My husband has been talking about Hillside Beach Club for years. Regardless of where we’ve been in the world nothing could overshadow his love for the Turkish five-star resort in Fethiye. When others talked about Hillside their eyes glazed over as they recalled the smell of pines, sublime service or the view from the balcony. A property that triggers this much adulation has to be seen and I can now confirm their assessment was correct.
Hillside Beach Club really is a paradisiac ‘family’ resort which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true.
With the spacious hotel rooms staggered down the densely wooded hills framing the secluded Kalemya Bay, Hillside manages to cater for adults seeking serenity and over-exuberant kids wanting fun. It does both brilliantly.
The week we were there the British Film Institute was hosting a film-making course for children aged 14 and under. While the kids disappeared – under supervision – in the foliage-filled 300 acres to construct a plot, choose costumes and record their antics on iPads, the grown-ups were free to play tennis, sail, water-ski, visit the gym, join one of the many exercise classes or simply lie down on a sunbed equipped with an app to order cocktails. No prizes for guessing what I did.
The joy of the BFI residency, which takes place in May half-term, is that we were also treated to nightly screenings of comedy classics under the stars on the beach and on a large yacht. You really had to be there to appreciate how brilliant it was to watch Buster Keaton’s 1924 masterpiece Sherlock Jr screened on a sea platform with live piano accompaniment – yes, they took a piano to the beach. There isn’t anything staff at Hillside won’t do.
By day the talented entertainment team run the kids and juniors clubs doing pool games, water sports and traditional games, before donning costumes to appear in the themed stage shows in the amphitheatre. One performer, the handsome Asrin, caught my daughter’s eye, so she was in the front row every night. Then there’s the chefs who prepare a medley of global cuisines at the evening buffet along with a vast salad spread and dessert stations. Navigating the dining room is your only challenge as it seats 850, so the late, light breakfast served at the small white-washed Pasha on the Bay restaurant was our choice in the morning. And don’t be fooled by the word ‘light’ – the bread/yogurt and honey selection along with any a-la-carte choices is impressive.
The Beach Bar, while tasty by day, transforms on certain nights into an Italian restaurant with tables nestled by the floodlit sea so you can count the fish as you dine.
The Sanda Nature Spa is on the adults-only Silent Beach, so everyone whispers, which can only improve a first-class Balinese massage. En route to that beach you will see a tiny library – just another of those little touches that make Hillside so special.
There is a Turkish bath and sauna as you’d expect and time there can be followed by tea, which is served with local pastries at 4pm. The craft workshop is a tranquil place to escape from the sun and we were rather proud of our rock painting and tie-dye t-shirt. There is a shuttle to Fethiye, but you have to force yourself to leave Hillside even when you have a flight to catch. For the BFI closing ceremony we got to see the movie the children had made and each of them received a clapper-board trophy that will always remind us of Hillside Beach Club. But, as my husband rightly said, it’s not a place you can ever forget.