This summer, Suzanne Baum took her family to one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Turkey and returned home with a lot more baggage than she intended!
My five-year-old looked at me with eyes-wide open. Had I really agreed to allow him a second ice-cream without a blink of an eyelid? Is this the woman who had earlier smiled cheerily when he refused to eat his pasta lunch and instead asked for egg and chips which I happily supplied him with? The same parent who didn’t reprimand him on spilling his juice but instead gave him another one?
Yes, probably terrible parenting and not one I would ever practice at home but on holiday, I kind of let things slip. In fact on this particular holiday-at the all-inclusive five-star resort of Gloria Golf- I managed to turn a blind eye to quite a few things.
Based a half hour’s drive away from Antalya airport, this vast hotel has built up a first-class reputation of being one of the best family all- inclusive resorts in Europe. This in itself was appealing but being a family that is used to self-catering and who has had bad experiences of Turkish holidays in the past-weather too humid, infestation of mosquitos and a hotel with dodgy food- I approached our summer holiday with a bit of trepidation.
Arriving at the hotel late at night, we were instantly charmed by the staff that supplied us with fresh drinks and a selection of food as we checked-in. It was the perfect way to start our holiday.
Having booked one of the family suites, an area that features its own swimming pool and breakfast bar, our first morning was spent trying to find our bearings. Or should I say first afternoon…. for once we discovered the delicious breakfast buffet, time momentarily stopped. Having hopped on a hotel golf buggy that took us directly to the hotel’s dining area, we swore after our immense breakfast we would bypass the buggy and walk around the complex instead for the rest of our holiday. Our boys, aged 13, 12 and five, had other ideas!
Such is the safety of the hotel-staff are everywhere and get to know the kids on a personal level- I pretty much let my older kids go off alone. Had my youngest had his way he would of flagged down a hotel buggy and followed them to the hotel’s main attraction; the waterslides! This is not your average hotel slide but a whole aqua park dedicated to them: small ones for toddlers, big ones for teenagers and even rides for the whole family. Despite the hotel being full to capacity, the fact you never had to queue was a bonus but also quite exhausting after feeding our five year-old son’s addiction for more, more, more!
With so much to do- including a huge indoor soft play area, sand pool and endless playgrounds-my youngest son didn’t actually step foot inside either of the two hotel kids club; there simply wasn’t the time!. As for my older two, I hardly saw them. Most holidays they return to us when in need of food or money but being an all-inclusive resort this wasn’t the case. When not hurling themselves down the water slides, they could be found swimming in one of the several pools, playing table tennis, joining in the beach activities and football tournaments or playing pool in the entertainment centre. With food and drink on tap their needs were catered for!
Unlike other all-inclusive hotels I have stayed at, the food at Gloria is to perfection. Fresh salads, fish, meats, vegetables, pasta dishes were literally overflowing throughout the hotel. Whatever time of the day you could eat and drink, including alcohol – my husband was extremely impressed that this included a good supply of decent whiskey!
If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, a visit to nearby Belek is a must. Fake designer handbags and football kits can be bought at this sweet town which makes a nice break if you are getting cabin fever. Alternatively, if you fancy taking in a bit of Jewish culture I recommend getting a taxi from the hotel into Antalya to visit a synagogue that was uncovered two years ago.
With Turkey’s main Jewish community living in Istanbul, we were fascinated to discover there was a 16th century synagogue that was recently discovered within the excavation of the ancient cities of Myra and Andriake in Antalya.
The site, located in the area of Kemer, is believed to have been constructed approximately between the 4th and 6th Centuries during the Byzantine era. Among the artefacts found in the synagogue, menorah plaques depicting carvings of standard Jewish symbols garnered the most interest. Due to the uniqueness of its contents and its date, the site has attracted a large amount of interest from both Jewish tourists and historians.
Leaving my husband to explore the area, I decided instead to enjoy a spot of sunbathing-wasting much time trying to find an unused sunbed! And this is the problem at Gloria (as with many of these large hotel resorts I have visited), from the crack of dawn sunbeds are saved with towels, inflatables and books and this being a ‘holiday’ I refused to set an alarm to follow suit. The frustrating part was several of these beds remained untouched throughout the day as families headed to the water park instead.
Another problem I found was the lack of English-speaking staff. It proved almost impossible at times to find someone that understood us and this being at the height of summer when the resort is jam-packed with English tourists was very frustrating.
Those points aside, Gloria is a truly blissful resort and the fact we spent 10 days without any sibling’s arguments, complaints of boredom or mosquito bites is a bonus. As an all-inclusive holiday, it really is up there as one of the best.
As well as returning home with more luggage than we set out with, there was a lot of excess baggage too thanks to our expanded waistlines. I blame the hotel-the food was just too good to pass by!
Tots Too offers seven nights at Gloria Golf Resort, Turkey, from £4299 per family, based on two adults and two children under twelve years staying in a family suite booked through Tots Too (020 7284 3344). Price includes return Easy Jet flights, all-inclusive accommodation and private transfers. Gloria Golf Resort is open seasonally from the 1st April until the 31st October.
For more details, visit www.totstoo.com/hotel/gloria-golf-resort/