside restaurants. Melengenc, a famous restaurant to be seen and mingle owes much of its reputation to word-of-mouth advertising, but no matter what your culinary preferences are, upmarket restaurants portray only the best of Aegean dining in Turkey.
Turks wholeheartedly indulge in bazaars and market days, and we recommend you give it a go as well. Selling fresh fruit, vegetables, souvenirs, clothing and household goods, it’s an excellent chance to observe Turkish culture in action and also practises the much needed and time-honoured art of bargaining.
However, away from the markets, luxury brand names and individual boutiques make a roaring trade from people with cash to splash. Large shopping malls like Avenue, Oasis and Midtown present an array of shops to indulge, but Yalikavak marina also has an impressive collection including time-honoured brands like Rolex and Vakko Mare.
When the New York times nicknamed Bodrum as the Saint Tropez of Turkey, they were referring to Turkbuku, a small coastal resort on the northern peninsula. Also called Golturkbuku because its growth has caused two small villages to amalgamate, summer lifestyle vibes revolve around sunbathing jetties with waiter service, fine restaurants, upmarket nightclubs and five-star hotels. This destination is a favourite with model Kate Moss, who books into Life Co Detox Retreat. It’s also a sailing hotspot so, expect to see many mega yachts drop anchor in the bay.
Torba, another coastal village does luxury, but on a more low-key basis, otherwise, the town centre is where the peninsula’s journey into self-indulgence all began. Although it’s a long term favourite for luxury travellers, in recent years, Yalikavak has overtaken it as the place to be seen and hang out.
Yalikavak’s luxury market hit a pinnacle peak when the multimillion mega yacht Palmarina opened its doors. The sudden new global interest sparked other industries such as luxury travel, gourmet restaurants and upmarket shopping. The old part of town kept its rustic, nostalgic vibes, but they blend with the modern neighbourhoods to present a destination worth visiting.
For many decades, Bodrum’s reputation led Turkey’s luxury real estate market. If you wanted a large villa or to retire in an upmarket style that was the first place to look. However, the last decade has seen luxury homes expand their reputation to become global architectural wonders. Famous Turkish and international architects like Richard Meier have designed millionaire homes worthy of winning prestigious awards and recognition.
One prime example, these 5-bedroom waterfront villas designed by esteemed Turkish architect Emre Aralot are selling for just over 2 million pounds. Designed to blend in with surroundings and environment, besides clear-cut architecture, house owners have access to a mooring jetty for their yachts, a fitness centre and secluded beach.
Yalikavak is now the go-to destination for millionaire villas featuring the latest in architectural, décor and design trends and modern technology. The architectural celebrity here is Richard Meier’s houses that have maximised floor to ceilings windows to make the most of a fantastic view over Yalikavak and the Aegean Sea. Their cubic appearance gives off sculptured appearance, but interior living spaces blend to emphasis space and a carefree lifestyle.
While some properties concentrate on architectural themes, others have opted to present the art of living through lifestyle themes like these Zen villas and apartments. Sitting within an all-inclusive resort including facilities like tennis courts, gyms, and spa, residents even tap into personalised concierge services leaving them to Zen out in style.
Inclusive concepts with lifestyle facilities on your doorstep are a feature point of Bodrum’s luxury market. Attracting buy-to-let investors, summer holiday home owners, and retirees, they bring this luxury Bodrum guide and end but if you want to know more about the peninsula, here are some more articles worth reading.
Luxury Real Estate in Bodrum: Luxury is no longer about having the best but a personalised lifestyle that suits your taste. This guide talks about how to navigate Bodrum’s home market to find your dream home.
Reasons to Buy Property in Bodrum: The appeal of Turkey’s property market is global, and it attracts many walks of life, so we look at why buyers sometimes choose the peninsula over other destinations including Antalya, Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
Bodrum Area Guide: We look at the popular holiday resorts, its history, airport, things to do and more.