Jun 3, 2011

Kempinski Bodrum: No Class guilt please

To an occasional splurge traveler (love tripadvisor’s category) like myself, Kempinski Bodrum was the right choice for a couple of days of getaway.   For more on Kempinski click here or go here for reviews. Bodrum’s big advantage is its proximity to the airport which makes it perfect for this type of pleasures. Since its discovery in the 1970s, Bodrum has seen growth in epic scale and been subject of a “summer house mania” that has ruined parts of the peninsula. Everyone who is someone or wanna be someone in Turkey has a summer house in Bodrum, dotting the landscape with white concrete buildings that stay unused for nine months.

The pool of Kempinski Bodrum at night.

The pool of Kempinski Bodrum during the day.

The pool of Kempinski Bodrum is almost touching the sea.

One of the few places in the peninsula that has survived this eye soar “summer house mania” is the southern part called Yalı. This is where Kempinski is located with its own serene beaches and its building that is full of details: oils burning in the corridor that gives a fresh scent, ceramics at the door of your room, marble decorated interiors and the color blue. Not because the hotel is decorated with blue but because it is so next to the sea, overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean, at every part of the hotel, the blue is like an accessory. Because the hotel overlooks the Gökova Bay, you can also watch yachts that have just departed from Bodrum that are sailing on blue voyage.

Heading with golf car to the beach at Kempinski Bodrum.

You are spoilt beyond your senses in the hotel: food and service are excellent so are details such as the lavender smelling cold towel service at the beach or the pool that is like a dream if you are too hot. Staff seat you at tables that have a better view than you have accidentally chosen. Despite the award winning spa, my favorite has been the chill out lounge right next to the pool, that made me wanna lie down, take sheets over me and doze in comfort while the fan propels more breeze to my face.

Breakfast view at Olives, Kempinski Bodrum.

Although lying around is definitely nice, Bodrum is a huge peninsula and the best way to explore it is, by car. First, head to Bodrum proper and visit the Bodrum underwater archeology museum located in the castle. Then stroll around the marina to view yachts that you may also anchor one day in Bodrum. Then, get a map, rent a car and see different bays, each with their own charm. Note, however, that the current government has adopted a “no votes, no roads” policy so roads are partly full of pot holes. No kidding, the government seems to be engaged in revanchist actions against the people of Bodrum for not voting their way. Treating a big income generator location like this did not score points with them despite their overall success in general elections in June 2011J.

My favorite spot at Kempinski Bodrum: the chill out lounge.

Notice the wheet sheets in the back on bambu beds at Kempinski Bodrum,
perfect for a doze.

Now some recommendations for your other ventures in the Bodrum peninsula. If you are on a budget, stay put in the location of the shared ownership house or pansion. You should be fine. On the other hand, if you want to rub elbows with the rich and famous in Turkey, head to Göltürkbükü. Eat and drink out and see what I am talking aboutJ. If you are in to making your Bodrum experience worth it while also making it less expensive than eating at Kempinski every night, here is some restaurants I personally visit each time I go.

Kempinski Bodrum's gallery from reception.

Standard room at Kempinski Bodrum.

I have been eating at Fener Restaurant located between Turgutreis and Akyarlar (Tel: 0-252-3936393 / 0-252-3825771) since 1979 and it has only improved since then. It is located next to the light house (this is why called fener: lighthouse in Turkish). The family runs both the lighthouse and the restaurant that overlooks the Greek island Cos. Its fish and mezes are excellent and it is a classic.
Before you head to Fener Restaurant this is the view at sunset in Turgutreis.

Lighthouse on the left of the picture in Turgutreis.

Another night should be spent in Gümüşlük, first for an afternoon drink and then in one of the restaurants lined up at the shore. Overlooking the Myndos excavation, I like Fenerci Restaurant for the gourd lamps the owner has put into the sea that are beautifully lit at night. Gourd art is “the” thing here. Some people highly recommend this in Gümüşlük.

View from Fener Restaurant overlooking the Greek island Cos.

I haven’t been there for a while but in Yalıkavak there is also Çimentepe Restaurant. Alternatively, you can spend the day at Sarnıç Beach in Bitez bay swimming and relaxing and then eat at Rakıcı in the middle of a garden dotted with orange trees. This is the only restaurant among my recommendations that is not located right by the sea, with its killer mezes.

Gümüşlük bay in Bodrum peninsula.

The gourd lamps in the water at Gümüşlük, Bodrum.

If you do not want to rent a car, transportation is also easy. Every half hour, the bus takes you from Kempinski to the terminal in Bodrum and from there you basically can take another bus to go to Bitez or Gümüşlük or Turgutreis. Allow at least one hour for each trip.

Lastly, kill that class guilt. It’s a wonderful feeling to be pampered at Kempinski. Enjoy it till you drop.