“Beachside bliss on a budget: simple wooden cabins set in idyllic gardens, with pool, restaurant, big smiles and stunning landscapes”
There are 2 types of accommodation: the original 8 stone bungalows, which sleep up to 4 in one double bedroom and one twin; and 20 newer wooden cabins dotted among the lush gardens, which each have a double bed (no twins) and a double sofabed in a half-separated room. We’d recommend the garden cabins for couples with (or without) 1 child; and the bungalows for families with 2 children.
All the garden cabins or lodges are identical, and in terms of setting there’s not much to choose between them: all are nicely screened by fig, palm, orange or mulberry trees. Inside, you get plenty of wardrobe and storage space, mosquito-netted windows (handy for night breezes, though there’s also A/C), and a gleaming tiled bathroom with spacious power shower that would be a credit to a Scandinavian city hotel. It does all feel a bit boxy, but we slept blissfully on new pocket-sprung mattresses (which grace the sofabeds too, though being only 140cm wide I wouldn't recommend them for 2 adults); and the sliding door between the 2 parts meant that we could read after our son was asleep.
The stone bungalows are next to the restaurant, which can be handy for families wanting to use baby monitors. All of them have a secluded rear terrace looking onto the gardens and playground. The main bedroom is spacious, the children’s twin-bedded (or bunk-bedded) room less so; both have simple decor with a couple of kiddies’ sketches on butter-coloured walls. They share a slightly more dated but still perfectly effective bathroom with shower.
Breakfast is a blissful start to the day. At wooden tables shaded by palm and mulberry trees, smiling staff bring a platter of rolls and homemade spreads (including poppy-seed paste and a yummy cinnamon-flavoured marmalade), fresh cherries or succulent orange loquats from the gardens, and healthy Turkish fare (cucumber, tomatoes, wrinkly black olives and mild feta cheese) for those who’ve gone native. For the more conventional, there’s also cereals, eggs as you please, fresh OJ and unhomogenised yoghurt which you can sprinkle with walnut halves and viscous honey (a jar of this is yours to take home if you book through i-escape). The coffee is strong, and there’s all manner of teas and infusions including a powdered apple cay to set you up for the day, or what’s left of it after such a lavish, leisurely spread.
If you’re down on the beach at lunchtime, try their sister restaurant Azur Aïda, whose octopus salad, marinated sardines and aubergine-garlic yoghurt all slipped down a treat. At one point, the young waiters jumped up in symphony, hosed the dirt track down and then grabbed our parasols; a moment later, a strong gust of wind came - they must have seen it rippling across the sea. Alternatively, eat a light lunch at the hotel's Antik Pool Bar, which also serves drinks until 11pm.
Come dinner time, the hotel offers a limited but delicious array of grilled meats, seafood and homemade salads, followed by baklava-style sweets and thick Turkish coffee, all served in leafy gardens where kids run around the ancient mulberry tree. We ate here on the first night, and rapidly realised there was no real reason to do anything else during our week. Lamb skewers, fresh calamari and the local ratatouille were highlights, but nothing disappointed - least of all Hassan, Chennai and Turkan’s cheery service. If you do want variety, there’s no shortage of eateries within walking distance, including a pide (Turkish savoury pancake) restaurant, which was warmly recommended. Or you could drive to Ulupinar (5km) for fresh trout on the banks of the plane-shaded stream.
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
Winner: Value category
Despite having no formal creche nor much in the way of baby equipment, this is a fantastic place for children of all ages. The huge lawned gardens are safe, and when our son did manage to get lost he was quickly returned by a member of staff (they learn your names, and whose child is whose, within minutes). The large pool is great for splashing about; it has a separate shallow section for children (but no lifeguard). It's 5 minutes' walk to a partly sandy beach with warm, safe waters for swimming - though it does shelve quite steeply. The hotel can book boat trips which are extremely popular with older children, visiting secluded coves and stopping to swim in the most azure waters. Above all, the staff and the other families - German, English, Turkish or other - were all extremely friendly and welcoming when we arrived. By the end of our first dinner, our 4-year-old had made firm friends while being chased around the mulberry tree.
Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The stone bungalows are best for families of 4-5, having 1 double room and 1 twin (with kid-sized beds), plus space for 1 baby cot (provided on request). They are also within baby-monitor distance of the restaurant, though you'll have to bring your own monitor. The wooden cabins are perfect for a couple with 1 child, using the double sofabed for the child (or 2 children, if they don't mind sharing).
Restaurant staff can provide half portions or cook a particular dish to order (within reason) for your children.
There's a small playground with sandpit, seesaw and swings, aimed mostly at toddlers, and a pool.
Apart from the beach, older kids will enjoy walking up to the natural flames of the Chimaera which lick out of the ground; and going on skippered boat trips to remote coves and coastlines (pirate hats optional).
The sun can be scalding in midsummer: anoint your children liberally, keep them in the shade in the middle of the day, and think twice before coming with babies.