Talking Turkey!
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Talking Turkey!

Despite a fall in tourism, Caron Bluestone discovers plenty of reasons to visit this gem of a country between Europe and Asia

The beach with its mountain backdrop at Sorgun
The beach with its mountain backdrop at Sorgun

Turkey doesn’t always top everyone’s travel wish list. It has been a contentious destination for a while, due in part to the threat of terror attacks and wayward politics. They have contributed to a huge drop-off in tourism.  

But savvy travellers are starting to return to Turkey’s borders. If you choose wisely and stick to the popular tourist destinations, it remains a safe destination with much to offer as a heady mix of the exotic and the west.

A four-hour flight from London transports you far further in spirit. Turkey also offers exceptional value for money. This has been the case for many years but now, at a time when the pound is weak and European travel is expensive, Turkey is firmly back in favour.

Jews have a history here too – some 2,400 years here at least. The first communities arrived in the fifth century BC, followed by an influx of those expelled  from Spain and Portugal 20 centuries later.

Today, the vast majority of Turkish Jews live in Israel, but the country still boasts modest communities in Istanbul, where there are many historic synagogues, as well as Antalya, the nearest city and destination airport for our trip to Sorgun, on the Mediterranean coast in the south.

Antalya, and Dalaman airport further west, serve all the most popular resorts along the coast, which boasts miles of beautiful beaches extending down to turquoise seas, all Instagram ready. Here you are but a stone’s throw away from Greece, so it’s unsurprising.

We managed to spend a relaxing week, with two children, at peak season at TUI’s Sensatori Barut resort in Sorgun.

I’m not normally one for package holidays, but the Sensatori brand, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is TUI’s high end, luxury all-inclusive offering and I was keen to see for myself whether the company could truly manage the move from mass-market tourism.

In fact, TUI has taken things one step further with Sensatori. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing all-inclusive experience, with sports and wellbeing, including yoga, pilates, personal training and mindfulness among others all part of the offering.

The landscaped Sensatori resort

There’s also a small cinema and indoor and outdoor theatres showing quality productions, if that’s your cup of tea.

The resort, a little daunting at first due to its size, is modern, light, airy, spotlessly clean and perfectly maintained by a dedicated staff for whom nothing is too much trouble.

One of the relaxing  cabanas in the gardens

You can enjoy the manicured gardens or take a trek down to a wide, soft sandy beach that, even with the resort completely full, was still a haven of relaxation. For visitors wanting to go the extra mile, you can even book a cabana. Beautiful white pagodas on stilts, with cushions all around and white nets tied back or drawn for privacy, make for a magical, romantic feel. Here, we lazed most days taking in the views in the much-needed breeze, reading, iPadding or snoozing while drinks and food were brought to us.

Milkshakes and slushies for the kids, iced coffee and cocktails for the grown-ups and a full lunch menu were all on offer, with no need to walk the 50m to the beach restaurant for us.

Talking of food, it’s plentiful and fresh. There are six restaurants around the property. Be aware that booking in advance in high season is important.

Where Sensatori Barut really scores points is on the facilities for kids, for which I give the resort top marks.; there is nursery for the younger guests, Play House for the older ones and many organised and sporting activities for the over-sevens, all to Ofsted standards.

Caron and family at the Sensatori resort

Accommodation is divided into adults-only and family sections and our two-bedroom suite for the week was fantastic. It was modern, with bathroom, wet-room shower and two balconies, one with a Jacuzzi and sun loungers. I’m not much a fan of hotel hot tubs, but an outdoor sunset bubble bath overlooking the sea is another thing entirely.

Shopping here is plentiful. The ancient resort town of Side is a five-minute taxi ride from the hotel and apart from being a fantastic place to find bargains and souvenirs, it is also home to some of the most prolific and best-maintained ruins in Turkey.

There’s even an inscription dating back thousands of years that makes mention of the Jewish population in early Byzantine times.

A visit is a must. Walking on clear glass pedestrian zones suspended above the illuminated excavated ruins is as unnerving as
it is fascinating.

Caron stayed at the five-star TUI Sensatori Barut Sorgun, currently offering all-inclusive holidays at  £565.05 per person for seven nights, based on online booking for two adults sharing and including flights from Gatwick on 8 October and transfers. For more details on this and other offers, visit tui.co.uk 

 

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