20 april 2015

Once perceived as an affordable destination and a hotspot for nocturnal revelry, Bodrum is coming of age with a new swathe of luxe hotels and refined resorts

The Bodrum Peninsula is no rookie when it comes to tourism. In fact, the port city itself hosted one of the original Seven Wonders of the World – the ancient Mausoleum of Halikarnassus – and remains the home of Bodrum Castle and the adjacent “antique city” of Pedasa. But while summer sojourners relentlessly flock to gawk at the region’s historic sites, there’s no shortage of new openings and itineraries to freshen things up and help revamp the Turkish Riviera’s image.

Mandarin Oriental carved out its own little slice of Turkish paradise last summer when it opened the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum. The 60-hectare waterfront site opened up on the northern side of the peninsula at Cennet Koyu (Paradise Bay), with panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. Designer Antonio Citterio was charged with creating the resort’s 109 rooms, suites and villas in an elegant and contemporary style, and this month it has announced a second series of holistic wellness packages, kicking off this month with three- and five-day Ayurvedic retreats.

“Discover Ayurveda with Dr Yogesh” will be available from April 13, taking guests and visitors through a holistic natural healing process that dates back 5,000 years. The course also includes diet and lifestyle consultations, yoga or meditation classes, Indian head massages, herbal therapies and a Shirodhara oil treatment on the fifth day. “Healthy Living with Jennifer Thompson” is offered as either a three- or seven- day package, due to launch May 15. The detox specialist provides daily servings of juices alongside skin and body analysis to track progress. There are also daily nutrition classes, regenerative spa treatments and optional private iridology session, whereby health is analysed via the iris.

If you want to blend serene seclusion with luxury service then perhaps Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay is also up your street. More accurately, it’s around the corner as the five-star is nestled in its eponymous bay area and provides 36 residences boasting views over the Aegean. If you’re after a more intimate five-star experience, the neighbouring Kempinski Private Residences Barbaros Bay offer private living within an exclusive, protected community, plus all the hospitality and top-notch services associated with the Kempinski hotel.

For those loyal to The Ritz-Carlton family, Rewards Members can opt to explore this emerging hotspot as part of an exclusive Classic Turkey itinerary with Abercrombie & Kent. After traipsing Istanbul, ballooning over Cappadocia and uncovering Ephesus, the luxury tour operator will take you to Bodrum. En route you’ll explore the ruins of Priene, the massive Temple of Apollo at Didyma and the temple at Euromos around Kusadasi, before arriving at the The Marmara Bodrum. The following day you’ll be whisked around the city’s Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which is a chance to glimpse some of the incredible artefacts salvaged from the sea.

If that’s not enough to entice you to make a return trip, the Viceroy Bodrum is set to debut this year. The 13-hectare plot will spill out across Koyunbaba Bay, complementing the Turkish Riviera’s natural, rugged beauty. The upcoming 84-guest room property will sit alongside 166 residences, a private beach club, spa, and a bevy of fine-dining venues.